Houston is now more important to Chiefs

With last week’s release of cornerback Brandon Flowers, linebacker Justin Houston is the Kansas City Chiefs’ only holdout. Houston’s plans for this week’s minicamp, the only mandatory event of the offseason, are unclear but he has some financial incentive to show. The Chiefs can fine Houston a total of $60,000 if he declines to attend any part of the minicamp.

Other than they both had declined to participate in offseason practice, the issues involving Flowers and Houston are different. Flowers had a big contract but didn’t like how he was being utilized in the Chiefs’ defense. Houston, a Pro Bowler in two of his three NFL seasons, is fine with his role.

But he has outperformed the contract he signed as a third-round draft pick in 2011. Houston is in the final year of that deal and scheduled this season to make $1.4 million, or far less than one of the NFL’s top pass-rushers and all-around outside linebackers deserves.

Houston’s value is only greater to the Chiefs now that Flowers is gone. Without him, the Chiefs are patching things together at cornerback and need a top-flight pass-rusher more than ever to counter that. They drafted another pass-rusher, Dee Ford, in the first round this year and he has displayed considerable promise since joining the Chiefs.

The Chiefs won’t reach their defensive potential without Houston, though. He’s a key piece for them and whether or not he shows for minicamp, it’s important that he is an on-time arrival at training camp next month.