Justin Houston’s success with Colts proves Chiefs made mistake letting him go

Colts DE Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Colts DE Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Justin Houston has been a revelation for the Indianapolis Colts.

The Indianapolis Colts have the best defense in the NFL right now and defensive end Justin Houston is a colossal reason why. Through four games, he already has 3.5 sacks, five QB hits, four tackles for a loss, and a safety.

Throw in his 2019 campaign during which he registered 11 sacks, 18 QB hits, 13 tackles for a loss, and three fumble recoveries after starting all 16 games, and he’s been nothing but a force for Indy ever since general manager Chris Ballard scooped him up after the Kansas City Chiefs released him.

Yes, the Chiefs released this man and instead opted to trade for Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark, who cost them first- and second-round picks as well as a third-round swap, in addition to a $105.5 million contract with $63.5 million in guarantees. We’re not saying Clark is bad, but maybe they should’ve saved themselves that headache and kept Houston?

While Clark is four years younger, he arrived in KC with a black cloud over his head in the form of domestic violence accusations. Houston, meanwhile, was merely frustrating because injury issues kept him out of 25 total games from 2015-2018. Still, over that span he recorded 30 sacks, 39 tackles for a loss, 51 QB hits and five fumble recoveries — in 43 games.

As for Clark, over his last 50 games, he has 33 sacks, 35 tackles for a loss, 66 QB hits and four fumble recoveries. Any money the Chiefs saved releasing Houston simply went to paying Clark, who cost them even more.

Obviously, the Chiefs won a Super Bowl and are now the undisputed powerhouse in the NFL, but imagine if they had just kept Houston, saved even more money, and kept all those draft picks? They did recoup a second-rounder after trading Dee Ford, but they could’ve just used that as another addition.

Were the Chiefs wrong in this series of decisions? Not really. It just feels like excessive roster tinkering that wasn’t exactly necessary. No, they couldn’t have foreseen Houston being fully healthy over the course of his next 20 games, but they were very much aware of his relentless production, even in limited playing time.

Ballard came in, signed Houston to a two-year, $24 million deal to see what he would bring to the table, and is now in a good position to extend him since the Colts are projected to be atop the league in cap space this offseason.

It would sure be a shame if Houston came back to bite KC in the playoffs if these two teams manage to meet down the road.