For years, he was the most fearsome pass rusher for the K.C. Chiefs defense. Then, in one of the most comprehensive overhauls of a single position in recent team history, Justin Houston was let go. After eight seasons with the team that drafted him, Houston found himself signing with the Indianapolis Colts.
As the Chiefs headed into the 2019 season with a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo and an all-new staff of assistants on that side of the ball, general manager Brett Veach went to work on a roster reconstruction, specifically with the team’s pass rush in mind. Houston was released alongside franchise icon Eric Berry. Allen Bailey was allowed to walk as well. The Chiefs then tagged-and-traded Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers.
Suddenly the Chiefs were without three of their top four pass rushers from the previous season. In their place were a new cornerstone in Frank Clark via trade and signings like Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah. Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill were installed in the secondary. It was a new defense for the Chiefs after letting Bob Sutton go.
On the way out, Houston took the release personally. He felt he still had “plenty in the tank,” and he was anxious to prove his doubters wrong with the Colts. Chris Ballard, the Colts GM, was very familiar with what Houston could bring given his experience in K.C.’s front office. As it turns out, he was…