Cleveland Browns

Justin Houston should be a potential trade target for the Browns

justin houston.jpg

The Browns are searching for upgrades in the front seven this offseason whether it’s in free agency or the draft.

They also could look at potential trades much like did last offseason to upgrade the talent on the roster.

On Wednesday, both CBS Sports and NFL Network reported that the Kansas City Chiefs have had trade talks with teams about former All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston.

The 30-year-old pass rusher has a $21.1 million cap hit for the 2019 season and has been rumored to be either traded or cut this offseason as the Chiefs are franchising Dee Ford and should be prioritizing their cap situation as Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes’ contract extensions are on the horizon.

Houston has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL since being drafted in the third round back in 2011.

Despite missing 21 games over the last four seasons, he has been able to get after the quarterback with 78.5 sacks over eight seasons including a league leading 22 back in 2014.

Last season he played in 12 games while missing the other four due to a hamstring injury and Houston still had 37 tackles (8 for a loss), 9 sacks, 12 QB hits, 5 forced fumbles and an interception. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 14th best edge defender in the league and the fifth best pass rush grade in the league.

One team that could be a potential fit for Houston is the Cleveland Browns.

General manager John Dorsey was with Houston in Kansas City from 2013 to 2017 and signed Houston to his six-year, $101 million dollar contract back in 2015.

The Browns have approximately $73 million in cap space and would be able to take on Houston’s contract. The cap hit by acquiring him would be $14 million as the Chiefs would take a $7.1 million dead cap hit by trading or cutting him before June 1.

Houston is signed through 2020 and if he doesn’t perform well this upcoming season, the Browns could cut him next offseason and take a $1.5 million cap hit and save $15.5 million in the process.

Teaming him up with Myles Garrett would form one of the top pass rushing duos in the NFL and also take pressure off Garrett who has essentially done most of the pass rushing for Cleveland in his first two seasons in the league because of the lack of talent up front.

It would also open things up for Larry Ogunjobi who is a rising star at the defensive tackle position but had to carry a heavy load much like Garrett in 2018 due to the lack of depth as I mentioned above.

Now there is younger and perhaps better players than Houston that could be entering the market like Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney and Trey Flowers and then you also have to look at the options in the draft as well but if a guy like Houston could be had for a mid-round selection, it’s something the Browns should be considering.

The Browns have multiple picks in the third and fifth rounds and ten picks overall. I don’t see them bringing in a large draft class because the foundation has been laid for the next few years and while those players are on affordable contracts, the window to compete is open and the organization should take full advantage of it.

 

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