Chiefs Urged to Trade for NFC Sack Specialist Fresh Off Historic Rookie Year

Getty Detroit Lions edge defender James Houston IV.

The end of the NFL preseason isn’t just a time for teams to decide which players on the roster should stay or be cut. It’s also an opportune time to pull off trades with other teams for players on the roster bubble.

That’s why PFF’s Brad Spielberger named the Kansas City Chiefs a potential trade destination for Detroit Lions edge defender James Houston IV.

“It appears Houston may be the odd man out in Detroit, but the Lions definitely shouldn’t release a player with three years of cheap control remaining who showed a knack for getting after the quarterback on limited snaps last season,” Spielberger wrote on August 28. “Many teams would be happy to take a flier on a developmental pass-rush specialist coming off a season with an 88.2 pass-rush grade.”

James Houston Had Historic Rookie Campaign

James Houston IV, 24, was a favorite of Heavy on Chiefs leading up to the 2022 NFL draft due to the Chiefs’ need for help along the defensive edge and Houston’s ties to Kansas City. Yet, when the draft occurred, the Chiefs opted to select defensive end George Karlaftis in the first round and Houston went undrafted.

After the draft, Houston signed with the Lions. Though he did not make Detroit’s 53-player roster come the end of the 2022 preseason, Houston did make the team’s practice squad.

In Week 11 of the 2022 regular season, Houston was activated to Detroit’s 53-player roster and remained on the active roster for the remainder of the season due to his productivity in the pass-rush department.

During his rookie season, Houston set an NFL record for the most sacks through the first six games of a player’s career (7.5), according to the Lions. He also helped Detroit set the NFL record for the most sacks in a single season for a rookie class (20.5), per the Lions Wire.

Despite such a strong rookie campaign, Houston has played late into games this preseason, which brings into question his standing with Detroit’s coaching staff. With that being said, he did manage to record 9 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks in two preseason games played this summer, per PFF.

Do Chiefs Need Extra Pass Rush Help?

As it currently stands, Kansas City’s edge defenders include George Karlaftis, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Charles Omenihu, Mike Danna, Malik Herring, Joshua Kaindoh, Truman Jones, and BJ Thompson.

Omenihu is suspended for the first six games of the regular season. On top of that, All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones is in jeopardy of missing regular season games due to his extensive contract holdout. Because of this, the Chiefs defensive line — specifically at the top of the depth chart — will be thin at the start of the regular season.

That’s why — if Houston is actually on the trade block and available at a reasonable price — it would be worthwhile for Chiefs general manager Brett Veach to try and pull the trigger on a trade for Houston, who only has a $970,000 cap hit in 2023 and still has plenty of room to grow as a defender.

According to Over The Cap’s effective cap space — the cap space a team will have after signing at least 51 players and its projected rookie class to its roster — the Chiefs have $748,038 in available cap space.

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