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Justin Houston, Chiefs agree to record 6-year, $101 million deal

The Kansas City Chiefs locked up their All-Pro linebacker through 2020.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have signed outside linebacker Justin Houston to a record long-term contract, according to Adam Schefter. Houston will play on a six-year deal worth $101 million, including $52.5 million guaranteed. The Chiefs, who used their franchise tag on Houston in March, were able to reach a deal with him right before the July 15 deadline for long-term contracts by making the pass rusher the highest-paid player in team history.

Under the new deal, Houston is now the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL, surpassing the five-year, $66 million extension Clay Matthews signed with the Green Bay Packers two years ago.

It is the second-richest contract for any defensive player in NFL history, behind only the six-year, $114 million deal that the Miami Dolphins gave to Ndamukong Suh in March. It eclipses the eight-year, $108.88 million deal that J.J. Watt signed in September.

Houston acknowledged his new deal on Twitter, thanking the Chiefs and the fans:

Houston was arguably the best overlooked defensive player last season. Despite the fact that he led the league in sacks and came up a half-sack shy of reaching Michael Strahan's single-season sack record, Houston didn't make the headlines as much as a someone like Watt. However, that has a lot to do with the fact that Watt, who was named Defensive Player of the Year last season, does so much more than his duties as a defensive end.

But Houston does the things asked of him, and he does them very well. The biggest knock against him is that, since the Chiefs made him a third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Houston has put together three good seasons and one exceptional year -- last year, when he was named a first-team All Pro for the first time. In 2014, he set career highs in every major category, with 69 tackles, 22 sacks, five passes defensed and four forced fumbles.

Even if he didn't really break out until his fourth year, Houston has earned trips to the Pro Bowl every season except when he was rookie. So it's not at all surprising that the Chiefs originally used the franchise tag on Houston, or that they were able to get a long-term deal done.

After the signing was announced, Chiefs GM John Dorsey spoke about how much Houston means to the team. "He’s one of the top players in the National Football League and a premier pass rusher," Dorsey said. "As we’ve said from the beginning, Justin the football player, and the person, is someone we wanted to be a part of our organization. We are very happy that he will remain a member of the Chiefs."

Head coach Andy Reid added, "Justin has a relentless work ethic on the field and in the classroom, and he provides our team with tremendous leadership. He is a fearless competitor, and we are glad he is going to be back."

Just 26 years old, Houston has combined with Tamba Hali as the NFL's best pass-rushing tandem and could be a star for many more years in Kansas City. In 59 games in his career, Houston has totaled 199 tackles, 48.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and one interception.

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