The Kansas City Chiefs look like they finally have a franchise quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, signaling a new era for the reigning AFC West champions. According to media reports and general manager Brett Veach, moving into a new era might mean parting ways with one of the team’s longest-tenured defensive standouts.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported earlier this week that the Chiefs had talked to other teams about potentially trading away star pass rusher Justin Houston. With extensions possibly coming for younger and more productive players in Dee Ford and Chris Jones, the Chiefs might want to get Houston’s contract off the books.

Veach confirmed there had been “dialogue” to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

The Chiefs signed Houston to a massive six-year deal after he nearly broke the single-season sack record in 2014. He brought quarterbacks down 22 times that year, but injuries have limited his effectiveness in the years since. He has totaled only 30 sacks in the past four seasons combined, never recording double-digit sacks in any of those seasons.

He is still a fairly productive pass rusher, but at age 30 and with the largest salary cap hit on the team, Veach might think the team can find cheaper production elsewhere.

Houston’s trade value is difficult to nail down with any certainty. His contract outsizes his production, so any team that acquires him might ask him to restructure it. Pass rushing is at a premium in the modern NFL, so it is possible some team might give up a decent draft pick or two to acquire Houston despite those caveats.

The market for pass rushers could be crowded this offseason. The New York Giants might also try to move Olivier Vernon, according to reports. 

The Chiefs are expected to try to retain Ford this offseason, either through an extension or the franchise tag. Getting rid of Houston’s salary would likely help that process quite a bit. KC may also look to extend Jones before his contract expires next year.

Both Ford and Jones had double-digit sack campaigns in 2018. The Chiefs had statistically one of the worst defenses in football, but they also had the most sacks in the league.