The Chiefs announced Sunday that outside linebacker Justin Houston had been released. The 30-year-old former third-round pick out of Georgia spent all eight NFL seasons in Kansas City, where he logged 78.5 sacks, 32 passes defended, 14 forced fumbles and four interceptions.

“Over the last eight seasons we’ve had the ability to watch Justin grow into a leader on and off the playing field,” Chiefs chairman  Clark Hunt said in a statement. “His passion helped him become one the most successful pass rushers in franchise history. We appreciate his contributions to our team and community and he’ll always be considered a part of the Chiefs family.”

Coach Andy Reid added: “I’ve been fortunate to get to know Justin over the last six seasons, and not only is he a talented football player, but he’s a tremendous person. He really helped set the tone, and I appreciate the work he put in with us. I wish him the best as he continues his career.”

Houston was set to earn $15.2 million in 2019 and according to Spotrac, cutting ties with him clears $14 million in salary cap space. The Chiefs now have roughly $20 million to work with heading into free agency.

“Justin has made a lasting impact on this franchise and I can’t thank him enough for his contributions over the years,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “These decisions are never easy. I have a great deal of respect for Justin as a player and person and I wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

Kansas City pass rusher Dee Ford was franchised by the team last week and if the two sides can’t agree to a long-term deal by July 15, he’ll earn $15.4 million in 2019 on the franchise tender.

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