The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Sunday that the club has released linebacker Justin Houston.
"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 and CEO Clark Hunt said. "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."
"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," Reid said. "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."
"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."
Houston (6-3, 258) originally entered the NFL as a third-round selection (70th overall) of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2011 NFL Draft.
He played in 102 games (96 starts) in his eight seasons with the Chiefs, compiling 377 tackles (316 solo), 96 tackles for loss, 78.5 sacks (-452.0 yards), 14 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. Houston had four career interceptions, returning one for a TD and 32 passes defensed. He played in seven playoff games (six starts) with the club, recording 19 tackles (16 solo), 4.0 sacks (-23.0 yards) and two fumble recoveries.
The Statesboro, Georgia, native, recorded 22.0 sacks in 2014, setting a franchise single-season record passing the late Derrick Thomas' previous mark of 20.0 set in 1990. He finished 2014 just a half sack shy of tying the NFL's all-time record held by Michael Strahan (22.5 in 2001). Houston's 78.5 sacks with the Chiefs ranks fourth all-time in franchise history behind Derrick Thomas (126.5), Tamba Hali (89.5) and Neil Smith (85.5). He earned four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl in his time with the Chiefs (2013-16).
Houston played collegiately at the University of Georgia.