Chris Houston

Chris Houston Announces Retirement

Panthers cornerback Chris Houston has decided to end his NFL playing career, announcing his retirement today, according to the team (Twitter link). While the club’s announcement didn’t explain Houston’s decision, the veteran corner missed the 2014 season due to injuries.

Houston, 30, sat out last season after having been released in June of 2014 by the Lions. At the time, Houston had recently undergone surgery on his toe, and the team cited his recovery from that “significant medical procedure” as the primary reason why he was let go. The cornerback’s agent said in the wake of his release that he expected his client to return to the field in 2014, but that didn’t happen. Now, it doesn’t appear Houston will return to the field at all.

Before he missed the 2014 campaign, Houston was a longtime starter at cornerback in Detroit, having signed a five-year, $25MM contract with the team just a year before he was cut. Houston’s best season arguably came in 2011 when he racked up an eye-popping five interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. Houston has also reeled in two picks in each of the last two seasons. He was expected to help elevate the Panthers’ secondary in the upcoming season but, instead, he has decided to walk away from the game just six weeks after signing with Carolina.

Panthers Sign Chris Houston

The Panthers added some interesting veteran depth to their secondary today, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve signed cornerback Chris Houston. To make room on their roster, the Panthers cut another cornerback, Jocquel Skinner.

Houston, 30, sat out the 2014 season, having been released almost a year ago to the day by the Lions. At the time, Houston had recently undergone surgery on his toe, and the team cited his recovery from that “significant medical procedure” as the primary reason why he was let go. The cornerback’s agent said in the wake of his release that he expected his client to return to the field in 2014, but that didn’t happen.

Before he missed the 2014 campaign, Houston was a longtime starter at cornerback in Detroit, having signed a five-year, $25MM contract with the team just a year before he was cut. While the Lions carried a chunk of dead money from that deal on their cap, the Panthers will get Houston at a much cheaper rate. If it turns out he’s not fully healthy, or not as effective as he was before his injury problems, Carolina should be able to cut ties with Houston at little or no cost.

In Carolina, Houston will join a group of cornerbacks that includes Josh Norman, Bene Benwikere, Melvin White, and fellow free agent signee Charles Tillman.

Lions Notes: Fairley, Houston, Suh, Leshoure

The big news out of Detroit yesterday was the team’s decision to postpone extension negotiations with star defender Ndamukong Suh until after the 2014 season. Despite the added uncertainty at the defensive tackle position now that contract talks with Suh have been tabled, the Lions don’t regret their decision to decline Nick Fairley‘s option for 2015, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes.

“Two totally different situations, two totally different players,” said general manager Martin Mayhew. “Neither one affects the other. They play the same position, that’s the only similarity between the two of them.”

Here’s more on the Lions:

  • Mayhew tells Birkett that the Lions are “shopping for everything,” and are always talking to people around the league about possible trades or ways to upgrade their roster. The GM specifically identified the secondary as “a place we need to look.”
  • As Birkett tweets, the Lions believe that Chris Houston, whom the team released earlier this offseason, is probably done, or at least won’t recapture his previous form, due to health issues. In the Free Press piece linked above, Mayhew acknowledges that the Lions could have approached the offseason differently if they’d known the extent of Houston’s health issues earlier.
  • Birkett and John Niyo of the Detroit News both recapped the Suh developments from yesterday, conveying the idea that the Lions remain optimistic about getting a deal done, despite not being able to guarantee that the standout defensive tackle won’t hit the open market in March.
  • Having slid down the team’s running back depth chart in recent years, Mikel Leshoure was asked on Monday if he’d prefer to move on if he isn’t getting regular touches for the Lions. “I feel like I’ll get a role somewhere,” LeShoure said, suggesting that could happen in Detroit or elsewhere. “So I’m going to think about that right now“(link via Kyle Meinke of

North Notes: Vikings, Houston, Bears, Browns

Teddy Bridgewater made waves when he suggested after the draft that he hadn’t wanted to land with the Browns, but the Vikings quarterback says now that those remarks were misinterpreted, writes Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

I think it was misinterpreted,” he said. “What I was saying was I had a strong feeling about the Minnesota Vikings. I was able to meet with them five or six times in the pre-draft visits. I just had a pretty solid feeling about the Minnesota Vikings, but, you know, I try to put the pre-draft stuff behind and try to just focus on my career with the Minnesota Vikings.”

Let’s round up a few more of the latest items from out of the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Dan Pompei of Sports on Earth examines the Vikings‘ offseason, which included the drafting of a potential franchise quarterback in Bridgewater.
  • Veteran cornerback Chris Houston, who was cut by the Lions earlier this month, tells Ryan Autullo of the Austin American-Statesman that the decision was mutual. It’s hard to believe that Houston would’ve encouraged Detroit to release him, but he’ll at least have the opportunity to work his way back to full health without having to worry about winning a roster spot. The free agent corner hopes to be medically cleared by August or September.
  • In his latest mailbag for the Chicago Tribune, Brad Biggs fields readers’ questions on the Bears‘ offensive line, Devin Hester‘s departure, and the club’s depth at wide receiver and tight end.
  • New executive chief of staff Bill Kuharich will play the role of an experienced sounding board for GM Ray Farmer in the Browns‘ front office, writes Tony Grossi of

NFC Notes: Cards, Lions, 49ers, Rams

The Cardinals have plenty of time to evaluate the players on their roster before they have to cut it down to 53 men, but Josh Weinfuss of has predicted which 53 will be suiting up for the team Week 1. Weinfuss writes that the first 45 were easy, but narrowing down the final eight was a difficult decision. Paul Fanaika, Brittan Golden and Jaron Brown were some of the toughest cuts on this list.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC:

  • Since the Lions released veteran cornerback Chris Houston, they are left with a thin secondary, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Rashean Mathis should be slotted to be the team’s top corner, but the 33-year old veteran is not what he once was. After Mathis, the team has last year’s second-round pick Darius Slay, who struggled mightily in 2013. Aside from those two, there is a long list of question marks rounding out the depth chart.
  • The 49ers acquired Jonathan Martin earlier this offseason, and are now trying to move him inside from tackle to guard, writes Tyson Langland of Bleacher Report. However, Langland is far from optimistic about Martin’s ability to change positions with his new team. Although he has struggled at both left and right tackle, his inexperience at the position as well as his alleged lack of arm strength and aggressiveness make Langland believe he will be a bad fit at guard.
  • With Radio City Music Hall unavailable for the 2015 NFL Draft, other cities aside from New York are getting excited at the prospect of hosting the draft either next year or down the road. With Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York (at Madison Square Garden) fighting to host the draft, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Rams are getting into the mix as well. Rams executive vice president Kevin Demoff and President of the St. Louis Sports Committee Frank Viverito have discussed a willingness to bring the Draft to St. Louis. “We’ve had conversation about what it would take, and would be interested if the NFL winds up doing this on a long-term basis,” Demoff said. While the 2015 NFL Draft might not be a possibility, the city is open to the possibility of obtaining a future NFL Draft.
  • Eagles‘ kicker Alex Henery struggled in 2013, including a missed field goal and short kickoffs in a playoff loss to the Saints. Even still, he is not worried about his job security, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer“Competition can always make you better, but it’s not like I’m worried about it,” Henery said recently. “I’m here to do my thing and do it the best I can. . . . I’m a perfectionist. That’s what drives me.”

Free Agent Notes: Holmes, Houston, Barnett

We haven’t heard much about Santonio Holmes since he was released by the Jets in March. That doesn’t mean those around him aren’t confident. His camp believes the veteran will be signed by a “receiver-needy” team during training camp, writes Brian Costello of the New York Post.

He’ll definitely be on a team,” said Holmes’ personal trainer Tom Shaw. “Just like James Harrison will be on a team. As long as teams don’t think he’ll be a distraction, he’s going to get picked up.

I think that’s the big thing. Teams are interested in him. They want to see him work out to check his injury. He hasn’t had any problems with his injury, which is a good thing.”

Teams are certainly wary of the injuries that have limited the 30-year-old to only 15 games the past two seasons. They’re also concerned about his reputation as a poor locker room presence, but Shaw doesn’t think that will a problem.

I think Santonio Holmes has grown up,” Shaw said. “He’s grown up more than I’ve seen any player I’ve worked with over the years. That’s a big plus…I really think he’ll be a model citizen on any team he goes to.”

According to Costello, Holmes has been working out in Florida since the winter.

Let’s see what else is going on with some notable free agents…

Lions Release Chris Houston

The Lions have released cornerback Chris Houston, according to Tim Twentyman of The move is the one we’d been waiting for, as it helps create the cap room for the club to have signed first-round pick Eric Ebron. Houston battled a toe problem last season and underwent surgery in May.

“Chris Houston underwent a significant medical procedure this spring,” the Lions said in a statement. “Both parties felt that the best course of action at this time is to release Chris and allow him to rehabilitate his injury away from the Club. The Lions appreciate Chris’ contributions over the years and wish him the best in his recovery.”

Houston, 29, has started at cornerback in Detroit for the last four seasons, and signed a five-year, $25MM contract with the team just last spring. The deal included a $6.5MM signing bonus, so the Lions will assume a sizable chunk of dead money by cutting the veteran this year. Because the move happened after June 1, $1.3MM of the prorated bonus money will apply to 2014’s cap, with the other $3.9MM applying to 2015’s.

Depending on the timetable for Houston’s recovery from surgery, he could become an appealing veteran pickup for another club this summer or fall. The former second-round pick won’t be subjected to waivers, so he’ll immediately become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Houston, Packers, Vikings

Following one of the worst defensive seasons in team history, the Bears’ scheme under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will “undergo significant alterations in 2014,” says ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “There are some significant changes in terms of techniques that we’re going to play; how we’re going to fit the run, some of our alignments,” Tucker said. “We’ll have some alternative fronts that we’ll play. I’m not sure how much of a difference you’ll see during the OTAs and things like that because we’re going to work to lay the foundation on our base principles and techniques, which will allow us to do pretty much anything we want down the road.” Wright also mentions that the team plans to cross train all of the defensive linemen in an effort to achieve better flexibility and versatility.

In other NFC North notes. . .

  • Lions veteran cornerback Chris Houston had toe surgery earlier this week, and the team is uncertain if he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, writes Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Packers drafted four defensive rookies. Of the group, first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and third-round defensive lineman Khyri Thornton are expected to contribute as rookies. “There’s a reasonable chance Clinton-Dix will be plugged in as a starter on Day 1 of training camp,” says Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Thornton, while raw, was taken in the third round for a reason. Green Bay envisions him adding rotational juice to the defensive line.”
  • Because of an NFL rule, Vikings rookies Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton and David Yankey can’t join the team full-time until next month, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The players’ schools — UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford, respectively — are on quarters instead of semesters, and the players are required to return to school until the term ends in June.
  • Meanwhile, the Vikings envision third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, an option quarterback at Georgia Southern, as the type of complimentary, all-purpose back that has thrived in so many of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s units, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling.