After four seasons as a starting cornerback for the Detroit Lions, the team terminated Chris Houston‘s contract today. The release of Houston allowed the Lions to finish the rookie deal for first-round pick Eric Ebron, who signed his contract today.
Houston was approaching the second year of his five-year, $25 million deal he signed last spring. Despite the big deal, Houston struggled last season, only appearing in 12 games with 44 tackles and two interceptions. This offseason, Houston was sidelined for most of OTAs after recovering from a serious toe injury that was operated on this spring.
Despite the potentially big cap hit coming, the Lions got this move right. Last season, Houston was ranked as only the 96th best corner in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, which was among the bottom half of cornerbacks in the NFL.
After allowing only 53 catches for 629 yards in 16 games in 2012, Houston allowed 48 catches for 834 yards in just 13 games in 2013, per Pro Football Focus. Houston allowed 11.9 yards per reception in 2012, but that number went up to 17.4 yards in 2013. Finally, quarterbacks had a 78.7 passer rating when targeting him in 2012, but that number increased to 107.3 in 2013.
The seven-year corner had base salaries of $3.5 million in 2014, $4.5 million in 2015 and 2016 and $6.3 million in 2017, which was $18.8 million left on his deal. With the emergence of second-year player Darius Slay this offseason and re-signing veteran Rashean Mathis, Houston was in an uphill battle to keep his job in the first place, and his injuries wouldn’t have justified what he would be making in any of those seasons.
The depth at corner also wasn’t going to help Houston’s chances this offseason. With players like Bill Bentley, rookie Nevin Lawson and free agent Cassius Vaughn also in the fold, one player had to be the odd man out and that was Houston.