Bulldogs Beat

Former UGA standout Justin Houston signs richest linebacker deal in NFL history

HOOVER, Ala. -- Though Georgia won't hit the SEC Media Days newswire for another day, one former player made quite the splash late Wednesday morning.

Former Bulldog Justin Houston signed a six-year contract worth $101 million, which was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal gives Houston the second-richest contract ever and makes him the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history. Houston's deal includes $52.5 million in guaranteed money, making it the most expensive contract the Chiefs have ever handed out.

Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh still holds the biggest NFL contract at $114 million, which was signed shortly after the new league year began.

Houston earned his new contract by becoming one of the most feared outside linebackers in the NFL. In his first four seasons, Houston totaled 48 1/2 sacks, which included a league-leading 22 a year ago. His 2014 total was only a 1/2-sack short of the NFL's single-season record of 22 1/2, set by former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001.

Houston took to his personal Twitter account to celebrate the new deal.

"Blessed to sign contract with the KC Chiefs," he wrote. "Thanks to my family #1 & my agents Joel Segal & @gbo74 for the awesome contract!"

Houston committed to Georgia in the class of 2008 out of Statesboro High School. After spending his first two seasons at defensive end, he transitioned to outside linebacker when Georgia switched to a 3-4 defense under Todd Grantham in 2010. The scheme changed proved beneficial for Houston as he recorded 10 sacks in 13 games as a junior before declaring for the NFL. The Chiefs selected Houston in the third round of the 2011 draft after his stock took a hit following a positive drug test for marijuana.

However, Houston quickly became one of the NFL's top pass rushers. His sack totals have increased each season (5 1/2 in 2011, 10 in 2012, 11 in 2013, 22 in 2014) while remaining relatively injury free. Houston's missed only five games in four seasons.

“He’s one of the top players in the National Football League and a premier pass rusher," Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. "As we’ve said from the beginning, Justin the football player, and the person, is someone we wanted to be a part of our organization. We are very happy that he will remain a member of the Chiefs.”

The Chiefs franchised Houston earlier this offseason and had until 4 p.m. on Wednesday to strike a new deal to avoid having him play the year out under the tag.

“Justin has a relentless work ethic on the field and in the classroom, and he provides our team with tremendous leadership," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. "He is a fearless competitor, and we are glad he is going to be back."

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