Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs gauge how, when to cut players with off-field troubles

Knowing when and when not to support a young football player with legal or drug issues takes plenty of research and conversation. So it was for the Chiefs recently when considering the circumstances of undrafted free agent Justin Cox.

And the case of star linebacker Justin Houston four years ago.

Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt addressed the difficulty of personnel decisions when non-football factors enter the equation.

Cox, a rookie from Mississippi State, was arrested on July 20 and charged with aggravated domestic violence, burglary of a residence and trespassing. A day later, he was released by general manager John Dorsey.

“I wouldn’t say there is a hard and fast policy because every situation is different,” Hunt said. “It’s up to John and his staff to do the research when a player has an incident and make a judgment call as to whether it’s going to work out. In that particular situation, it didn’t.”

Cox’s arrest was his second involving domestic violence in less than a year. In January, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing and the domestic violence charge was dismissed at the victim’s request.

“John is very aware that we don’t want guys who are going to be a problem in the community to be part of the Kansas City Chiefs, and as a result he and his team have to do a lot of work.”

Dorsey wasn’t the general manager when the Chiefs drafted Houston in the third round of the 2011 Draft, falling from a potential first-round slot. Houston reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine. He spoke with the Chiefs before the draft and explained his situation.

“I think they trust me,” Houston said after the draft. “They took a chance, and I’m going to make them proud for taking a chance.”

Houston, a three-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro selection last year, has become one of the game’s top players, and highest-paid after the Chiefs awarded him with a six-year, $101 million contract last month.

“He answered all of those questions,” Hunt said. “The thought at the time is that he would have been a first-round pick. We really haven’t seen anything that would cause us to be concerned over the last four years. In fact he’s turned into a great player and a great leader, the kind you’d want on your football team.”

Hunt on other Chiefs topics:

On the team playing seven of its first 10 games away from Kansas City: “The first thing I thought was, I’m glad Andy (Reid’s) road record is almost as good as his home record because we’re going to have to win some games on the road. Every year you can find something about the schedule you don’t like.

“One of the great things about coach Reid is he’s never flustered by the schedule.”

If surrendering the home game against the Detroit Lions to play in London results in a loss that keeps the Chiefs from the postseason: “First of all, that scenario is not going to play out. But if we lose that game I’m going to feel like I do every week whether we play that game at home or lose on the road. I’m going to be miserable for the week until we get a chance to play again.”

On sharing the players’ optimism for this year’s team: “I sense the players’ optimism as well. I think they feel like they have a very good team.”

On Justin Houston’s contract: “He’s the type of player we like to have associated with the Chiefs for the bulk of his career. You always want to reward the guys that we drafted who have grown up in our program.”

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