Uncertainty surrounds Houston as free agency approaches

Chiefs-Raiders matchup No. 3: Stephenson vs. Houston

Uncertainty surrounds Houston as free agency approaches
December 13, 2013, 7:30 am
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Lamarr Houston: "We’ll see what happens. This is a cutthroat business. It’s rough sometimes. You never know what will come next.” (USATSI)

Programming note:  Watch Friday’s Raiders press conference with Dennis Allen streaming live right here at 1:15 p.m.   

Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston is focused on finishing the season strong, not much beyond that. That’s his story anyway, and he’s sticking to it.

Uncertainty awaits this offseason, when he’ll become an unrestricted free agent for the first time. If he’s stressed about the prospect, his poker face has held.

“I really don’t worry about it,” Houston said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to go one way or the other regardless of how I feel about it.”

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The Raiders have offered to extend his expiring contract. Houston’s camp has listened. No deal has been reached. If Houston hits the open market, he might never return. All things being equal, he’d like to stay with the team that drafted him.

“Ideally, I would love for it to be here,” Houston said. “Whatever decision Reggie makes or the coach makes, that’s up to them. We’ll see what happens. This is a cutthroat business. It’s rough sometimes. You never know what will come next.”

That’s why Houston has chosen to remove himself from the process as much as possible.

“That’s why you hire an agent,” Houston said. “I stick to football. He sticks to business.”

While Houston downplays his role, play drives the bottom line. He’s proven to be a stand-up character, a hard worker and a team leader. He’s a disruptive force has a pass rusher and run stopper. At a premium position, those traits generally lead to big bucks.

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The Raiders and Houston must agree on a value. Houston wants it to be high, meaning he must put forth has many good performances as possible. He already has a career-high five sacks – that’s not a huge number, as he’s drawn significant attention as the Raiders’ only effective pass-rushing lineman -- but Houston has just one in the last six weeks. Some games have been lackluster, especially Nov. 28 against Dallas. He only has three games to finalize stats and opinions, but they don’t carry extra weight. Houston believes he’s shown enough quality and progress in four seasons to stand out.

“There’s a lot of tape out there,” Houston said. “Our coaches will watch it. Other teams will too. Someone said that the eye in the sky never lies. I’m comfortable with that.”

In line photo of Lamarr Houston provided by USA Today Sports Images