In the hours after a four-sack performance gave Justin Houston the Chiefs' franchise record, all he could talk about was how close Kansas City came to making the playoffs.

Houston insisted his new single-season mark would hit him some day. He might be on a new team by the time it happens.

The Pro Bowl linebacker became a free agent when the season ended, putting the Chiefs in a difficult situation. Their attempts at striking a long-term deal last offseason when nowhere, and Houston's 22-sack season has given him even more leverage in negotiations.

"It's the part of the business side that I don't want to talk about," Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said Monday. "I can say it's ongoing business, ongoing conversation."

If the Chiefs slap Houston with the franchise tag in March, they would have until July 15 to agree on a multiyear contract, so there is plenty of time to work out a multiyear contract. But if no deal is reached, the Chiefs would have to pay Houston a one-year deal averaging the top five salaries at his position.