Houston tears ACL, out for season; future with Bears uncertain

The injury bug hit the Bears really hard during last night’s loss to the Eagles, but for all the carnage, no one appears to have been hurt worse than OLB Lamarr Houston.

Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Houston has once again torn his ACL and will miss the rest of the season.

The veteran linebacker suffered the injury on a pass-rush attempt in the second quarter, his knee bended awkwardly on the Soldier Field turf while working against LT Jason Peters and LG Allen Barbre. Here’s the play:

It’s a huge blow for Houston, who had a resurgent year last season after recovering from his knee injury and was viewed as a part of a deep and talented outside linebacker group built to withstand the absence of Pernell McPhee, who remains on the PUP list for four more weeks.

For one, it means that—as many are speculating about Jay Cutler—that 2016 could be Houston’s final year as a Bear. He is in the third year of a five-year, $35 million deal and will have a nearly $7 million cap hit next season, a steep price for a player that has now missed significant portions of his last three seasons.

Additionally, the drafting of Leonard Floyd—and the fact that they are already playing him ahead of Houston—would seem to make the veteran expendable. As such, the next few months will be a critical period of evaluation for Floyd, who has flashed at times as a push-rusher but has been inconsistent so far in his rookie season.

If Floyd can start becoming a force as a full-time starter, coupled with the return of McPhee and the steady play of Willie Young, it’s hard not to think that Houston’s time in Chicago will be over after this season.

In the short term, Houston’s inevitable IR designation will open up a roster spot that may result in a call-up for current practice squad quarterback Matt Barkley, who coincidentally was drafted by the Eagles in 2014 out of USC. Given the uncertainty regarding Cutler’s sprained thumb, Brian Hoyer could likely get the start for the Bears next Sunday night against the Cowboys with Barkley likely serving as the backup.

After last night, it’s quickly shaping up to be a lost season for the Bears on their way back to becoming respectable. Unfortunately, this year, and perhaps his Chicago career, are already lost for Houston.

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