3 best landing spots for free-agent edge rusher Justin Houston

NFL training camp is fast approaching and Justin Houston, one of the sport’s most productive edge rushers, remains a free agent. With plenty of contenders needing pass rushers, there shouldn’t be a shortage of interested teams ready to sign him.

Houston, who spent the past two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, remains an incredibly productive player. While he turned 32 in January, the 6-foot-3 edge rusher has shown he can still make a significant impact for a defense.

With that in mind, let’s examine the three best landing spots for him.

Justin Houston signs with Baltimore Ravens

Justin Houston worked out for the Baltimore Ravens in April, but a contract was never signed. Months later, he is still on the open market and likely realizing the NFL salary cap crunch will limit his earning potential this season. If he’s looking for the perfect landing spot, it’s Baltimore.

  • Projected Justin Houston contract: One-year, $8.5 million contract

After losing Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue this offseason, the Ravens must replace their production and impact. Keep in mind, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale sent the blitz on an NFL-high 44.1% of snaps this past season. Houston fits this scheme perfectly and would be a safe bet for at least seven sacks in 2021.

Pittsburgh Steelers bolster pass rush

Justin Houston, Pittsburgh Steelers
. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers boast the defensive line in the NFL and it’s more than capable of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We’re also not overly worried about the departure of Bud Dupree, especially with Alex Highsmith poised for a breakout season. But Pittsburgh’s defense would still really benefit from adding a rotational pass rusher.

  • Justin Houston stats (2019-’20): 30 quarterback hits, 21 tackles for loss, 19 sacks across 32 games

Imagine rotating Houston and Highsmith, even finding ways to get both of them on the field. Offensive lines will already have their hands full with T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. The Steelers could always keep Houston fresh and would put him in a great position to post huge numbers, blowing well beyond 100 career sacks.

Justin Houston returns to Kansas City Chiefs

Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) against the New England Patriots during the AFC championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If Houston is still upset at the Kansas City Chiefs for releasing him in 2019, then this is out of the question. But the veteran edge rusher, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring and is closing in on a major milestone. It would be fitting to achieve both feats with the Chiefs.

Across eight seasons in Kansas City, Houston racked up 118 quarterback hits and 78.5 sacks. Even in his final season with the team, he finished with nine sacks in 12 games. The Chiefs are actively looking for pieces that will improve their Super Bowl odds. Adding a pass rusher like Houston might just make them the best team in the NFL.

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