The Ravens currently have an opening at pass rusher and were rumored to be in talks with the top name still on the market. It looks like that ship has officially sailed:
Colts reached agreement with former Chiefs’ LB Justin Houston, source tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 21, 2019
Justin Houston appeared to be a perfect fit for what they were trying to do, and the speculation began to percolate that he may land with them after a tweet was sent out by Baltimore’s first big ticket free agent pickup this offseason, Earl Thomas:
@JHouston50 @ravensnation is waiting on you bro #sacksonstacks #RavensFlock— Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas) March 15, 2019
While this seemingly just started out as a long shot recruiting pitch you’ll often see on Twitter between players this day and age, the interest was later confirmed by The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, who confirmed that Baltimore were in fact talking to Houston:
Dont know about Marshall, but they've been talking to Houston.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) March 19, 2019
While there’s no doubt it would’ve been a great fit for both parties, the final numbers that Indy settled on to the bring in the all-pro likely priced Baltimore out of contention. Houston inked for the Colts for 2 years and 24 millions dollars total, at a salary of about 12 million a year.
That’s essentially what they just gave to Thomas, and with the other money thrown at Mark Ingram, they probably weren’t interested in tying up that amount of cap space in one player when they have several other needs to address. Now they may have to turn their efforts back to the ever thinning free agent pool, with names such as Ziggy Ansah, Nick Perry, or Adrian Clayborn all being floated as possible consolation signings.
Whether they take that route or the draft, Houston was probably the last marquee free agent left available. At this point, it’s likely Baltimore uses low level signings to fill needs and reasonably manage cap space and then turn their attention to next month’s draft.