The Baltimore Ravens came into the 2021 offseason slated to have five of their six edge rushers from 2020 hit unrestricted free agency. While they were able to re-sign Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee to team-friendly deals, Pro Bowlers Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue signed lucrative deals elsewhere and Jihad Ward followed Joe Cullen to Jacksonville.
General Manager Eric DeCosta has yet to bring in any outside help at the position during the initial wave of free agency but that might not be the case for much longer according to reports.
Free-agent edge rusher Justin Houston will visit the Ravens on Tuesday, per @JasonLaCanfora on @IA1057TheFan.— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) April 9, 2021
Houston had eight sacks and 25 pressures last season for Indianapolis. He’s looking to sign before the draft, with at least two other teams in the mix, per JLC.
Houston is a 10-year veteran that has made four Pro Bowls and accumulated 97.5 sacks in his Hall of Fame career. He was originally drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2011 draft and spent his first eight years in the league there before spending the last two with the Indianapolis Colts.
While he isn’t the same beast that threatened Michael Strahan’s 22.5 single-season sack record in 2014 before coming up half a sack shy, Houston can still be productive and generate consistent pressure off the edge.
Last season Houston finished with the second-most sacks on the Colts with eight, which would’ve led the Ravens in 2020. He also recorded a dozen quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and a pair of safeties.
After an ongoing battle with the injury bug factored into the end of his tenure with the Chiefs, the 32-year-old is has been very durable over the past two seasons, playing and starting 33 consecutive games for Indianapolis over that span including the playoffs.
Signing Houston doesn’t mean that the Ravens wouldn’t address the position in this year’s draft. They will definitely draft an edge rusher and might even pick two so that they can replenish their depth chart with young inexpensive talent.
In addition to bringing consistency and production to the table, he would provide another strong veteran leader in the locker room for a young team poised to contend for a championship.
The Ravens love accumulating compensatory picks and DeCosta is dedicated to protecting them. They are in line to receive a pair of fourth round picks for Judon and Ngakoue so it will be interesting to see the contract details if Houston ends up signing before the NFL draft. If he signs a moderate below market value deal like Sammy Watkins then it would likely just cancel out one of the other comp picks in the lower rounds that they would receive for either Willie Snead, Matt Skura or Ward.