Justin Houston would be Baltimore Ravens best case scenario

Justin Houston, Ravens Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Houston, Ravens Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It has been reported that the Baltimore Ravens are hosting free agent pass rusher Justin Houston for a visit this week. If the Ravens sign the 32-year-old outside linebacker, how would it improve the defense? Let’s talk about it.

Signing Houston would be the pass rusher equivalent of when that Ravens signed Steve Smith Sr. to play wide receiver in 2014. Houston would be a player that would be an instant hit with the organization and the fans.

The Ravens would realistically get a couple of good seasons out of Houston and the whole fandom would wish the move happened earlier in Houston’s career. Houston still has all the signs of still having it. He’s coming off an eight-sack season. In the past four years, Houston has tallied 37.5 sacks.

This would be a legitimate effort to help fix the Ravens’ lack of pass rush off the edge. Tyus Bowser‘s career-high sack total is five in a season. Jaylon Ferguson is as unproven and Pernell McPhee is better on run downs than he is at chasing the quarterback.

Houston wouldn’t need to have a career year with the Ravens to be their best outside linebacker. It would be a huge upgrade for the Ravens. If the Ravens combined a signing of Houston with the drafting of a first-round pass rusher it could have a total transformation of the defense.

There isn’t a scenario where the Ravens can afford to go into the next season without signing an edge rusher of some sort. The Ravens would be placing a ton of responsibility on one or two rookies if they expect to solve their problems in the 2021 NFL Draft alone.

This is a good reason for the Ravens to be proactive with this signing. Several pundits have noted that the Ravens may wait until after the draft to keep any of their compensatory picks for next year from being wiped out. There are still some other big-name free agents like Ryan Kerrigan and Jadeveon Clowney.

If the Ravens think that Houston is the best option (he is) then they should be willing to sign him before the draft. Houston alone wouldn’t completely turn around the pass-rushing situation of the Ravens. That being said, he’d be a nice insurance policy to go into the draft with. If that costs an extra fourth-round pick in the draft next year, that isn’t the end of the world.

It’s important not to live in the world of hyperbole with Houston. The Ravens would not be signing the same version of Justin Houstons who had 22 sacks in a season for the Kansas City Chiefs seven seasons ago. There was a time where Houston would have been the hottest commodity on the free-agent market. That’s not where the Ravens are at as we ponder the potential of this addition.

The haul of Kevin Zeitler, Sammy Watkins, and Houston is something the Ravens can sell as a strong and practical showing in free agency. In a world where this is the Ravens free agency gains, Eric DeCosta took some of the burdens of his three biggest needs in three doable signings.

The potential impact of this move should be rated around a six or a seven out of 10. At this point, it is the most that can be done with a signing. A dream offseason would include the Ravens drafting Joesph Ossai or Gregory Rousseau. That would rate as a 10 out of 10 difference-making couple of moves.

The Bottom Line:

The best-case scenario for the Ravens is to come to terms with Houston with an agreeable contract. In fact, it may have been the best-case scenario all along, one that we couldn’t see in all the speculation of bigger splashes.

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Signing Houston would be practical. The Ravens would be getting a player who still offers a good bit of value, even after 10 seasons in the NFL. The Ravens have my permission to get this done quickly.