Ravens: Justin Houston was ‘so close’ to signing with AFC North rival

Ravens, Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Ravens, Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens recently inked edge rusher Justin Houston to a one-year contract, and Houston couldn’t be happier about the signing.

In fact, he turned down other competitive offers, including one from Ravens’ AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, to join Baltimore. He was “so close” to signing with the Steelers, but the Ravens were his first choice.

Houston’s only just started practicing with the team, but he already bleeds the purple and black. The Steel City’s got nothing on Baltimore.

Houston elaborated on the “better fit” part in a press conference when he told reporters:

"“I think [the Ravens’ scheme] was a better fit for me and what I was looking for. I just want opportunities to have one-on-ones and be able to put pressure on the quarterback.”"

By now, he and the rest of the league know how short-handed the Ravens are when it comes to the pass rush. The only real seasoned veteran they had in the position was Pernell McPhee, and his name isn’t exactly instilling confidence in the unit.

Rookies Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes will continue to adapt to Martindale’s defensive system, but needless to say, it’s a tough learning curve for even the most talented college players.

Oweh and Hayes have shined so far in camp and will no doubt get their share of playing time.

Houston simply serves as the leader of the flock whose experience could take the Ravens deep into the postseason.

Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston almost signed with the Steelers.

Entering his 11th NFL season, Justin Houston has played in 134 games, including 128 starts, for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts.

The four-time Pro Bowler has registered 444 career tackles, 97.5 sacks, 117 tackles for loss, 17 forced fumbles, and 13 fumble recoveries. Since turning pro in 2011, Houston ranks third in both sacks and fumble recoveries among active NFL defenders.

His most valuable asset to this Ravens team might just be his postseason experience. Even with Lamar Jackson at the helm, Baltimore needs all the veteran leadership they can get to make it far, or at least farther than last season.

Houston started seven of the eight playoff games in which he appeared from 2013-20. In those eight postseason contests, he recorded 20 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three passes defended, and two fumble recoveries.

He’s a decorated sack machine that eats quarterbacks for breakfast, and Ravens fans should be ecstatic he chose to play in Baltimore this season. The new No. 48 should quickly acclimate to the defensive scheme he’s clearly so fond of.

Next. Ravens: What the Josh Allen extension means for Lamar Jackson. dark

He wants to sack quarterbacks this year? Good. He and the Ravens both have that in common.