The Baltimore Ravens have remained involved in the veteran pass rusher market in the weeks following the 2022 NFL Draft. They continue to be connected to Justin Houston, but one new name joined the list this week.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Pierre-Paul has found plenty of success at the NFL level and was, at one time, considered to be one of the better pass rushers in the league. However, it’s safe to say he’s past his prime.
While the same is also true for Houston, there are reasons to believe that the Ravens would just be better off re-signing Houston rather than bringing in Pierre-Paul, assuming the price tag is the same.
Why Justin Houston is a better target for the Ravens than Jason Pierre-Paul
The Ravens signed Houston last July with the goal of adding some extra veteran insurance to their outside linebacker corps. While Houston didn’t light up the stat sheet, he still accomplished just that and put together a very respectable season.
The 33-year-old finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 77.8 that ranked 19th among all edge rushers in the NFL. Despite only recording 4.5 sacks, he was likely a better pass rusher than most realize as well.
His 40 pressures were tied for 40th in the NFL and first on the Ravens while his 12 QB hits ranked 15th at his position ahead of the likes of Cameron Jordan, Von Miller, and Joey Bosa, among others.
Houston was a good player in 2021, and given his familiarity in the team’s defensive system (even with a new defensive coordinator in Mike Macdonald), re-signing him seems like a wise approach.
As for Pierre-Paul, the red flags are obvious. He’s coming off easily the worst season of his career in which he finished with just 2.5 sacks in 12 games, along with a dreadful PFF grade of 45.3 that ranked dead last among all 108 qualified edge defenders.
On top of that, he was forced to miss the final five games of the season after suffering a season-ending torn rotator cuff that required surgery. Pierre-Paul would later call the injury “by far the worst” of his career.
Pierre-Paul hasn’t been a reliable contributor in two years and is coming off a major injury. Meanwhile, Houston was a rock-solid contributor last season, is familiar with the system, and has no major recent injury history to speak of.
The choice should be obvious.
If it comes down to Justin Houston vs. Jason Pierre-Paul, the Ravens should choose the former.