Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston isn’t hanging his cleats up yet and plans on being back with the team in 2023.
Houston, who is set to be a free agent this offseason, affirmed his desire to re-sign with the Ravens after Sunday’s Wild Card playoff loss. He signed a one-year contract with Baltimore before the 2021 season and played well enough to re-sign another one-year contract last July.
This past season, Houston has upped his production on the edge despite serving a less involved, rotational role in the pass-rush. He has one start but has played 14 games in total, recording a team-high 9.5 sacks along with 17 quarterback hits, one interception, and one forced fumble.
His 2022 campaign marked his most productive season in Baltimore, and he has proven more than capable of securing at least a backup role in the Ravens’ outside linebacker unit.
With Odafe Oweh still playing on training wheels, the 33-year-old Houston has filled in as a quietly successful sack artist next to fellow veteran Jason Pierre-Paul and Tyus Bowser.
Houston briefly discussed his future after the Ravens’ playoff loss and told reporters:
"“The way I feel right now – I’ll be back. We’ll see if the chips work out, and I’ll be here. That’s out of my control. We’ll see what they do. I’d like to be back here.”"
Don’t call it retirement: OLB Justin Houston has unfinished business on Ravens
Like many other veterans on the team, Houston is still chasing a ring and may have unfinished business on the Ravens in that regard.
Yet he poses as much more than just another body on the roster: Houston has remained a valuable mentor to Baltimore’s promising outside linebacker unit of Oweh, Bowser, and David Ojabo.
Oweh and Ojabo in particular still have some ways to go to establish themselves as reliable starters, and Houston would plug in as a pillar of stability in the pass-rush while the young players continue to develop their skills. Think of Josh Bynes’ impact on Patrick Queen in the pre-Roquan Smith days.
Houston definitely still has the Super Bowl on his mind and has every intention of fighting for a roster spot in training camp this year:
"“I’ll just pray and talk to God and let him guide me through the offseason, and then I’ll get back to work…. A lot of guys don’t get this opportunity. We had an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl, but we fell short. You just build from it and grow from it and move forward.”"
Houston has already racked up a whopping 111.5 sacks in his career, but he’s not satisfied just yet. Will we see him in purple and black in 2023?