NFL Free Agency Primer: Justin Houston

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. As the new league year approaches, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Justin Houston

Baltimore Ravens edge rusher Justin Houston is no one's idea of a premier pass rusher, but few players have so consistently outperformed expectations (and their contracts) in recent years. He tallied an impressive 9.5 sacks on only 397 snaps last season and has logged 8.0 or more sacks in five of the past six seasons. He may not be the unstoppable force he was at his peak, but he can still get it done in a reduced role.

The Fit:

Houston is no longer an every-down player, but he remains shockingly productive as a pure pass rusher, even at 34 years old. Plenty of teams can benefit from his presence in a rotation, but organizations typically fall into the trap of gambling on youth and potential beyond their starters. Any team serious about maximizing an open championship window should give him some consideration.

The Contract:

Houston has been stuck playing on bargain basement one-year deals the past couple of years despite his effectiveness, and that's unlikely to change now that he's a year older. He played last season on a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Ravens and outplayed it, but he'll probably have to settle for something similar this year. Matching Jerry Hughes' two-year, $10 million pact with the Houston Texans is likely the best he can hope for. 

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