Should the LA Rams kick the tires on FA DE Justin Houston?
As the NFL free-agent pool continues to dwindle after the news this week that DE Melvin Ingram of the Los Angeles Chargers has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, there remains one bona fide edge rusher still on the table – Justin Houston, who’s played the last two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts. Now the question becomes, could the LA Rams be interested?
On the plus side, he recorded eight sacks last year, three of them in one game against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans. and has consistently recorded eight or more sacks each season since 2017. He’s been a remarkably consistent pass rusher over the course of his long career and is only a few sacks shy of breaking into the 100-sack club. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro.
On the negative side, he’s 32 years old, ancient by NFL standards, and widely considered to be on the downside of his career. Does he still have anything left in the tank? Does he want too much money, even for a one-year deal? The Rams have about $5 million to spend. Would that be enough to procure his services?
Of course, almost any pass rusher’s career is immediately boosted by lining up on the same defensive front next to LA Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald. The Aaron-Donald-Effect was the reason that Dante Fowler Jr. signed a lucrative contract with the Atlanta Falcons. That same huge boost could revitalize the career of Justin Houston just as well.
Sacks are important, but sometimes key pressures on the opposing QB are just as important.
Here’s a little gem of a stat about Houston’s ability to bring the heat, courtesy of NFL.com:
"“Houston generated 23 key pressures (pressures that are play/drive-ending, including sacks) as a Colt in 2020, which placed him in the top 30 percent of edge rushers last season. Next-Gen Stats show that Houston posted an 11.7 pressure percentage on third down last season, ranking 25th among 62 players with at least 100 third-down rushes.”-per NFL.com"
Houston is on the radar screen of multiple NFL teams and continues to be courted by more as training camp nears. He delivers an immediate boost to any team’s pass rush, an area that we believe may need reinforcements before the season starts. While it may not be the ideal time for the Rams to move in any direction, the team has an open roster slot due to waving Nsimba Webster. That slot could be filled by Houston.
For now, looks as if he’s biding his time and fielding offers. Should the Rams make a call?