One day after re-signing veteran cornerback T.J. Carrie, the Indianapolis Colts remain the favorite to pull off a similar move with veteran defensive end Justin Houston ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Houston, who has visited the Baltimore Ravens in recent days, has yet to sign a deal on the open market and is reportedly still in contact with the Colts, General Manager Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay.
Knowing that Houston is still on the market – along with a couple of other veteran pass rushers — the Colts should be prepared to pounce in the coming days and shore up a weakness ahead of the NFL Draft, which offers them no guarantees of landing a top-flight edge defender.
According to Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton, Houston remains one of the top eight free agents on the market, with the Colts listed as the best fit and favorite to sign the 32-year-old pass rusher.
Justin Houston will immediately improve a team's defensive line wherever he lands. Over the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, the 32-year-old recorded 19 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. The Athletic's Stephen Holder reported the Colts remain in contact with Houston, but the veteran edge-rusher is an option for the Baltimore Ravens as well, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley. According to Hensley, the Ravens won't sign certain free agents until after the draft to preserve their 2022 fourth-round compensatory picks for losing edge-rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon. Houston may wait until after the draft to weigh his options. He could sign for a bigger payday in Indianapolis than Baltimore if the Colts use some of their $23.6 million in cap space to offer a competitive salary. Colts owner Jim Irsay says Houston "could come back," which seems like the most probable scenario. Indianapolis needs Houston's presence on the edge after it lost Denico Autry to the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu and Tyquan Lewis still have a lot to prove as potential playmakers along the defensive line.
It makes sense that Houston could be waiting for the Ravens to sign him after the 2021 NFL Draft to ensure they retain their compensatory pick after losing Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon in free agency.
If that's the case though, the Colts should try and meet Houston's ask, ensuring they retain a veteran who knows the system and has produced the last two seasons in Indianapolis.
Chris Ballard and the Colts like to let their own free agents hit the open market and determine their own value, but we're getting to the point where push comes to shove, and with some $23 million in cap space, it's starting to look more and more like the time of reckoning for Ballard and the Colts' staff when it comes to Houston.
Have thoughts on Houston remaining on the market, and his fit with the Colts? Drop a line in the comment section below!