Late for Work 4/12: Veteran Edge Rusher Justin Houston Will Reportedly Visit Ravens

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Colts DE Justin Houston

Justin Houston Will Reportedly Visit Ravens This Week

There have been questions as to why the Ravens haven't signed one of the veteran pass rushers still available on the free agent market.

Those questions could be answered soon as four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Houston is expected to visit Baltimore on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

Houston became a free agent this offseason after spending the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Known as a consistent force on the edge for most of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston has continued to be productive with age. He had 19 sacks and 30 quarterback hits in 32 games with the Colts.

This isn't the first time the Ravens have shown interest in Houston. They reportedly made a run at the veteran pass rusher in 2019 before he signed a two-year deal with the Colts.

"Houston is the type of player that could thrive with the Ravens," Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich wrote. "He's a durable, aggressive pass rusher that could help fill the void left by those recent departures that could hamper the pass rush."

"Houston may have just turned 32-years-old in January, but he's still tough to stop on the edge," CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani wrote. "Last year with the Colts, he recorded 25 combined tackles, one forced fumble and eight sacks – which trailed just DeForest Buckner on Indy's defense."

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that Houston is looking to sign before the draft, which is before the May 3 deadline in which free-agent signings won't count against the compensatory formula.

If you remember, the Ravens are expected to receive two fourth-round comp picks for the departures of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue. Signing Houston before that deadline would presumably nullify one of the picks.

Zrebiec also reported that the Ravens are hoping to bring in several of the top free-agent pass rushers on the market. NFL.com ranks Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Aldon Smith, Everson Griffen, and Houston among the best available.

Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler compared a potential Houston signing equivalent to the Ravens bringing in veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. back in 2014.

"Houston would be a player that would be an instant hit with the organization and the fans," Schisler wrote. "The Ravens would realistically get a couple of good seasons out of Houston and the whole fandom would wish the move happened earlier in Houston's career. Houston still has all the signs of still having it. … This would be a legitimate effort to help fix the Ravens' lack of pass rush off the edge."

John Harbaugh Hilariously Recounts Crazy 'Monday Night Football' Game

What many considered to be the best game of the 2020 NFL season just got even better.

In an interview with announcer/NFL Network analyst Charles Davis on Hudl, John Harbaugh talked about the craziness from the Ravens' 47-42 Week 14 win over the Cleveland Browns, and what led to Lamar Jackson's go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Facing a one-point deficit on fourth-and-5, the Ravens were without Jackson, who was in the locker room dealing with cramps. Backup Trace McSorley led the offense to the Cleveland 44-yard line before going down with a knee injury.

The emergency quarterback was Willie Snead IV, who Harbaugh said was taking snaps on the sideline preparing to go in.

"Willie's like, right there," Harbaugh said. "And I look over at Willie and he is looking right at me, taking a snap from the center, and he looks at me and goes, 'Coach, this is my time to shine!' Did it make me feel better? No."

Harbaugh also said Justin Tucker pleaded his case to attempt what would have been a 68-yard field goal.

"Tucker, who always runs right by me when he wants to kick a field goal, comes clicking by me, spins around and looks at me like, 'Am I kicking the field goal?'" Harbaugh said. "And I look at him, and I go, 'It's 68 yards!' And he looks at me and is like, 'Yeah.' And I go, 'Can you make it?' Now, I'm thinking it might be a good idea. He looks at me and says, 'I think I have a better chance than Willie.' I'm like, 'You might be right!'"

While all of this is going on, Harbaugh said the trainer tapped him on the shoulder letting him know Jackson was coming back out of the locker room.

"And I'm like, 'Who?' And here he comes, Lamar, like Willis Reed out of the tunnel," Harbaugh said. "He comes from the back of the bench and says, 'I got this coach. I got it.'"

It's a hilarious, but interesting perspective from Harbaugh during one of the most stressful parts of the game (aside from Tucker's game-winning field goal). The Ravens were in a late season stretch where they needed to win out in order to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Even Snead looked back on it with laughter.

More Trade Back Talk?

The Athletic's AFC North reporters were asked to rank on a scale of 1-10 how likely the team they cover will pick at their assigned spot in the first round.

With the Ravens sitting at No. 27, Zrebiec believes there will be some movement.

"Probably a four and I'd go even lower than that if there was a guarantee that the phone would ring when the Ravens were on the clock and there would be a team interested in getting into that spot," Zrebiec wrote.

"Obviously, that's hardly a sure thing. What is a sure thing is that Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta will explore opportunities to trade back and pick up a few more picks. DeCosta has made no secret of his desire to have more draft capital and the Ravens' drafting history suggests a trade back is a likely scenario. There's always a possibility that they move up if a prospect they covet drops a bit, but that seems unlikely in a draft defined more by depth than star power."

In two drafts under DeCosta, the Ravens have made at least eight selections. Last year, they made 10.

The Ravens currently have seven picks entering the draft later this month, so history suggests a trade back could be possible. We've already seen pundits highlight possible scenarios and trade packages.

One Receiver the Ravens Could Still Target

With the first wave of free agency winding down, Bleacher Report's Alex Kay looked at one player each team could still target on the open market.

Kay believes the Ravens should pursue receiver Golden Tate III.

"While the Ravens could opt to use an early draft pick on a wideout to help Jackson, there are some serviceable veterans still unsigned," Kay wrote. "Tate is one of the notable ones available and should still have something left to offer at this late stage of his career."

Even after signing Sammy Watkins, pundits have advocated for more help at receiver in Baltimore. Just last week, the Ravens were named as an ideal trade candidate for Chicago Bears receiver Anthony Miller.

While Tate's numbers were modest in two seasons with the New York Giants, he would bring a physical presence to the position in Greg Roman's offense.

The 32-year-old would fit the mold of the veteran receiver who the Ravens have targeted over the years. Like Watkins, Tate could potentially come on a short, team friendly contract.

"Tate isn't qualified to be a legitimate No. 1 WR anymore, but … has the skill set to at least work as a reliable slot option for Baltimore," Kay added. "He had a down 2020 campaign with the Giants—catching just 35 passes for 388 yards and a pair of touchdowns—but those numbers would still be quite beneficial in a run-heavy Ravens attack."

Quick Hits

  • ESPN's Matt Bowen said Terrace Marshall Jr. is the best receiver fit for the Ravens.

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