Late for Work 4/15: Should Ravens Sign Justin Houston If It Means Losing a Compensatory Pick?

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Colts DE Justin Houston

Should Ravens Sign Justin Houston If It Means Losing a Compensatory Pick?

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton said he turned down an offer from the Ravens to re-sign with the Indianapolis Colts a few weeks ago. Could Justin Houston do the same?

The four-time Pro Bowl defensive end reportedly visited with the Ravens yesterday, but Colts Owner Jim Irsay said "Justin could come back" during a conference call yesterday.

With Jadeveon Clowney signing with the Cleveland Browns yesterday, Houston and Melvin Ingram III are the top remaining pass rushers in free agency. The Ravens have a need at the position after the departures of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue this offseason.

Popular belief is that the Ravens won't sign another unrestricted free agent until after May 3 to avoid losing one of their two fourth-round compensatory picks. Houston is looking to sign with a team before the NFL Draft begins on April 29, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora.

So should the Ravens sign Houston now if they want him and give up a pick rather than risk losing him to the Colts or another potential suitor?

"If they have to surrender a compensatory pick to ward off a push from the Colts for his services, they should do so," Ravens Wire's Kevin Oestreicher wrote. "The Ravens need another pass rusher, and Houston would fit in almost perfectly. However, if they're serious about acquiring him, Baltimore will have to seal the deal while also making sure he doesn't find another offer or situation that he likes better."

Russell Street Report's Dev Panchwagh acknowledged that harvesting compensatory picks has contributed to the Ravens' consistent success, but he also believes acquiring Houston would be worth losing the pick.

"Would I be OK with giving up a fourth-round comp for Houston if it came to that and that's the only way to proceed? I would, especially because you'll still have two more comp picks," Panchwagh wrote. "But … I can absolutely see their logic in trying to secure the pick and the player."

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

Houston, 32, had 19 sacks and 30 quarterback hits in 32 games with the Colts.

Why Hasn't Orlando Brown Jr. Been Traded?

It's been a couple months since Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. requested a trade because of his desire to play left tackle, and reportedly as many as six teams have shown interest. The fact that a deal hasn't happened yet likely indicates that no team has been willing to meet the Ravens' asking price.

"I'm not sure how motivated the Ravens are to move Orlando Brown," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer wrote. "If he were to play out this season and get paid in free agency next year, they could get a third-round comp pick while having a full year to find his replacement. Which means, on paper, you'd probably have to do better than a third-rounder.

"Who's willing to give up a one or two for him? And pay him? And play him at a position he doesn't have a ton of NFL history at, with the underlying concerns about his athletic capacity to handle it?"

Breer added that there are teams that believe the Ravens are the perfect scheme for Brown's skillset and he might not be quite the same player elsewhere, and that's before you even get to the move from right to left tackle.

"All of this should explain why a trade hasn't happened yet," Breer wrote. "The best chance one will, I'd say, might come after the first round of the draft if a team or two that struck out on finding a tackle on that first night and gets desperate. And by the way, none of this is to say Brown's not a good player. He is a good player. The situation is just complicated."

Our Garrett Downing speculated that the Los Angeles Chargers could be a potential trade partner if a deal for Brown occurred during the draft.

"They're in the market for a left tackle, and they may like the idea of acquiring a two-time Pro Bowler in Orlando Brown Jr., rather than taking their chances with a rookie in that spot," Downing wrote. "In this scenario, the Ravens would move up from pick No. 27 to No. 13, in return for sending Brown to Los Angeles. Baltimore could also get some additional compensation.

"So if the Ravens move up to pick No. 13, who would they be targeting? Receiver is the most likely option in my mind. The top three receivers in this draft are Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. There's a chance one of those players is still on the board at that point, and the Ravens may relish the chance of getting another dynamic playmaker for this offense. As tough as it would be to see Brown go, getting one of the draft's top receivers would make that pill a little easier to swallow."

What Year 2 Progress Would Mean for Ravens' Top 2020 Picks

With the NFL Draft just two weeks away, PressBox's Bo Smolka looked at the Ravens' draft picks from a year ago and defined what Year 2 progress for each would mean. Here's what he said about the Ravens' first five selections:

LB Patrick Queen (first round, No. 28 overall): "He leads the team in tackles again and warrants Pro Bowl consideration with improved pass coverage, a few sacks, a couple of interceptions and maybe a defensive touchdown."

RB J.K. Dobbins (second round, No. 55 overall): "He becomes just the second Ravens running back since 2014 to top 1,000 yards for a ground game that again proves to be the best in the league, he tops last year's nine-touchdown total and he elevates his play in the passing game en route to a Pro Bowl nod."

DL Justin Madubuike (third round, No. 71 overall): "He is healthy all season and increases his totals in every statistical category. He is slated for a reserve role behind the Ravens' veterans up front, but he is able to make a disruptive impact when called upon."

WR Devin Duvernay (third round, No. 92 overall): "He emerges as the leading slot receiver with Willie Snead gone to Las Vegas, and even with the addition of Sammy Watkins, Duvernay betters Snead's production last year (33 catches, 432 yards). He also remains a big factor in the return game, with another touchdown."

ILB Malik Harrison (third round, No. 98 overall): "He appears in every game again, improves in coverage and sees more action as a three-down defender en route to 60-plus tackles and a couple of turnovers."

Ray Lewis Reportedly Was Considered for Tennessee State's Head Coaching Job

Former Ravens great Ray Lewis was considered for Tennessee State's head coaching vacancy before the school hired former NFL running back Eddie George this week, according to Football Scoop's John Brice.

In Tuesday's Late for Work we noted that Deion Sanders said fellow Hall of Famers and former teammates Lewis and Ed Reed were interested in coaching at the collegiate level. Sanders is the head coach at Jackson State, which is an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), as is Tennessee State.

In a 2017 interview with BaltimoreRavens.com, Lewis said he was thinking about going into coaching.

"I don't know if I'll go directly into it, but it's something I'm definitely looking into," Lewis said at the time.

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