Mailbag: Will the Ravens Sign Justin Houston?

DE Justin Houston

Mink: Houston reportedly turned down some recent offers and at least four teams have reached out recently. CBS Sports' and 105.7 The Fan's Jason La Canfora tweeted that Houston "will play in 2021, with the right team, at the right time." It sure seems like he and his camp know he's a hot commodity and are willing to wait for the perfect combo of team and money – and they aren't worried about him getting a late start at training camp (or later?) in order to get it.

It's unknown if the Ravens are one of the teams that reached out but it wouldn't be surprising considering Houston reportedly visited them in April. Baltimore was at least alluring enough for Houston to check out, so it seems like the money is the issue. With the Steelers signing Melvin Ingram this week, the pass rusher pool is drying up. On one hand, that would seemingly make Houston's market even hotter, but the longer he waits, the more teams may just move on.

The Ravens' pass rush is the biggest question mark heading into the season and Houston would be a nice addition considering he's had 19 sacks over the past two seasons. He can reliably win one-on-one battles. I'm high on Odafe Oweh's pass rush potential and production, even as a rookie, but Houston would be a more dependable source of pressure, allowing the rookie to develop and other pieces of the outside linebacker corps to play to their strengths.

At the end of the day, the Ravens are a right player, right price team. I don't think they feel like they need another player. With Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's blitz packages, they can scheme pressure. Whatever it takes, he'll do it. Houston would be great, but the Ravens have other financial obligations as well.

Downing: This isn't the most glamorous answer, but I'm going to point to the man in the trenches with right guard Kevin Zeitler. Upgrading the interior of the offensive line was a priority this offseason and the Ravens made him their first big-ticket signing of free agency. Zeitler will help solidify the offensive line overall and there's a reason the Ravens gave him a deal reportedly worth $22 million. Improving the line play will have a ripple effect across the entire offense. Zeitler's arrival will help pave the way for running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and allow more time for the passing game to develop for shots down the field. Measuring Zeitler's impact won't be as easy as the skill players like Rashod Bateman or Sammy Watkins, but the veteran lineman will be a difference-maker for this team.

Mink: A couple years ago, the "Heisman Package" with Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III and Mark Ingram II was all the rage. I'll go ahead and name the Gus Edwards, Pat Ricard, Ben Mason combo the "Mauler Package" and I'm here for it. Can we invite Nick Boyle to the party as well? He's arguably the best blocking tight end in the NFL. I have a hard time seeing opponents stopping that lineup.

With that said, Mason is a player to watch in training camp because I'm not sure what role he'll have and where he fits on the roster. Many teams don't keep one fullback, let alone two. But is Mason a good enough receiver to warrant taking a roster spot from one of the other third tight end competitors behind Mark Andrews and Boyle? Mason will have his time to shine once the pads come on.

Downing: Training camp is one of the best times of the year. I love the crowds on the first few days of practice, and that's why I'm excited to have fans back at the Under Armour Performance Center this year. The fans elevate the energy level at the facility and everyone can feel that. I also love the optimism of training camp. Just about every team in the NFL feels like they're going to have a shot at the start of camp, and expectations are always high here in Baltimore. And last, but certainly not least, is the return of the good snacks in the cafeteria. The cafeteria staff breaks out all the good stuff for training camp – granola bars, trail mix, fancy peanut butter, fresh orange juice – and this is my time to shine!

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