Okay, maybe not completely solved the edge-rush pressure dilemma, but certainly took a big step to increasing firepower…
After months of speculation, the Ravens have made it happen, agreeing to terms with veteran pass rusher Justin Houston on a one-year deal Saturday, pending the passing of a physical. The deal, which was struck after three days of training camp practice, has been a long time coming, as Houston first visited the Ravens in April.
Houston will allow defensive coordinator Wink Martindale – a man who blitzes more than anyone in the NFL – more flexibility in his play-calling. Martindale would have brought pressure either way, but Houston can win more of those one-on-one battles on the edge.
The 32-year-old Houston will also be a great mentor for Oweh and Hayes, helping teach the talented youngsters the NFL ropes. Baltimore now has a pair of veterans with Houston and Pernell McPhee, as well as other talented young players such as Tyus Bowser, Jaylon Ferguson and more.
Considering the strength of the Ravens secondary, adding a top-notch pass rusher to the defensive front will force quarterbacks to make tough and quick decisions.
Houston fills the team’s top remaining need, providing a player with 97.5 career sacks who is still playing at a high level at 32 years old, evidenced by his 19 sacks the past two seasons.
“He’s a proven player,” HC John Harbaugh said. “We have a role for him, and he has a chance to really help us. So, I’m excited about it.”
The Ravens first brought Houston in for a visit in April and Harbaugh said the two talked a lot since. Harbaugh said Houston “wanted to be here months ago” and gave props to his agent and General Manager Eric DeCosta for working out a deal that was delayed for “business reasons.”
Harbaugh did some recruiting as the two sides tried to work out the numbers. Even cornerback Marcus Peters, who played with Houston for three years in Kansas City, made some phone calls.
Houston’s Ravens debut will be delayed, however. Harbaugh didn’t have a specific day yet when he expects the veteran to take the field.
“It’s going to be a while,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got to get vaccinated, in all honesty. So, there’s going to be a five-day period there. But he’s going to get in town as soon as he can, so we’ll kind of get through that, get him his physical and those kinds of things.”
“Man, we got better – that’s how I can take it,” Oweh said. “It’s an opportunity for me to learn from a guy that has [97.5] sacks; that’s always great. I’m learning from Calais [Campbell] every day, and now you just added another guy that has a history of just getting to the quarterback.
“I can use help, every angle I can get. We just added another nice outside linebacker, so I just see it as competition, as well, but we got better. So, I’m good.”