Where will Houston land this off-season?
By: Austin Ebersole (@EbersoleAustin)
For ten seasons now, Justin Houston has been reeking havoc in backfields and destroying game plans. With 97.5 career sacks, multiple Pro Bowl selections, and a sack title, Houston would be a great addition for multiple teams this off-season who are looking to get after the quarterback more often.
At age 32, Houston still has plenty left in the tank, and there’s no doubt that he will easily reach the century mark in sacks next season wherever he ends up. Looking ahead, NFL free agents can begin signing their next contract on March 17th. Let’s look at a few spots where the star pass rusher could end up.
- Kansas City Chiefs
Is a reunion in the cards for the premier pass rusher? The Kansas City Chiefs might be the perfect landing spot for Houston. With the team coming off back-to-back Superbowl appearances, Justin may want his chance to help get his former team back to the big game for a third season in a row.
Even though it was the Chiefs who decided to release Houston after the 2018 season, they were reminded in Superbowl LV the importance of having a strong pass rush. They finished the season with 32 team sacks which was 19th best across the NFL. By adding Houston’s 2020 sack numbers to that total, the Chiefs would’ve finished in the top 12 of the league.
The biggest hurdle that the Chiefs may face if Houston wants to return to Arrowhead would be the impact he would have against their cap space. They are projected to be $18 million over the cap according to Spotrac, but Houston may be willing to come back on a team friendly deal if it means he gets a chance to finally kiss the Lombardi.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Could it be possible that Jaguars new Head Coach Urban Meyer wants to come in and make a big free agent splash right away? The Jaguars are expected to have the most cap space which gives them the luxury of going out and signing whoever wants to come play in the Sunshine State.
Going to the Jaguars may not give Houston the best odds of playing in next years Superbowl, but there’s no doubt he would still get paid. In 2019, he signed a 2-year, $24 million deal with the Colts. If he’s looking for a similar deal in terms of money, the Jags are one of the best team fits for his services.
To sweeten the pot for the Jaguars, there’s always a chance that Justin wants to try and finish out the remainder of his career closer to home. After being born and raised in the state of Georgia, and playing for the Bulldogs in college, his hometown of Statesboro is only 174 miles from Jacksonville. A quick trip down I-95 gets his family and friends to the stadium.
- Indianapolis Colts
Now that the Colts have their next signal caller in Carson Wentz, one would have to believe that this team is now a true contender in the AFC. To win in the NFL, you have to be led by your quarterback and by the guys who get after the quarterback. Justin may see Wentz to Indy as a perfect reason to stay put.
For Indianapolis, they have the means to get a new deal done with Houston to keep him in town if they want him. They are projected to have over $50 million available this off-season, and after recording eight sacks for them in 2020 and another 11 sacks in 2019, Houston was worth every dollar that he received from them.
After being led to the playoffs in 2020 by their top-10 defense, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Colts bring Houston back on a one year deal. He’s played great so far in his tenure with the Colts, and keeping him on the same line as DeForest Buckner gives them one of the leagues best bookends.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Your Superbowl LV winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers may also be an ideal landing spot for Houston. We have all heard by now that Bruce Arians wants to “go for two,” but they have some interesting choices to make this off-season in regards to resigning their own players.
With Shaq Barrett hoping to get paid this off-season to set his family up for life, the Bucs may potentially have an opening on their defensive line. Tampa Bay may not have a lot of money to play with after trying to “keep the band together,” but this could be Houston’s best chance at winning a Superbowl.
If money is all that Justin Houston wants with his next contract, Jacksonville and Indianapolis are his two best landing spots. But if he’s willing to take a pay cut and strengthen his odds of playing in a Superbowl, Kansas City and Tampa Bay are where he may end up.