According to NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund, Indianapolis Colts pass rusher Justin Houston has been named his team’s representative on the NFL’s ‘Most Underappreciated Team’.
Frelund primarily used season long contribution metrics to construct the team. However, she also factored in each player’s ranking in salary by position and gave priority to players who did not switch teams this offseason—which meant Houston for the Colts:
In his first season on the Colts, Houston led the team with 11 sacks. (No other Colt had more than five.) I know what you’re thinking: How can a four-time Pro Bowler, former All-Pro and single-season sack leader be underappreciated? Well, there seems to be the notion that big-ticket free agents are rarely worth the market price. But worth is a function of cost, and in 2020, Houston will account for only the 29th-highest cap value among edge rushers, per Over The Cap.
Houston was signed by the Colts last offseason to a 2-year, $23 million deal, and he was as good as advertised in his debut season in Indianapolis—being worth every penny.
He recorded 33 tackles, a team high 11.0 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in all 16 starts.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Houston was their 12th best rated edge rusher overall with a +87.1 grade overall—including a +81.9 pass rushing grade (good for 10th best at his respective position).
The 9-year veteran, who already has had a very decorated NFL career as a pass rusher, seems to still have plenty of juice left in the tank—as he looks to ascend from 50th on the league’s all-time career sack leaders list with 89.5 career sacks.
Houston should pair with the likes of new All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and emerging pass rusher Kemoko Turay among others to help anchor what should be a very formidable Colts pass rush in 2020.
In the last year of his current Colts contract, Houston could be a strong candidate for consideration to receive a short-term extension—if he has another standout season.