According to The Athletic’s Stephen Holder, the Indianapolis Colts are still interested in re-signing veteran pass rusher Justin Houston, but the team is talking to other veteran free agent edges as well—as we enter ‘Wave 4’ and ‘Wave 5’ of NFL free agency:
“Things remain fluid with veteran Justin Houston, who is still talking to the team and could be re-signed,” wrote Holder regarding the team’s depth chart. “The team is also in talks with several veteran edge players, according to a league source. A free-agent move before the draft is possible if not likely.”
Houston just finished his final season of a 2-year, $24 million deal he signed with Indianapolis back in 2019.
The longtime Kansas City Chiefs sackmaster, with 97.5 career sacks and counting, has shown he can still be an effective complementary pass rusher for any defense.
He’s coming off another productive season for the Colts in which he had 25 tackles (19 solo), 8 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, 34 total QB pressures, a forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries during all 16 starts in 2020.
Per ESPN analytics, Houston had the NFL’s 6th highest pass rush win rate at 25% among all edge defenders this past season.
Via PFF (subscription), Houston was their 65th best graded edge defender with a +62.9 overall grade during 2020.
The 32 year old may not be his 2x First-Team NFL All-Pro form anymore, but he can still be an impact rotational pass rusher—as he continues to age gracefully into his early thirties, becoming a situational ‘sack specialist’ of sorts—over an every down defensive end.
Having already lost fellow veteran Denico Autry to free agency, with backup Al-Quadin Muhammad potentially soon joining him, the Colts could use Houston’s veteran leadership back (as the team’s 2020 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award nominee) and steadying presence/production at the position.
Among the other potential free agent options for the Colts could be the likes of veteran edge defenders such as Ryan Kerrigan, Melvin Ingram, or Olivier Vernon—all of whom also remain unsigned.
However, any way you slice it, it appears as though the Colts are looking to bring in another veteran piece at defensive end for 2021—whether it’s Houston again or another player.