Just a few weeks ago this offseason the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the market for an additional pass rusher. The team just wasn’t comfortable with the depth chart of T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cassius Marsh and rookie Quincy Roche.
Prior to training camp, a report was released saying the Steelers had been in talks with Justin Houston for his pass rushing services. For whatever reason, the talks broke down and the Steelers ended up signing another big name pass rusher in Melvin Ingram.
While Ingram gets acclimated to the Steelers’ system at training camp, Houston remained unsigned, until Saturday. It was reported Saturday Houston chose a one-year, $4 million dollar contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
This per Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Former All-Pro edge rusher Justin Houston reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with the Baltimore Ravens, per sources. Houston turned down significantly more money from other teams in order to pursue a championship with the Ravens, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 31, 2021
As Schefter states, Houston turned down “significantly more” from other teams, you would have to think one of those teams very well could have been the Steelers. After all, the Steelers ended up giving Houston about the same salary they gave Ingram. But Houston likely wanted a larger role than as a third pass rusher.
If Houston would have played in Pittsburgh, he likely would have been coming off the bench to spell both T.J. Watt and/or Alex Highsmith. But there was more to Schefter’s news. That whole part about Houston wanting to win a championship. Clearly, he believes Baltimore would provide him such an opportunity, more than Pittsburgh.
The hope is Melvin Ingram, and his versatility to rush the quarterback from the outside and inside, can make the Steelers look like geniuses for the decision they made.
It should be noted the initial report was just that the Steelers put in a call with Houston. This could have been nothing more than a call to see what his expectations were for play and pay. That could have been the extent of it. However, it also could have been more serious than that. We’ll likely never know.
Throw in the fact JuJu Smith-Schuster openly turned down a more lucrative contract from the Ravens earlier this offseason, and the two AFC North rivals have had a very intertwined offseason.
Nonetheless, you can now expect the Ravens vs. Steelers games to have more juice in 2021 compared to 2020. With Alejandro Villanueva expected to be one of the Ravens’ starting tackles, and now Houston choosing the Ravens over the Steelers, an already bitter rivalry just got even more intense.
Just the way Steelers fans like it...
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 preseason and regular season.