The Pittsburgh Steelers knew they needed pass rush help heading into the 2021 regular season. There was no feasible way they could go into the season with just T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cassius Marsh and rookie 6th round pick Quincy Roche.
After releasing David DeCastro, the team had the financial flexibility to make a play at several big name free agents. The two names who were always atop the free agent list were Justin Houston and Melvin Ingram.
Houston was coming off a stellar season with the Indianapolis Colts, and Ingram had a pretty rough injury history during his time with the Chargers. Before training camp it was reported the Steelers were in talks with Houston, but it wasn’t deemed to be a good “fit”.
In other words, the playing time expectations and money weren’t a match.
The Steelers ended up signing Ingram, and Houston eventually chose the Baltimore Ravens as his team for the 2021 regular season.
When the deal was done, Steelers fans were wondering why Houston didn’t end up wearing black and gold? Houston met with Baltimore media Saturday and he told how he was close to signing with the Steelers, but the Ravens were his first choice.
Justin Houston said he was so close to signing with the Steelers. Said Baltimore was his first choice.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) August 7, 2021
This makes sense, but what would make the Ravens his choice over the Steelers? It was the Pittsburgh defense who led the NFL in sacks last season, and Houston told reporters he was “close” to signing with Pittsburgh. He even turned down a more lucrative offer from Pittsburgh to sign with the Ravens.
Justin Houston said he was “so close” to signing with Steelers.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 7, 2021
Houston chose to go to Ravens even though Steelers offered a better deal. He feels it was a better fit in Baltimore.
Ultimately, his decision was likely about expectations of playing time more than money. The Ravens need pass rush help more than the Steelers, and Pittsburgh likely wanted to utilize Houston as a third pass rusher behind Watt and Highsmith.
Instead, Houston will likely be the every down starter for the Ravens. Hear Houston laugh about his decision, even though the Steelers offered more money.
The Ravens and Steelers have been connected by more than just Justin Houston this offseason. When JuJu Smith-Schuster was doing the rounds on the free agent market this offseason it was the Baltimore Ravens, and Kansas City Chiefs, who offered the wide receiver more money, but he chose to stay in Pittsburgh on a one-year contract.
This will bring even more heat to an already hot fire that is the rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens. Then again, what else would you expect?
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.