Ravens fill big need at pass rusher by signing former All-Pro Justin Houston

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Few contenders had a need as glaring as the Baltimore Ravens at pass rusher, but they've just added a veteran whose help could go a long way.

Four-time Pro Bowler Justin Houston signed a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with the Ravens on Saturday, according to ESPN. The deal reportedly carries a $1.075 million base salary and $1 million signing bonus.

The 32-year-old Houston has been among the most consistent pass rushers in the NFL for years. He's posted at least eight sacks in each of his last four seasons, and led the league in sacks with 22 back in 2014. After eight years with the Kansas City Chiefs, he signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts in 2019.

Houston reportedly turned down more lucrative offers from multiple teams to sign with the Ravens because he believes they're the team that gives him the best chance at his first Super Bowl ring. He visited Baltimore months ago in April, but it took three months to figure out a deal for a Ravens team with $8.8 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.

The Ravens aren't the only AFC North team to sign a veteran pass rusher this week, as the Pittsburgh Steelers also added Melvin Ingram on a one-year deal.

Justin Houston fills big need for Ravens

The Ravens had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, which was impressive considering how much help it needed just to adequately pressure the quarterback.

Despite blitzing more than any other team in the league last season, the Ravens ranked only 14th in sack percentage and 18th in pressure rate, per Pro Football Focus. The secondary has been the Ravens defense's strength for years, but even it had trouble containing offenses due to the holes created by blitzing more than 45 percent of the time.

Then, the Ravens lost their top two pass rushes from last season. Matthew Judon, the team's sack leader of each of the last two seasons, signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the New England Patriots, while Yannick Ngakoue, acquired midseason last year, signed a two-year, $26 million with the Las Vegas Raiders.

That left the Ravens with no players who registered more than four sacks last year. The team added Odafe Oweh, a measurables monster, in the first round of the NFL draft, but the Penn State linebacker is widely seen as a project considering he posted zero sacks in college last year.

Houston now figures to lead the Baltimore outside linebacker group alongside the versatile Tyus Bowser, who signed a four-year, $22 million extension this offseason, and the veteran Pernell McPhee. That should complement one of the NFL's better defensive lines — fronted by Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams — nicely.

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