Ravens' Justin Houston Says He Was 'So Close' to Signing Contract with Steelers

Adam WellsAugust 7, 2021

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston (50) warms up before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AP Photo/AJ Mast

The intense rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens extended beyond the field when both teams were pursuing Justin Houston in free agency. 

Houston, who signed a one-year deal with the Ravens on July 31, told reporters on Saturday he was close to joining Pittsburgh. 

"I was so close to signing with the Steelers," Houston said. "It just worked out better [in Baltimore]."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Houston "turned down significantly more money" to sign a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with Baltimore. 

Without naming the organization, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noted one AFC North team offered Houston a "more lucrative deal" than what he got from the Ravens. 

"I think it was better fit for me in what I was looking for," Houston said on Saturday about his decision. "I just want opportunities to have one-on-ones and be able to put pressure on the quarterback."

The AFC North is expected to feature a three-way battle between the Steelers, Ravens and Cleveland Browns this season. All three teams made the playoffs in 2020, with Baltimore and Cleveland both winning one postseason game. 

Pittsburgh won the division with a 12-4 record but lost 48-37 to the Browns in the AFC Wild Card Round. 

The Ravens will be hoping that Houston's pass-rush skills can make up for the production they lost when Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue signed with new teams in free agency. 

Houston has been one of the most reliable edge-rushers in the NFL since entering the league in 2011. The four-time Pro Bowler has had at least eight sacks in each of the past four seasons. He ranks fifth among active players with 97.5 career sacks in 134 games.