Bleacher Report Thinks Steelers Should Sign OLB Justin Houston

Justin Houston

If you think that you’re a finished product in May or June, then, well, the odds are good that you’re mistaken. While the heavy lifting might be done in terms of assembling a roster, there are still component pieces that can or should be added once you get a look your squad, which is why we often find the Pittsburgh Steelers making trades or signings in August.

Bleacher Report argues that there is one move that the Steelers should be left to do, and that is to bolster their edge defender depth by signing the veteran Justin Houston, a former All-Pro pass rusher who is currently a free agent at the age of 32. Kristopher Knox writes in part:

Pittsburgh didn’t retain pass-rusher Bud Dupree, who departed in free agency. They have a need for a complementary pass-rusher opposite T.J. Watt, which is why signing veteran Justin Houston would make a ton of sense.

While Houston is 32 years old, he’s the best pass-rusher still available. He had eight sacks and 25 quarterback pressures last season despite playing only 59 percent of the defensive snaps for the Colts. He would be a fantastic short-term option for a team with championship aspirations.

Pittsburgh should be an attractive destination for Houston too. While the team couldn’t offer a massive contract—the Steelers have just $7.9 million in cap space—it could offer the four-time Pro Bowler a shot at a championship.

While it sounds good in theory, the reality is that the cap space they do have available is basically already reserved, not just for the 52nd and 53rd roster spots and an expanded 14-man practice squad, but also for an in-season emergency resource, which figures to be around $7 million alone, if not more. It’s already inevitable that they will still restructure Stephon Tuitt’s deal later this summer.

Basically the only deal the Steelers could afford to give anybody would be close to the veteran minimum. Knox’s argument that Pittsburgh could offer Houston a shot at a championship isn’t one many are going to find to be a compelling one.

Still, it’s fun to play these exercises at a certain level, such as the recent suggestion by Pro Football Focus that the Steelers would be the best fit for Russell Okung at left tackle. Sure, you can argue that they have a need there, but you need money to fit anywhere these days.

Houston, for the record, completed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Colts at the end of last season. I’m certain that any team who signs him will need to throw at least a few million in his direction, as he’s not a veteran-minimum player just yet.

Knox also writes, by the way, that the one move the Cleveland Browns must make is to sign Steven Nelson. I’m not sure I see this, either, what with Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Troy Hill, and now rookie first-round pick Greg Newsome already at cornerback.

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