Justin Houston Chose Ravens Over Steelers, More Money

Ravens Justin Houston

Getty Recent Ravens signing Justin Houston dives on a fumble in a 2019 game against the Pittburgh Steelers.

The Baltimore Ravens edge rusher Justin Houston revealed that he turned down more money from the team’s bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The team’s recent signing explained his decision to sign with the Ravens to media on Friday, August 7, saying he preferred the Ravens’ defensive scheme to those of other suitors.

“They’re going to put me in a position to maximize my talents,” he said in a press conference posted to the Ravens’ Twitter account.

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Houston Rejected More Money From Pittsburgh

Houston’s one year, $4 million deal was seen as a heist by many league observers who thought the former All-Pro would have received more money. Despite his age, Houston has registered more than eight sacks in each of the last four seasons, including 19.0 in the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Houston admitted he was “so close” to signing with the Steelers, but ultimately opted to take less money to join the Ravens.

The veteran pass rusher said that he “fell in love” with Baltimore’s vision for Houston’s role in their defense.

Defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s blitz-heavy defensive playbook will give the 10-year veteran frequent one-on-one matchups against opposing offensive lineman, something Houston said he desired on Saturday. The Ravens hope Houston’s elite technique and veteran experience will allow him to contribute to the pass rush and mentor the Ravens’ younger edge rushers.

Houston said that Ravens’ cornerback Marcus Peters was relentless in his efforts to bring the edge rusher to Baltimore.

“Marcus Peters called me as soon as the season was over,” Houston said, telling him “‘I need you here.'”

Peters and Houston were teammates for three years on the Kansas City Chiefs, during which time the veteran linebacker took the young corner under his wing, Peters said, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Peters, who won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2015, called Houston “an ultimate great leader,” per Hensley, adding that he was excited to add Houston to the defensive mix.

Houston Signing Adds to Ravens-Steelers Rivalry

Ravens fans were especially elated to hear that Houston rejected the Steelers, even though they offered him more money, as the two teams have one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL. Even in years when one team has a distinctly better record than the other, the two annual Ravens-Steelers games are always bitterly-fought matchups.

The Ravens also signed former Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva this offseason, who immediately endeared himself to Ravens fans with his comments at his first press conference in Baltimore.

Villanueva said that he was looking forward to playing in a run-first offense, which is more fun for offensive linemen, before adding “I’m assuming it’s not as much fun for the receivers because they’re not getting all of the catches, they’re making the Tik Toks and and they’re having fun on their social media,” per Hensley. The former Army captain was likely referencing Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s Tik Tok antics, which featured the receiver dancing on opponents’ logos before games.

The Steelers won both games against Baltimore last season after the Ravens swept the series in 2019.

The Ravens will visit Pittsburgh in Week 13 before hosting their division rivals on January 9 for the last game of the season, per the team’s official schedule.

Houston, Villanueva and the Ravens will be looking to win the AFC North in 2021 and guarantee a playoff berth after the Steelers took the division last season, following the Ravens’ dominance in 2018 and 2019.

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