Cowboys Linked to Potential Signing of 4x Pro Bowl Pass-Rusher

Lamar Jackson

Getty Lamar Jackson evades some Chiefs defenders in 2019.

Even at an advanced NFL age, Justin Houston would provide value to a Dallas Cowboys squad in perpetual assistance of defensive firepower.

For that reason, Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon grouped the Cowboys among five “logical landing spots” for the four-time Pro Bowl free-agent edge rusher, along with the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs — Houston’s former team.

Justin Houston might not have a whole lot left at age 32, but the four-time Pro Bowler has put up at least eight sacks in each of the last four seasons with the Chiefs and Colts.

The key is you can no longer consider him an every-down player after he was on the field for just 59 percent of Indy’s defensive snaps despite starting 16 games in 2020. But there’s little reason to believe he can’t continue to serve as an effective situational pass-rusher for a contending team that has some money to spend on a short-term deal.

Besides, he’s far from a liability, having missed just four tackles the last two seasons combined.

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Background & Possible Fit

One of the top defenders of this generation, Houston entered the league as a 2011 third-round draft pick of the Chiefs, with whom he racked up 381 solo tackles, 118 quarterback hits, 96 tackles for loss, 78.5 sacks, 32 pass deflections, and 14 forced fumbles across 102 games (96 starts). His best season came in 2014 when he led the NFL with 22 sacks, earning first-team All-Pro honors.

Houston joined the Colts in 2019 and continued to perform at a high level. He posted 11 sacks that year followed by eight QB takedowns in 2020, making all 32 appearances and logging 1,282 defensive snaps.

The Cowboys likely would deploy Houston, if signed, as a designated pass-rusher, working in tandem with star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, last season’s DPR, Randy Gregory, and first-round rookie LB Micah Parsons.

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Speculative Trade Offers for Jaylon Smith

Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling recently unveiled two potential offers for Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith, the subject of swirling trade speculation, identifying the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams as ideal suitors. Roling proposed each team surrender a 2022 second-round draft pick to consummate the deal.

“Granted, Smith was a dud in Dallas’ new system last year to the tune of a 54.2 Pro Football Focus grade, but if Houston believes he’ll get back to form in its defense, the asset sacrifice and contract acquired will be worth the risk,” Roling wrote.

He said of the Rams’ would-be proposal: “Down season or not in a new scheme last year, Smith still has some huge upside and would be an upgrade on guys like Micah Kiser, who had a 40.0 PFF grade last season. In fact, it would be pretty fun to see him spread his wings behind a player like Donald in what would be suddenly improved surroundings, provided the Rams are comfortable coughing up a big asset to make the trade happen.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL