Colts really value Justin Houston based on latest free agency update

Colts DE Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Colts DE Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts are hopeful that the acquisition of Carson Wentz will get them over the hump in their pursuit of a championship. While we’re in full-blown lockstep with that opinion, there’s one aspect of the trade that’s getting grossly overlooked in terms of significance.

Since it was completed so early into the offseason, the Colts now have plenty of time to analyze their remaining cap space and sort out other roster question marks with the start of the new league year officially less than a month away.

We would assert that defensive end is currently Indianapolis’ biggest need with both starters from last season, Justin Houston and Denico Autry, set to hit free agency, and up until this point in the offseason we hadn’t heard whether the front office was interested in retaining either player.

Per the latest buzz, however, the Colts have expressed interest in bringing Houston back. Though encouraging, this update comes with a caveat, as the 32-year-old vet is projected to command a ton of interest on the open market if he reaches free agency.

The Colts are interested in re-signing Justin Houston before free agency.

Can you really blame the Colts here? At this stage of his career, Houston is likely to cost a lot less and demand fewer years on his contract compared to some of the other big-name free agents, like JJ Watt, Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, or Leonard Williams.

With their cap space taking a significant hit following the Wentz trade — it went from well over $70 million to $54.5 million — running it back with Houston at a potential discount could allow Indy to preserve their finances to other areas of need, like wide receiver, cornerback and safety.

In the simplest of terms, Houston has emerged as one of the Colts most important defenders since he inked a two-year, $24 million deal during the 2019 offseason. Over the last two seasons he’s registered 69 tackles (21 of which went for a loss), 19 sacks, 30 QB hits, 53 pressures, and two fumble recoveries.

The four-time Pro Bowler’s production amazingly didn’t waver in his 10th NFL season in 2020, as he logged 32 total pressures, 20 hurries, eight sacks and 12 QB hits. Houston evidently benefitted from the addition of interior behemoth DeForest Buckner, who transformed the defense, and that should honestly give Indy even more incentive to re-sign him.

If the Colts are as serious about retaining Houston as this report suggests, then they should make it a point of emphasis to get a deal done before the start of free agency, because it looks like the former third-round pick will have a myriad of suitors vying for his services this offseason.