Colts: Justin Houston return should be prioritized for Chris Ballard

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13: Defensive end Justin Houston #50 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13: Defensive end Justin Houston #50 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts have done some nice things this offseason, with the trade for Carson Wentz and the re-signing of TY Hilton standing out as two of the most interesting.

Unfortunately, the team still has a huge hole at edge rusher, and veteran sack master Justin Houston seems like the perfect addition to this squad…well, re-addition.

After nearly setting the single-season sack record with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston has been Indianapolis’ best edge rusher over the last two seasons, totaling eight sacks last year and 19 over the totality of his stint in this defense. 

The Colts love to build through the draft, and the temptation to let Houston walk in favor of a combination of younger players like Ben Banogu, Kemoko Turay, and new signing Isaac Rochell is certainly a strong one.

However, none of them can hold a candle to Houston, who has four Pro Bowls to his name.

With Indy reportedly looking hard at the defensive end position following the Hilton signing, bringing back Houston makes the most sense from a competitive point of view.

Justin Houston can change the Colts’ pass rush.

Matt Eberflus’ defense is based on the principle of dropping back in coverage, rarely taking chances by adding several additional pass rushers in order to get pressure. Quality edge rushers are vital to this scheme, and Houston is well worth the money considering how consistent he has been over the last few years.

The Colts could draft an edge rusher, but this year’s class is one of the poorer ones in recent memory when it comes to that position. Even if they did end up drafting at that position, would a rookie really be an upgrade or anything more than a slight downgrade when compared to Houston?

Saving up for homegrown players’ contract extensions is all well and good, but Ballard is too gun-shy this offseason, and he’s let some elite talents that could’ve been perfect in Indianapolis bolt for more lucrative offers elsewhere. He can’t make the same mistake again and allow someone like Houston to potentially join another contender.

With the Texans a complete dumpster fire, the Jaguars kicking off the first year of a long rebuild likely centered around Trevor Lawrence, and the Titans having been ravaged by free agency, the Colts could seize control of this division.

However, with Houston potentially leaving this team in free agency, re-signing him could, and should, be a big part of their plan to take home the title.