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Indianapolis Colts sign Justin Houston: Grade, reaction and more

It’s mostly been an offseason of taking care of their own for the Indianapolis Colts. But the team opened up the checkbook a smidge for Justin Houston.

When a team enters free agency with more salary-cap room than any other in the NFL, some would expect a team to plunge deep into the veteran talent pool. But highly-regarded Indianapolis Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard has stuck to his plan to build this team his way.

This offseason, the club has re-signed veterans such as defensive lineman Margus Hunt, cornerback Pierre Desir, strong safety Clayton Geathers and in late January, ageless placekicker Adam Vinatieri. In terms of free agents, the team added former Carolina Panthers’ wideout Devin Funchess to their wide receiver corps.

But, so much for being quiet. On Thursday afternoon, Ballard and the Colts were able to grab one of the big names still on the market in the form of standout pass-rusher Justin Houston. The eight-year veteran brings his 78.5 career regular-season sacks to Indianapolis.

Contract Details

Via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the standout pass rusher gets a two-year, $24 million deal from the Colts.

National Reaction

This could prove to be money well spent for a franchise that has been pretty quiet this offseason when it comes to adding players from other teams. The Colts did add wide receiver Devin Funchess (Carolina Panthers) earlier this month via a one-year deal. But the addition of Houston could prove to be a big problem for opposing offenses. Reich’s team made strides under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus in ’18, finishing 11th in total yards allowed per game.

Indianapolis was looking for a little more pass rush after totaling a modest 38 sacks this past season. The former Chiefs’ standout, who missed 11 games in 2016, has rebounded well these past two years.  He has had a combined 18.5 sacks in 27 regular-season contests since ’17. Houston did miss four games this past season but still enjoyed a good year. And his presence gives the Colts’ defense an outside threat they haven’t had in quite a while.

The Colts won nine of their final 10 games this past season after a 1-5 start and ultimately reached the playoffs. It’s a well-balanced club that has an excellent mix of youth and experience. Houston is certainly the latter and he could be a real difference-maker in one of the AFC’s tougher divisions.

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