Could Justin Houston be a chance worth taking for the Panthers?

(Mykal McEldowney/Indianapolis Star via IMAGN Content Services) Justin Houston
(Mykal McEldowney/Indianapolis Star via IMAGN Content Services) Justin Houston /

Could the Carolina Panthers boost their pass-rushing options further by bringing in prolific veteran Justin Houston for the 2021 season?

The Carolina Panthers are in a good spot to make some significant improvements on the defensive side of the football next season. This unit was strengthened heavily both during free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, which only adds to the dynamic young players already on the roster.

Phil Snow is under some pressure to get the most out of this group during the upcoming campaign. The defensive coordinator was somewhat restricted in terms of the scheme he could deploy in Year 1 calling plays at the next level, which shouldn’t be the case this time around given the weapons at his disposal.

The Panthers are always looking for ways to improve the roster. Scott Fitterer came into the organization with an “in on every deal” mentality, something we’ve seen plenty of over the last few months following his appointment as general manager.

Carolina’s pass-rushing options look pretty strong. Brian Burns is a star in the making and the Panthers also have free-agent signing Haason Reddick and 2020 second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos to call upon.

However, there is also a veteran still sitting on the free-agent market who could get this area of the field to a completely different level.

Justin Houston is an option worth considering for the Carolina Panthers.

It is a big surprise to see Justin Houston without a team at this stage of the preparation period. The prolific edge defender has enjoyed a phenomenal career with the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, displaying the sort of consistency that’s hard to find over an extended period of time.

Although Houston is no firmly in the twilight of his career, the player still managed 19 sacks over the last two years with the Colts and has something to offer both on the field and within the locker room.

Perhaps the four-time Pro Bowler is looking for a team that has a better chance of contending for a Super Bowl. He is running out of time to get his hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy and that will only increase his sense of urgency after earning plenty of cash throughout his time in the league.

Despite this, the Panthers bringing Houston in on a short-term deal comes with some real benefits. He has the versatility to play with his hands in the dirt as a defensive end or exploding off the edge as an outside linebacker.

And as we all know, versatility is king in Carolina.

Houston’s presence on the roster and experience could rub off in a positive way on both Burns and Gross-Matos. Another significant factor in this scenario that shouldn’t be ignored.

According to Over the Cap, the Panthers have $24 million in salary-cap space remaining. So money shouldn’t be an issue if they decided to pick up the phone and give Houston’s representatives a call.

Just why Houston hasn’t signed elsewhere after the Colts decided not to bring him back is a head-scratcher. The former Georgia star has notched 97.5 sacks, 148 quarterback hits, 117 tackles for loss, 17 forced fumbles, and 451 tackles during his decade in the NFL, credentials that few can match.

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Carolina might be content to go with what they have for now. But it’s unlikely Houston will be without a new home for too much longer and making an inquiry is something worth considering.