Panthers pick up veteran edge rusher Justin Houston

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The Carolina Panthers lastly landed a veteran edge rusher to play reverse Brian Burns in Justin Houston, although the 34-year-old might not be an every-down participant at this level in his profession.

Houston and the Panthers have agreed to a one-year deal value as much as $7 million with $6 million assured, sources advised ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The staff introduced the signing Sunday however didn’t disclose phrases.

Coach Frank Reich and normal supervisor Scott Fitterer have been saying for weeks they might proceed in search of a veteran to play exterior linebacker of their new 3-4 scheme. As candidates have been signed by different groups, they went with Houston, who has been the most effective at his place within the 3-4.

The necessity elevated as Marquis Haynes, who emerged out of offseason exercises because the starter reverse Burns, continued to overlook observe time with a again harm.

In Haynes’ absence, Yetur Gross-Matos, Eku Leota, DJ Johnson and beginning inside linebacker Frankie Luvu have been among the many gamers rotating at exterior linebacker.

However none of them has the expertise that Houston does, notably within the 3-4. The staff was hopeful Johnson would emerge after it traded up within the third spherical of the April draft to get him, however he stays a piece in progress.

Houston is a four-time Professional Bowl defender who had a resurgent season for the Baltimore Ravens in 2022. He produced 9.5 sacks, turning into the primary participant in staff historical past to file three straight multisack video games. However his impression diminished within the second half of the season, when he solely managed a half-sack in his final seven video games.

After considering retirement final yr, Houston stated after the season that he needed to proceed enjoying. Even with out being an every-down linebacker, he can nonetheless be an efficient pass-rush specialist. His 111.5 profession sacks rank fifth amongst lively gamers.

Houston maintains a go off the road after 12 NFL seasons. His common pass-rush get-off was 0.75 seconds final season, fourth-quickest within the league, in response to Subsequent Gen Stats. He trailed solely Brandon Graham, Nick Bosa and Haason Reddick.

Houston’s impression off the sector has been simply as significant. He repeatedly stays after observe to work on pass-rush strikes with the youthful exterior linebackers, who nicknamed him “Yoda” and “Sensei.”

Houston performed for Reich in Indianapolis in 2019-20, accumulating a mixed 19 sacks throughout these two seasons.

A 3rd-round decide by the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs in 2011, Houston has recorded a complete of 506 tackles, 19 pressured fumbles and 5 interceptions in his profession.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.

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