The New York Giants could afford to add some pass-rushing depth to their roster ahead of the 2023 season. Thankfully for Big Blue, a face familiar to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is still available in free agency. Veteran pass-rusher Justin Houston could reunite with Martindale in New York, giving the Giants some much-needed depth in their front seven.
ESPN names Giants Justin Houston’s “best team fit”
The Giants were recently named Houston’s “best team fit” by ESPN’s Matt Bowen as he took a look at the top remaining free agents this offseason. Houston, a four-time career Pro Bowler, is entering his thirteenth season in the league. He was most recently with the Baltimore Ravens and played under Martindale in 2021.
Houston could fit with multiple teams in search of a veteran pass-rusher, but let’s get him back under former Baltimore defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who joined New York in 2022. Houston, who has 14 sacks over the past two seasons, played for Martindale in 2021, posting 4.5 sacks and 35 pressures. And we know the fit works for a Giants defense that can use him as a situational pass-rusher in pressure fronts.
Martindale’s defense led the NFL last season with a blitz rate of 42%, which will create more one-on-ones for Houston with schemes that manipulate protection counts.Matt Bowen of ESPN on the Giants being a fit for Justin Houston
Houston would not be the first veteran pass-rusher to follow Martindale from Baltimore to New York. Last offseason, the Giants added veteran OLB Jihad Ward to the mix. Ward played well enough in 2022 to earn himself a contract extension this offseason. Having both Ward and Houston on the roster would provide the defense with plenty of veteran leadership in the locker room.
At 34 years old, Houston is in the twilight of his career. However, signing with New York could give him an opportunity to make an impact as a rotational rusher and a mentor for a couple of Big Blue’s young defenders.
Kayvon Thibodeaux (22) and Azeez Ojulari (22) are the faces of the Giants’ pass-rushing department. Behind them, however, is a steep drop-off in talent; a drop-off that Houston could shorten. Houston could also aid in the growth and development of Thibs and Ojulari.
Martindale runs an aggressive, blitz-heavy defense that relies on its pass-rushers to do much of the dirty work. Houston, having already played in the system, is familiar with this concept, and could fit seamlessly in with the Giants’ defense if the team were to sign him this offseason.