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Justin Houston could solve the Jets pass rush woes

By Jake Spriggs
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked and stripped by Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked and stripped by Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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The New York Jets filled some major holes to begin free agency, but the team is still looking for an elite pass rusher. Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston is on the open market and the Jets have enough cap space to make the move.

The New York Jets made a major move on the defensive side of the ball when NFL free agency began. The Jets signed former Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley to a huge deal to become the anchor the middle of the defense. But there is another move they have yet to make: adding an elite pass rusher.

The Jets thought they had a deal with Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr but he changed his mind last-minute. Barr returned to the Vikings for less money because he said he felt “physically sick” after agreeing to join the Jets.

That move still leaves a hole on defense that the Jets need to fill either in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft or in free agency. If the Jets decide to go the free agency route, there is a player out there that could fill that hole.

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Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, who was released prior to free agency, is still out on the open market. Free agency is a week old now and Houston hasn’t had any serious talks with other teams yet. There are a couple of concerns about Houston that could lead to why he is still a free agent.

Houston turned 30 back in January and has a lengthy injury history. Houston missed four games in 2018 and has not played a full 16 games since 2014. With this year’s NFL Draft full of Pro Bowl-caliber pass rushers, teams may be waiting until after the draft to add a player like Houston.

However, the Jets would be wise to take a serious look at Houston before the NFL Draft in April. According to OvertheCap.com, the Jets have over $35 million in cap space as of this writing. Now, they also must set aside money for their draft picks and players they want to bring back. But if the price is right, Houston could be worth signing.

According to Pro Football Focus, Houston earned an 85.7 grade in 2018 after back-to-back down years (75.3 in 2016, 78.8 in 2017). Houston ranked second on the Chiefs with five forced fumbles and had the third most sacks on the team with nine.

Another stat from PFF shows that Houston has the fifth best pressure rate for edge defenders since 2011 at 16.5%. As you can see, when Houston is healthy, he is almost impossible to deal with on the edge.

PFF profile of free agent edge defender Justin Houston: https://t.co/jtKz5jqz7t pic.twitter.com/UxhydMoil8

— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) March 12, 2019

Adding Houston would also give the Jets flexibility on draft night. They could stay at No. 3 overall and draft Kentucky’s Josh Allen, who won nearly every defensive player of the year honor in 2018. Allen recorded 17 sacks in 2018 and if he was able to learn under a player like Houston, he could be a Pro-Bowl player for the next decade.  If the Jets wanted to trade down, they could target a player like Alabama’s Jonah Williams to help solidify the offensive line around Sam Darnold.

Next. Breaking down new Jets tight end Daniel Brown

If the price is right, Houston is worth going after. The Jets are slowly adding pieces to set themselves up for success and signing Houston would help pave the way.

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