NFL Rumors: 3 teams that need to sign Justin Houston for playoff push

The Carolina Panthers waived Justin Houston, clearing the way for him to sign with a contender for the postseason.

Justin Houston, Carolina Panthers
Justin Houston, Carolina Panthers / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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The Carolina Panthers waived OLB Justin Houston on Tuesday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Houston has started seven games for the last-place Panthers in 2023, registering nine combined tackles, three QB hits, and 0.5 sacks.

He is expected to clear waivers and sign with a contender.

Houston is a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker, earning four straight appearances from 2012-15 with the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent the first eight years of his career in KC (2011-18), before making stops with the Indianapolis Colts (2019-20) and Baltimore Ravens (2021-22) prior to his arrival in Carolina, where he signed a one-year, $6 million contract last offseason.

Potential suitors should thoroughly temper expectations — Houston has been mostly ineffective when healthy and available for the Panthers — but he did achieve 9.5 sacks and 17 QB hits in 14 games (one start) for Baltimore last season. He has the potential to influence winning as a reserve. The 34-year-old will also bring over a decade of NFL experience and leadership to a locker room.

Here are the teams who should be most interested in signing Houston for the remainder of the season.

3. Philadelphia Eagles can sign Justin Houston to salvage shoddy defense

The Philadelphia Eagles have lost three straight. We can blame the schedule to some extent — Buffalo, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle consecutively is brutal — but if the Eagles want to be considered legitimate contenders, this losing slide is not acceptable. The vibes around the franchise have shifted dramatically, from calm and collected juggernaut to pretender on the verge of a complete meltdown.

Last season, the Eagles rode their dominant defense all the way to the Super Bowl. This time around, the Eagles' inability to generate the same pressure on QBs has been noticeable. The team successfully courted Shaq Leonard away from the Cowboys, but surprise, surprise, he's not good anymore. If only there were three lost seasons with the Colts to use as evidence of his decline.

Houston can help the Eagles' still-needy pass rush at outside linebacker. He would compete for reps with the likes of Zach Cunningham, Haason Reddick, and Nolan Smith. He shouldn't be considered a starting-level solution, but Houston is another body for a team that clearly still needs a facelift in his area of expertise.

One couldn't blame Houston for avoiding the Eagles and the current turmoil surrounding the team (and especially the defense), but last season was proof that Philadelphia is capable of a deep run. If any team has the fortitude to get their s*** together over the next few weeks and pull off the improbable, it's Philadelphia.