OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- It took only Justin Houston's second practice with the Baltimore Ravens to put himself in the middle of one of the most heated NFL rivalries.
On Saturday, Houston said he chose to sign a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with the Ravens, even though the Pittsburgh Steelers offered him more money.
"I was so close to signing with the Steelers," Houston said. "It just worked out better [in Baltimore]."
When Houston struck a deal with Baltimore, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker turned down significantly more money from other teams in order to pursue a championship with the Ravens. The Steelers addressed their pass rush by signing Melvin Ingram to a one-year, $4 million contract.
Houston said the Ravens' defense played a major factor in his decision. When he visited Baltimore in April, Ravens officials walked through their scheme and how they saw him in it.
"I fell in love with it," Houston said. "I kind of knew I wanted to be here when I saw that."
The Ravens are hoping Houston can shore up their pass rush after losing Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency.
Houston, 32, is one of five players with eight-plus sacks in each of the past four seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The others are Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ngakoue.
Houston, who has played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, believes Baltimore will "maximize" his talents.
"I think it was better fit for me in what I was looking for," Houston said. "I just want opportunities to have one-on-ones and be able to put pressure on the quarterback."
Houston said he was recruited heavily to Baltimore by cornerback Marcus Peters, a former teammate in Kansas City. As soon as last season ended, Peters called Houston to try to lure him to Baltimore by explaining how the scheme perfectly suits him.
"He's an ultimate great leader for a team like us," Peters said. 'When you get a player like that, and he's out there on the market, it doesn't [hurt] to just call -- just say, 'What's up? How are you doing?' -- and see if we can be a part of his journey, and he can be a part of ours, too, and it worked out."