Bryce Huff contract details make NY Jets' foolish decision look even worse

The Jets definitely could've afforded Huff

Bryce Huff
Bryce Huff / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The NY Jets' decision to let Bryce Huff walk in free agency this offseason was an expected but ultimately controversial choice on the part of Joe Douglas and the rest of the team's front office.

Huff had developed into a true star edge rusher for the Jets, establishing himself as one of the best pass rushers in the entire NFL. That's why it came as no surprise that the Philadelphia Eagles made Huff their top free-agent target, signing him to a record-setting three-year, $51.1 million contract last week.

The deal made Huff the highest-paid undrafted free agent in NFL history and it gave the Eagles another star to build around on defense. While that's understandably a hefty contract, the specific details of the deal make it a lot more affordable.

So affordable, in fact, that the Jets have no excuse for why they weren't willing to pay it themselves. The contract details only hammer home what a puzzling mistake this was by the Jets.

The NY Jets messed up by not re-signing Bryce Huff

Per Over the Cap, Huff will carry cap hits of just $4.35 million, $7.51 million, and $11.73 million in 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively. For reference, all three of those figures are lower than Allen Lazard's cap hit this upcoming season.

The reasons the Jets moved on from Huff are obvious. The Jets never valued Huff as a full-time player, despite the fact that his remarkable pass-rush efficiency didn't drop when given more of a three-down role in 2023.

Huff has the highest pressure rate among all players in the NFL over the last two seasons and finished second behind only Micah Parsons in 2023 despite playing a career-high 42 percent of defensive snaps.

Still, the Jets never saw Huff as more than a rotational player. The numbers may not support that, but that's how the Jets feel.

The other aspect of it is that the Jets are still trying to justify their selection of Will McDonald in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. McDonald was drafted to be Huff's replacement. Unfortunately, the Jets never predicted that Huff would be this good.

It's going to take a lot for McDonald to come close to matching Huff's production and efficiency, but the Jets clearly believe in not only his talent but Robert Saleh's ability to develop the former Iowa State star.

All of that being said, there's still no reason why the Jets couldn't have signed Huff to the contract the Eagles gave him. Philadelphia added multiple void years to Huff's contract as a way to mitigate his cap hits — a tactic the Jets have also deployed over the last couple of offseasons.

In fact, Huff's cap hit this season is less than $1 million more than McDonald. Keep in mind, the Jets are still expected to sign another edge rusher to replace Huff, and it's very possible that player will have a higher cap hit in 2024.

Good NFL teams retain their best players, especially when said best player is only 25 years old and plays a premium position. Those are no-brainer re-signings. The Jets just didn't know what they had, and there's a high likelihood that they live to regret their mistake.

It's hard to have too many complaints about the way this Jets offseason has gone to this point. Douglas fixed the offense line with a trio of very reasonably priced additions, giving the Jets a foundation to build around on offense.

The team's handling of the Bryce Huff situation, however, was an unmitigated disaster. There's no way around it.