The NY Jets have been searching for years for a top-level pass rusher to anchor their defense. They've drafted edge rushers in the first round of each of the last two drafts, but in reality, the team already had what they were looking for on their roster.
Bryce Huff is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. That statement can no longer be considered hyperbolic at this point.
The former undrafted free agent ranked among the league leaders in pressure rate last season and once again ranks near or at the top in every pass-rush statistic this season. He's thriving even as the Jets increase his role.
His situation is reminiscent of former Denver Broncos "pass-rush specialist" Shaquil Barrett. Barrett was excellent in a part-time role with the Broncos, hit the open market, got paid, and racked up 19.5 sacks in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Jets can't allow Huff to become the NFL's next Shaquil Barrett. It's time to extend someone who is genuinely one of the very best players on this roster.
The NY Jets must extend Bryce Huff in the near future
The price tag won't be cheap — nor should it be. Huff leads all defensive players with a ridiculous 29.9 percent pressure rate this season. He ranks seventh among all players with 25 pressures despite playing the 119th most pass-rush snaps.
Pro Football Focus has a metric called Pass Rush Productivity. It's essentially a formula that combines sacks, QB hits, and pressures relative to the number of times a player rushes the passer to determine just how impactful a pass rusher is.
Huff leads the league with a 16.7 PRP. The closest two players behind him are Myles Garrett (14.5) and Micah Parsons (12.6). This is the tier of pass rushers Huff belongs in. He's been as if not more effective than the NFL's elite on a per-snap basis.
His production and efficiency have only increased when the Jets have played him more snaps as well. Huff was on the field for 39 percent and 44 percent of the Jets' defensive snaps in each of the last two games, respectively.
He responded by recording absurd pressure rates of 39 and 40 percent. He's tallied 15 pressures on 13 pass-rush snaps over the last two games. If anything, Huff is playing even better in an increased role.
Huff hasn't been a liability in run defense, either. His 64.8 Pro Football Focus run defense grade is the second-highest among all edge rushers on the team, behind only Jermaine Johnson. He has four run stops on only 20 run-defense snaps, giving him the highest run-stop percentage on the team.
Huff isn't just a pass-rush specialist. He's developed into a well-rounded star defensive end. The numbers prove it. The tape proves it. It's up to the Jets to see it and continue to increase his snaps.
The Jets have clearly been preparing for the departures of Carl Lawson and Huff with their draft strategy in each of the last two seasons. Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald are supposed to be the future. Heck, McDonald was essentially drafted to replace Huff.
But sometimes plans change. The Jets have one of the best pass rushers in the NFL on their hands. It's not a stretch to say that Huff is a top-five player on a very talented Jets roster. He's that good.
It's time for the Jets to recognize the talent they have in Bryce Huff. Pay the man what he rightfully deserves...before someone else does.