The NY Jets have a decision to make on a number of free agents this offseason, and none are more important than star defensive end Bryce Huff. Huff is coming off a career year in 2023 and is expected to be among the most coveted players on the open market.
While it normally makes sense for a team to reward a young star they developed at a premium position, the Jets don't seem likely to follow that trend.
The Athletic's Zack Rosenblatt reported this week that the Jets are "more likely to lose" Huff in free agency than they are to re-sign him. The Jets have interest in bringing Huff back, but they don't seem to view him as a full-time starter in their defense.
This report is hardly a revelation, and it should be painfully obvious to anyone who has paid attention to the Jets over the last two years that the team has no plans to re-sign Huff at the price tag he will receive from another team. This move has been foreshadowed for years.
The NY Jets have been preparing to lose Bryce Huff in free agency
The Jets have used consecutive first-round picks on edge rushers in each of the last two seasons, trading up to select Jermaine Johnson in 2022 before stunningly using their 2023 first-round pick on Will McDonald.
Those moves were made with the future in mind. The Jets have been preparing for the departures of Huff and Carl Lawson, although the team likely never imagined Huff would be this good.
No player in the NFL has a higher pressure rate over the last two seasons than the former undrafted free agent. He maintained his level of pass-rush efficiency even when given a larger role in 2023.
Huff finished the year second among all qualified players in pressure rate, notching a career-high 10 sacks, 21 QB hits, and 68 pressures. He also recorded the third-best pass-rush win rate among qualified edge rushers.
By all accounts, Huff is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. For whatever reason, though, the Jets just don't see him as anything more than a role player. Other teams will have differing opinions.
Huff's case is reminiscent of Shaquil Barrett, who was a role player in Denver with sky-high efficiency numbers. Barrett signed a massive contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency and proceeded to record 19.5 sacks in his first season as a full-time starter.
Many teams are going to be willing to pay top dollar for Huff's services this offseason. The Jets don't appear to be one of them. They'll move forward with the combination of Johnson, McDonald, and John Franklin-Myers as their primary edge rushers.
Bryce Huff worked his way up from an undrafted free agent to one of the most productive pass rushers in football. He'll be rewarded for his efforts this offseason, but don't expect that reward to come from the Jets.