New Trade Target Emerges for Bears After Jets’ Recent Moves

Bryce Huff Bears Trade Target

Getty The Bears could have a new trade target to consider in defensive end Bryce Huff.

The Chicago Bears are now able to rule out the possibility of trading for New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson after he agreed to take a pay cut to remain with the team for the 2023 season, but could the Jets’ abundance of pass rushers potentially yield another, more affordable trade target for Chicago?

ESPN’s Rich Cimini recently noted that four of the Jets’ top six defensive ends have guaranteed money on their current contracts, including Lawson after the restructure. Because of this, the insider says “wouldn’t be surprised” Bryce Huff — one of the two without guarantees — “draws trade interest” from teams in the coming months.

That could present an opening for a pass-rusher-needy team like the Bears to add a young talent to their roster, as Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Chicago would agree.

“Sending the Jets a mid-round pick for Huff is the type of low-risk, high-reward deal [Bears general manager Ryan] Poles has made in the past,” Schrock wrote on May 18. “Huff has high upside and would, at the very least, give the Bears a true pass rusher they can unleash on the left side of the line on passing downs.”

Bryce Huff Graded Highly as Pass Rusher in 2022

Huff might not have the same big-name prestige as other defensive ends on the trade market, such as Washington’s Chase Young, but there are a few reasons why he might be an attractive option for Chicago as it looks to upgrade its pass-rushing prowess.

For starters, Huff was highly effective as a pure pass rusher in 2022 despite playing a rotational role for the Jets defense. He received Pro Football Focus’ seventh-highest pass-rushing grade (88.0) among all edge rushers who played at least 20% of their team’s snaps last season, finishing with 3.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits and 36 total pressures over 14 games of action. He also won his pass-rushing matchup more than a fourth of the time (28%) over his 173 pass-rushing snaps, ranking first in the NFL.

Then there’s the matter of Huff’s price tag. He signed his second-round restricted free agent tender with the Jets on April 18 and is due to make an affordable $4.304 million for the 2023 season, but the Jets could wipe the entire cap charge from their books if they decided to trade him now. There is even more motive to do so, too, after the Jets cashed in their No. 15 overall draft pick on Will McDonald IV — the second consecutive year in which they have used their first-round draft choice on a new edge rusher.

Don’t let the “second-round tender” language trick you. The Jets placed a second-round tender to essentially ward off other teams from making a play for Huff in free agency, whereas a minimum tender would have made him more susceptible to poaching. Now that Huff has signed it, the Jets can agree to whatever compensation they feel is fair if they decide to trade him — likely a mid-round pick as Shrock suggested.

Which Other DEs Could Bears Pursue for 2023?

Poles indicated to 670 the Score earlier in May that the Bears are looking at “different avenues” to bring in another pass rusher, potentially even with a trade. If another trade does not work out to their liking, though, there are still some quality free agent options available who could add a sizeable boost to their current defensive end group.

Yannick Ngakoue might be the most sensible fit for them in terms of production. He has never finished a season with fewer than eight sacks even though his overall pass-rush win rate isn’t consistently high. The 28-year-old also has experience playing in a 4-3 defense similar to the one head coach Matt Eberflus installed in Chicago last year.

There is also a familiar face out there in Leonard Floyd; albeit, not familiar to the new regime under Poles. Floyd — the Bears’ No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 draft — spent the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and racked up a total of 29 sacks and 157 pressures over his time with the team, but he was released for cap savings in March and still has not found a new home. The Bears might have to consider a lucrative, multi-year contract for either him or Ngakoue if they wanted to sign them, but both are stout pass-rushing forces who would raise the floor on their defensive line’s potential.

Other potential veteran free agents for the Bears to consider include Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney, Shelby Harris, Dawuane Smoot and Melvin Ingram.

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