Jets Warned Not to Let Projected $36 Million Defender Depart in Free Agency

Bryce Huff, Jets

Getty New York Jets defensive lineman Bryce Huff getting ready ahead of an NFL game.

Bryce Huff is going to get the bag this offseason from someone.

There is a chance that a massive contract doesn’t come from the New York Jets. Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus warned the green and white not to let Huff go.

“For a team in the midst of an all-in window with Aaron Rodgers, a mid-rate deal for a designated pass-rushing specialist who can make game-changing plays in high-leverage moments would make a lot of sense,” Spielberger explained in an article posted on Thursday, January 25. “Huff’s 23.8% pass-rush win rate over the past two seasons trails only the great Myles Garrett, and he made strides as an early-down run defender as his role grew.”

Spotrac’s calculated market value projects Huff to sign a four-year $36 million contract this offseason. That $9.2 million annual salary would place him No. 25 among the highest-paid pass rushers in the NFL, per Over The Cap.

Jets Made a Mistake and It Could Cost Them Dearly

Huff signed with the Jets on an undrafted free-agent contract for $2.3 million. After that contract ran its course, Gang Green placed a second-round restricted free-agent tender for $4.3 million on Huff.

Now the former Memphis product is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent for the very first time in 2024.

Spielberger said the Jets’ lack of a desire to hand Huff an early extension this past season was an “interesting” choice.

“I do know that there were conversations about re-signing Huff during the season, but they just ultimately decided they didn’t want to sign any of these guys to new deals [at that moment in time],” Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic explained on “TOJ Talks.”

Huff, by NFL standards, hasn’t made a ton of money through the first four seasons of his career. If the Jets were proactive in trying to land Huff on a long-term deal during the season they could have saved significant money.

Instead, they chose to let things play out. Huff ended up having a career year and now he is set to hit the open market at just 25 years of age.

Jets Better Hope Will McDonald Is Ready to Make Massive Leap

Spielberger said Will McDonald “wins in a similar manner” to Huff on the field as bendy pass rushers. He speculated that rolling with McDonald in 2024 was perhaps the “preferred” succession plan to replace Huff.

“In retrospect, it feels like they [the Jets] were planning for the possibility of losing Bryce Huff ” [when they selected McDonald], Rosenblatt explained on the “TOJ Talks” podcast.

Huff is coming off of a career year in which he recorded 10 sacks. McDonald registered just three sacks with limited snaps in his first campaign.

In some respects, you know what Huff is. McDonald is still a high-upside mystery.

To potentially let Huff go ahead of an all-in season seems incredibly risky. Especially considering he plays a premium position and he hasn’t entered his prime yet. If McDonald doesn’t make the sophomore leap, the Jets could come to regret letting Huff go play for someone else.

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