Will the Jets regret losing Bryce Huff if he walks in free agency?

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The defense was the bright spot for the New York Jets in 2023. Even though superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers is set to return from an Achilles tear in 2024, any degradation of their formidable defensive unit will be a major hit to the team.

Bryce Huff, one of their most integral contributors, is now a free agent who could say goodbye to Gang Green this offseason.

How would Bryce Huff’s anticipated contract impact the Jets’ salary cap situation?

While his impact on the field was astounding last year, the financial ramifications that his resigning comes with may deter the Jets’ front office from bringing him back. But would that be the wisest course of action?

ESPN’s Rich Cimini went into great length detailing the many layers of Huff’s situation and where it makes sense to give him the money he seeks, as well as where it doesn’t, saying in part:

“Huff played only 42% of the defensive snaps last season — no starts — and his possible replacement already is on the roster, Will McDonald IV, their 2023 first-round pick,” Cimini contextualized. “With only $5 million in projected cap room before cuts and restructures, the Jets might have to trim the budget at a position of need if they pay Huff.”

Cimini used Huff’s limited time and the cap hit that his $17-$20 million annual asking price will have to give credence to an upgrade for his understudy. Though, Huff’s NFL-leading 21.8% pressure rate against quarterbacks among all edge rushers in 2023 advocates for his extension.

Sentiments within the Jets’ ranks suggest that his return is highly desired

Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich also lamented over the thought of Huff departing:

“I would absolutely hate to lose him,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said, “but he’s a guy that has earned every penny that he’s about to make.”

The Jets sported the third-lowest 1st down percentage at 28.7% and their 48 sacks were seventh-most among all defenses this past year. Huff was a valued part of that successful dynamic. If he returns, the Jets should be primed to replicate their strong showing. If not, his presence will be missed as the team looks to McDonald IV to fill his shoes.

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