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The hidden reason why the NY Jets traded Jacob Martin

Jacob Martin, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets shipped Jacob Martin off to the Denver Broncos at the NFL trade deadline

The NFL trade market was wildly active ahead of the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday, November 1, featuring the movement of numerous big-name players.

Joe Douglas and the New York Jets did not dip into the market’s deep end, but they still got involved in the action. New York shipped edge rusher Jacob Martin and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Denver Broncos for a 2024 fourth-pound pick, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

On paper, the move does not seem like the typical Joe Douglas robbery that Jets fans are used to. They only moved up one round on the third day of the draft in exchange for a decent situational defensive lineman who they signed to a three-year, $15.5 million deal this past March.

Plus, the Jets don’t even benefit from this move financially. Martin will still be on their books for a $2.3 million cap charge next year.

There’s a bigger reason for this deal that goes beyond the picks or the money: Clearing snaps for Bryce Huff.

Huff, 24, has been one of the most effective pass rushers in the NFL since being promoted to the active roster in Week 4. With only a few snaps per game, he has completely altered the effectiveness of the Jets’ pass-rush, creating a positive ripple effect for the entire defensive line through his elite pressure production.

Over the past five weeks, Huff is tied for 25th among edge rushers with 15 total pressures despite placing 70th with only 77 pass-rush snaps over that span. He is averaging 3.0 pressures per game on a measly 15.4 pass-rush snaps – absurd efficiency.

Huff has created pressure on 19.5% of his pass-rush snaps this season. That is the second-best mark in the NFL among 112 qualified edge rushers (min. 70 pass-rush snaps).

Few edge rushers in the league are as explosive as the third-year man from Memphis. Huff has an average get-off time of 0.65 seconds, per NFL Next Gen Stats, which is the fastest in the NFL among qualified edge rushers this season.

With numbers like these, it is a travesty that Huff has not been playing more often. The Jets have only been placing him on the field in obvious passing situations – hence why only one of his 78 defensive snaps this season was a run play (and that was a draw on third-and-18).

Sure, Huff’s run defense isn’t great, but it’s not bad enough to justify limiting him to 15 pass-rush snaps per game just to avoid having him on the field for a single play against the run. New York can live with Huff being on the field for some run plays to maximize the number of snaps in which his spectacular pass-rushing efficiency is utilized.

And that’s likely the main reason why they traded Martin.

Huff and Martin have competed for backup reps at the edge position. Martin, like Huff, has been a rotational backup for the defensive line, coming in for occasional spurts to provide rest for the starting edge rushers, Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers.

Martin played 153 defensive snaps for the Jets this season – an average of 19.1 per game and a 27.7% portion of the defensive snaps. However, unlike Huff, Martin was being used in some run situations, as he averaged 6.8 snaps against the run and 12.3 snaps against the pass. The Jets were fine with using him on early downs and in short-yardage situations, which was odd considering Martin is also known as a lackluster run defender (no better than Huff).

Trading Martin opens up more snaps for Huff in the edge-rushing rotation. Huff can take over the early-down and run-down snaps that Martin was playing. It will mean Huff must be ready to handle a few run plays per game, but it will also mean the Jets can enjoy significantly more pass-rush reps per game from their most efficient edge rusher – a guy whose current efficiency is so dominant that it suggests he just might have a star-caliber kind of ceiling as a pass rusher if given more reps.

Martin is solid, but he’s no Huff. Martin ranks 38th out of 112 qualified edge rushers in pass-rush win rate at 15.9%, while Huff ranks first at 27.4% (0.1% ahead of Myles Garrett). It makes plenty of sense for the Jets to get what they can for Martin while opening up more playing time for a better player.

I believe promoting Huff is the main motivation for this move, but there are two other edge rushers who likely contributed to the trade.

Jermaine Johnson will be back soon from injury and could use more snaps to iron out his game and work toward fulfilling his first-round potential. The Jets also recently welcomed back Vinny Curry from injured reserve, who the team seems to trust, as he has taken over Johnson’s reps during the rookie’s three-game absence.

Curry’s activation occurred during Johnson’s absence, meaning there would be a logjam on the edge once Johnson returned. Somebody would have to be the odd man out. It appears the Jets decided on Martin.

Martin finishes his first season as a Jet with 1.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, 8 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 15 total pressures in 8 games.

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Jonathan Richter
1 year ago

I think Huff will get Martin’s pass rush snaps and Jermaine will get his run D snaps.

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Matt Galemmo
1 year ago

What happens to Huff’s league leading get off time if he’s playing potential run downs? I imagine having a run stop responsibility impacts that, and further, impacts his pass rushing efficiency. If he was playing 1/3rd of his downs against the rush, how different would his measurables look? How different from Martin would they look?

Another factor not mentioned: from my eyes only (and it would be a small sample size anyway) Huff is considerably better than Martin at converting pressure to sacks & TO worthy plays.

1 year ago

Huff’s development is certainly the driving force behind this move. Bryce is a restricted Free Agent in 2023. Michael Clemons, has also surprised , needs rep… Consider the door has opened a crack for Practice Squader Bradley Anae.

Peter Buell
1 year ago

Michael, I’m sorry. I love your analysis on a weekly basis and even when I don’t agree, you always make a salient point.
Well on this one I call BS. Not on getting Huff in there more but in the return.
Through healthy scratches and injuries that are sure to come there will be a time where Martin could possibly be missed.
Maybe it’s the sales executive in me but you don’t strengthen another team with an asset when the gain is little to microscopic.
Is this Joe wanting a 2023 pick back for spending what’s probably a 5 on Robinson?
No action on the O-line is another miss. If Joe felt like Martin had to be traded, a position we would have killed to upgrade in the past, I’d bet someone would have given a live breathing lineman for him.
Good player. reasonable cost. 2 years control.
I’m sorry and saying this for the first and hopefully only time . Bad move Joe!