The contract situation of New York Jets EDGE Bryce Huff could set an interesting precedent in the NFL
But given his draft status and contract situation, Huff could find himself at the center of a philosophy change that could potentially affect NFL team-building for years to come.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas is playing chess, not checkers. It’s been rumored that the team has been receiving calls on their hidden gem. However, the Jets are refusing to move Huff – and there’s likely a good reason for that.
— uSTADIUM App (@uSTADIUM) August 29, 2023
This offseason, the Jets used a second-round tender on Huff. The one-year, $4,304,000 contract came after the Memphis product was named one of the league’s top 14 under-the-radar players going into the offseason by NFL’s Next Gen Stats.
Because the Jets tendered Huff, the 25-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. This is part of why Douglas is unlikely to trade him.
One of the biggest reasons the team is unlikely to trade Huff – or increase his usage in non-passing situations – is that the Jets are likely to receive a higher compensation pick if he signs with another team in free agency than if the team were to trade him during the season. That way, the Jets retain the services of an elite pass-rusher while being better compensated in the upcoming offseason.
Part of logic here: Huff could do well in free agency, which would set up Jets with a good compensatory pick, potentially. https://t.co/Krl08qVcoN
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 29, 2023
Edge rushers are always in demand, and with a skill set like Huff’s, he could potentially command a large market in free agency. Considering the Jets have used two first-round draft picks on edge rushers in the last two years, it’s unlikely the team will invest heavily in Huff this offseason. With that said, Huff is certainly a player worth investing in.
Last season was a breakout year for the Memphis product. Huff was first among edge rushers in pass-rush win rate, second in true pass set pressure rate, and third in QB hit rate. His 21.3% pressure rate (min 150 pass rushes) set a Next Gen Stats record.
Meanwhile, his 0.67-second pass-rush get-off was the fastest recorded by a NFL player over the last five years.
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 13, 2023
Players like Huff will inevitably change the way GMs handle UDFAs going forward.
A large part of a general manager’s job is to maximize the value of a player. From the moment a player signs up to when the team and player finally part ways, it’s imperative for good GMs to take advantage of the opportunities that they have.
One such advantage is utilizing undrafted players. There’s a stigma that UDFAs have a harder time making it in the NFL, but that’s not always the case. Just last year alone, nearly 1/4 of active NFL rosters were made up of UDFAs. One of those is Jets safety Tony Adams.
Fun fact: Out of 1,696 active #NFL players (not including those on IR) 393 are undrafted players.
(In other words, nearly 1/4 of ALL players are undrafted guys.)
Who is your favorite UD player?
— Kayla Burton (@Kay_Breezy22) September 1, 2022
Quality UDFAs are gold for NFL teams because of the financial flexibility they provide. They allow GMs to have quality talent at a discount while being able to add talent at deprived positions. They also have the potential to become CFAs.
CFA stands for compensatory free agent. The NFL uses a formula that determines which players become CFAs at the end of the free agency period. When the league determines that a team suffers a net loss in CFAs, they are awarded a compensatory draft pick. While these picks are usually on Day 3 of the NFL draft, some are eligible for third-round selections.
Having an undrafted player become a CFA and signing elsewhere is an excellent way for a GM to boost draft capital without hindering their team. Not every UDFA that sticks is Austin Ekeler or Damon Harrison – some are quality depth pieces that, while they may not change the dynamic of a team, can be seen as a net loss when the NFL determines CFA status.
Most undrafted free agents usually have an added risk – such as age or injury concerns – attached to them that makes it easier for GMs to explore this option. Considering Huff is already 25 years old and is a below-average run defender, the Jets would be wise to avoid being stuck with the bill at the end of the year.
Since the Jets have Super Bowl aspirations, it makes sense for them to allow another team to pay up for Huff after the season. It’s a move many Jets fans may not understand or agree with. At face value, however, it’s the right thing for Joe Douglas to do. And don’t be surprised when this tactic is used by other GMs in the future.