2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Bryce Huff
Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Bryce Huff

by - Senior Writer -

The most obvious part of the NFL season this time of year is the NFL draft and all the prepping that comes with it, but you also have Free Agency, which is set to begin in roughly two weeks. That is something to keep an eye on when it comes to the Bears as they are expected to be aggressive again, just maybe not at the level they were last season.

Ryan Poles has done a great job rebuilding this team, but more work needs to be done. One of the things that needs to be done is improving the team's pass rush, which he started to do when he traded for and extended Montez Sweat. He made a huge difference, but more help is needed for this defense to be at the level they need.

That is where the free agent market comes into play, particularly Bryce Huff, who is coming off another great season with the New York Jets and will now seek a massive deal with a new team. Expected to be one of the most sought-after defensive players in this year's class, the 25-year-old Huff will enter his fifth NFL season, where he is expected to land a deal of 10 million per season.

He's not talked about nearly as much as he should be; Huff was a massive part of the Jets defense the past four seasons, which is why they have constantly been ranked in the top 10. Going back to this past season, you have a guy in Huff who not only played in all 17 games but also at a very high level. Huff accounted for 29 total tackles, 10 for a loss, 10.0 sacks, 21 QB hits, and one pass breakup.

The sacks and tackles for a loss stand out the most, but his lack of tackles shows he is more of a one-trick pony who specializes in getting after the QB. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, and should Huff land with the Bears, he would continue to fill that role while the other players around him do the dirty work.

Huff has always been a good player on a great defense, but no one expected him to lead the Jets in sacks this season. A former undrafted free agent out of Memphis, Huff went on a tear in Week 5 and carried it through the season despite playing just 42% of the defensive snaps. He is now being put in the category as one of the best undrafted defensive players of the past decade, and the numbers can back that up.

Despite being behind a couple of Pro Bowl players on defense, Huff emerged as a better playmaker than all of them and now will be seeking the opportunity to become a Pro bowler in his own right, all while leading a new defense. To keep things in perspective, although the numbers may not show it, Huff had a better pressure rating than Micah Parsons, Joey Bosa, and Myles Garrett, who were all in the Defensive Player of the Year running.

That shows you that Huff can be at that level if given a true opportunity to lead a defense, which he will look to do this season and beyond. Perhaps the thing that stands out even more is the overall passer rating when Huff was on the field compared to when he wasn't. When on the field, the Jets allowed a 69.1 passer rating as opposed to 83.1 when he wasn't on the field. In other words, Huff does a lot more than get after the QB. He changes how a defense thinks and forces them to change their game plan.

When you look at the overall needs of this team, adding an EDGE rusher or a pass rusher is at the top of their list, especially with Yannick Ngakoue, who is also a free agent. Ngakoue was supposed to be putting pressure on QBs, but with just 3.5 sacks in six games and then missing the rest of the season with an injury, he is as good as gone.

If the Bears want to add rookies and surround them with older veterans to development, Ngakoue would make sense to bring back. However, if this team wants to be a long-term contender, Huff makes a ton of sense and can be had at the price the Bears can afford.

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