The history of the New York Jets has long revolved around defensive excellence. While Joe Namath’s Super Bowl guarantee and the sensational running of Curtis Martin excited the fanbase, it’s been the defense that has defined this team. From the early days of Gerry Philbin and Larry Grantham, the New York Sack Exchange of the 80s, Mo Lewis and Aaron Glenn in the 90s, to the Darrelle Revis era. Today, the team has two new stars to join those ranks, Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner. But an underrated defensive lineman could join their ranks if given an opportunity. The player I am referring to is defensive end Bryce Huff. Since he arrived in 2020, Bryce Huff had to earn his way onto the defensive line. Now in a contract year, Bryce Huff is ready to prove he’s ready to be the next man up.
New York Jets’ Bryce Huff Is Ready for Stardom
The Alabama native grew up near Mobile where he garnered attention at St. Paul Episcopal High School. He earned all-state honors his senior year after recording seven sacks and 93 tackles. This was enough to earn an opportunity to play at the University of Memphis. It wasn’t until his junior and senior seasons he started to get scouts’ attention. During that time, he had 16 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss between 2018 and 2019 to earn second-team all-conference honors.
Alas, it wasn’t enough to hear his name selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, Joe Douglas was the one general manager to give Bryce Huff an opportunity by signing him as an undrafted free agent. Huff has since made good on Douglas’ gamble by becoming a valuable pass rusher in Robert Saleh’s rotation.
What makes Bryce Huff So Compelling?
The Jets’ defensive line has been vital to the team’s resurgence since 2021. Robert Saleh has a talented group of individuals featuring Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Carl Lawson, Micheal Clemons, Jermaine Johnson, and 2023 first-round pick Will McDonald IV. Despite all that depth, Bryce Huff has continued to be a name drawing trade interest among other teams.
The admiration of Bryce Huff stems from his unique first step. Huff has a talent for exploding off the line of scrimmage at the snap. This explosiveness and strength have given offensive tackles nightmares trying to protect. Saleh has done well to utilize Huff, especially on third downs due to his ability to get to the quarterback.
Long Term Outlook
Entering the 2023 season, Bryce Huff is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. A second-round tender placed on him by Joe Douglas indicates the team expects steep competition for him. With back-to-back first-round picks used on the defensive line, Huff needs a big season to earn fair market value and a primary role in his next deal.
While many expect Huff to depart for a new team, the potential free-agent status of Carl Lawson is something to keep an eye on. As well as the possible retirement of Duane Brown to free up cap space. While the most experienced pass rusher, the Jets defensive line can afford to let Lawson leave and rely on younger players to free up more cap space. If the team wants to get younger, extending Huff would be a valuable investment.
Universal Responsible Gambling Disclaimer:
Ages 21+. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
Main Photo: Chris Pedota – USA Today Sports