Buffalo Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes ranks 37th on Pro Football Network’s Top 50 Free Agents. Hughes is also ninth among all edge rushers in what looks to be a deep class of defensive ends and outside linebackers. When looking at his stats from last season, what type of contract could we expect Hughes to receive in the 2022 free agency period?
Jerry Hughes: Free Agency Overview
Since joining the Bills in 2012, Hughes has been an ironman, having appeared in 144 of a possible 145 games. But it’s fair to say his best years are behind him. He’s totaled 11 sacks in his last three years after averaging 7 sacks/year in his previous six seasons.
Hughes, a first-round pick by the Colts in 2010, will turn 34 before the start of the 2022 season. While teams will look for affordable, veteran pass-rush help, it’s a buyer’s market. Hughes is one of several available players who fit the bill — a list that includes Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Recapping Hughes’ 2021 season
Hughes’ playing time took a significant step back in 2021. He was on the field for the fewest snaps (558) in a decade, even though he appeared in more regular-season games (17) than ever before.
On paper, Hughes had his least-productive season with the Bills in 2021. He had just 18 tackles (1 for loss) and 2 sacks, although that wasn’t totally reflective of his performance. With that said, Hughes did have more pressures (26) and hurries (19) than he had in 2019 and 2020.
Hughes’ contract estimate and salary cap implications
The Bills need to make some tough decisions this offseason. As of Feb. 25, they were actually $2.2 million over the cap without a ton of easy ways to free up space that doesn’t impact 2023 and potentially beyond.
So Hughes, who has nearly $80 million in career earnings, could actually be a good fit. He should be cheap. Spotrac’s calculated Hughes’ market value at $6.6 million over two years.
Possible landing spots for Hughes
At this stage in his career, Hughes isn’t going to a bad team. Only contenders will be on his list. So, if he doesn’t return to Buffalo, teams that make some sense include the Rams, Cardinals, Chiefs, and Packers.
What they’re saying about Hughes
“As of now, he sounded to me like he wants to play. We’ll look at that and consider. As of now, I don’t really have…we’ll have to see how all the pieces, how all the money works, and we’ll go from there.” — Bills general manager Brandon Beane on Jerry Hughes, January 2022
“I want some hardware. Everybody in this building wants some hardware. We were close to getting that [in 2020]. So now we know what it takes to get back to that stage. And if this is my last opportunity being a Buffalo Bill, I want to go out on top.” — Hughes before the Bills’ Wild Card game against the Patriots
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