The best swing Chicago Bears could take at edge rusher in free agency

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The Chicago Bears are likely to sign an edge rusher in free agency this offseason. While there are some veteran names who may be past their peak, such as big-name swings, the best big swing that the team could take to improve this room would be adding Bryce Huff.

Huff broke out last year with the New York Jets. He had 7.5 sacks in his first three seasons and then put together a 10-sack year just in time for free agency. He also went from seven tackles in three years to for loss to 10, and 22 quarterback hits over his whole career turned into 21 in one season. Was he just a one-year wonder?

No, in fact, the issue was more about playing time. Huff had a 22.9% pressure rate last year, and a 29.1% win rate on true pass rush chances, per PFF. That is great, but in 2022, when he had just 3.5 sacks, his pressure rate was 25.6%, and his true pass-rush win rate was 28.4%.

Chicago Bears must sign Bryce Huff in NFL free agency

For comparison, Myles Garrett led the NFL with a 27.3% pressure rate, Micah Parsons was at 24.2%, Nick Bosa was at 21.8%, and then there was Huff. On true rush chances, Garrett was at 34.7%, Parsons at 31.3%, and Bosa at 29%; he is right in that group behind these elite rushers. For what it is worth, Montez Sweat had a 12.7% pressure rate last year. 

The difference is that Garrett and Parsons both had over 530 pass rush reps, and Sweat was at 518. Nick Bosa was all the way at 594, as he was their workhorse. Huff had 507 pass rush snaps over the past two years. 

Some of this is just what the Jets do. They have a large group of edge rusher options, and they keep them fresh by rotating them. However, Huff is also used more as a pass rusher than a run-stopper. He certainly leans to being better in one area. 

Still, when you look at the Chicago Bears, they have Sweat, who is excellent against the run, and DeMarcus Walker can set the edge on run downs but struggles as a pass rusher. The team needs a pure pass rush. 

Huff will be 26 years old this upcoming season and is coming off of his rookie contract. It is easy to argue the best is still ahead of him. PFF has him projected to sign a three-year, $50M deal. That is less than Danielle Hunter, who is projected at three years, $60M, and Huff is three years younger.

Fans will want players who already had their best days, but if the team is smart, they give Bryce Huff a chance to prove that he can stay as a high-end pass rusher, even with a bigger workload.

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