The longer Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles waits for a defensive end, the crappier the pass-rushing pool will be. The Bears found that out Thursday when another trade candidate emerged after a restructuring deal squashed the Bears’ chances of getting a prime defensive end.
New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson signed a restructuring deal, effectively killing any rumors about a potential trade for the 27-year-old pass rusher. Lawson was on the short list of players Bears insiders thought the team could trade for this offseason. Brad Biggs with the Chicago Tribune named Lawson and Za’Darius Smith as two logical trade options for the Bears. Smith was traded to the Cleveland Browns last Friday.
The Chicago Bears are in the market to trade
Poles suggested in a radio interview last week the Bears were in the market to trade for a defensive end sooner rather than later. But his inaction since has the Bears in even more of a corner. As Brad Spielberger pointed out on May 12, the Edge trade market heated up last week. The mildly good news? One pass rusher is reportedly attainable from the Jets now that Lawson signed the restructure.
According to Rich Cimini with ESPN, Bryce Huff is one defensive end the Jets could shop this offseason.
With Lawson restructure, 4 of the Jets' top 6 DEs have gtd money — Lawson, JFM, Johnson + McDonald (once he signs). Huff + Clemons don't. Wouldn't be a surprise if Huff, who led NFL in pressure pct (21.3%) for players with a min of 150 pass rushes, draws trade interest. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) May 18, 2023
Huff is a former undrafted free agent signed by the Jets in 2020. He’s a former two-time AAC pass rusher during his college days at Memphis. Huff is a significant downgrade from Lawson statistically and in experience. He wasn’t a full-time starter for the Jets. Huff would add rotational depth to a position on the Bears that is already filled with rotational talent signings this offseason with DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green.
Huff’s resume might not fit the Bears’ needs
Huff has 7.5 sacks and 36 total tackles during his three seasons in the NFL. Huff did well in his limited 191 snaps with the Jets last season. According to Pro Football Focus, Huff earned a 90.4 overall grade for his play on the Jets’ talented defensive line. His numbers were surely aided by coming into games fresh and having All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams taking the opposing offensive line’s attention.
Huff’s PFF grades for the 2021 season were 60.7 and 58.5 for 2020. It takes a few years in the NFL for most defensive ends to mature, and the 25-year-old could just be getting started in becoming an impact player. It would still be a risky trade for a player with seven games of starting experience. But lesser trade options are what Poles will have to look for the longer he waits for the perfect value to become available in the NFL marketplace.
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