Reports have surfaced that the Bills are open to the idea of discussing a long-term contract extension with DE Jerry Hughes. Hughes only has one year left on his rookie contract, and with the Bills precariously short on pass rushers, an extension for Hughes would appear to be a logical next step for both sides.
From the club’s perspective, offering Hughes an extension now makes sense as he is a more natural fit for their new defensive scheme. The value of a potential long-term extension may be at its peak for Hughes as well, as he is coming off a year that saw him set new career highs in sacks and tackles
When the Bills traded LB Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts last April in return for Hughes, expectations were not all that lofty for the former 1st round pick. However, when the dust settled on the 2013 season, Hughes had established himself as a more than competent pass rusher, finishing the year with 10 sacks and 46 total tackles in 16 games.
As new Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz employs a more traditional 4-3 style defense, Hughes figures to see most of his playing time as a pure edge rushing defensive end in 2014. In the 4-3, Schwartz should be able to utilize Hughes’s strengths as a pass rusher, while keeping him out of situations where he would need to drop back in coverage.
Don’t be surprised if the Bills also look to add a pass rusher or two in this May’s draft, as Schwartz has traditionally deployed a healthy rotation at the DE position. Furthermore, the recent signing of 27-year-old DE Jarius Wynn would infer the Bills were not satisfied with their current depth at the position.