9:53am: The Bills have officially re-signed Hughes, the team announced today (via Twitter).
6:57am: The Bills and edge defender Jerry Hughes have agreed to terms on a five-year contract that will keep Hughes in Buffalo, reports Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. The agreement will keep Hughes off the open market when free agency begins tomorrow.
Multiple reports, including tweets from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, indicate the five-year deal will be worth about $45MM, with Rapoport adding that $20MM of that amount will be guaranteed. However, a source close to the team tells Carucci that the $45MM figure isn’t quite accurate.
Regardless of whether the final amount lands, Hughes won’t come cheap. A league source tells Carucci that at least six clubs expressed interest in signing the 26-year-old. Clubs like the Jaguars, Raiders, Colts, Browns, and Giants had previously been mentioned as possible suitors. besides Buffalo.
Hughes is coming off his second consecutive 10-sack season for the Bills, and his first year as a full-time starter. The former first-round pick also racked up 54 tackles and forced three fumbles, joining forces with Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, and Marcell Dareus to make up one of the league’s most dominant defensive lines.
Those three players were already on the books for a combined $33.86MM cap hit for the 2015 season, so a new deal for Hughes figures to push that figure up over $40MM, barring other restructures or extensions. That’s a significant amount to invest in a defensive line, but that line is the primary reason Buffalo’s defense has been so good in recent years, ranking in the top five in DVOA in both 2013 and 2014, per Football Outsiders.
When I ranked this year’s top 50 free agents, I named Hughes the fifth-best player in free agency and the top pass rusher on the unrestricted market, after Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul were franchised. With Hughes set to finalize a new deal with the Bills, teams eyeing a top pass rusher could shift their focus to players like Pernell McPhee, Greg Hardy, Brandon Graham, and Jason Worilds.
Carucci first reported on Sunday that Hughes and the Bills were closing in on a new contract.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.