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Why Bills should consider trading sacks leader Jerry Hughes

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The Buffalo Bills will be under pressure over the upcoming two months to improve what was the 30th-ranked offense in 2018 and put pieces around second-year quarterback Josh Allen, whose late-season play fueled optimism about his future.

Yet as the Bills approach the start of free agency in March with $79 million in cap space and April’s draft with the No. 9 overall pick, some of the team’s most important decisions involve the defensive line.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

This NFL offseason is a prime opportunity for teams to reshape their defensive lines. Of the 32 picks in ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, 13 are either defensive linemen or edge rushers — including the first five players off the board. Defensive linemen, especially pass-rushers, dominate the top of ESPN’s top 50 free agents.

Some of those players might not be available to the Bills because of the franchise tag (in the case of free agents) or because they are drafted ahead of where Buffalo selects in the first round. But the Bills should not avoid adding to their defensive line in free agency or the draft simply because they have more pressing needs on offense.3

The Bills’ defensive line is in a state of flux. Stalwart defensive tackle Kyle Williams retired at the end of this past season, and rotational backup Jordan Phillips will become an unrestricted free agent March 13. Defensive end Jerry Hughes’ contract expires after the 2019 season, as does that of fellow end Shaq Lawson.

How the Bills handle Hughes, 30, will be particularly important. The former first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2010 was traded to Buffalo in 2013 and has played in all 96 games since, making 80 starts. He is Buffalo’s longest-tenured player following Williams’ retirement.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Statistically, Hughes’ production has tapered off since he posted back-to-back 10-sack seasons in 2013 and 2014. However, his impact was still felt with a team-high seven sacks in 2018, including three forced fumbles that matched his career high. Pro Football Focus graded Hughes as the NFL‘s seventh-best edge defender last season and the best player on Buffalo’s roster.

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