New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton apparently really wants a pass rusher. The Buffalo Bills happen to have one who has been extremely productive in the 4-3 defense. Jerry Hughes picked up 10 sacks in 2013 and in 2014, while posting six per season in 2015 and 2016 in Rex Ryan's defense.
Hughes might be of interest to the Saints in part because he is signed for three more seasons at a reasonable $10.4 million cap hit each year. (Ed. note: Hughes cap hit to the Saints would only be $9 million per season, as Buffalo would cover the cap hit of his signing bonus money.) It looks like the Saints have something like $25 million in cap space so New Orleans could afford to take on Hughes' contract. With Drew Brees entering the twilight of his extremely productive career the Saints are in win-now mode, perhaps prompting general manager Mickey Loomis to pick up the phone and see about prying Hughes from Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley's roster.
Whaley likes to wheel and deal, something made clear by deals like the McCoy trade. Because the Saints are looking to re-stock in order to give Brees another shot at taking the Big Easy to the promised land I don't think Loomis would be willing to do a player-for-player trade. That leaves a draft trade deal. The most recent pass rusher deal I can remember is Chandler Jones being shipped to Arizona for a former fist rounder offensive lineman and a 2nd round pick. With that as compensation for Jones I can see Whaley wanting a fist rounder for Hughes, with possibly shipping one of the 5th round picks to New Orleans, as well.
New Orleans gets a very good pass rusher who is under a reasonable contract for the next three seasons, and a fifth round pick. The Bills get the eleventh pick in the draft to pair with the tenth. Whaley has the firepower needed to move up the board if he believes there is a franchise quarterback available. He can sit tight and pull the trigger on the best two available players left on the board. He can use one pick and trade the other. Options abound.
Of course, there is the weakening of the defense to consider. Shaq Lawson is healthy but he hasn't shown he can be as productive as Jerry Hughes has been since arriving in Buffalo. The defense stunk in 2015, in part due to misuse of the available talent. In a league where you can never have enough pass rushers the Bills would be trading one away while he is in the prime of his career.
Editor's note: this post has been moved from the fanpost section. It has been edited for grammar and readability. Any content changes are noted.
It should also be mentioned that a Hughes trade would accelerate his signing bonus cap hit to Buffalo. His dead cap hit would be $8.7 million, saving the Bills $1.7 million on the 2017 cap according to Spotrac. Hughes has a roster bonus due on March 3rd, so the decision would hopefully be made by that time.