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2021 Worst Buffalo Bills values: No. 6—DE Jerry Hughes

Hughes played fine in 2021, but he was paid to play better than fine

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The longest-tenured member of the Buffalo Bills is the next player on our list. With the team continually reloading and trying to get right on the defensive line, the player landing at six on this list has consistently played well at the position—but has not been the type of top-flight pass rusher the team needed, especially in recent seasons. That’s why Jerry Hughes is next on our list, but also why they allowed the veteran to leave via free agency this offseason.

In the past when we’ve done our listing, we used cap hit to reflect value, but with the cap shenanigans employed by general manager Brandon Beane recently and the improvement of the databases, we’ve switched to yearly cash payments as our metric.

Hughes was the 29th-highest paid defensive end in the NFL at $7.1 million in cash. In a league with 32 teams, that’s the top half of NFL starters. On the Bills, it was the eighth-highest cash hit and tops among all defensive linemen.

Despite being one of the most expensive defensive ends in the league, he wasn’t able to bring down the quarterback. A constant theme among his critics, Hughes was always playing his role in the defense and mostly in the right place, but couldn’t bring down the QB. He had just two sacks in 2021 following consecutive seasons with 4.5 sacks. He hasn’t had a year with double-digit sacks since 2014. In the AFC playoffs, he was a step away from hitting Patrick Mahomes to move the Bills to the AFC Championship Game, but just couldn’t get there in time.

In addition to two sacks, he had three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and 18 tackles in 2021 playing in all 17 games. In all, he led Bills’ defensive ends with 51.76% of the snaps.

This offseason, general manager Brandon Beane didn’t seem overly eager to re-sign Hughes, whose contract had expired. He ended up signing with his former DL coach on his hometown Houston Texans as a soft place to land. He’ll make $5 million in cash this year.

Buffalo Bills 2021 Worst Values

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  6. DE Jerry Hughes
  7. OL Daryl Williams
  8. DE Greg Rousseau
  9. LB Tyler Matakevich
  10. DE Boogie Basham

Buffalo Bills 2021 Best Values

  1. QB Josh Allen
  2. LB Tremaine Edmunds
  3. TE Dawson Knox
  4. WR Gabe Davis
  5. CB Levi Wallace
  6. DT Ed Oliver
  7. DT Harrison Phillips
  8. S Jordan Poyer
  9. OT Spencer Brown
  10. RB Devin Singletary

Honorable Mentions