How can Haason Reddick help the Jets in 2024?

When the Jets lost free agent Bryce Huff to the Philadelphia Eagles, New York found itself in the market for a veteran edge defender. Unable to sign Jadeveon Clowney, Gang Green ended up filling the need with a player who was ironically rendered expendable by Huff’s arrival in Philly.

Haason Reddick is four years older than Huff, and the Jets may need to sign him to the kind of big-money contract extension that they opted against giving to Huff. However, they’re getting a player who is still in his prime and may be a better fit for the Jets’ defense in the short term.

Huff’s strong finish to the 2023 season ended with 10 sacks, after entering with just 7.5 sacks in his first three years. These numbers fall well short of what Reddick has produced over the past four seasons, as he’s had at least 11 sacks in each of those years, during which time he is fourth in the entire NFL for total sacks.

Of course, the Eagles are gambling on the fact that Huff is an ascending player, whose production will continue to increase as he enters his prime. Huff produced well in a rotational role, so he may also get to play more in their system, although the concern might be that this might lead to diminishing returns in terms of his pressure rates and overall impact.

The Jets are getting more of an established player, which is of particular importance to a team considered to be in win-now mode. Reddick was a Pro Bowler in 2022 and 2023 while making the All-Pro Second Team in 2022.

There may be a concern that he might start to slow down, as he will turn 30 in September. However, he hasn’t shown any signs of this so far, as he’s only missed one regular season game since being picked in the first round of the 2017 draft.

Reddick’s former Eagles teammate, Brandon Graham, is a good example of a pass rusher that has remained productive into his 30s. In fact, he made his first Pro Bowl at 32 and posted his career-high in sacks two years later. The Jets hope that Reddick does similar things with them.

Oct 1, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) against the Washington Commanders at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive end position is not all about rushing the passer, though. In order to play a full-time role, one must be able to hold up against the run. Huff has made strides in that area, but he’s by no means an impact run defender and has been inconsistent there at times.

He may need to play the run more in Philadelphia, whereas Reddick, who has established himself as a capable run defender over the years, could be used in more of a rotational role, which will help him to remain fresh and potentially extend his career.

While the Jets and Eagles both operate similar defensive systems, as they both utilize the wide-nine fronts, which allow their best pass rushers to line up well outside the tackle and attack the edges. However, the Jets typically operate with more of a rotation than Philadelphia.

New York already has John Franklin-Myers and Pro Bowler Jermaine Johnson as the starting edges, so now they can rotate Reddick in and have three established starter-level players making an impact with youngsters Micheal Clemons and Will McDonald also getting plenty of playing time. The team is likely to move Johnson into the weakside role in their pass rush packages, which will lead to him being isolated in 1-on-1 matchups more often, rather than dealing with double teams.

That rotation will be a factor in the trade compensation for Reddick, too. The Jets are only giving up a 2026 conditional pick in the deal, and it will reportedly only be a third-rounder unless he racks up at least 10 sacks and plays more than 67.5 percent of the snaps in 2024. Even if he meets the first condition, which would mean the trade was a resounding success, it’s probably unlikely that he meets that playing time condition unless injuries eat into New York’s depth.

It’s going to be interesting to compare Huff and Reddick’s production over the next season -- and beyond, assuming the Jets extend Reddick. There’s sure to be plenty of second-guessing going on if one of the pair makes a much bigger impact than the other.

However, it’s clear why each team made its respective choice. Both hope that the player whom they’ve ended up with fits them better, in terms of their immediate goals and the years ahead.