It's the first time that Jerry Hughes has an opportunity to test the free agent market as an NFL player with the final year of his five-year rookie deal wrapping up in 2014. But by the sound of it Hughes wouldn't mind re-signing with the club that traded for him in 2013, and gave him the time on the field to prove himself.
In an interview with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Hughes was asked if the Bills would be his first choice for his future playing career.
"Absolutely just because they gave me the opportunity to play and that's where everything is at," said Hughes. "That's where all the guys are at that I've kind of built that relationship with these past two years. I definitely wouldn't be upset or anything like that if I do get the opportunity to come back to Buffalo."
Hughes is tight with his fellow Buffalo defensive linemen. Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams all went to the Pro Bowl this past month, and Hughes clearly understands that their foursome of pass rushers is special.
On locker clean out day this past December, Hughes was readily aware of how rare it is to have that kind of collection of talent on the same defensive line, and admitted it was weighing heavily into his future decision making.
"Just to kind of work with the guys, see how well we work together, just to know all the talent we have together, you know that we're so close," said Hughes. "Just going throughout the season, replaying all the games that we've had, that we kind of went through, just so close. You definitely want to come back and continue it."
The Bills led the league in sacks in 2014 with 54, and over the past two seasons have more sacks than any other NFL team with 111. Hughes has 20 of those sacks.
"You saw what we were able to do this season," he said. "The group of guys we had, to be so close, you definitely want to come back and take another shot at it, to see how we fall out to next year. I mean I definitely want to be back."
Obviously money will play a factor as it always does in free agency, and it will be interesting to see the level of commitment the Bills are willing to make knowing they're already heavily invested in Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. Marcell Dareus is also entering the final year of his contract in 2015 after the Bills picked up his option year.
Hughes told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he wouldn't be bothered if the Bills made use of the franchise tag to keep him on their roster for another season though he would prefer to have long term security in the form of a multi-year extension.
"It would just mean that they want me back in Buffalo another year," Hughes said. "So I would suit up and go out there to try and win the AFC East. I'm here to play football and I love that aspect of it. I'll let the business side work itself out. I go out and try to do my best to win ball games."
The franchise tag might not be a realistic approach for Buffalo knowing last year's tag amount for a defensive end was $13.1M. New franchise tag figures for 2015 are expected to be released by the league by the end of the month.