As the NFL draft approaches, we look back on the madness known as the NFL offseason. Many teams moved on to new eras while others bolstered their already stacked teams. The 2022 NFL season looks to be wild, but let’s recap the offseason to this point.
AFC West makes major moves
The AFC west consists of 4 teams. The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs, all 4 of which made major moves during the offseason. The Denver Broncos started the offseason with a bang, trading for Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for two first-round picks, and two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, tight end Noah Fant, quarterback Drew Lock, and defensive end, Shelby Harris. This comes after over a year of Wilson’s name being in trade talks, but Wilson profusely denied these reoccurring reports. There are still disputes to this day as Wilson claims the Seahawks wanted to trade him while they claim he requested a trade. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett will have a lot of fun with Wilson and the young Denver offense, as many believe they were a quarterback away from contending. Wilson will be 34 at the start of next season but has shown no sign of slowing down. Wilson will look to lead the Broncos to the playoffs, something they haven’t been able to accomplish since 2015 when they won the Super Bowl.
On the other hand, the star-studded Chiefs traded one of their best players,wide receiver Tyreek Hill, 28 to the Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs got a 1st-round pick in April’s draft, a 2nd round-pick, 2 fourth-round picks, and a 6th. Nicknamed Cheetah for a reason, Hill has been one of the fastest NFL players in history and helped the Chiefs form somewhat of a dynasty. Alongside amazing tight end Travis Kelce and MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs made it to 4 straight AFC Championship games and won Super Bowl LIV in 2019. Hill requested a trade from the Chiefs due to contract disputes. This was not entirely a shock as Hill was going to enter his last year under contract and wanted a substantial raise in the wake of the new wide receiver contacts, which reset the receiver market entirely. Ultimately, the choice was up to Hill and he chose to go take his talents to South Beach. The decision looks to have paid off financially for Hill who upon becoming a Dolphin received a 4-year, 120 million dollar contract, the largest annual salary for a wide receiver in history. Hill teams up with struggling young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and new head coach Mike Mcdaniel. At the end of the day, the cap-stricken Chiefs were looking to help get the best overall roster around Patrick Mahomes and had to trade Hill. The Chargers narrowly missed the playoffs in 2021 and were not looking for a second heartbreak. So they traded for game-wrecking pass-rusher Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears in exchange for 2nd and 6th round picks. The low price tag attached to Mack is largely due to his massive contract, 6 years, 141 million. Mack had 36 sacks in 3.5 years, and until last season was available and consistent. But, the Bears like many teams needed to shed cap, and the Chargers were willing to take on all of Mack’s salary. Mack, 31 is going back to the AFC west where he was drafted by the Raiders and won Defensive Player Of The Year in 2016. The Chargers also signed CB JC Jackson to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. This pairs the former Patriot with young CB Asante Samuel Jr. Jackson had a career year in New England in 2021 and has been a shutdown corner ever since he was drafted out of Maryland in 2018, helping the Pats win a Super Bowl as a rookie. Jackson and Mack will hopefully the Chargers win the division, something that hasn't happened since 2009. This task could be challenging as the Las Vegas Raiders are no joke. After a narrow playoff loss to the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, the new management traded for arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Davante Adams, 29and quarterback Derek Carr dazzled together at Fresno State from 2012 to 2014, and now are teammates. Adams and back-to-back NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers helped the Green Bay Packers have 3 straight 13-win seasons and Adams had 5 straight Pro Bowl seasons, but the Packers consistently fell short of the title, and the Packers not wanting to give Adams the largest receiver contract, it was a doomed relationship. Like Tyreek Hill, Adams received at the time the highest paying contract for a wide receiver, five years, $141.25 million. The day prior, the Raiders reached a deal with Arizona Cardinals star pass-rusher Chandler Jones, 32. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and finished second in the NFL in sacks with 19 in 2019 when he was also the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year. Jones will team up with young defensive end Maxx Crosby, forming a nice tandem. Jone’s contract is three years, 52.5 million, and will help patch a weak defense that lost CB Casey Hayward Jr. The AFC became even more stacked and will have four playoff-caliber teams.
A decent amount of teams have new starting quarterbacks or re-signed their quarterback to mega deals. The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers reached a deal for him to end his career as a Packer. Rodgers has had a career resurgence in the last 2 years, winning MVP both years while leading the Packers to the best record in the NFC. Rodgers requested a trade last summer but after a renegotiated contract he returned. Rodgers will get a three-year, 150 million contract, making him the highest-paid NFL player. Rodgers will look to bring Green Bay the Lombardi trophy home, something that has not happened since 2011. Tom Brady retired in early February after losing to the Super Bowl champion LA Rams. But in mid-March, he shocked the NFL world by unretiring! He tweeted about how he missed the field and has unfinished business. Brady being back puts a damper on the NFC and its contenders. But Brady will be without his Super Bowl-winning head coach, as Bruce Arians has moved into a front-office role and DC Todd Bowles takes over. Longtime Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was shipped to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2022 third-round draft pick. This comes after Ryan won the 2016 MVP and led them to the Super Bowl in that same year, only to blow a 28-3 lead, and the Falcons and Ryan never truly recovered. Ryan is now 37, and is still solid but is mainly a bridge quarterback. The Falcons signed the former #2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Marcus Mariotta. He showed flashes but was never really good, so he became a backup. Maybe a fresh start will do him some good. But it will be hard especially since superstar Calvin Ridley is suspended for the entire season. Ridley took a mental health break and while on break, he bet $1500 on a mobile betting app which is a violation of the NFL’s policy. This sparked outrage as NFL players who had committed domestic violence only got suspended for 6 games. Speaking of controversy, quarterback Deshaun Watson was traded to the Cleveland Browns. Watson is fresh off major success and major controversy. The Houston Texans were a dumpster fire trading all of their good players for little value. This caused tension in the front office and among players. Watson was amazing with the Texans, but his efforts never led to wins. After Watson had an MVP type year in 2020, but the Texans only went 4-12, he requested a trade. But at the same time, more than 20 civil lawsuits were filed against Deshaun Watson accusing the quarterback of inappropriate conduct and sexual assault. This made Watson’s value diminish considerably and the Texans decided not to trade him if they couldn’t get the best value. After Watson sat out 2021, he was traded to the Browns with the allegations hanging over his head. But, he does not face criminal charges anymore, but will likely be suspended. The Browns make a high-risk, high-reward move, and the hope is that they make the playoffs. The Browns helped out Watson, trading for amazing wide receiver Amari Cooper as they took on his massive salary from the Cowboys.
The Browns old quarterback and #1 overall pick in 2018, Baker Mayfield requested a trade, because the Browns constantly shopping him and “disrespecting him”. Baker has not been traded yet, but he likely will be to a quarterback needy team like the Seahawks. The Washington Commanders made their first big move with their new rebranding as they got quarterback Carson Wentz after the Matt Ryan trade. Wentz has been an MVP candidate during the 2016/17 season but has never really recovered from the 2017 ACL tear that limited his amazing mobility. Wentz looks to be the answer at quarterback for the Commanders but will probably have his usual highs and lows. Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky to a 2-year deal. They move on from Hall-Of-Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and get Trubisky who was inconsistent with the Bears, but he has potential as he was drafted #2 overall, ahead of Watson and Mahomes.
There were plenty of smaller moves that could play a big impact in 2022.
The Rams signed Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson. Wagner played a major role in the Seahawks success over the last decade, making 6 all-pro teams and helping the Seahawks win a 2013 Super Bowl. Robinson was an underrated receiver with the Bears but struggled with rookie quarterback Justin Fields and that hurt his value.
The Bills signed Edge rusher Von Miller, 33 to a monster, 6 year 120- million dollar contract, helping bolster the league’s best defense in 2021. With Miller’s help, the Bills might get over the hump and win a Super Bowl in 2023, something he is used to, winning the Bowl with the Rams in 2021 and Broncos in 2016
This was an insane offseason, with so many moves and trades. Most NFL teams made major moves. The NFL season is looking crazy and the free agency frenzy is hectic. Teams that finished at the bottom of the standings last season can make changes that produce immediate results. The question is who will that be in 2022?