September 25, 2022

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The Sports Fanatics

2022 NFL free agency team-by-team grades: Buccaneers, Broncos, Chargers among offseason’s big winners

The 2022 NFL offseason is well underway. Several big-name quarterbacks found new homes ahead of the kickoff of the legal tampering period, but now dozens of notable veterans have officially moved around the market. From blockbuster moves to bargain-bin shopping, we’ve got you covered below with a running tracker of every team’s notable 2022 additions, as well as grades for the signings and trades:

Key additions: CB Jeff Gladney (Vikings); key re-signings: QB Colt McCoy, RB James Conner, TE Zach Ertz, TE Maxx Williams

It’s not that the players the Cardinals added or retained are bad; Conner and Ertz are vital to their offense. But paying those two a combined $50M+ on long-term deals? What is this, 2017? Arizona went all in on older and/or injury-prone veterans a year ago, but it’d be nice to see the team go a little greener if its gonna spend big money. Pass rusher still needs to be addressed.

Key additions: QB Marcus Mariota (Raiders), RB Damien Williams (Bears), CB Casey Hayward (Chargers); key re-signings: RB Cordarrelle Patterson

Hayward gives them a quality starting corner for a reasonable price, but their offense is sorely lacking. Dealing Matt Ryan to the Colts wasn’t necessarily the wrong move, but the execution was flawed, and now stopgap Marcus Mariota is left to lead a porous lineup.

Key additions: OT Morgan Moses (Jets), DT Michael Pierce (Vikings), S Marcus Williams (Saints); key re-signings: FB Patrick Ricard

Williams is a top-flight ball hawk who will instantly improve their defense in transition, especially alongside a healthier Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, etc. Moses gives them quality insurance up front to protect Lamar Jackson. And Pierce is exactly the kind of reunion they needed on defense, especially after the Za’Darius Smith deal fell through.

Key additions: QB Case Keenum (Browns), TE O.J. Howard (Buccaneers), OG Rodger Saffold (Titans), DE Shaq Lawson (Jets), DT Tim Settle (Commanders), DT DaQuan Jones (Panthers), OLB Von Miller (Rams); key re-signings: WR/KR Isaiah McKenzie, CB Siran Neal

Von Miller will be a huge difference-maker for an already-stout defense, even if his deal was bigger than expected. They basically swapped out Daryl Williams for Saffold, which isn’t an obvious upgrade. But Settle is another solid pickup for the D-line, as is Howard for the offense, giving Josh Allen a high-upside Dawson Knox complement.

Key additions: RB D’Onta Foreman (Titans), WR Rashard Higgins (Browns), OG Austin Corbett (Rams), C Bradley Bozeman (Ravens), DT Matt Ioannidis (Commanders), LB Cory Littleton (Raiders), S Xavier Woods (Vikings), P Johnny Hekker; key re-signings: CB Donte Jackson

Foreman gives them big-bodied insurance for Christian McCaffrey, which is smart. Higgins is an underrated backup plan behind Robby Anderson. And Corbett is their best O-line investment in two years. Woods, meanwhile, brings experience to the back end of the defense at a reasonable price. Now, what happens at QB?

Key additions: WR Byron Pringle (Chiefs), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Packers), OG Lucas Patrick (Packers), DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (Colts), DT Justin Jones (Chargers)

They were betting big on DT Larry Ogunjobi’s continued development, committing $13.5M per year to the ex-Bengals starter before a failed physical killed the deal. They still have big holes to fill at key spots, from WR to pass rusher, even after taking flyers on Pringle and St. Brown.

Key additions: TE Hayden Hurst (Falcons), OT La’el Collins (Cowboys), OG Alex Cappa (Buccaneers), C Ted Karras (Patriots); key re-signings: DT B.J. Hill, CB Eli Apple, S Jessie Bates III

Good for them, finally getting Joe Burrow some more help up front. Cappa and Karras weren’t necessarily the best options out there, but they’ll do. Collins, however, is a steal at right tackle. Was B.J. Hill worth locking up over Larry Ogunjobi? Maybe. Maybe not. Hurst is a fine bet for tight end help, and maybe Burrow will boost his stock.

Key additions: QB Deshaun Watson (Texans), QB Jacoby Brissett (Dolphins), WR Amari Cooper (Cowboys), WR Jakeem Grant (Bears), DE Chase Winovich (Patriots); key re-signings: TE David Njoku

The Browns get a clear upgrade at QB by slotting in Watson over Baker Mayfield, but this move comes with major risks. The most immediate is Watson’s off-field issues, namely outstanding civil lawsuits by 22 different women who allege sexual misconduct or assault. The NFL is still investigating Watson and, when you look at how his new contract is structured, it seems as if he is bracing for some type of suspension. Losing Jarvis Landry hurts, but getting Cooper gives them a bona fide No. 1 — at a reasonable cost, considering the free-agent market, no less. Bryan and Winovich are decent depth additions. 

Dallas Cowboys: C+

Key additions: WR James Washington (Steelers), DE Dante Fowler Jr. (Falcons); key re-signings: WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Schultz, LB Leighton Vander Esch, S Malik Hooker

Gallup was worth keeping, no doubt, but they’re gonna miss Amari Cooper more than most realize, especially with Cedrick Wilson now gone as well. They deserve props for retaining Schultz, too, but there’s still a pass-rushing need to fill after they whiffed on re-signing Randy Gregory. With La’el Collins gone, they’ve also got some questions up front.

Key additions: QB Russell Wilson (Broncos), DT D.J. Jones (49ers), OLB Randy Gregory (Cowboys)

It’s hard to give them anything but an “A” this offseason, because, well, Russell Wilson. They promised to be aggressive at QB, and they delivered. Jones is their next-best addition, giving an already-solid defense an ascending big man on the interior. They may well have overpaid for Gregory, but he at least brings long-term upside opposite Bradley Chubb.

Key additions: WR D.J. Chark (Jaguars); key re-signings: QB Tim Boyle, WR Josh Reynolds, DE Charles Harris, S Tracy Walker

Nothing splashy here, but they were always gonna make more of their noise in the draft. Chark and Reynolds are an underrated duo out wide, giving Jared Goff — or whomever they draft at QB — some big-play talent.

Key re-signings: WR Allen Lazard, LB De’Vondre Campbell, CB Rasul Douglas

Retaining Aaron Rodgers was the biggest move of the offseason, even if the QB wasn’t technically a free agent. Keeping Preston Smith on a new deal was fine, too. But what else has gone right here? Campbell is a rock-solid play-maker for their defense, but $50M for a soon-to-be 29-year-old linebacker is a little rich. More importantly, Rodgers is now without his go-to man — and the only real No. 1 wideout on the team — with Davante Adams shipped to the Raiders. They better add another WR or two soon.

Key additions: OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Titans), OG A.J. Cann (Jaguars), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Lions); key re-signings: WR Chris Conley, DT Maliek Collins, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB Christian Kirksey, CB Desmond King

Another year, another free agency filled with cheap deals for mid- and low-tier veterans. In truth, none of these moves are glaringly bad, but the talent is still sorely lacking in Houston. Does even one of these additions stand out as significantly upgrading their lineup? Let’s see what they do with all those picks from the Deshaun Watson deal.

Key additions: QB Matt Ryan (Falcons), DE Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders), CB Brandon Facyson (Raiders); key re-signings: TE Mo Alie-Cox

Ryan is another Band-Aid at QB, but he at least offers good value via trade; Indy essentially flipped Carson Wentz for the longtime Falcons QB and a third-rounder. Ngakoue, meanwhile, is a potential steal entering his age-27 season, giving them a potential long-term answer off the edge.

Key additions: WR Christian Kirk (Cardinals), WR Zay Jones (Raiders), TE Evan Engram (Giants), OG Brandon Scherff (Commanders), DT Foley Fatukasi (Jets), LB Foye Oluokun (Falcons), CB Darious Williams (Rams); key re-signings: WR Laquon Treadwell, OT Cam Robinson, OG Tyler Shatley

The toughest team to grade, the Jags have certainly improved the supporting cast for Trevor Lawrence. But it’s awfully hard not to think they could’ve allocated resources better. Kirk, Jones and Engram, for example, are all nice upside bets, but did they deserve such lucrative deals? Why not just go all in on an Allen Robinson reunion? On defense, it’s the same thing: Oluokun is a rangy building block, but did a LB really need $15M per year? Their best work has been up front, where Lawrence should have a better line. Williams should also help shore up their secondary.

Key additions: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers), S Justin Reid (Texans); key re-signings: QB Chad Henne, OT Orlando Brown

Adding Reid signaled the end of the Tyrann Mathieu era, but it’s a decent long-term gamble. Let’s see how they handle the D-line beyond restructuring Frank Clark’s deal. Judging by AFC West standards, they’ve had a very quiet offseason, though JuJu’s arrival should be good news for Patrick Mahomes’ short-area passing.

Key additions: RB Brandon Bolden (Patriots), FB Jakob Johnson (Patriots), WR Davante Adams (Packers), DE Chandler Jones (Cardinals), CB Anthony Averett (Ravens), CB Rock Ya-Sin (Colts)

Apparently they are all in on Derek Carr and an immediate title run. Adams is the biggest addition, by far, and suddenly elevates the Vegas offense from “probably good” to “probably dangerous,” with No. 17 joining Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow in silver and black. Jones, meanwhile, gives them an elite one-two punch off the edge opposite Maxx Crosby, even if only in the short term.

Key additions: TE Gerald Everett (Seahawks), DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (Rams), OLB Khalil Mack (Bears), CB J.C. Jackson (Patriots); key re-signings: WR Mike Williams

It’s very possible they overpaid for Jackson at corner, but at the same time, they are absolutely right to go all in on their opening window with Justin Herbert at QB. Their defense already looks much better on paper, and retaining Williams out wide was huge.

Key additions: WR Allen Robinson (Bears); key re-signings: OT Joe Noteboom, C Brian Allen

With Andrew Whitworth retiring, they wisely locked up his successor, basically at the price tag of a starting right tackle. Keep Matthew Stafford upright, that was always most important. A-Rob is their latest luxury addition out wide, allowing them to roll into 2022 with one of the NFL’s best/deepest pass-catching groups, with or without a new deal for Odell Beckham Jr.

Key additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater (Broncos), RB Chase Edmonds (Cardinals), RB Raheem Mostert (49ers), WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Cowboys), OG Connor Williams (Cowboys); key re-signings: TE Mike Gesicki, DE Emmanuel Ogbah

New coach Mike McDaniel needed bodies in the backfield and up front, and he got both. Teddy also makes a solid backup and spot starter behind Tua Tagovailoa, especially at a bargain price. And retaining Ogbah is good news for the front seven.

Key additions: DT Harrison Phillips (Bills), ILB Jordan Hicks (Cardinals), OLB Za’Darius Smith (Packers)

They came in with little money to spend, and Phillips is a so-so investment as a replacement for Michael Pierce, but Hicks is an underrated leader for the middle of a rebuilding “D” alongside Eric Kendricks. Reworking Adam Thielen’s deal to stick around at WR will surely come in handy. Smith, meanwhile, is a boom-or-bust addition to pair with Danielle Hunter.

Key additions: LB Mack Wilson (Browns), CB Terrance Mitchell (Texans); key re-signings: QB Brian Hoyer, RB James White, OT Trent Brown, OL James Ferentz, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, S Devin McCourty

Not a whole lot of action here, besides dealing Shaq Mason out of town. Getting White back should be helpful for Mac Jones, but they still need an addition out wide.

Key additions: DT Kentavius Street (49ers), S Marcus Maye (Saints); key re-signings: QB Jameis Winston

The Saints made quick work of replacing Marcus Williams, who inked a long-term deal with the Ravens in free agency. Maye should be expected to slot in as the starter, but he is rehabbing from a torn Achilles and could face discipline from the league for a DUI arrest last February. Jameis, meanwhile, is a smart flyer at QB (again), but what’s the long-term plan here?

Key additions: QB Tyrod Taylor (Texans), RB Matt Breida (Bills), TE Ricky Seals-Jones (Commanders), OG Mark Glowinski (Colts), C Jon Feliciano (Bills)

Like a few other teams, they didn’t have much money to spend in the first place. Good for them getting a rock-solid interior starter to put in front of Daniel Jones in Glowinski. Taylor is an uninspiring starting option at QB, but he at least has the Bills connection and gives New York higher-floor insurance/competition for Jones.

Key additions: TE C.J. Uzomah (Bengals), OG Laken Tomlinson (49ers), CB D.J. Reed (Seahawks), S Jordan Whitehead (Buccaneers); key re-signings: QB Joe Flacco, WR Braxton Berrios, S Lamarcus Joyner

If they just get another starting-caliber option out wide, they’ll stay in the “A” territory. Uzomah is a nice pass-catching addition for Zach Wilson, and Tomlinson helps beef up the line. Their best moves may have come in the secondary, however, where Reed and Whitehead instantly improve their defensive backfield.

Key additions: WR Zach Pascal (Colts), DE/OLB Haason Reddick (Panthers); key re-signings: S Anthony Harris

They’ve still got other needs (more WRs, LB, S), but Reddick is a supreme get at a premier position, giving them the most explosiveness off the edge they’ve had in years.

Key additions: QB Mitch Trubisky (Bills), OG James Daniels (Bears), C Mason Cole (Vikings), LB Myles Jack (Jaguars), CB Levi Wallace (Bills); key re-signings: OT Chukwuma Okorafor, CB Akhello Witherspoon

They were never gonna definitively solve QB through free agency, so Trubisky is a perfectly fine, decent-upside addition there. Good on them for addressing the trenches, too, particularly with Daniels. Wallace is a quality plug-and-play corner.

Key additions: WR Ray-Ray McCloud (Steelers), DT Hassan Ridgeway (Eagles), CB Charvarius Ward (Chiefs), S George Odum (Colts)

Ward is a fine gamble at corner, where they needed to get younger. But they’ve got holes to address yet, with Laken Tomlinson departing as a starting guard and Jimmy Garoppolo’s market yet to materialize.

Seattle Seahawks: C

Key additions: QB Drew Lock (Broncos), TE Noah Fant (Broncos), C Austin Blythe (Chiefs), DT Shelby Harris (Broncos), DT Quinton Jefferson (Raiders), DE/OLB Uchenna Nwosu (Chargers), CB Artie Burns (Bears); key re-signings: RB Rashaad Penny, TE Will Dissly, DT Al Woods, CB Sidney Jones, S Quandre Diggs

They got a nice haul for Russell Wilson, but the sting of losing the franchise QB will linger until they get it right under center again. Also, was it really necessary to pay Dissly big bucks after landing Fant at tight end? Diggs and Nwosu are the other names you’re proud of here, giving Seattle’s defense a pair of play-makers.

Key additions: WR Russell Gage (Falcons), OG Shaq Mason (Patriots), S Logan Ryan (Giants); key re-signings: WR Chris Godwin, C Ryan Jensen, CB Carlton Davis

Somehow, they didn’t just get Tom Brady back from retirement, but also found a way to keep the anchor of his line and their top young cover man. Gage, meanwhile, is a sneaky good addition as a new No. 3 wideout who should draw all kinds of targets.

Key additions: WR Robert Woods (Rams), TE Austin Hooper (Browns), OT Jamarco Jones (Seahawks); key re-signings: RB Dontrell Hilliard, C Ben Jones, OLB Harold Landry

Locking up Landry was key for the front seven. Investing in the line is also smart, considering the turmoil Ryan Tannehill endured for parts of 2021. They’ve got secondary needs still, with Jackrabbit Jenkins gone. But Woods is another good gamble out wide, giving them a more reliable replacement for Julio Jones.

Washington Commanders: C

Key additions: QB Carson Wentz (Colts), OG Andrew Norwell (Jaguars); key re-signings: RB J.D. McKissic, S Bobby McCain

The Wentz move could certainly blow up in their face, given the QB’s polarizing tendencies. But you can’t fault them entirely for swinging higher than the free-agent market, even if someone like Mitchell Trubisky would’ve been a more cost-effective gamble.