The 2022 NFL free agency deals are just starting to slow down, but a handful of the biggest names are still in the market. Many impact playmakers and talents have agreed terms for 2022 and beyond, and we’ve seen wild movement in the trade market, especially under centre. What moves stand out so far and what have we learned from a week of players headed to new teams?
The Jaguars walked out of the gate with their wallets open. AFC West has turned into a race to the top with big name signings and swaps. Teams struggling with glaring problems attacked their weaknesses with savvy offers. Some of the NFL’s top teams have made moves that could put them over the top, while others have quietly made smaller-impact signings. Who is leading the way so far this offseason?
Our team of experts weigh in on free agency, including the most improved teams. We’ll be updating this file all week with a new question every day, touching on the best signings, biggest puzzles, and best deals. Let’s dive into our reactions to this offseason’s free agent frenzy.
See more: Deal tracking | Ratings
Which team has improved the most after free agency and other moves in the past two weeks?
Stephania Bell, NFL analyst: Cincinnati Bengals. They may not have made the sexiest moves, but the offensive line was perhaps the main thing that stood between them and a Super Bowl win. Quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times last season. Teams went 16-34 last season pressured by at least 42% dropouts, and the Bengals’ Super Bowl loss was one of them (42.9%). The addition of right tackle La’el Collins – Burrow’s self-proclaimed new bodyguard – and inside linemen Ted Karras and Alex Cappa could be just what they need to put them on top in 2022.
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Buffalo Bills. The Bills added a game-changer in pass-rusher Von Miller, while defensive tackles Tim Settle and DaQuan Jones bolster inside the front. Buffalo improved the defensive line here to keep the AFC’s top quarterbacks in check and make a Super Bowl run.
NFL analyst Mike Clay: Los Angeles Chargers. There are plenty of good options here, but I’ll give the Chargers a nod for their success in surrounding young QB Justin Herbert with a much better supporting cast. Cornerback JC Jackson and point carrier Khalil Mack are among the best in the league at their respective positions. Los Angeles’ run defense was atrocious last season, so defensive tackles Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson were much-needed upgrades up front. The re-signing of receiver Mike Williams and the addition of tight end Gerald Everett help the cause on the offensive end.
Tristan H. Cockcroft, fantasy football writer: Los Angeles Chargers. They rolled on offense in 2021 but were sorely lacking on defense, having given up 10th most yards and fourth most points. That was probably the main reason they narrowly missed the playoffs. But the Chargers have done a good job improving that area, with the additions of Mack, Jackson, Joseph-Day and Johnson. And re-signing Williams and keeping the offensive parts in place certainly helps too.
NFL National Reporter Jeremy Fowler: Las Vegas Raiders. A team on the verge just added the players needed to make a serious run. Davante Adams’ trade elevates the entire offense, and Chandler Jones is a Hall of Fame-level rusher. With Jones taking the place of Yannick Ngakoue facing Maxx Crosby, the Raiders knocked out Ngakoue for Rock Ya-Sin, an intriguing 25-year-old corner with untapped potential. The Raiders have improved a lot and AFC West will take notice. Now, about that offensive line…
Dan Graziano, National NFL Reporter: Jacksonville Jaguars. You can argue with some (if not all) of the contracts, but you can’t say the Jaguars aren’t working to improve in free agency. They landed a top guard in Brandon Scherff, a starting cornerback in Darious Williams, two key defenders who have attracted interest from other teams in Foyesade Oluokun and Folorunso Fatukasi. I’m not sure exactly how the pass-wrestling situation is changing with new guys Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram in the mix, but the receivers they had last year weren’t setting the world on fire. Additionally, factor in a dramatic head coach level upgrade. I don’t think the Jags are ready to compete with all those AFC heavyweights, but after a 3-14 mess, I expect them to be at least a lot better than they are. were.
Eric Moody, fantasy football writer: Cincinnati Bengals. They added offensive linemen Collins, Karras and Cappa to help protect their franchise quarterback. And considering the other offensive playmakers on the Bengals’ roster, tight end Hayden Hurst — on a one-year contract — will be a mismatch for opponents.
Matt Miller, NFL Draft analyst: Denver Broncos. Trading quarterback Russell Wilson will get the most attention (and deservedly so), but adding to an already impressive defense by signing point rusher Randy Gregory and defensive tackle DJ Jones could make the Broncos a legitimate contender. from the AFC West.
Jordan Reid, NFL Draft analyst: Los Angeles Chargers. Having a quarterback on a rookie contract, like the Chargers are doing with Herbert, is a big plus for building the roster. This helped them sign Williams for an extension. But their most impressive moves have mostly come on defense. Trading for Mack and signing Joseph-Day and Jackson provided improvements in key places. AFC West is going to be a battle week after week, and the Chargers have improved dramatically on the defensive end to help round out an explosive attack led by their rising star under center.
NFL National Reporter Kevin Seifert: Baltimore Ravens. I thought about the Browns, but wondered how much quarterback Deshaun Watson would impact them given he might be serving a suspension. The Broncos made the deal with Wilson but play in football’s toughest division. The Ravens, meanwhile, have met big needs with good players — safety Marcus Williams and right tackle Morgan Moses, among others — and should be back in the AFC North mix this season.
NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum: Cleveland Browns. The quarterback’s dramatic upgrade eclipses everything else. Watson gives them a chance to meaningfully compete for a Super Bowl every year he stays healthy. An improvement at receiver with Amari Cooper replacing Jarvis Landry makes Cleveland’s offense even harder to stop, given that it already has playmakers around Watson and Cooper in tight end David Njoku, running back Nick Chubb and running back Kareem Hunt.
Seth Walder, sports analyst: Denver Broncos. Teddy Bridgewater/Drew Lock’s upgrade to Wilson exceeds any gains made by other teams and instantly transformed Denver from non-competitor to contender.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: Denver Broncos. The additions of Gregory and Jones help bolster an already rock-solid defensive front, but Wilson’s trade is what cements Denver as the pick here. No team has been the subject of more “if only they had a quarterback” conversations than the Broncos. They should be sure they now have one that can take them to a Super Bowl.