March Madness: The 5 Best & 5 Worst NFL Offseason Additions - So Far
By Andy Davies
Offseason? There is no offseason!
Normally, America is taken over by college basketball’s ‘March Madness’, but the NFL has undergone its own version in this 2022 offseason.
We have seen some big names make moves either via free agency or trade, but which teams have made some good deals and which teams have made moves they may regret? Here is a list of my five best and five worst offseason additions – so far:
BEST OFFSEASON ADDITIONS:
1. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
This was the move that kickstarted a crazy offseason, and Russ was exactly what Denver needed. The Broncos acquired the Super Bowl 48 MVP and a fourth-round pick in exchange for two first-rounders, two second round picks, a fifth-round selection, quarterback Drew Lock, defensive tackle Shelby Harris and tight end Noah Fant.
The Broncos went 7-10 last year despite poor quarterback play under a head coach that lost his job in the offseason. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett was the Green Bay Packers’ offensive coordinator for the past three seasons, two of which saw Aaron Rodgers win the regular season MVP award. He knows how to work with a top QB, and he seemed very excited when Wilson was unveiled to the media.
This move may or may not have sparked the other AFC West additions, but if Wilson is to succeed, he is to do so in the league’s toughest division. Expect wide receivers such as Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton’s numbers to increase now they are playing with a top QB.
2. La'el Collins, Cincinnati Bengals
When the Cincinnati Bengals lost in Super Bowl 56, the main takeaway was that they needed to get quarterback Joe Burrow help.
Last season, Burrow broke the records for most sacked quarterback in a single playoff game (9) – and in any postseason campaign (19) as well – finishing as the third most ever across the regular season and playoffs (70). He also equalled Roger Staubach’s record for most sacks in a Super Bowl (7).
The offensive line was the clear target for the Bengals; as well as signing Alex Cappa to a four-year $35 million deal and Ted Karras for three years and $18 million, they also got one of the most sought-after linemen in free agency in Collins.
Of the 671 offensive snaps played last season, Collins surrendered just two sacks – despite being tied for tenth in penalties conceded. PFF gave him a grade of 82.0.
The Bengals had the most glaring need of all the supposed playoff contenders for 2022, and they have addressed it.
3. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
This is a trade that sent shockwaves around the league. Less than a month after being placed on the franchise tag, Adams confirmed he wasn’t prepared to play under it – and he didn’t take long to find a team. This team happened to be the one he supported as a boy…
Signing a $141.25 million five-year deal, the Packers get a 2022 first round and second round pick in exchange for their Pro Bowl receiver.
The Raiders simply had to do something, with the addition of Wilson to the division as well as the Chargers going out and getting J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack and the Chiefs being the Chiefs. People wondered why they were not doing making any moves, and then they went out and got one of the best players in the league at his position.
Adams was made the highest paid receiver in the league at the time he signed the deal. Not only did this trade give quarterback Derek Carr a new weapon and replace their one glaring need since the Henry Ruggs debacle, but it also resulted in Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill wanting more money.
The two parties could not agree a deal, and Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins. He is still in the AFC but not the AFC West. The Raiders were one of the only teams to beat the Chiefs in the 2021 regular season, and the movement at wide receiver for both teams gives Vegas an even better chance to beat their rivals and compete in this division.
4. Haason Reddick, Philadelphia Eagles
Signing a three- year $45 million deal with a max value of $49.5m, Reddick joins an Eagles unit whose pass defense ranked 11th and run defense 9th last season.
Reddick has had double digit sacks in his last two seasons (12.5 in 2020 and 11 in 2021). He was ranked eleventh in the league in 2021, and was tied for fourth in 2020.
Philadelphia’s lead sacker in 2020 was Brandon Graham with 8, whilst both Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat recorded 7 in 2021. In fact, they have only had a player with double digit sacks three times in the last ten seasons. Not even during their Super Bowl winning 2017 campaign saw them have a player record ten or more quarterback takedowns.
Adding someone of Reddick’s quality will help the Eagles in their quest to return to the postseason.
5. Za'Darius Smith, Minnesota Vikings
This one all depends on Smith’s return from injury, after missing all but one of the games in 2021. He signed a free agent deal to the tune of $42m over the next three years.
The two-time Pro Bowler had 8.5 sacks in 2018, 13.5 in 2019 and 12.5 in 2020, and will boost a defense that struggled last season. Minnesota’s defense ranked 26th in run defense, 24th in total points allowed and 28th in pass defense.
If they get the Za’Darius Smith we have seen in 2020 and prior, the Vikings have acquired a major upgrade. This is also a one-up on their division rivals as they search to claim back the division.
WORST OFFSEASON ADDITIONS:
1. Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars
This one raised plenty of eyebrows. We often see players get great numbers as second or third choice receivers. Performing this role for the Arizona Cardinals during a four-year spell, Christian Kirk only once had more than 700 yards, and his best touchdown total is 6. These aren’t numbers to be scoffed at, but to give Kirk a four-year, $72 million deal that can rise to $84 million seems abit of a stretch.
The Jags have done well elsewhere in free agency, acquiring offensive lineman Brandon Scherff and cornerback Darious Williams, but they seem to have overpaid for Kirk – something they also did for fellow receiver Zay Jones, who has been given a deal that can rise as high as $30 million.
2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kansas City Chiefs
Valdes-Scantling has moved between the two teams who have arguably had the worst offseasons so far. His $30 million three-year deal is a bad move for both parties.
For Green Bay, it a surprise to see the Packers let another receiver leave the building not long after their best one was traded away. For Kansas City, the Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill – and their only receiver to come prior to the trade had been Juju Smith-Schuster, whose $10 million deal is actually quite a good one.
When the Hill trade was announced, people were then wondering who would replace him with a lot of top receivers linked with a move to Arrowhead. Valdes-Scantling was not a player anyone expected.
If you searched for ‘erratic NFL receiver’ in the dictionary, Valdes-Scantling’s picture would come up. He has just thirteen touchdown receptions in four seasons to his name. He has never had more than 700 receiving yards in a season.
Despite a career average of 17.5 yards per reception, he has never been a figure of consistency. Kansas City appear to have panicked.
3. Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
Talking of panicking, the Commanders appear to have had their own wobble trading for Carson Wentz; if they had waited, they could have instead had Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan.
Wentz was a good quarterback, but his 2017 and 2018 injuries have seen his performances decline.
As well as both exchanging second round picks, Washington received the Eagles’ 2022 seventh rounder in exchange for a 2022 and 2023 third rounder, the latter which can become a second rounder based on Wentz’ snap totals.
Wentz goes to a good offensive situation with some talented pieces around him, but it seems Washington may have rolled the dice on this QB free for all and come up snake eyes.
4. Yannick Ngakoue, Indianapolis Colts
The Raiders and Colts traded players as edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Rock-Ya-Sin swapped franchises.
On sheer ability alone, Ngakoue is a fantastic pick up for the Colts. Throughout his six-year career that saw him a part of ‘Sacksonville’, he has played 95 games. In those games, he has 55.5 total sacks, 173 combined tackles and 119 quarterback hits.
However, this is not why the move is a bad one for Indianapolis. The Colts organisation has a strong team first culture, with hardly any controversy to come out of this well-run franchise. Yannick Ngakoue joins his fifth team in four seasons…
He made a lot of effort to get out of Jacksonville, and was shipped off by the Vikings less than two months into the 2020 season. He joined the Baltimore Ravens for a short stint, but was on a different team when the 2021 season began as he suited up for the Raiders.
After just one year in The City of Sin, he has been sent off to yet another team. He may have had 10 sacks in 2021, but the fact he has been failed to convince any franchise he’s worth keeping around with such production represents a red flag.
5. Allen Robinson, Los Angeles Rams
This one probably feels a bit harsh, as Allen Robinson has produced two 1,000-yard seasons in the last four years – and has over 6,000 total yards in his career.
The only concern is how he performed in 2021. Whilst he will now be the number two in LA (behind Super Bowl 56 MVP Cooper Kupp) instead of WR1 in Chicago, there has to be some worry his most recent campaign signals a downturn in his career.
Robinson may thrive in a more established offense with less pressure on him, and the three-year $46 million deal is actually a fairly good one. However, we have seen cases in various sports where a player who wants out of a situation has a down season and – despite getting the move they want – never quite get back to their best. A low risk, high reward move for the Rams, but one that doesn’t guarantee a happy ending for Robinson.
A current Sports Journalism masters student, Andy has been writing NFL articles since January 2020. Originally from Wales, Andy also writes for pro football mania and dolphins talk, as well as appearing on podcasts and videos for euro tripz. find him on twitter @andydaviessport.