The NFL offseason has been headlined by big moves, but not all of them have made sense. These moves were the most head-scratching of the 2022 offseason.
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Arizona Cardinals: Re-signed A.J. Green
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Arizona saw a significant loss with Christian Kirk signing in Jacksonville, but allowing Green to walk behind him would have made little difference. The former Bengals superstar struggled last season despite ample opportunities with DeAndre Hopkins sidelined and remains an injury risk based on his recent history.
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Atlanta Falcons: Signed Marcus Mariota
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The Falcons are a great fit for Mariota, reuniting with former Tennessee coach Arthur Smith, but it’s hard to see what the move does for Atlanta. Mariota failed to establish himself as a reliable starter in Tennessee and has a terrible supporting cast with his new team. Atlanta spent significant resources that they could have saved for another position.
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Baltimore Ravens: Signed Mike Davis
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Baltimore needed more running back depth as J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards return from injury, but Davis doesn’t do much for them. He failed to run with the starting job in Atlanta last year despite ample opportunity and has averaged a terrible 3.7 yards per carry for his career. This move is nothing for Ravens fans to be excited about.
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Buffalo Bills: Signed Shaq Lawson
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Lawson returns to a defense where he has found success, most recently recording 6.5 sacks with Buffalo in 2019. However, he floundered in Miami last season with only one sack and doesn’t look like the same player as he approaches 30. He signed for less than $2 million but looks like a role player, at best.
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Carolina Panthers: Failed to acquire a starting quarterback
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Sometimes it’s the moves you don’t make that stick out. The Panthers had a major setback last year by acquiring Darnold’s contract before his horrendous play. They head into 2022 with Darnold the likely starter again after failing to acquire something better, other than third-round pick Matt Corral. It looks like the fate of the 2022 Panthers is already sealed with this quarterback situation, and the team’s fans deserve better.
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Chicago Bears: Failed to sign a No. 1 wide receiver
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Time after time, we’ve seen teams draft quarterbacks and spend big to bring in great receivers that help in their development. The Bears are taking a different approach with Justin Fields, apparently. Chicago allowed Allen Robinson to walk in free agency, and their answer for that loss was Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, and rookie Velus Jones. None of those wideouts have start potential, and the lack of star receiving additions along with offensive line issues put Fields in a position to fail.
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Cincinnati Bears: Re-signed Eli Apple
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Apple was a surprise for the Bengals last season, but the team shouldn’t press their luck. Cincinnati re-signed the cornerback despite some of his history of getting burned, giving him $4 million. The good news is that he’s likely only a placeholder, as the Bengals drafted Daxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt.
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Cleveland Browns: Traded for Deshaun Watson
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The specific allegations aside, the Browns took a monumental risk by trading three first-round picks and more for Watson. There’s a strong possibility Watson will miss significant time due to a suspension this year, creating another setback for the seemingly cursed Browns organization.
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Dallas Cowboys: Re-signed Michael Gallup
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The Cowboys saw some big changes in the offseason, trading Amari Cooper and losing Cedrick Wilson in free agency. They responded by re-signing Gallup to a five-year deal with $27 guaranteed. It’s a huge sum for a wideout coming off an injury, and perhaps an overpay in reaction to all the other wideouts the team lost.
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Denver Broncos: Re-signed Melvin Gordon
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Running back Javonte Williams looked like a star in the making during his rookie season, with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage. However, Melvin Gordon shared carries and will likely continue to do so after the team re-signed late in the offseason. Gordon has shown some decline as he reaches age 30, and the hope is that he doesn’t steal more playing time away from Williams. With the common penchant for head coaches to prefer veterans, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the new Broncos coaching staff employs a similar timeshare to last year.
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Detroit Lions: Signed D.J. Chark
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The Lions desperately needed to address wide receiver in the offseason, and that desperation is clear after giving Chark $10 million. Chark has all the physical tools, but he played only four games due to injury after showing major regression in 2020. His Pro Bowl 2019 season is looking more and more like a fluke, and it’s difficult to see this investment working out.
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Green Bay Packers: Failed to sign a No. 1 wide receiver
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The Packers were able to convince Aaron Rodgers to stay home, but he will now be without Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The replacements for that pairing are oft-injured Sammy Watkins and rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Rodgers is talented enough to get the most out of the makeshift wide receiver room, but it’s hard to imagine the Packers won’t see a drop-off.
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Houston Texans: Fired David Culley
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The firing of Culley at the beginning of the offseason now seems like a distant memory, but it’s still a head-scratcher. Culley was seemingly able to get the most out of his team devoid of talent, even though four wins were the result. It’s still hard to know what the organization expected last season, and changing coaches so quickly presents another setback for a team without clear direction.
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Indianapolis Colts: Traded for Matt Ryan
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The Colts quarterback position seems to be cursed since Andrew Luck’s retirement. The acquisition of Carson Wentz didn’t work out for the team last season, and it’s hard to see the team going much further with the current version of Ryan. The former MVP struggled in Atlanta last season, failing to reach 4,000 yards passing and clearly losing a step in the pocket. Indy has an excellent roster, but it’s hard to put them in the conversation as Super Bowl contenders with Ryan under center.
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Jacksonville Jaguars: Drafted Travon Walker
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The Jaguars got an opportunity to take the first pick in the draft once again. They opted for upside over a sure thing by selecting Walker over Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Walker has plenty of projection but is also clearly more likely to be a bust. With Jacksonville’s poor draft history, they can ill-afford to strike out again.
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Kansas City Chiefs: Signed Justin Reid
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The Chiefs made the right decision to move on from defensive leader Tyrann Mathieu, who lost a step last season, but it’s unclear if Reid is the answer at safety. The team gave him big money despite his struggles in coverage during recent seasons and needs this addition to go right after the secondary struggled last year.
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Las Vegas Raiders: Traded for Rock Ya-Sin
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There’s no doubt the Raiders needed a jolt in the secondary after whiffing on so many draft picks to address that area. However, they added Ya-Sin at the expense of Yannick Ngakoue, a player who made the team’s pass rush one of the most feared in the league after signing last season. The consolation is that they were able to sign Chandler Jones, but the veteran has seen his play slow recently.
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Los Angeles Chargers: Traded for Khalil Mack
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The Chargers had a clear void after losing Melvin Ingram last season, but they’re taking a risk hoping Mack is the answer. He hasn’t been the same superstar he was early in his career, last recording double-digit sacks in 2018 and played only seven games last year. It’s a high upside move for a Chargers team with Super Bowl aspirations, but the trade and resulting cap consequences could backfire.
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Los Angeles Rams: Signed Allen Robinson
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The losses of Robert Woods and Odell Beckham will be felt in LA, but the Rams are hoping Robinson lessens the blow. The team is still taking a risk by giving Robinson a huge three-year deal after a terrible season in which he had only 410 yards in 12 games.
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Miami Dolphins: Signed Cedrick Wilson
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Miami’s acquisition of Wilson for three years, $22 million is head-scratching in retrospect, as the Dolphins were able to trade for superstar Tyreek Hill later in the offseason. Wilson’s role has now dwindled behind Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but he does give Tua Tagovailoa a bevy of options.
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Minnesota Vikings: Re-signed Patrick Peterson
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Minnesota’s secondary continued to be a problem last season. They were able to bring Peterson back for relatively minimal money, but it looks like the secondary could continue to be an issue as the team relies on him and multiple rookies.
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New England Patriots: Failed to name an offensive coordinator
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Those who question Bill Belichick’s genius are usually made to look like fools, but this could be one of the riskiest moves of his Patriots coaching career. After losing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Raiders, Belichick goes into the season without a clear offensive coordinator. There are indications Belichick will turn to one of his failed former head coaches, Joe Judge or Matt Patricia, to call plays rather than find an experienced coordinator to help Mac Jones’ development.
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New Orleans Saints: Signed Tyrann Mathieu
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The Saints leaned on their defense last season and nearly made the playoffs, and they’ve had good luck in recent seasons signing veterans. Mathieu’s elite leadership ability is unquestioned, but it was clear he lost a step in the Chiefs’ maligned secondary last year. New Orleans is taking a risk by giving Mathieu a significant three-year deal and a homecoming in his native city.
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New York Giants: Drafted Wan’Dale Robinson
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New York has a prosperous offseason, but putting more significant resources toward wide receiver is a bit of a head-scratcher. The team signed Kenny Golladay for big money and spent a first-round pick on Kadarius Toney last year, but that didn’t stop them from spending a second-round pick on Wan’Dale Robinson this year. It’s not a surprise with a new regime that is perhaps unimpressed with what they’ve inherited, though New York had bigger needs elsewhere.
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New York Jets: Failed to acquire a No. 1 wide receiver
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It’s not for lack of trying, but the fact is that the Jets failed in their attempt to add significant support for young Zach Wilson. The team struck out on acquiring Tyreek Hill and the premier wide receiver free agents, and are now counting on first-round pick Garrett Wilson to produce immediately.
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Philadelphia Eagles: Signed James Bradberry
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The Eagles filled a need late in the offseason by signing Bradberry after the Giants let him walk. The secondary is better for the move with a viable cornerback opposite Darius Slay, but Bradberry did see his play drop off considerably in New York last season after his Pro Bowl 2020 campaign.
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Pittsburgh Steelers: Signed Mitchell Trubisky
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Pittsburgh still had an elite defense last season and looked to be a contender again after addressing their offensive line. The most important step, however, was replacing future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Trubisky was the early addition on a two-year deal, but the significant money (two years, $14.285 million) likely goes wasted after the Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett in the first round. Both additions are just a consolation prize after Pittsburgh failed to acquire any of the premier quarterbacks available this offseason.
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San Francisco 49ers: Signed Charvarius Ward
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Ward was a solid starter for the last three seasons with the Chiefs, and certainly fills a need for the 49ers. However, the inconsistency that he showed last season makes the risk of a three-year deal worth over $40 million a big one for a 49ers secondary that has continued to be in transition over the last several years.
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Seattle Seahawks: Drafted Kenneth Walker
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Seattle seemingly can’t help themselves when they see a running back they like early in the draft. After former first-round pick Rashaad Penny finally established himself late last season, the Seahawks drafted Walker in the second round this year. The move creates another glut at the running back spot for Seattle, and it’s a position that has required far less draft capital to address in recent years.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Failed to re-sign O.J. Howard
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The Bucs offseason was defined both by the retirement and unretirement of Tom Brady, as well as the loss of several other notable veterans. Most of the attention goes toward the defensive players that Tampa Bay lost, but Howard’s loss could be just as glaring. The former first-round pick has undoubtedly been a bust relative to his draft spot, but he impressed Brady in the past and would have been due to take on a much bigger role this season with Rob Gronkowski possibly retiring. Buffalo only needed to make a $3.5 million investment to acquire Howard.
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Tennessee Titans: Traded A.J. Brown
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Perhaps the Titans didn’t have a choice if Brown wanted elite money, but we don’t often see teams trade away franchise talents like Brown so early in their careers. He was a one-man wrecking crew at times during his first three seasons, and it’s hard to believe first-round replacement Treylon Burks will have nearly the impact on an offense that has been too conservative to win consistently in the playoffs.
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Washington Commanders: Traded for Carson Wentz
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Wentz wore out his welcome in Philadelphia and Indianapolis over the last two seasons, so it’s incredible Washington was willing to take on his contract and give up significant draft capital for him. The move speaks to just how desperate the Commanders were to find a top signal-caller after their bad luck at the position recently.