With the Rams win in the Super Bowl capping off another incredible NFL season, fans of the league’s 32 team’s already have their sights set on the 2022 Draft and free agency. The Cinderella story of the Cincinnati Bengals going from a four win bottom feeder to AFC champions has fans from every team in the league dreaming that they could be the next franchise to make a magical run to reach the Super Bowl, even if they did fall just short of the grand prize.
While the emergence of Joe Burrow as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks has made a huge difference to the Bengals’ fortunes, a huge reason they have made it to the big game is they absolutely nailed their offseason last year.
A great free agency and draft can turn any team from bad to good in just a matter of months, and with some big names available in free agency this year, teams will be looking to do exactly that. Here, we look at some of those names and their potential landing spots.
There is certainly an argument to be had that Davante Adams is the most dominant wide receiver in the NFL. Of course, the Green Bay Packers would love to retain Adams, but with Aaron Rodgers’ future still up in the air, Adams may want a change of scenery.
A lot of talk surrounding the wideout’s future seems to revolve around a possible reunion with his quarterback from his college days at Fresno State, Derek Carr. But with Carr’s future by no means certain with a new coach in Las Vegas, that may not be possible this year.
The most likely occurrence is Adams continues to play with Rodgers, whether that be in Green Bay, or elsewhere. In the past two seasons, Adams is second in receiving yards (2,927), and leads the league in receptions (238) and touchdown catches (29). With numbers like that, he is a player that any team with suitable cap space will be making calls about.
No Player in the entire NFL has made more interceptions than JC Jackson since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2018 (25). The New England Patriots cornerback has proven himself to be a ballhawk with good coverage skills, and will surely be a player Bill Belichick will want to return to Foxborough this upcoming free agency.
However, he will have suitors from all around the league, and could be set for a huge payday elsewhere. Both the New York Giants and New York Jets are in desperate need of help in the secondary, and Jackson could be a perfect fit in the Big Apple.
New York is still one of the biggest sporting markets in the world – there is now the added commercial aspect of the recent legalisation of gaming and operators keen to push products like mobile betting apps across the US – specifically large metro areas like New York and other populous states. Jackson, with his excellent ball skills and swag, could be the perfect face of the ‘new’ New York sporting landscape.
At 31 years of age, Terron Armstead may not represent long-term value at the left tackle position, but if you’re looking for a man you can plug and play into your offensive line and get elite line play from day one, Armstead may be your guy.
If the Saints choose not to re-sign him, he could be a brilliant pick up for any of the teams looking to protect their young franchise quarterback – looking at you Chicago, Jacksonville, LA Chargers etc.
It’s fair to say that the Honey Badger’s best years in the NFL are probably behind him, as he will be 30 by the time he enters the 2022 season. However, he has made the Pro Bowl in all three of his seasons in Kansas City, and played a huge role in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win.
He has 13 interceptions in his time at the Chiefs, which is good for fifth in the league in that timespan. Mathieu is a natural leader and would provide a great option for a team looking for someone to lead a young defense.
Odell Beckham Jr.
It was an incredibly mixed Superbowl for OBJ – he started well and hauled in a TD, but a non-contact knee injury means a lot of his offseason will be taken up by rehab, with the added complication of free agency. While it didn’t work out for him as many expected in Cleveland, he found a new lease of life as the Rams’ no.2 receiver and has shone as a red-zone threat, catching five touchdowns in eight regular season games.
With the Rams looking quite tight on cap space heading into the 2022 season, it seems likely that OBJ will be playing elsewhere next year – his brief stint with the Rams certainly showed the talent was still there, but teams will have concerns on how he can bounce back from injury.
Like Beckham Jr, Von Miller joined the Rams mid-way through the 2021 season, and has played an important role in their run to claiming the Super Bowl. Also like OBJ, it seems unlikely he will continue in LA after this season.
Despite entering the 2022 season aged 33, Miller is still an elite pass rusher and for teams in ‘win now’ mode, Miller could be a great short-term option. His opposition during Sunday’s Super Bowl have upwards of $50 million to spend in free agency this summer – could we see Miller join an already very good defensive line in Cincinnati?
The Saints are currently in cap hell heading towards the 2022 season, and it seems unlikely they will be able to sign Williams on the kind of big money deal he’ll be looking for following his 2021 season playing on the franchise tag.
Williams has been a key member of a very good Saints defense in his five years in the NFL, and the safety will command a high value contract, as he is just 25 years of age, and one of the better players in the league at his position.