As NFL teams continue to throw tens of millions of dollars more at average young stars, wasted money is becoming more of a commonality. Despite this, 2022’s free agency period has resulted in multiple historic contracts from both a contextual and monetary standpoint.
Sports analysts across the league are calling this years’ NFL free agency one of historic significance, with countless veterans and future Hall of Famers being shuffled from team to team.
The top moves of free agency include a wide variety of transactions, including everything from ditched retirements to unexpected trade deals. Given that, let’s take a look at the most impactful moves of this offseason, ranking and grading them in the process.
- Jacksonville Empties Their Pockets (B-)
The Jacksonville Jaguars went into free agency with nearly $40 million in cap space available for use, so it wasn’t a surprise that they broke the bank this offseason.
What did come as a surprise is who Jacksonville elected to break the bank on, dropping a $72 million, four-year contract at the feet of wide reciever Christian Kirk, a receiver yet to break the thousand-yard-season barrier in his career.
Along with this, Jacksonville dropped a $24 million contract at the feet of Zay Jones, a wide receiver who hasn’t broken 652 yards in a season in his career.
While these two moves seem all well and good for supporting their second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the financial side of these moves seems ill-advised.
In comparison, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to retain wide receiver Chris Godwin, the 11th best receiver from a statistical standpoint in 2021, for just $60 million over three seasons. Kirk did not break the top 25 ranking based on 2021 receptions and yards.
- Aaron Rodgers Sticks With Packers (B)
As it turns out, all Aaron Rodgers needed to convince him to stay in Green Bay was a hefty $150.8 million, three-year contract.
This development came after a season stacked to the brim with retirement and trade rumors circling the organization, as Rodgers had reportedly been unhappy with how the front office had handled putting together a Super Bowl roster for years.
Given this, it didn’t seem too outlandish to say that Rodgers might end up with a roster equipped with all the necessary pieces to win a Superbowl outside of the quarterback position. The Denver Broncos was the most common name to pop up in these rumors, with then-quarterback Drew Lock struggling to prove his worth as a franchise quarterback.
This bodes well for Green Bay fans, but the recent losses of Davante Adams to the Raiders and Marques-Valdes Scantling in free agency following Rodgers’ extension point in the opposite direction.
It’s clear that Rodgers desired a unique combination of a stardom paycheck coupled with a stardom supporting cast, and Green Bay only fulfilled one of those wishes.
Rodgers has now passed what will likely be his final opportunity to move to a different team in the NFL in the hopes of joining a better roster. If Green Bay’s average-at-best offensive roster is unable to assist Rodgers in a Super Bowl victory, the age-old excuse of “not having enough weapons” will no longer be valid.
- Tom Brady Unretires, Returns to Buccaneers (A-)
Tom Brady spent just over a month in retirement before returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
His retirement came as a surprise to many, as Brady put up historical numbers in completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns, proving that he had more than enough left in the tank to compete for an eighth Super Bowl.
With this unretirement came a wave of crucial Buccaneers signings, with star players like running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver Chris Godwin and offensive lineman Ryan Jenson all signing extensions after news broke of Brady’s return.
Along with this, the Buccaneers were able to sign Russel Gage Sr., a fifth-year wide receiver who will complement the likes of wide receiver Mike Evans, Godwin and Fournette in this upcoming season.
In short, it’s clear that the Buccaneers will transition to a rebuild period once Brady leaves. For as long as the all-time quarterback stays in Tampa Bay, they will be Super Bowl contenders.
- Tyreek Hill Heads To Miami (A-)
Tyreek Hill, often regarded as the fastest receiver in football, took his talents to the Miami Dolphins after contract talks with the Kansas City Chiefs hit a stalemate.
Third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is now equipped with one of the fastest receiving cores seen in NFL history. With second-year talent Jaylen Waddle working opposite of Hill, Tagovailoa now has a perfect opportunity to excel within an offense built for the pass game.
This comes at a crucial time, as Tagovailoa had been under fire during the 2020 and 2021 seasons for failing to match his first-round talent expectations.
If Tagovailoa fails, the Dolphins will have to find a new quarterback before their roster moves elsewhere. If Tagovailoa succeeds under this revamped roster, the Dolphins may challenge the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in AFC East dominance.
- Russel Wilson Says Goodbye To Seattle, Heads To Denver (A+)
Russel Wilson was traded to Denver by Seattle, a move that came after multiple years of trade speculation surrounding Wilson’s frustration with the Seahawks’ upper management.
The move sends Wilson to a roster poised to make a run for a Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Wilson, this also means joining arguably the most competitive division in the NFL joining the Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers.
Winning the division will be as tough as it gets, but working with star receivers Jerry Juedy, Cortland Sutton and third-string receiver Tim Patrick should make the idea of a Super Bowl a bit more realistic than ever before.