This offseason has been nothing short of surprising, with Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks retiring (and unretiring), many blockbuster trades across the league, and several players signing record-breaking contracts, only to be broken by the next signing. Continue reading below for a full breakdown of the NFL offseason, and rating every major move made so far.
The Miami Dolphins, in the 2021 season, fell just short of the playoffs, missing only a few key pieces necessary for greatness. However, they brought in some big names to strengthen their team. The Dolphins re-signed star cornerback Xavien Howard and franchise tagged tight end Mike Gesicki, locking them in for another likely successful season. Miami finished at 25th for both rushing and receiving yards, and subsequently brought in players to deal with both of these areas. They brought in offensive lineman Terron Armstead to better protect the quarterback and their new running backs, Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds, two talented players who Miami bought for a low price. Quite on the contrary, however, the Dolphins traded five future draft picks for superstar receiver Tyreek Hill, to add to current receiving options Jaylen Waddle and Devante Parker. Although they gave up a lot for their new centerpiece, the Dolphins are in for an even more successful season.
Following a close Super Bowl matchup in which they were defeated by the Rams, the Cincinnati Bengals entered the offseason comfortably, with the exception of one important position in particular - offensive line. Cincinnati finished the 2021 season with the third most sacks allowed in the league, a problem that plagued them until the very end. To provide a solution to this problem, the Bengals signed former Dallas Cowboy La’el Collins to shore up their offensive line and to hopefully solve the problems they continued to experience throughout the season’s entirety.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs, although they were not too long ago at the top of the NFL, have been going through a bit of a rough stretch. First, they opted to not re-sign star safety Tyrann Mathieu, one of their strongest defensive pieces. They signed former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster to strengthen their already powerful receiving corps and Ronald Jones II to improve their running game. However, this dominant centerpiece took a massive hit when Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins. While the Chiefs received many draft picks in return, implying a possible rebuild, this was still a trade that may very well shatter their playoff chances in the most competitive division in the NFL. While Patrick Mahomes may be enough to carry them to the playoffs, there are definitely signs that the Chiefs’ dynasty may be slowing down.
The Philadelphia Eagles have had a somewhat uneventful off-season. Their one notable move has been a draft pick trade with the New Orleans Saints, a controversial move. The Eagles traded the 16th and 19th overall picks, along with the 194th pick, to the Saints in return for the 18th overall pick, the 101st and 237th picks, and two future early-round picks. While the Eagles end up with more picks, they are trading two crucial picks for picks that are of less value and will likely not be able to lead to the same successes. This trade was a bad move, without a doubt, for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Minnesota Vikings are a team that is almost at the point of success. This off-season, they re-signed veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson and quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has been on an upward trend recently. However, their biggest signing was Za'darius Smith, from the division rival Green Bay Packers. Smith will add a strong presence to the Vikings already talented defense, making him an excellent signing for Minnesota.
The Carolina Panthers are the team that has perhaps been involved in the least newsworthy transactions this off-season so far, while they still have much room for improvement. They signed and re-signed a collection of players, including receiver DJ Moore, but have otherwise not done much worth noting. They did, however, lose 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, who spent a short period of time in Carolina after being cut by the New England Patriots, to free agency.
The Atlanta Falcons off-season started off looking far from promising, and although there were some positive developments, the victories were limited for the Falcons. To start off the off-season, the NFL hit star receiver Calvin Ridley with a one-year suspension for violating the league’s gambling policies. Ridley did not play for much of last year, and Atlanta will have to wait yet another year to see him lace up his cleats again. Soon after, the Falcons unexpectedly traded franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a third round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Following this opening at quarterback, the Falcons brought in Marcus Mariota, who was formerly the starter for the Tennessee Titans, a move few saw coming. The Falcons re-signed Olamide Zaccheaus, who will, until further notice, serve as the team’s primary receiver. Overall, the upcoming season is looking bleak for the Atlanta Falcons.
The Cardinals are a team that does not need to make many changes, and as a result did not. For some time there were rumors that quarterback Kyler Murray would move on from the team and request a trade, but he elected to remain with the Cardinals for the time being. The Cardinals lost the dual-threat they had at running back, with Chase Edmonds leaving in free agency. They managed, however, to retain players like AJ Green and Zach Ertz. One piece that they added was offensive lineman Will Hernandez, who previously played for the New York Giants. Overall, Arizona has brought in players who will not make much of a difference, but change is not what this young and talented team needs at this point in time. Continuity will be their key to success.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have been a very successful team despite some setbacks within the team, and that success continued this offseason. First, they re-signed star defensive lineman Maxx Crosby to a multiple-year contract. Then, they brought in several defensive players, among them being linebacker Chandler Jones, to improve their defense even more. Finally, they acquired Green Bay Packers star receiver Davante Adams through a blockbuster trade involving several draft picks. Most recently, they extended quarterback Derek Carr’s contract, locking him in for a few more years. The Raiders are in a good position to go far, and may even win the AFC West division.
New York Jets
The New York Jets are a team that has been in a slow rebuilding process for many years at this point. And the loss of star safety Marcus Maye certainly does not help this effort. This off-season, they brought in players such as tight end CJ Uzomah, who last played in the Super Bowl for the Cincinnati Bengals. They also brought in former third overall pick Solomon Thomas and Pro Bowl offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson to strengthen their offensive line. The Jets brought in a few more players who may be able to make the slightest difference, but overall New York is a long way from success.
The Baltimore Ravens are a good team who have not been performing well enough to stay ahead in their ever-competitive division. After speculations regarding them trading for some big name players, they did not go through with these rumors, and besides re-signing defensive tackle Calais Campbell, they have not made any major moves. Ravens are likely going to have another season in which they will play well if healthy, but may fall just short of the playoffs.
The Houston Texans have been in shambles for quite some time now, and that theme continued during this offseason. The Texans brought in a plethora of players who are unlikely to make a big difference on the field. To add insult to injury, they traded star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was newly freed from charges against him, receiving a few draft picks in return from the Cleveland Browns. Holding two top fifteen picks, including the third overall selection, Houston should hope that they will be able to draft some game changing players and turn things around.
The Dallas Cowboys’ offseason has been loss after loss. The Cowboys, from the start, lost defensive lineman Randy Gregory, when he signed with them, but then he ended up signing with the Denver Broncos. Next, they traded receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns, losing a major offensive piece. Finally, they lost offensive lineman La’el Collins to the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s been a rough off-season for Dallas, but in one of the worst divisions in football, they will still likely be able to succeed.
The Chicago Bears are a team that is staying out of last place in their division not by their own merit, but another team’s inferiority. They signed a number of small name players to make minor differences, with the hope that many small pieces will be just as effective as one larger piece. They did, however, lose one of their biggest pieces, Allen Robinson, to free agency, a noticeable loss even though he did not perform up to par this season. The Bears are in for another season of disappointment.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are a team that surprised the NFL last year following the retirement of franchise quarterback Drew Brees. The team has, however, rose to the occasion, only barely missing the playoffs. They were able to find a short term solution in Jameis Winston, and this off-season they re-signed him to a two year deal, with the hopes of making the playoffs this year. On the defensive end of the field they brought in safety Marcus Maye, who had previously played for the New York Jets. The Saints are doing a good job of moving towards the point where they will be a real contender to make the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco are a team that continues to surprise year after year. Every year they go into the season with fans not expecting much, and they surprise the whole league every year. This past season, they had breakout multi-position star Deebo Samuel and quarterback Jimmy Garropolo, who has spent several seasons with the team. Although they signed cornerback Charvarius Ward, a talented player, some aspects of San Francisco’s season have been up in the air. There has been talk of handing over the starting job to Trey Lance, who was drafted in 2021, relinquishing Garoppolo of his longtime position. Additionally, Deebo Samuel requested a trade, a trade that has still not happened, and there is subsequently a giant question mark hanging over the Niners season.