NFL free agency matchmaker: Draft contracts, landing spots for 25 big-name free agents in 2022
The 2022 NFL offseason will officially begin on March 16, but free agency talks are already well underway. Veterans whose contracts expire can enter negotiations with other teams on March 14, and that’s not even taking into account the uncertain future of big names like Aaron Rodgers, who may or may not be back in Green Bay.
As we approach the free market, here’s a look at where some of the biggest names could end up and what kind of money they could make in free agency – a look at 25 different potential landing spots for players at each position:
Note: The following players have not been included as they are expected to re-sign with their current teams: Packers WR Davante Adams, Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin, Chargers WR Mike Williams, Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr., Chiefs OT Orlando Brown Jr. , Bengals S Jessie Bates III.
Projected terms: Three years, $61.5 million | Per year: $20.5 million
Regardless of whether the Colts replace QB Carson Wentz, they need better pass protection. Armstead is a major upgrade from Eric Fisher when healthy, not to mention a proven locker room leader. General manager Chris Ballard is paying to protect whoever is under center.
Projected terms: Four years, $72 million | Per year: $18 million
Houston needs playmakers everywhere, but especially at the corners. New coach Lovie Smith gets a building block for his defense, and general manager Nick Caserio knows Jackson from New England. At 26, the ex-Patriots star instantly boosts their secondary.
Projected terms: One year, $17 million | Per year: $17 million
A key part of the Rams’ Super Bowl rotation, he has the flexibility to be picky at 33, and a hefty one-year payday allows him to hang on to another contender before reevaluating in 2023. Baltimore gets a plug-and-play No. 1 edge man.
Projected terms: Two years, $33.5 million | Per year: $16.75 million
Vic Fangio may be gone, but that doesn’t mean the new regime can’t invest in defence, especially with Bradley Chubb needing a real rushing companion, general manager George Paton flush with the cap space and the QB maybe likely to be handled through the draft.
Projected terms: Four years, $66 million | Per year: $16.5 million
A meeting! A-Rob may offer equally lucrative deals from splashier cities like Miami and New England, but Trevor Lawrence is an attractive draw, as is the familiarity of Jacksonville. Doug Pederson and Co. give their young QB a real No. 1 to target.
Projected terms: Three years, $49.5 million | Per year: $16.5 million
Carolina needs a QB, but unless they land a hit trade, they’ll likely look to the draft. Priority No. 2 is fixing a porous line, and Scherff, despite the injury issues, is still elite inside.
Projected terms: Three years, $48.75 million | Per year: $16.25 million
Staying with the Chiefs would be ideal, but Mathieu gets a raise and a chance to play under Ron Rivera here, while Washington gets a huge upgrade at the end of a leaky secondary as he appears to be returning to the competition.
Projected terms: Four years, $62 million | Per year: $15.5 million
General manager Howie Roseman sees the potential for Malcolm Jenkins 2.0 here, safely removing the band-aids for a durable long-term centre-back. Williams, meanwhile, is getting a salary that would have been tougher in New Orleans.
Projected terms: Four years, $56 million | Per year: $14 million
Assuming Mike Williams comes a long way, Justin Herbert already has some good guns. Gesicki, however, gives him a third important outlet in the passing game. The Chargers have money to spend. Why not continue to build around your star QB?
Projected terms: Four years, $56 million | Per year: $14 million
With plenty of money to play, the Jets get real long-range response from Robert Saleh in the secondary, instantly improving their passing coverage with the Bucs’ tag candidate. Davis, 25, is cashing in while getting the Big Apple spotlight.
Projected terms: Three years, $40.5 million | Per year: $13.5 million
Gregory has an off-court history and injuries, but that’s not stopping the Seahawks. Desperate for a disruptive presence, Seattle is betting on the Cowboys star’s rising talent while reloading for at least one more Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson run.
Projected terms: Four years, $52 million | Per year: $13 million
Trevor Lawrence needs weapons of all kinds. Schultz gives him another. Removed from the Cowboys’ offense, he may not be as deadly, but new coach Doug Pederson has relied heavily on tight ends before. He pays to get his QB another outlet.
Projected terms: Three years, $39 million | Per year: $13 million
That’s a steep price for a 30-year-old center, but Jensen was a lousy bodyguard for Tom Brady, and that’s exactly what the Bengals should want for Joe Burrow, especially with space to spare.
Projected terms: Three years, $37.5 million | Per year: $12.5 million
Since the loss of Henry Ruggs, the Raiders have sorely missed a deep and consistent threat to Derek Carr. Chark has a lot to prove after an injury wasted near his run with the Jaguars, but he’s paired well with Hunter Renfrow in Vegas.
Projected terms: Four years, $44 million | Per year: $11 million
Perhaps one of the most underrated free agents in the Class of 2022, Reed is just 25 years old and has just completed 1.5 seasons of top-notch corner play. San Francisco takes him back to his needy high school under former Seahawks assistant Nick Sorensen.
Projected terms: Two years, $21 million | Per year: $10.5 million
Denver has already added pass rushing assist in this drill, but Campbell brings physical and playful touch to a missing ILB body. New coach Nathaniel Hackett has witnessed his prime in Green Bay, and the Broncos have money to spend.
Projected terms: One year, $10.5 million | Per year: $10.5 million
Call it an incentive-laden deal, given that Gallup is fresh off an injury, but it makes sense for both sides: the cap-laden Browns improve a mostly barren receiving corps, while Gallup gets the chance to be an unofficial #1 before re-entering the market.
Projected terms: Two years, $20.5 million | Per year: $10.25 million
Indy needs help grabbing passes, no matter how much general manager Chris Ballard preaches patience with Parris Campbell and the others. Valdes-Scantling gives them a real field expander to pair with the more complete Michael Pittman Jr.
Projected terms: One year, $10 million | Per year: $10 million
Jameis Winston offers more benefits but numbers to get looks elsewhere. Teddy, on the other hand, is the perfect stopgap for them: he knows the system, plays it safe, and can easily slip into a backup role if/when they land a successor.
Projected terms: Four years, $39 million | Per year: $9.75 million
Coming from a bad Bears O line doesn’t necessarily make him a hot name, but Daniels is young (24) with a solid resume in a place Miami badly needs. New coach Mike McDaniel gets an instant upgrade up front as he looks to develop the running game.
Projected terms: Four years, $38 million | Per year: $9.5 million
A rising and underrated piece of the 49ers defensive line, Jones gives the Chiefs another big man to plug in alongside Chris Jones on a defensive front that has been disappointing in 2021. Steve Spagnuolo covets a stronger front.
Projected terms: Two years, $18 million | Per year: $9 million
Gerald Everett was a good outlet for Russell Wilson in 2021, but Ertz has proven — as Seattle watches in the NFC West — that he’s still a top-10 starter when healthy. Ertz moves further west for one last run with an elite QB.
Steelers sign C Bradley Bozeman
Projected terms: Three years, $27 million | Per year: $9 million
Pittsburgh doesn’t typically like splashy moves for older free agents, but Bozeman is just 27 and just completed a career year at the heart of Baltimore’s line. Whoever is under the center, they have to shore up the trenches.
Projected terms: One year, $9 million | Per year: $9 million
Moving to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Ed Donatell, the Vikings welcome an NFC North rival who can fill the gaps — and he happens to have Pro Bowl history alongside Donatell since their time in Chicago.
Projected terms: One year, $8 million | Per year: $8 million
Mike Vrabel likes it tough, and Gronk’s personality fits right in. He brings pop as both a blocker and receiver, giving Tennessee a quick fix at a needed position. The one-year deal allows Gronk to ride until sunset in 2023, if he chooses.