Last Updated on 14 Mar 2022 6:32 pm (UK Time)
The 2022 NFL free agency window is set to open on March 16th, which gives players the chance to sign lucrative multi-year deals with their teams of choice. A number of big-name players have already moved through trades, like Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, but there are still several intriguing options for teams to sink their teeth into. The increase in salary cap after the COVID-19 pandemic hit will certainly push teams to take some chances in this year’s free agency, much to players delight.
But who are the most interesting targets this offseason who could impact new franchises for the 2022 season? Let’s have a look and try to predict what franchises would fit their talents best.
Allen Robinson – Previous team: Chicago BearsEmbed from Getty Images
Coming off a down season with the Bears saw Robinson’s offensive rating and receiving rating drop dramatically from 88.4 and 88.3 in 2020 to 66.9 and 67 according to Pro Football Focus. He finished the season with only 66 targets for 410 yards and one touchdown on a Bears team that could not figure out their quarterback situation, typical Chicago.
This means Robinson is going to be looking for a big bounce-back year going into his ninth season in the league. However, in order to regain his best form, he will need to go to a team with a lights-out quarterback and a strong passing game which can help the former Bear flourish. Considering his poor 2021 season Robinson could be signed to a contender for a discount, similar to when Antonio Brown signed with Tampa Bay.
Best fit: Green Bay Packers have managed to resign Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, adding Robinson on a short team-friendly deal could be what finally takes them to the Super Bowl and will rejuvenate Robinson’s career in a flash.
Chandler Jones – Previous team: Arizona CardinalsEmbed from Getty Images
The former Cardinals man will attract a lot of attention from teams ahead of the 2022 season after his stellar season which saw him start 15 games and rack up 41 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, four pass deflections and six forced fumbles, helping Arizona make the playoffs with a 11-6 record.
The three-time Pro-Bowler should be looking to sign with a potential contender to take them over the top and make them a serious candidate for the Super Bowl. However, with the contract he will demand, anywhere between $15-$18 million per year, there are only a couple of competitive teams that could seal the deal. Otherwise, Chandler will have to try his luck on an outsider and potentially miss the playoffs all-together.
Best fit: Denver Broncos are in the middle of a complete franchise shift as they welcome Russell Wilson to the mile-high city and opted for offensive coach Nathaniel Hackett to replace defensive mastermind Vick Fangio at the helm. Chandler can help ease the change in game plan by offering experience they lost from trading veteran Von Miller last season.
J.C. Jackson – Previous team: New England PatriotsEmbed from Getty Images
Jackson impressed in his fourth season in the NFL under hall of fame coach Bill Belichick for the new-look Patriots. He finished with a pro-bowl appearance and part of the second all-pro team. He racked up an impressive eight interceptions, only bettered by Dallas’ Trevon Diggs last year, taking his total to 17 over the last two season, 23 pass deflections, one forced fumble and 44 solo tackles.
PFF gave him an 82.7 overall rating with a 75.8 run defence rating and 83 coverage rating. The former Patriot would be an incredible pick up for any team building a Super Bowl contender. His talent is undeniable and there will be many teams looking to add him to their roster, but Jackson will want to go to a contender, or at least somewhere better than New England, only leaving him with a few options.
Best fit: Los Angeles Chargers have started bulking up their defence by acquiring Khalil Mack from the Bears and should use the rest of their $18m cap space to strengthen their secondary with Jackson’s talent alongside second year corner, Asante Samuel Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr – Previous team: Los Angeles RamsEmbed from Getty Images
Prior to his injury sustained in the Super Bowl, Beckham looked to be getting back to his best in the back end of the season as he helped the Rams acquire their first championship since 2000. While his stats were not the most favourable for the former New York Giant, 44 receptions for 537 yards and five touchdowns, he was instrumental in the Rams playoff run. In the post season he stepped up, catching 21 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, including the missed second half of the Super Bowl.
His unfortunate ACL injury will limit the potential suitors in free agency for OBJ, but whichever team lands the three-time pro-bowler could have the deal of the offseason on their hands. Due to the injury Beckham could be available for a smaller, short-term contract once again.
The Rams have shown interest in re-signing him but understand others will be after him. Head coach Sean McVay confirmed this saying, “There’s gonna be some other teams that probably want his services but hopefully we’ll be able to convince him to come back”.
Best fit: Outside of LA the Las Vegas Raiders could be the next best option for Beckham. They have plenty of cap space to work out a deal and new offensive-minded head coach Josh McDaniels would love to acquire a talent like Beckham to feature alongside star tight end Darren Waller and breakout slot receiver Hunter Renfrow in the stacked AFC West.
Terron Armstead – Previous team: New Orleans SaintsEmbed from Getty Images
The 30-year-old veteran tackle had his injury problems last season, only featuring in eight games for the Saints in 2021, but he was very productive in those games. Armstead only allowed one sack in 2021 while posting a PFF offense grade of 75.9 and a pass block grade of 85.6.
He made the pro-bowl three years in a row, 2018,19, and 20 and would have been a shoe in last season if not for the knee injury he sustained. When healthy he can dominate up front which is tremendously attractive for teams who have trouble protecting the quarterback. Across the past five seasons PFF have graded Armstead as the fourth-best offensive tackle overall and third best in pass blocking. Unfortunately for Saints fans he will attract suitors during free agency and despite their want to resign, they simply do not have the money to compete with the rest of the league.
Best fit: The Indianapolis Colts are in desperate need for a long-term replacement for Eric Fisher at left tackle and Armstead could be the answer. Since trading quarterback Carson Wentz, they have about $70m in cap space. Giving them plenty of room to work out a deal and an extra need for protection since they could roll into the 2022 season with second-year player Sam Ehlinger under centre.
While there are not typical huge name free agents like in seasons past, these players above could all have huge impacts on the franchises they land in after free agency is all said and done. Whichever way it goes there is going to be a mix up in the league next season, and who knows, one of these players could be the difference between missing the offseason and making it, or an early round exit and winning the Lombardi trophy.