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AP Photo/David Becker

NFL Teams That Have Had The Best Early Part Of The 2022 Offseason


There’s plenty of time left in the offseason, and we have not even hit the second wave of free agency (with many notable players still available) or the NFL draft. But I’ve seen a few “early offseason winners” on social media, and I did not agree at all with some of the assessments. Of course, none of us really know how things will turn out—things are figured out on the field and offseason “winners” often do not work out. However, it was easy for me to pick the five teams I believe have had the best offseasons through three weeks. And NFL draft odds could give some insight on what teams might add with their rookie classes.

 

1. Denver Broncos

As I’ve stated before, I feel for Vic Fangio, who did a fine job with the Broncos despite not getting strong quarterback play. I feel even worse for him now that Denver added star quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. I did not think Wilson would actually leave the Seahawks, and his acquisition by the Broncos might prove to be a steal. New Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett will give Wilson the keys to the offense, and the players around Wilson should all be better with him there—including emerging second-year back Javonte Williams. You could argue the Broncos have been a stud quarterback away from being Super Bowl contenders, and they are undoubtedly thrilled with where they stand at the most important position in sports now.

 

2. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers were able to re-sign wide receiver Mike Williams to a long-term deal to avoid the one-year franchise tag, signed perhaps the top overall free agent on the board in cornerback J.C. Jackson, and added Khalil Mack to bolster the edge and to play opposite Joey Bosa in the LA defense. Clearly, the Chargers have a strategy of going all in while quarterback Justin Herbert is on his rookie contract. If the defense—particularly the run defense—improves, the Chargers could make major noise deep into January this season. One issue is just how insanely crowded their division is after the arms race of the past few weeks.

 

3. Las Vegas Raiders

It was very close between the Chargers and the Raiders for the No. 2 spot, but both AFC West teams are squarely in the mix with divisional foe Denver for the best offseason to this point. Any sour feeling some Raiders players might have had about the team not sticking with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia might have been alleviated to some extent by the excitement over their offseason moves, including the surprise signing of veteran pass rusher Chandler Jones and the shocking trade of All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, who reunited with his college quarterback Derek Carr. It’s unfortunate for Jon Gruden that his emails were leaked and that he won’t be able to see this through, but this is the type of path he had in mind when he took back over the Raiders. At least Josh McDaniels looks like a very good hire in his second crack as a head coach.

 

4. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have taken a measured approach to their offseason, and their patience eventually paid off in a big way, as they were able to acquire former league MVP Matt Ryan from the Falcons, which probably never would have happened if Atlanta didn’t go after controversial (to say the least) quarterback Deshaun Watson. Just a third-round pick for Matty Ice seems crazy, and Indy was able to get two third-rounders in return for former starter Carson Wentz. It was essentially trading Carson Wentz for Matt Ryan and a third-round pick—we’ll see what happens, but it looks like a total steal for a team looking to compete for a Super Bowl right now.

 

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Everyone knew that priority No. 1 for the Bengals this offseason was upgrading the offensive line. Cincinnati was very aggressive in doing so early in free agency, signing center Tad Karras and guard Alex Cappa—and then they took advantage of the Cowboys releasing right tackle La’el Collins due to cap reasons, signing the 28-year-old to a three-year deal. Next, I’d like to see the Bengals bring back guard Quinton Spain, who is clearly well liked by his teammates and helps set a tone for the squad. Also, while the Bengals lost tight end C.J. Uzomah to the Jets, they signed former first-rounder Hayden Hurst to help replace him. This has been a strong offseason for the reigning AFC champions.

 

Honorable Mention

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are as happy as anyone this offseason after Tom Brady’s retirement did not last long. The Buffalo Bills should arguably be the AFC favorites, and they added two-time Super Bowl champion pass rusher Von Miller to the mix. I think the Philadelphia Eagles made a great addition with hybrid defender Haason Reddick, and they have a real opportunity in front of them to have as good of an offseason as anyone if they can hit on their draft picks (including three first-rounders). The Miami Dolphins might have the fastest offense in league history. I liked the hiring of Doug Pederson by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but we’ll see how their shockingly aggressive free-agent approach works out.

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