Throughout this offseason, each team was able to improve in many areas to get their rosters ready for the 2022 season. That said, not every team made all of the right moves, as they could have failed to address a position group or not been able to bring a key player back. Below, we will break down each NFL team’s biggest mistake from this past season.
New York Giants
Mistake: Failing to find a trade partner for James Bradberry
While this is not entirely on the new regime of the Giants, as they were put in this cap situation by the prior leadership, they do deserve some blame for how it ended in New York for Bradberry. With little cap room to maneuver, it was clear New York was going to be forced to move on from Bradberry. For a high-quality CB who is still a good player, there should have been a larger market, but there was not. In the end, they had to cut Bradberry which saved them money, but it stung a little extra when he ended up signing with their division rival Eagles.
Mistake: No addition of a veteran safety
The Eagles did many things right this offseason and are up there with the teams that had the best of them all. Although their roster is greatly built up, with many needs filled, their need at safety was ignored. With Anthony Harris and K’Von Wallace scheduled to be starters, an improvement there could have been expected, but it was not made through free agency or the draft.
Mistake: Letting Randy Gregory walk
The Cowboys’ defense took huge strides last year under Dan Quinn compared to years past and was a key reason why the team had such success in the regular season. Going into 2022, they will return a defense with a lot of talent, but it will be missing one of their premier pass rushers, as Randy Gregory elected to go to Denver as a part of a bidding war. Gregory had a career year in 2021 and will be greatly missed if rookie Sam Williams cannot pick up the slack.
Mistake: Not reaching an extension with Terry McLaurin
This is a common mistake among many of the teams that hit on day two wideouts from the 2019 draft, as star WR Terry McLaurin is due for an extension. He has, without a doubt, been Washington’s best player and performed very well despite poor QB play, so he deserves to be paid. This offseason drove the WR price way up and by not extending McLaurin earlier on, his price could have gotten even higher. In addition, he has been absent from OTAs over the contract dispute, as there must be some urgency to get it done before it becomes a distraction during the season.
Mistake: Not getting enough return in their first-round trade back
The Vikings and their new leadership made a lot of positive moves this offseason and added some key talent in the draft. That said, looking to improve through the rookie draft, they had many talented players on the board at 12 but elected to trade all the way back to 32. Trading back is usually a good idea, especially with the amount a team could get back by moving down 20 spots. However, by giving up picks 12 and 46, they got back just picks 32, 34, and 66, which are valuable picks but are not the type of all expected from such a trade down, as it is rather light. In terms of the F-S draft value chart, the Vikings won the deal but not by much, and according to the JJ model, the Vikings actually lost this trade by moving down.
Green Bay Packers
Mistake: Not being able to retain Davante Adams
While the front office did try to hold on to Adams, the relationship had been torn throughout the process, as Green Bay could no longer hold onto their All-Pro WR and had to trade him to the Raiders. While they were able to get younger and improve elsewhere thanks to the trade, stripping the back-to-back MVP of the best WR in football, while the team is in a crucial Super Bowl window, is concerning.
Mistake: Not doing enough to support Justin Fields
The new regime in place for the Bears did a good job clearing some poor contracts off the books and getting younger and cheaper. Then, they focused most of their draft capital on quality defensive players. While the roster could look improved, the offense certainly did not. With second year QB Justin Fields in the midst of developing, going into the season with a WR core of Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Velus Jones may give Fields some issues.
Mistake: Ignoring the LB position
The Lions have done many things right since the start of last season, garnering praise from many all around the league, as they have a strong sense of direction, and great leadership, and are establishing a strong culture. While they have significantly improved in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball, the LB position is still a bit of a concern. Currently, the starters are set to be Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes, who struggled as a rookie. They also brought back Jarrad Davis who did not play well with the Jets last season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mistake: Leaving the Left Guard Spot Uncertain
Initially the biggest mistake listed here would have been the fact that the Buccaneers didn’t properly replace Ndamukong Suh on the interior. But after signing Akiem Hicks on Tuesday, Tampa Bay appeared to agree with us there. Instead, their biggest mistake is having uncertainty at the left guard position, where Aaron Stinnie — who played just 91 offensive snaps last season — will compete with rookie Luke Goedeke for the starting spot. Assuring that a soon-to-be 45-year-old Tom Brady has a clean pocket is of utmost importance in Tampa, and the Buccaneers will be left starting an unproven player on the interior after having to make some tough financial decisions in free agency.
Mistake: Going into the season with a huge question mark at QB
It seems like every year now, Carolina is looking to find a long-term starter at QB, which they have failed to do over and over. The Sam Darnold experiment failed last year and with QBs all over the trade market and the sixth overall pick, it seemed obvious that Carolina would find a new QB. However, they did not and instead will go into the season with Sam Darnold and third-round pick Matt Corral, which is not exactly the strongest QB room.
Mistake: How they handled the Deshaun Watson/Matt Ryan situation
While the direction of Falcons’ long-time Franchise QB Matt Ryan and the rest of the roster were headed opposite ways, Ryan’s departure was surprising. It seemed as though the Falcons would go one more year and let Ryan retire as a Falcon, however, they started to show serious interest in Deshaun Watson, which pigeonholed them into trading their now disrespected franchise QB. It was a poor way to handle moving on from one of their all-time great players, especially when they did not end up with Watson anyways.
New Orleans Saints
Mistake: Poor draft trading
With the 18th pick headed into the offseason and a need for a QB, the Saints seemed like an obvious trade-up candidate. They flipped picks 18, 101, 237, and a 2023 first and second-round pick, for picks 16, 19, and 194, from the Eagles. While this trade could likely go either way according to which trade value chart is used, it is a clear loss for the Saints if the 2023 first rounder is not discounted for being a pick a year later. Then, on draft night, they traded picks 16, 98, and 120 for pick 11, again, surrendering a lot of draft capital, as the JJ chart showed that they won the trade but the F-S chart said that they lost the trade significantly by the difference of a second rounder. In the end, they would select WR Chris Olave. The over-aggression to move up and surrender future draft capital could come back to hurt the team down the line.
Los Angeles Rams
Mistake: Not adding depth, especially on the interior OL
The former Super Bowl champions look to be just as good, if not better heading into the 2022 season, as they added Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner. However, with Andrew Whitworth retiring and losing players like Austin Corbett and Sebastian Joseph-Day, their roster appears to be thinner. With little draft capital to add cheap players on rookie deals, Los Angeles has depth questions at many positions as they could be one injury away from a major hole on their team.
Mistake: Not making a move for a franchise QB
Seattle made headlines early this offseason when they traded away Russell Wilson. While they were able to get some draft picks and pieces in return, specifically Drew Lock, the QB position will not be the same without Wilson. The writing is likely on the wall for Lock, and the other QB on the roster, Geno Smith is not suited to be a starter in the league. No deal was made to get a veteran QB like Mayfield or Garoppolo, they did not sign any veteran backup with starter experience like Teddy Bridgewater, and passed on every rookie QB in the draft, some more than once, leaving them with a very weak QB room.
Mistake: Drafting a TE at pick 55
The Cardinals were active on the first night of the draft as they traded their pick for Hollywood Brown, which was important to both add another weapon and please their young QB. However, they still had holes in their roster, especially at CB, but elected to pick TE Trey McBride with their first pick at pick 55. While McBride is a talented player, the selection made little sense after extending Zach Ertz and also having Maxx Williams on the roster.
San Francisco 49ers
Mistake: Their handling of the QB situation
The 49ers gave so many key draft selections to select their future franchise QB in Trey Lance last year. He “redshirted” most of his rookie season as Jimmy Garoppolo held the starting duties even with trades circulating about him all offseason. They ended up going on a deep playoff run, but it seemed obvious Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco would be over and Trey Lance would become the starter. However, both QBs remain on the roster, which may hurt any value they plan to get back for Garoppolo or confirm that they made a poor choice in selecting the underdeveloped Lance.
New York Jets
Mistake: Failure to address the LB position
The New York Jets drastically improved their roster, through both the draft and free agency, as the 2022 season approaches. That said, due to their many holes, New York could not fix everything, as they failed to add any additional talent to their LB group, which struggled last year. Outside of CJ Mosely, the Jets will likely trot out either Jamien Sherwood or Quincy Williams. This was a mistake on the Jets’ part because of their current group and because they had the money and draft capital to find better players at the position.
Mistake: Von Miller’s contract
This was admittedly a hard one to decide on as the 33rd Team agreed that the Bills were able to fill most, if not all of their key needs throughout the offseason. However, the offseason was not perfect as Buffalo handed out a very significant contract to Von Miller. Miller has a Super Bowl pedigree and is just a different player in the playoffs, which will be critical for Buffalo’s Super Bowl hopes. The signing makes sense, but the contract amount and length are far too much for a 33-year-old pass rusher who has battled injuries. With the new contract, Miller will be the sixth highest-paid EDGE rusher in the league by APY and is under contract for six years, even if he may not make it through the whole contract.
Mistake: Handling of head coach turnover
Starting the offseason in a surprise move, Miami announced that they fired Brian Flores, who had been gaining praise around the league as a coach of the year candidate. Following the surprise firing, various stories came out about the reasons behind it, as controversy surrounded the Dolphins’ franchise. In terms of on-field play, Flores helped rally a lesser roster to an overachieving record in back-to-back years, just missing out on the playoffs in 2021. For Miami, their defense may take a step back, but the hope is that new HC Mike McDaniel can get the offense to a new level and also have the roster rally around him like they did with Flores
New England Patriots
Mistake: Not resolving the uncertainty of the offensive coaching staff
Mac Jones was undoubtedly the most impressive rookie QB from 2021 but it seems as though the Patriots have not made many moves to improve his situation moving forward, outside of the DeVante Parker trade. When former OC Josh McDaniels took the Raiders job, the Patriots’ offensive play-calling duties were left vacant and still are, officially. However, duties are rumored to have been filmed by former HC and special teams coordinator Joe Judge and former HC and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The uncertainty of a stable offensive staff to support Mac Jones could be concerning for his development in the upcoming season.
Mistake: Failing to trade Baker Mayfield
Going into 2021, it seemed as though Baker Mayfield was clearly due for a long extension and would be a Brown for a while. However, the season did not go as planned and Cleveland would trade for the controversial Deshaun Watson, who they made the richest QB of all time in terms of guaranteed money, which is a large risk in itself. Having picked up Mayfield’s fifth-year option, they now have both QBs on the roster, and since the draft has passed, they surrendered value that a trade could have added to their roster this year. With Mayfield still on the roster, he can be a good, but expensive backup, but also a distraction for a team trying to contend.
Mistake: Not agreeing to an extension with Jessie Bates III
The Bengals went on a magical run to the Super Bowl in 2021 and look to get back there in 2022. They got closer to reaching that goal this offseason as they revamped the entire OL which hampered them the most down the stretch. However, on the other side of the ball, the franchise-tagged their best defensive player Jessie Bates III, who has no plans to play under the tag. He wants to be paid and rightfully so, as he is integral to their success. Cincinnati will have until July 15th to try and reach an extension before the season begins and it becomes a distraction.
Mistake: Ignoring the tackle position
The Steelers’ roster could look drastically different moving forward, as once the stable team to beat in the AFC North, they now look like the clear weakest team. They still have a lot of talent on the roster, particularly the defense, but with a new QB in town, building up the OL is always important. Over the past two offseasons, many investments have been made on the interior of the OL in James Daniels, Kendrick Green, Mason Cole, and Kevin Dotson.
That said, the tackle spots are currently occupied by Chukwuma Okorafor, who was starting-caliber last year, and, on the other side, Dan Moore Jr, who struggled as a rookie. Not making a significant upgrade to either tackle spot could prove costly for whoever is playing QB for Pittsburgh next season.
Mistake: Failure to reach an extension with Lamar Jackson
After the Patrick Mahomes extension, then a year later, the Josh Allen extension, it seemed obvious that former MVP Lamar Jackson would be next. Lamar, who is negotiating his own contract, and the Ravens have not been able to reach an agreement just yet. Jackson will play on his fifth-year option this season, but for a team contending for the Super Bowl, contract talks with the franchise QB is an unneeded distraction headed into the season.
Mistake: Losing their best weapon in the passing game in AJ Brown
While the Titans were able to put together a very solid draft and acquire Robert Woods via trade, losing their young superstar in AJ Brown is still going to sting. Not only will his physical presence and talent be missed on the offense, as the Titans may look even more one-dimensional in 2022, but not being able to keep successful draft picks in-house could hurt Tennessee’s ability to acquire talent in the future.
Mistake: The handling of their head coaching search… again
After the firing of Bill O’Brien following the 2020 season, significant turmoil surrounded the Texans franchise for various reasons. Issues with ownership and the state of their roster made the job less attractive than many candidates had hoped, as their pool of head coaching options was slim. They ended up hiring David Culley who led the Texans to over-perform in 2021, which should have given him another chance in 2022, however he was fired.
While the roster looked much better going into 2022, the job was still not attractive to many candidates as they had just fired a coach after just one season. The market was still small, and they ended up with head coach Lovie Smith. Smith is well respected and may very well do a great job, but he is now on his third head coaching job in the NFL and was most recently the Texans DC and Illinois Head Coach. Who is to say that the Texans will not be looking for a third head coach for many years after next season? And who is to say that they will have a quality group of candidates if they fire another coach?
Mistake: Allowing both Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed to leave in free agency
The Colts made many positive moves this offseason and look ready to make a run as contenders in the AFC South. The offensive line is still undoubtedly strong but losing a starter and key interior depth piece in Glowinski and Reed could hurt an offense that is so dependent on their OL play, especially, now, with a less mobile QB.
Mistake: Undisciplined spending spree in free agency
The Jaguars have struggled in each of the last two seasons largely thanks to a roster that is devoid of talent. The clear solution was to improve through free agency and the draft, as those are the best ways of getting better quickly. However, Jacksonville may have gone a little overboard. Historically, teams who spend as significant of an amount in free agency as they did, rarely have success. Not to mention, many of the players that they gave big-time contracts to were not household names such as Christian Kirk, Foye Oluokun, Zay Jones, etc. These moves could pay dividends if Trevor Lawrence takes a big step forward, but if not, they may have just dug themselves a deeper hole.
Los Angeles Chargers
Mistake: Not adding another explosive weapon
The Chargers did a lot of good things this offseason, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, as they do not want to waste another productive and cheap year from Justin Herbert. Their time to compete for a Super Bowl is now so investments on defense in such a high-octane division make sense. However, to keep up with the other explosive weapons in the division, LA may have benefited more from adding another WR in addition to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Outside of those two, Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer are the next two wideouts.
Mistake: Not investing enough at LB
Denver clearly did a lot to bolster their team in 2022, as changes were made all over the place. No change was bigger than acquiring new QB Russell Wilson, as the Broncos will look a lot different in 2022. That said, they are still particularly thin at LB, as having another quality player out there would have been helpful to fortify the defensive interior. Josey Jewell has been a steady force on the interior when healthy, but the rest of the LB depth chart leaves something to be desired. When coupled with the reports that Baron Browning will be transitioning to a pass rushing role, the Broncos depth at LB feels thin.
Las Vegas Raiders
Mistake: Not bolstering the secondary even more
The weaknesses at this position group are mostly due to the drafting of the past regime, as Las Vegas did make improvements to the position, adding Rock Ya-Sin in a trade this offseason. However, the secondary is still light at both CB and S, as Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram are coming off injuries. Adding another piece at either S or CB would have been a good move for a front office that made many big moves this offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs
Mistake: Losing their best weapon in Tyreek Hill
While the Chiefs were able to get a lot back in the deal for Hill and revamp their wide receiver group and other positions on the team, Hill is still irreplaceable. He brings another dimension to the game that no other player does, so their offense will undoubtedly look different in 2022, as Patrick Mahomes will certainly be missing Hill. This is an extra concern considering the significant improvements made by all the teams in the AFC West.