By Jeffrey Mansour
With the kickoff of the new league year, the 2022 NFL free agency period has seen an unprecedented number of transactions involving many of the league’s top athletes. Record-breaking contracts have been signed and numerous superstars have found new teams to play for in a frenzy of league-wide moves.
Multiple quarterbacks considered to be some of the league’s best have begun a career on a new team this offseason. The Seattle Seahawks traded star passer Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos on March 8 in exchange for three players and a plethora of future draft selections, starting off a wild free agency period. The quarterback had spent all 10 of his pro years with Seattle, and although trade rumors had been circulating about the veteran for multiple seasons, few expected the sudden trade.
The move comes as part of an apparent rebuild from the Seahawks, who released longtime franchise linebacker Bobby Wagner shortly after trading Wilson. The team currently has Drew Lock, considered by most to be a disappointing NFL prospect, sitting atop their quarterback depth chart, but some feel the decision to rebuild is the right decision for the franchise.
“In all honesty, we were dwelling as a fringe first round exit team,” Mt. Hebron junior Zack Chaudhry, a fan of the team, concluded. “We had to just take a step back.”
Another major quarterback move comes from the Cleveland Browns, who acquired star quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans while giving five future draft picks, including three in the first round. Watson did not play in 2021, partially because of his desire to leave the Texans, but also due to his numerous sexual harassment accusations.
Trade talks for the talented passer were put on hold until he was found not guilty of any criminal activity on March 12. He was traded to the Browns less than a week later. Watson’s deal included the most guaranteed money in NFL history, with all $230 million of his contract fully guaranteed. This move, when paired with Cleveland’s acquisition of top wideout Amari Cooper, has made the team a favorite to make a deep playoff run next January.
Major events have also occurred surrounding NFL legends Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Rodgers, who has had multiple years of drama with the Green Bay Packers, signed a deal with the team that makes him the highest-paid player in league history at an average of $50.3 million per year, and locks him into Green Bay for the next three seasons. Brady, who retired on Feb. 1, announced he would return to the Buccaneers just six weeks later. His return likely contributed to Buccaneers free agents Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis and Leonard Fournette agreeing to rejoin the team.
“Brady returning keeps the Buccaneers as a top team in the league,” Mt. Hebron junior Brandon Fox said.
The 2022 free agency period has also seen top players at other positions make league-breaking moves. Longtime Packers receiver Davante Adams, considered by many to be the league’s top pass catcher, was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders after refusing to play on his franchise tag. The five-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year deal with the team worth over $140 million.
The big contract for Adams likely contributed to the trade of Kansas City Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill less than a week later. After contract talks stalled between Hill and Kansas City, the premier wideout was sent to the Miami Dolphins for three 2022 draft selections and two more in 2023.
An offseason like this may not be seen for many years in the NFL. The number of big-name players finding new teams and signing monstrous contracts has been astounding to the NFL world.
“I doubt anything can top this offseason,” Mt. Hebron junior Srijan Adhikary remarked.
It will be undoubtedly interesting to see how the exorbitant number of transactions this offseason will translate to each team’s performance when the 2022 regular season kicks off in September.