NFL News & Analysis

2022 NFL Free Agency: Six moves that make sense in the coming days

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II (12) makes a catch in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Joker would be proud of how chaotic the NFL landscape has been over the last two weeks.

Russell Wilson is a Denver Bronco, Tom Brady unretired, Aaron Rodgers is returning to the Green Bay Packers, the Washington Commanders traded for Carson Wentz, Los Angeles Chargers are all-in, the Pittsburgh Steelers have tabbed Mitchell Trubisky as their possible starting quarterback and so much more.

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There is still more chaos to come, as several of PFF’s top-rated free agents are still available while quarterback trades are still possible down the line. Below are some potential moves that make the most sense in the coming days.

MIAMI DOLPHINS SIGN T TERRON ARMSTEAD

Miami’s tackles in 2021 combined for a 50.8 PFF grade — the lowest among all 32 tackle rooms by over eight grading points. The team allowed an NFL-high 41% pressure rate. Put simply, the offensive line was a mess in 2021, and it has the cash to shell out for Armstead — one of the NFL’s best tackles. 

The long-time New Orleans Saints left tackle is a technician as a pass-blocker, producing a top-10 pass-blocking grade among qualifying tackles in each of the past seven seasons. He’s allowed a pressure on a mere 3.7% of his pass-blocking reps over that span, tying with reigning Super Bowl champion Andrew Whitworth for the best among NFL tackles.

New head coach Mike McDaniel — coming from the San Francisco 49ers — is going to want a version of Trent Williams in his wide-zone offense and could look toward Armstead to be that guy. If Deshaun Watson gets traded to the New Orleans Saints though, this move would likely be squashed, as Armstead would likely stay with his team if that’s the case. However, until then, Miami is a prime candidate.

DALLAS COWBOYS CUT T LA’EL COLLINS, CINCINNATI BENGALS PICK HIM UP

Cincinnati made massive upgrades to the interior offensive line early in free agency by signing Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. Cappa ranked ninth among right guards in PFF grade while Karras was top-three among all guards in true pass set grade. Still, work is to be done at right tackle. The Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins reported earlier this week that a Collins trade was “doubtful,” and the most likely scenario was a release.

If that’s the case, the Bengals should and likely will be suitors. While he may not be wanted on the Cowboys, Collins is capable of producing at a top-10 level relative to other right tackles. In fact, he ranks fifth among all right tackles in PFF grade since 2019 (missed all of 2020 but played 1,743 snaps in 2019 and 2021). If the group brings in Collins to pair with Cappa and Karras, Cincinnati would have one of the most improved units in the league after ranking 30th in OL pass-blocking grade last season.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS TRADE FOR QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO

All of Indianapolis is growing impatient with the Colts’ quiet start to the legal tampering period, but it could be for good reason. With other teams finding their quarterback for 2022 — like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay — Garoppolo's trade market is dropping. The Colts have been interested in the San Francisco quarterback, and his asking price is getting weaker the longer they wait. After the Watson domino falls, a Garoppolo trade could be next, and the Colts are among the top suitors. However, if Watson goes to either Cleveland or Atlanta, the Colts' interest in Garoppolo to go to zero due to Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan‘s availability. 

Despite producing a whopping 30 turnover-worthy plays versus just 12 big-time throws last season, Garoppolo managed to finish 18th of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in passing grade. This is a testament to his bad decision-making and lack of arm talent, but also his ability to throw a catchable ball. Garoppolo ranked sixth in the NFL in both negatively graded throw rate and uncatchable pass rate on non-screen passes (19.2%) last season. He also ranked second in positively graded throw rate, which is mostly due to Kyle Shanahan’s offense putting him in favorable positions. 


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Indianapolis runs a play-action-centric offense with a Jonathan Taylor-led rushing attack, which is a system Garoppolo needs to be successful if he leaves San Francisco. As we have seen over the last few years with the 49ers, Garoppolo is a limited passer and is not going to carry the team, but with the right supporting cast, he can get one to the postseason — something Wentz couldn’t do.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SIGN WR ALLEN ROBINSON II

New England struck gold in the 2021 NFL Draft by landing quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick, as he finished his rookie campaign with an 80.4 PFF grade that ranked 12th among quarterbacks. New England now needs to bolster its wide receiver room, as the Pats’ outside receivers ranked 21st among the 32 NFL teams in receiving grade last season. Robinson can be that true “X” receiver.

In his four years with the Chicago Bears, Robinson has received a top-15 grad among NFL receivers, as he has been the definition of reliable over that span despite suboptimal quarterback play. Since 2018, he ranks fourth among wide receivers in drop rate (2.5%) and tied for 10th in total inaccurate receptions (72). Going to Jones would solve the inaccurate quarterback problem that Robinson has endured since his high school days. 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS SIGN LB BOBBY WAGNER

The Chargers are in a Super Bowl mindset this offseason with quarterback Justin Herbert on his rookie contract. After re-signing wide receiver Mike Williams, trading for edge defender Khalil Mack, and signing cornerback J.C. Jackson and interior defender Sebastian Joseph-Day, the team could look to bring in star off-ball linebacker Bobby Wagner — who is from Los Angeles.

While the six-time first-team All-Pro linebacker isn’t in his prime at 31 years old, he’s still a top-10 player at the position. Wagner was the 2021 season's seventh-most valuable off-ball linebacker, making it the sixth-straight season he cracked the top-10 at the position. He missed only one game last year and played the fourth-most snaps among linebackers at 1,129 while earning a 71.8 PFF grade. Wagner may not be a certified elite player like he once was, but he is still a high-level starter who would be a major addition to any Super Bowl contender’s defense.

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BUFFALO BILLS SIGN EDGE CHANDLER JONES

Buffalo is in the market for a veteran edge defender with long-time Bill Jerry Hughes still on the open market. New York native and Syracuse alum Jones could be on their radar to fill that void in the short-term while their young talent keeps getting groomed. Jones took a significant step back in the way of run defense this past season, but he was still a quality pass-rusher. The 32-year-old edge defender posted an 87.7 pass-rush grade, ranking ninth at the position.

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