• Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown dominated offseason headlines after being traded, and now Week 1 is a chance for each to show how they fit in their new offenses.
• A woeful Cincinnati Bengals offensive line held the team back in 2021, but La'el Collins represents a massive upgrade at right tackle — one that could enable QB Joe Burrow and RB Joe Mixon.
• A number of veteran quarterbacks will debut with new teams in Week 1, including Baker Mayfield, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson.
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The team-building portion of the NFL offseason is fun, but it’s all theoretical until we see what everything looks like on the field.
Star players shifted around throughout the league this offseason, and some of most prominent veteran names will be pulling on a new jersey this week for regular season action. Here are some of the biggest new addition debuts to be excited about for Week 1.
EDGE Von Miller, Buffalo Bills
Miller showed last season that he still has gas in the tank on his way to a championship with the Los Angeles Rams. Miller tallied 22 pressures in four playoff games alone, only 12 fewer than what fellow edge defender Gregory Rousseau managed all season, including the playoffs, for Buffalo. Miller is the best edge rusher of his generation and a proven mentor to young players, as well as a leader in the locker room. This is a move that could have more far-reaching implications than simply the impact he brings to the defense.
The best receiver in the NFL has a new home this season. Adams leads all receivers in PFF grade over the past two years (94.0) as well as yards per route run (2.88) and touchdowns (29). Only Justin Jefferson has more explosive plays to his name over that time. Adams is a peerless route runner and now teams back up with his college quarterback to see if they can recapture the same magic from their Fresno State days.
If Davante Adams is the best receiver in the league, Hill is the most feared. His unique combination of speed and short-area quickness makes him a problem for defenses on every snap, and he changes how teams line up more than any other receiver. Hill now gets the chance to show what he can do in a new offense without Patrick Mahomes throwing him the football.
Miami made investments and improvements across the board this offseason in an attempt to get Tua Tagovailoa on the right track, and none was more important than signing Armstead to play left tackle. Last season, Liam Eichenberg allowed 62 total pressures — including nine sacks — and was called for 10 penalties. Armstead has never allowed more than 25 pressures in a single season and has 33 penalties across his nine-year career. He has seven straight seasons with a PFF pass-blocking grade of at least 83.2 and is one of the best left tackles in football.
The Eagles have thrown a lot of draft capital at the wide receiver position in recent seasons, but the young players have all failed thus far to emerge as No. 1 stars. Brown should change that. He has shown to be an elite receiver against the most difficult coverages, particularly press coverage, and brings a physical tool set that was absent from the receiving corps before his arrival. Brown has the chance to improve everything about the Eagles' offense this season.
The Bengals made the Super Bowl last season despite a problematic offensive line that got worse as the campaign wore on. Their offseason was about ensuring that the line wouldn’t be a limiting factor going forward, and the biggest impact signing of the three linemen is La’el Collins at right tackle. In his past two healthy seasons, Collins earned PFF run-blocking grades of at least 89.4 and allowed just two sacks in each year. He will make life easier for quarterback Joe Burrow, but also for Joe Mixon on the ground.
It’s not the new quarterback the Browns were wanting to start in 2022, but Brissett is the top guy in Cleveland for 11 weeks due to Deshaun Watson’s suspension. Brissett’s career baseline of play is not high — his three seasons of 200 or more dropbacks have produced PFF grades of 62.4, 59.2 and 76.3 — but the Browns have an offense better suited than most to protect a limited quarterback and shift the focus elsewhere. This will be the first glimpse at how viable that will be until Watson is back in the fold.
EDGE Jerry Hughes, Houston Texans
Houston has been struggling to find pass-rush pressure for some time, and though he is reaching the latter stages of his NFL career, Hughes can still bring heat off the edge. He has registered at least 50 pressures in eight of the past nine seasons, with the one exception a 49-pressure year in 2017. Hughes has recorded 80.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grades in three of the past four seasons. He should guarantee a level of pressure that the Texans haven’t been able to rely on in a while.
Trubisky was named the team’s starter, but rookie Kenny Pickett showed in the preseason that he isn’t far away from playing. Pickett being named the No. 2 quarterback as opposed to the third string is significant because it means he will be dressed on game day and the first man off the bench if needed. Week 1 will give us the first indication of how long Trubisky can keep Pickett on the bench, or whether he will play his way out of the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Kirk signing a big-money deal in Jacksonville was one of the most eyebrow-raising moves of the offseason. Coming off a career year, Kirk still gained only 1.8 yards per route run last season (29th) and barely scraped over 1,000 receiving yards. He will now be tasked with helping raise the level of a Jaguars offense that was disastrous last season, hoping to prove he can consistently play at the best level we have seen from him.
It seemed like the Atlanta Falcons had made Ryan untradeable before they flirted with acquiring Deshaun Watson, and then they decided to press the reset button on the franchise after all. The Colts were so keen to get rid of Carson Wentz that they were happy to get any kind of upgrade at quarterback, and so now Ryan gets a chance to prove he still has mileage left this year. Ryan’s PFF grade ranked 16th last season, but he had five separate games with an 83.0-plus grade.
Denver’s roster has looked a quarterback away from contending for a couple of seasons now, and while it was assumed Aaron Rodgers would be that quarterback, it ended up being Russell Wilson. Now the team has to show it can build the offense around Wilson that the Seahawks were constantly criticized for failing to construct. Wilson posted the worst PFF grade of his career last season in an injury-marred campaign but is only a year removed from back-to-back seasons of 90.0-plus grades. No quarterback has made more big-time throws than Wilson since he entered the league.
Mack at his peak was arguably the best edge defender in the league, but last season was an injury-shortened shadow of that player. If Mack bounces back to the player he was before, he gives the Chargers a physical presence opposite Joey Bosa and another elite pass-rusher. Mack notched at least 59 pressures for six straight seasons prior to last year and is still only 31 years old.
Mayfield playing the Cleveland Browns on opening weekend is one of the most compelling storylines of the new season. He resurrected a Browns franchise that was a disaster before his arrival and gutted his way through last season despite playing most of the year with a bad injury. Mayfield has the third-best big-time throw rate since entering the league and all the motivation in the world to unleash against the team that discarded him.
It’s impossible to overstate how bad Robinson’s quarterback situation has been dating all the way back to his high school career. Matthew Stafford represents his best signal-caller by an order of magnitude, and so there is a very reasonable expectation that we see the best version of Robinson of his entire football career. Considering the reports were extremely positive out of training camp, Robinson should be on his way to a banner season under head coach Sean McVay.