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The conclusion of the 2022 draft closed another chapter of the NFL offseason. After the initial free agency frenzy slowed down, the veterans opted to watch the draft unfold before signing their own deals. This time frame we’re in right now is the final wave of free agency before the preseason cuts at the end of the summer.
Now is the perfect time for Super Bowl contenders to make a move. Most of the rosters are set, so we have a clear idea of the team’s needs and the salary-cap situation. Waiting to shore up the roster could be problematic if the contender doesn’t have adequate depth to withstand injury.
We have identified a movement that each of DraftKings’ The top seven Super Bowl favorites can do to take them to the top in 2022. Each of these teams has enough of a need in a spot or two to justify a move. However, most contenders face salary-cap limitations, so trading for a star isn’t feasible.
Let’s dig into a realistic move the top seven teams can make and break down why it could push the contender toward a Super Bowl ring.
Editor’s note: The Kansas City Chiefs-James Bradberry pairing was eliminated after the Philadelphia Eagles Announced Wednesday that they agreed to a one-year deal with the free-agent cornerback.
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The Super Bowl favorites have a nearly bulletproof roster. General manager Brandon Beane has done an excellent job acquiring talent on both sides of the ball. Head coach Sean McDermott and his staff have also done well to turn young talent into impactful starters.
The biggest concern on the roster is the lack of proven depth at cornerbacks. Slots specialists Taron Johnson and Siran Neal have that role secured, but the outside venue is a different situation. Tre’Davious White is coming off a torn ACL, and expecting 2022 first-round pick Kaiir Elam to be ready for stardom in his first year is unrealistic.
Adding a veteran who can bring versatility, composure and some ball-producing edge would be ideal, and former Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers star Joe Haden is a perfect fit for Buffalo’s needs.
Haden, 33, is coming off a successful five-year stint with Pittsburgh. However, he missed five games with a foot injury and failed to catch an interception for just the third season of his career last year. Still, a rotating role with Buffalo could prolong his career.
Haden is a running physical support and has thrived in Cover-2 and Cover 4-based schemes throughout his career. Buffalo varies the glances of him in the fourth highest rate but he provides a lot of help to his cornerbacks with two elite safeties. Pittsburgh had Minkah Fitzpatrick to help protect Haden on deep routes, but had a lackluster secondary.
He may not start when White returns to full capacity, but Haden provides much better depth than 2022 sixth-round pick Christian Benford.
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There is a unique balance of roster building strategies whenever a team is in win now mode. With Tom Brady returning to the Buccaneers after announcing his retirement, Tampa Bay either has to continue plugging holes with capable veterans or have great faith in recent draft picks. The two spots on the list that lack great depth after recent departures are tight end and defensive tackle. We have yet to see if Brady’s favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, will return or retire. The other key loss this offseason was tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Suh has enjoyed a long and productive career. At 35 years old and with a Super Bowl ring under her belt, her biggest motivation for playing right now might be a love of the game. According to Brad Stainbrook of 247Sports, Super Bowl contenders like the Bucs, Raiders and Browns are interested in Suh.
Returning to the Bucs makes a lot of sense, as he would re-enter a role that has seen him have 14.5 sacks and 112 tackles over the past three years. Tampa might also offer him less of a workload than in previous years since he selected Logan Hall in the second round of the 2022 draft.
Tampa would benefit from a veteran corps to the field with rookie Hall. The Bucs lack depth down the line, and linemate William Gholston will turn 31 this offseason.
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The Green Bay Packers lost a superstar receiver in Davante Adams and replaced him with a handful of additions. Veteran Sammy Watkins was a reasonably low-risk signing, and three receivers were drafted. Packers co-director of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan they acknowledged that they knew of their need for receivers to get into the draft.
Adding speed threats in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs may pay off, but there’s no guarantee considering their level of college competition. The Packers have one of the least tested depth charts in the NFL, and there’s no reason they should stop looking to help Aaron Rodgers.
There are still several intriguing receivers on the market, but each one comes with a concern. Instead of going after another injury-prone receiver like Will Fuller or Odell Beckham Jr., the 35-year-old Emmanuel Sanders makes a lot of sense. He has been consistently productive since his third season in the league, regardless of the game and the quarterback situation.
His 2021 season with the Bills continued that streak, as he averaged 14.9 receiving yards. His ability to win quickly off the line of scrimmage and cut sharply down the middle makes him perfect for an early passer like Rodgers. Sanders’ presence would allow young talent to take their time acclimating to the NFL.
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Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press
At this time last year, it seemed like Chicago Bears running back Robert Quinn had the worst contract in the NFL. He had turned 31 during the offseason and was coming off a two-sack season. With a salary cap of $11.3 million in 2021 and a salary cap of $17.1 million in 2022, Chicago was likely to keep the Albatross contract until next season.
A lot has changed in a calendar year. Quinn was a rare bright spot on the Bears as he put up 18.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 16 games. He played as well as ever.
Now, Quinn is a valuable option despite his $12.8 million base salary. He would be an incredible addition at this point in the offseason, as the free-agent market is full of pass-rushers clearly out of their prime. It only makes sense that the Los Angeles Rams would be the team to move a Day 2 asset for him considering his recent tendency to trade draft picks for veterans.
Quinn could deftly replace Von Miller, and with the unproven combination of Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins set to start against Leonard Floyd, the Rams should be concerned about his ability to complement Aaron Donald.
The bigger question is whether Los Angeles would be willing to restructure a deal or two to open up the room Quinn needs. With only $5 million available, the Rams could have enough room to absorb Quinn’s base salary by restructuring Donald’s contract.
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The number of quality, starting-caliber offensive linemen available is always in short supply. Decent starting tackles come quickly for big contracts. The difficulty of finding a competent edge protector has put a premium on the position for decades.
Somehow, though, veteran right tackle Bobby Massie is still on the market, and the Los Angeles Chargers are a perfect fit after not addressing the position this offseason.
He’s coming off a good season with Denver after spending five good years in Chicago previously. Massie’s massive frame allows him to comfortably control powerful runners trying to break through his chest. professional soccer focus he’s rated Massie below an overall mark of 70 only once in the last four years, making him a real value compared to what some teams are spending on a similar production run.
The negative is that Massie has missed 18 games in the last three years. He had missed just four in total from 2014 to 2018, but this could be a sign that his body is falling apart. Los Angeles has been bitten by snakes on the injury front for years, but this is such a critical need that the Chargers should consider signing him.
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Unless your name is Tom Brady, superstars always fade with age. It’s only a matter of time until Father Time robs even the most dedicated players of key aspects of athletics. No one would have thought that Julio Jones would be about to become journeyman so soon after his 2019 season that he had 99 receptions for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns.
But here we are after just two injury-shortened seasons. Now 33, Jones failed to impress in his only season in Tennessee before being released. He had 1,205 yards and four TDs in his last 19 games between 2020 and 2021.
It’s time to restart your career in a favorable scheme with a familiar face. Jones and San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan enjoyed great success in the two years he was at the helm in Atlanta. Between 2015 and 2016, Jones had 3,280 receiving yards and 219 receptions. He led the league in yards per game each season.
Expectations would be very different now that Jones is likely a power slot receiver rather than a matchup nightmare, regardless of the lineup. That still helps the 49ers, who don’t have proven depth behind star Deebo Samuel and developing young receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Adding a future Hall of Famer to that mix can only help his growth.
Jones’s wide sack radius and quick route traversal can also help Trey Lance transition to starting quarterback. Few receivers are as capable of contorting his body and catching tough catches as Jones has been throughout his career.