The Most Overlooked Additions of the 2022 NFL Offseason

Alex Ballentine

The Most Overlooked Additions of the 2022 NFL Offseason

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    AP Photo/Aaron Doster

    The 2022 NFL offseason was highlighted by major player movement, but it's often the additions that go overlooked that can make the biggest difference.

    For example, De'Vondre Campbell was an afterthought when he signed a one-year, $2 million contract last offseason. One All-Pro season later and the Packers didn't hesitate to lock him up to a five-year, $50 million pact before he became the top free-agent linebacker.

    This offseason will undoubtedly produce more players whose value is being overlooked. Based on the potential role, impact and how little fanfare their addition generated, these players are set up to make a bigger splash than the hype (or lack thereof) would suggest.

    Players are ranked from seven to one, with the top player being the most overlooked addition.

7. OT Bernhard Raimann, Indianapolis Colts

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    A trio of elite left tackle prospects were taken in the top 10 selections of the draft. Trevor Penning made it four in the top 20 when the Saints took him at 19.

    Many fans had probably stopped paying attention to the draft by the time the Indianapolis Colts took Bernhard Raimann with the 77th pick in the third round.

    When we look back on this in a year, it could be one of the biggest steals of the draft. The 6'6", 303-pound tackle was the 28th overall prospect on the B/R big board and received a grade of 8.0, signifying a year one starter on his scouting report.

    In other words, there's a strong chance the Colts were able to find a starter at a premium position in the third round. That's not something that happens often.

    Raimann is an athletic marvel. He earned a relative athletic score of 9.87 out of 10, making him the 17th-most athletic tackle prospect since 1987, per Kent Lee Platte of Pro Football Network.

    If the former tight end winds up beating out Matt Pryor for the left tackle job during the season, he will be one of the best picks in the draft.

6. CB Levi Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

    The Pittsburgh Steelers were faced with a decision this offseason: continue paying a 33-year-old Joe Haden to be a starting corner or try to find another solution.

    That alternative solution came in the form of Levi Wallace. With a two-year contract worth $8 million, it was pretty easy to miss the signing. But it's one of the best deals of the offseason.

    Wallace is only 27 year old, has 52 career starts and is coming from a team in Buffalo that has had recent success.

    He isn't a corner who is going to show up in the stat sheet often. He only has six interceptions in those 52 starts. He has been solid in coverage, though. Last season he gave up 5.8 yards per target and held quarterbacks to a passer rating of 72.6.

    Wallace does have a slight build at 6'0", 179 pounds and doesn't bring blazing speed to the table (4.6 40-yard dash). However, he found a way to be a productive starter across from Tre'Davious White.

    Even if he just continues to play at the level he did last season, he's a steal. He should provide tremendous bang for the buck as part of a trio of corners that will likely include Cam Sutton and Ahkello Witherspoon.

5. TE Hayden Hurst, Cincinnati Bengals

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    AP Photo/Jeff Dean

    The Cincinnati Bengals could once again have found a hidden gem in free agency.

    After watching C.J. Uzomah head to the New York Jets in free agency, tight end suddenly became a position of need. Fortunately, they were able to snag Hayden Hurst.

    Hurst might be one of the most unlucky players in the NFL. After the Ravens took him in the first round of the 2018 draft, he only caught 13 passes for 163 yards in his first season. By his second year, Mark Andrews had become a bona fide weapon.

    Then he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons, where he posted respectable numbers as the team's top tight end. He drew 88 targets and converted them into 56 catches for 571 yards and six touchdowns.

    His time as the top tight end was short. The Falcons had the opportunity to take a generational talent in Kyle Pitts in the 2021 draft, and Hurst was second fiddle once more.

    Hurst now gets an opportunity to show off his pass-catching chops. With defenses focusing on Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, he should have his best season to date.

    A signing that was barely a blip on the radar could wind up being an important one in one of the league's best passing attacks.

4. OT Morgan Moses, Baltimore Ravens

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    Finding reliable help at the tackle position is usually a difficult proposition. The Baltimore Ravens found this out last season when they attempted to replace Orlando Brown Jr. with Alejandro Villanueva.

    That's why there should have been dancing in the streets of Baltimore when the team signed Morgan Moses to a three-year, $15 million contract.

    Moses is 31 years old, but he hasn't shown signs of aging just yet. He has played in every game since 2015 and only allowed four sacks with three penalties last season, per PFF. That's a massive upgrade from the nine sacks allowed and 11 penalties Villanueva had while trying to switch to right tackle last season.

    What makes the Moses signing so valuable is just how well he fits in with the Ravens' scheme. Baltimore is still one of the truly run-heavy teams in the league, and Moses is an excellent run-blocker.

    The Ravens' ability to identify a good culture and scheme fit in Moses is likely to pay dividends even if the signing didn't make headlines.

3. OG Shaq Mason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The list of NFL players who were traded this offseason is long and has plenty of star power.

    If you were to name the top five players who were traded, the names of Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, A.J. Brown, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams would spring to mind.

    It would be forgivable to completely forget the Buccaneers' deal to bring on guard Shaq Mason. After all, they only sent a fifth-round pick for the seven-year vet.

    The move was huge for the Bucs for a few reasons. The first is that Mason is just a good player. He's started 98 games for the Patriots and was the fourth-ranked guard by PFF last season, giving up just one sack.

    Then there's how much it meant to the Bucs to be able to get a veteran, proven guard given the other events of the offseason. Ali Marpet chose to retire at 29 years old, and Alex Cappa bolted for Cincinnati in free agency.

    That could have left the Bucs scrambling to find two quality starters at a position that isn't always easy to fill in free agency. Instead, they pulled off the trade for Mason and addressed the left guard spot by drafting Luke Goedeke in the second round.

    The Bucs' Super Bowl hopes are bolstered by adding a veteran with a proven track record like Mason.

2. S Jordan Whitehead, New York Jets

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    The New York Jets took many great steps toward rebuilding a franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 2015. Signing Jordan Whitehead to a two-year, $14.5 million contract should be counted among them.

    The safety is 25 years old, is a highly productive player (73 tackles, five TFL, two interceptions and eight passes defended in 2021) and, most importantly, has been part of a turnaround once before.

    In Whitehead's first two seasons, the Bucs were 12-20. With Tom Brady and a stellar defense, the Bucs have gone 24-9 with a Super Bowl win over the last two seasons.

    Now, Whitehead brings that culture shift to New York.

    "He's constantly bringing people along," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said, per Jack Bell of the team's website. "He's a great communicator. He's as much as advertised coming from Tampa Bay. He improves what we do on the grass and in the locker room. It's huge."

    Typically, those kinds of comments are reserved for veterans in their 30s who are looking to earn some paychecks after playing for a contender. Whitehead is squarely in his prime and appears eager to prove that he wasn't just a product of the Bucs.

    That's huge for a team trying to change its culture.

1. CB D.J. Reed, New York Jets

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    AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File

    D.J. Reed's three-year, $33 million contract is worth a little more than most on this list. But it's still fair to say his signing was overlooked in comparison to the contracts given out to J.C. Jackson (five years, $82.5 million) or even Charvarius Ward (three years, $40.5 million).

    Of all the secondary players who were given contracts in excess of $10 million in annual average value, Reed might be the best bet to play above his compensation.

    While the attention is going to be on first-round pick Sauce Gardner in the secondary, Reed is coming off his best season. He was the eighth-highest-graded corner by PFF this past season and allowed a completion percentage of just 47.8 percent on his targets.

    There were factors that likely drove down Reed's market. He's an outside corner who is only 5'9", 188 pounds, and he's missed some time with a groin injury and torn pectoral over the last two seasons.

    However, those injuries haven't impacted his play when he's been on the field, and he's a good fit in Robert Saleh's Cover 3 defense.

    Reed's signing will elevate the team's defense, and it's the most overlooked addition of the offseason.


    Advanced stats via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac.

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