NFL Teams That Will Regret the 2022 Offseason
The NFL offseason is a time for optimism. Big-name free-agent additions and high draft picks bring the potential for immediate hope.
However, not every decision is a great one, and not every team can come out of the offseason as a winner.
Each franchise has made at least one regrettable decision during the 2022 offseason. Some have made more than one.
Here, we're going to dive into the latter group and examine six teams that will come to regret their overall bodies of work over the past few months.
Whether due to poor decision-making, bad financial planning, missed opportunities or other franchise-specific factors, these teams are going to look back a year or two from now and wonder why they didn't take different avenues in 2022.
Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
The Chicago Bears' recent trade for wide receiver N'Keal Harry is the sort of savvy, low-risk move that could pay off for new general manager Ryan Poles.
Unfortunately for second-year quarterback Justin Fields, Harry isn't a proven receiver who's guaranteed to help him. That has been the main story of the Bears' offseason, as they have done almost nothing to get Fields more help.
The Bears might not regret hiring head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. That duo could help turn the franchise around and aid Fields' development. Getsy comes over from the rival Green Bay Packers, where he served as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers.
However, the Bears is worse than the one Fields struggled with in 2021. Velus Jones Jr.
was a reach in the third round, and free-agent signing Byron Pringle isn't a
No. 1-caliber receiver who can replace Allen Robinson II.
Worst of all, Chicago did nothing to change its putrid offensive line, aside from losing James Daniels and bringing in underwhelming pieces like Lucas Patrick and Dakota Dozier. Fields was sacked 36 times in 12 games last season and was under pressure on 27.3 percent of his dropbacks.
The Bears desperately need to find out if Fields can be their long-coveted franchise quarterback, but they've done little to support him in his second season. Chicago also traded away premier pass-rusher Khalil Mack and lost a proven return specialist in Jakeem Grant.
The Bears are unlikely to win many games in 2022 or get an accurate read on what Fields can be as a pro. In other words, they'll likely look back on this offseason as the beginning of a wasted campaign.
New England Patriots
Trading N'Keal Harry was a solid move for the New England Patriots, as they at least got a 2024 seventh-rounder for a player who was otherwise unlikely to make the 2022 roster. However, that may go down as one of their best moves of the offseason.
We've become accustomed to seeing New England head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick make savvy decisions, but those have been few and far between this offseason. The Patriots dumped Harry, added wideout DeVante Parker in a trade, swapped out edge-rusher Chase Winovich for linebacker Mack Wilson and scooped up safety Jabril Peppers in free agency.
However, the Patriots also lost star cornerback J.C. Jackson in free agency without even making a concerted effort to retain him. They didn't apply the franchise tag or even make a firm contract offer, according to Harry.
"I guess I can't be that important to them," Jackson told Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston. "I know I am, but they're not showing me."
The Patriots also traded starting guard Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and old pal Tom Brady) for a fifth-round pick, have yet to re-sign defensive centerpiece Dont'a Hightower and made some reaches in April's draft.
New England drafted Chattanooga guard Cole Strange in the first round and wideout Tyquan Thornton in the second. Strange was the 98th-ranked prospect on the B/R Scouting Department's final big board, while Thornton was the 130th-ranked prospect.
The Strange selection came after New England traded down eight spots, passing on potential Jackson replacements like Kaiir Elam and Trent McDuffie.
The Patriots are unlikely to suddenly become irrelevant in the AFC East, and they did make the postseason in 2021. However, they got rolled in the playoffs, and instead of taking a step forward toward contention, they took several steps backward this offseason.
Instead of capitalizing on the momentum of Mac Jones' Pro Bowl rookie campaign, New England is going the wrong way.
The 2023 quarterback class—headlined by C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young—appears to be much stronger than the 2022 class, but the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't built to tank for a top prospect. They're unlikely to regret taking a chance on Kenny Pickett in Round 1.
What the Steelers will regret, though, is setting up Pickett for a slow start to his NFL career.
Pittsburgh parted with wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, along with guard Trai Turner. It drafted wideouts Calvin Austin III and George Pickens, but it did little to improve an offensive line that was problematic in 2021.
The Steelers surrendered 38 sacks last season while ranking 29th in both rushing yards and yards per carry. Adding Mason Cole and replacing Turner with James Daniels will not suddenly give the Steelers a top-flight unit.
Meanwhile, Austin and Pickens—like Pickett—will need time to develop into reliable players.
With an underwhelming line and a relatively inexperienced receiving corps, whomever starts under center for the Steelers in Week 1 will likely have a rough go of it. The fact that Pittsburgh did little to address the league's worst run defense aside from adding Myles Jack doesn't help the situation, either. Relying on a stout defense won't be an option.
This means we'll probably see Mitchell Trubisky or Mason Rudolph start at quarterback to open the season.
The Steelers had the opportunity to put better pieces around their quarterback this offseason. They still have $13.8 million in cap space. By failing to land players like Terron Armstead and La'el Collins, the Steelers have put themselves in a position where starting Pickett early on probably isn't best for his development.
Pickett will most likely be learning on the job in 2023, when quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson could be poised to dominate the division—assuming Jackson finally signs a long-term deal and Watson isn’t suspended after 24 women filed lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct (20 have been settled).
That puts a serious damper on Pittsburgh's chances of contending in the near future. The Steelers could be looking at a lost season with Trubisky in 2022 and another lost season with a still-developing Pickett in 2023.
San Francisco 49ers
In many ways, the San Francisco 49ers are where the Steelers could be in a year. San Francisco has a better roster—one that reached the NFC title game this past season—but it has only a rough idea of what to expect from second-year quarterback Trey Lance.
That is acceptable because the 49ers are highly unlikely to turn to Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback for another year. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero (h/t Yahoo Sports), Garoppolo is expected to be traded by the end of the month.
However, San Francisco will regret waiting this long to move Garoppolo.
The market for the 30-year-old, who is coming off of shoulder surgery, will be weak. Watson, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan were all traded early in the offseason, and the Carolina Panthers made their move for Baker Mayfield last week. San Francisco is now likely to get little if anything of value in return for its former starter.
The 49ers will also regret waiting to move on from star receiver Deebo Samuel, who remains without a new contract and is still looking to be dealt.
"Nothing else significant has happened behind the scenes between Samuel and the 49ers," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter in late June. "In fact, he hasn't officially rescinded his trade request as far as I've heard."
As is the case with Garoppolo, the time to maximize Samuels' trade value was before the draft, when San Francisco could have obtained pieces that would actually help this season. If the 49ers are adamant about keeping Samuel, they should have extended him sooner.
The going rate for receivers has skyrocketed this offseason, with middle-tier No. 1 receivers like Terry McLaurin getting $22-plus million annually. The 49ers now have no reasonable hope of signing Samuel to a team-friendly contract.
San Francisco also lost key pieces like offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, cornerback K'Waun Williams and guard Laken Tomlinson this offseason. However, the 49ers will regret their decision to play the waiting game with Garoppolo and Samuel more than anything else.
In the long run, the Seattle Seahawks may not regret trading quarterback Russell Wilson when they did. They got a terrific haul for Wilson—including Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, Drew Lock and two first-round picks—and while he won't openly admit it, the quarterback appears to have wanted out.
"Russell made it clear he wanted this change," franchise owner Jody Allen said in a statement (h/t Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic).
However, the Seahawks' lack of a succession plan will cause them to regret this offseason. They didn't draft a quarterback, didn't make a move for an experienced veteran and are currently eying a quarterback competition between Lock and Geno Smith.
Seattle's 2022 options are now down to Lock, Smith and perhaps making a play for Garoppolo. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Seahawks have done their "homework" on Garoppolo—though acquiring him would require the Niners to trade with a division rival.
The big problem here is that Seattle has no long-term Plan B for replacing Wilson. It can try tanking for a top 2023 prospect—with no guarantee of actually landing a high enough pick—and that's it. There is no signal-caller on the roster worth developing over the long haul.
In addition, Seattle took a scattershot approach to free agency. It allowed key contributors like Bobby Wagner, Duane Brown and Gerald Everett to walk while spending $24 million on oft-injured backup tight end Will Dissly.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks have yet to extend wideout DK Metcalf, one of the few young pieces on the roster who's worth building around long-term. As is the case with Deebo Samuel and the 49ers, waiting on a deal has put Metcalf's future in Seattle in question.
The Seahawks seem to be setting up for a rebuild, but they have followed no other discernible direction this offseason. With a middling roster and a 70-year-old head coach in Pete Carroll, they'll come to regret that sooner than later.
Because of this offseason, the Seahawks may be even more directionless in 2023.
If the Washington Commanders' plan was to sustain mediocrity, they nailed the 2022 offseason.
Washington was an also-ran in 2021 and is no better on paper than it was a year ago. The addition of rookie first-round receiver Jahan Dotson is nice, but the Commanders lost key contributors in Brandon Scherff, Matt Ioannidis and Ricky Seals-Jones.
The trade to acquire Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts—whom Washington overpaid for—might boost the offense some, but it won't make the Commanders contenders.
Last season, Wentz actively hurt Indianapolis' playoff chances by floundering late in the season. In must-win games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, Wentz produced 333 combined passing yards with two touchdowns and two turnovers.
The Commanders don't have a better supporting cast than the 2021 Colts, and they have an even more questionable line situation. Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell aren't permanent answers along the line. Receiver depth is still questionable after Terry McLaurin and Dotson, and tight end Logan Thomas carries serious injury concerns after landing on injured reserve twice (hamstring, knee) last season.
Wentz is likely to play just well enough to prevent Washington from nabbing one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class. The Commanders did spend a fifth-round pick on a developmental prospect in Sam Howell, but if they're taking the long-term approach, sticking with Taylor Heinicke and grooming Howell would have been the smarter option.
Trading for Wentz was a win-now move by a franchise that isn't ready to win now. Unless Howell somehow becomes a surprise star, the Commanders will enter the next few offseasons with a middle-of-the-road roster, no answer at quarterback and a lot of questions about why they did what they did in the 2022 offseason.