Regrets NFL Teams Should Have After 2022 OffseasonSeptember 2, 2022
Regrets NFL Teams Should Have After 2022 Offseason
Thee 53-man rosters are set, and the preseason is over. Soon, the season of optimism will end, too, as reality sets in across the NFL.
At this time of year, it's easy to explain away offseason decisions made by front offices—questionable as they may be. After all, no games have been played, so it's easy to imagine those moves working out as planned.
Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for regret to creep in. Once the season gets rolling, a lot of those decisions will start unraveling.
Here's a look at moves teams are going to wish they had back once things play out on the field.
Arizona Cardinals: Trading for WR Marquise Brown
The 2022 offseason shall forever be known as the year the receiver market went wild. Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, Davante Adams and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown were all involved in trades that netted at least a first-round pick for their former teams.
That's not to mention the absurd money that was handed out to those at the star level as well as players like Christian Kirk.
Of the trades that involved a star receiver and a first-round pick, the deal that sent Marquise Brown to Arizona is the least palatable.
For one, Brown last year was the only season in which he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, and it was also his least-efficient season. He needed 146 targets just to get to 1,008 yards and only found the end zone six times.
Granted, Lamar Jackson was injured for a significant portion of last season, but the best receivers are expected to carry the passing attack.
The receiver recently noted that he, "just felt like sometimes they (the Ravens) really didn't need me."
That doesn't really jive with the high volume of targets he saw within the offense. Arizona doesn't run a much different scheme, but it wasn't opportunity that was holding Brown back from becoming a truly elite No. 1 wide receiver.
The Cardinals are about to find that out, and they're backed into a corner to give him a big contract based on what they traded away for him.
Buffalo Bills: Not Signing a Veteran Cornerback in Free Agency
The Buffalo Bills are in a Super Bowl-or-bust season in 2022. They have one of the best rosters in football and a quarterback that is capable of winning the MVP in Josh Allen.
They are a team built for the future but also one that should be expecting results right now.
For a team with those kinds of expectations, the depth they have at cornerback is not ideal. Levi Wallace wasn't perfect, but he did make 17 starts, defend 10 passes and held opposing passers to a 72.6 rating when targeted.
The team let the veteran corner walk in free agency and didn't really add a commensurate veteran.
Instead, they drafted Kaiir Elam in the first round. The Florida corner has a lot of potential but asking him to come in and start for a Super Bowl contender is a big ask. Elam—and fellow rookie Christian Benford—have looked good in the preseason but the regular season is a new challenge entirely.
"Even though they're doing some good things now, when you get to the regular season, there's a big bullseye on a rookie corner's chest," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said, per Henry McKenna of Fox Sports.
That bullseye will be even bigger with Tre'Davious White starting the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning he will miss at least four games as he recovers from the ACL tear he suffered last season.
It's a potential problem for a team with few weaknesses otherwise.
Dallas Cowboys: Trading WR Amari Cooper for Next to Nothing
In a vacuum, there's no problem with the Cowboys trading away Amari Cooper. CeeDee Lamb is ready to be the undisputed WR1, and Cooper's onerous contract created financial difficulties.
The problem is they didn't get near enough return on investment, especially in light of what happened at the receiver position.
Cooper suffered a slight dip in production last season with 68 receptions, 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. However, a similar dip didn't keep the Titans from getting a first-round pick in exchange for A.J. Brown.
Granted, Brown is 25 and Cooper is 27, but that age disparity doesn't explain why the Cowboys settled for a fifth-round pick and a sixth-round pick swap from the Cleveland Browns.
Instead of retaining Cooper, the Cowboys settled for very little trade compensation and inked Michael Gallup to a five-year, $57.5 million contract. Gallup has just one 1,000 yard season, is a year younger than Cooper and is coming off an ACL injury.
The Cowboys should already regret this one. If Dak Prescott takes a step back because of the reduced talent in the receiver room, they will have even bigger regrets.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Overpaying WR Christian Kirk
There's something to be said for surrounding a young quarterback with weapons. The notion that the Jacksonville Jaguar had to be aggressive in giving Trevor Lawrence weapons makes sense.
But the contract they signed Christian Kirk to is a bridge too far.
The 2022 cap hit is fine. He's due $7.5 million and will likely lead the Jaguars in targets. That's an affordable price for a No. 1 wide receiver in your offense.
That number spikes to $21.5 million in Year 2, though. Given the $30.5 million in dead cap charges that would come with releasing him, there isn't a ton of wiggle room for a restructure without getting creative.
The real problem is that Kirk is getting all of the money with limited evidence he can be the kind of receiver worth that price tag. It isn't as though he's been short on opportunity, either. He was fourth in Player Profiler's target quality rating last season and still didn't crack 1,000 yards on more than 100 targets.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Trading for QB Jimmy Garoppolo
The Pittsburgh Steelers are not the kind of franchise that rebuilds. They have been one of the most consistently competitive teams in the league and haven't had a losing season since 2003.
That also happens to coincide with the last year they didn't have Ben Roethlisberger on the roster.
As the team prepares for a future without Big Ben, they will have to take one of two paths forward. They can either hope Mitch Trubisky can elevate his level of play after serving as a backup in Buffalo last season, or they'll have to put rookie Kenny Pickett behind an offensive line that ranks 30th in PFF's preseason ranks and hasn't done much prove that number wrong.
Neither of those is optimal, and there was a simple solution in front of them in Jimmy Garoppolo.
The expectation was that the Niners would trade the veteran quarterback before the season, but a deal never materialized. Now, he's returning to the Bay on a one-year restructured deal, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Garoppolo is not the long-term answer, and the Steelers were justified in taking Pickett in the first round. However, Jimmy G would've given them a viable starter this season. He ranked 13th in total QBR last season compared to Roethlisberger's finish of 25.
The Steelers could have had a similar transition to the one San Francisco is making in which Garoppolo takes the team to the playoffs before handing over the keys to the offense to Pickett in Year 2.
Seattle Seahawks: Rolling with Geno Smith and Drew Lock at Quarterback
The best you can say for naming Geno Smith your starting quarterback in 2022 is that it's going to put you in great position to land a franchise signal-caller in the 2023 draft.
While that mindset might work in the NBA where the hit rate on superstar prospects seems to be a bit higher, there's plenty of evidence that it doesn't always pan out in the NFL. For instance, the Cleveland Browns were a miserable 1-31 from 2017-2018 and got Baker Mayfield.
Four years later, they traded him to the Carolina Panthers for next to nothing and had one winning season to show for his time there.
Ironically, the Seahawks' best move might have been to trade for Mayfield. The price was low, and he would at least raise the team's floor by giving D.K. Metcalf a quarterback who can throw the ball downfield.
Mayfield was fifth in the league in intended air yards per attempt. Smith would have ranked around 30th if he had enough passing attempts to qualify.
That would have at least given them a chance to have a functional offense while developing talent. Even making a move for Jimmy Garoppolo would have made sense.
Instead, the Seahawks are purposely throwing their hands in the air and counting themselves out for 2022. If it doesn't result in drafting a franchise quarterback, it could wind up being a decision that sets them back for years.