2022 NFL Free Agents: Top Rumors, Speculation and Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2022

2022 NFL Free Agents: Top Rumors, Speculation and Predictions

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    With the 2021 NFL regular season coming to a close, the football world's attention has shifted to the playoffs and the offseason. While 14 teams will continue their chase for Super Bowl LVI, the rest of the league will wake up Monday to focus on the offseason.

    This year's free-agency cycle—scheduled to begin March 16—will play a huge role in the offseason. While not every team will go on a spending spree similar to those the New England Patriots or Cincinnati Bengals did this past offseason, some playoff rosters will inevitably be forged on the open market.

    With multiple big names slated to hit the open market, this year's foray into free agency should be exciting.

    Here you'll find a look at some of the most notable pending free agents, the latest buzz and some predictions for 2022 NFL free agency.

WR Davante Adams

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Green Bay Packers wideout Davante Adams is unquestionably one of the biggest names slated to hit the open market. A five-time Pro Bowler and one of the league's best downfield receiving threats, Adams will be coveted if he reaches the open market.

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, however, Adams may not break free from Green Bay:

    "Sources say after the Packers and Adams broke off big-money extension talks in late July, there have been no talks whatsoever about a new deal. Adams hasn't brought it up. Neither has Green Bay. All of which sets the stage for what several sources believe is an eventuality: The Packers give Adams the franchise tag following the season before attempting to work out a long-term deal."

    Adam's long-term future could hinge on whether Aaron Rodgers returns for another season with the Packers—he's under contract through 2023 but sparked trade speculation this past offseason—and how long he expects the quarterback to stick around.

    The receiver hasn't had much to say on the prospect of being tagged.

    "I'm not sure how to answer that safely, so we'll just cross that bridge when we get there," he said, per Matt Schneidman of The Athletic. "I like to be professional on here."

    With Green Bay perhaps unsure of the big picture for the 38-year-old Rodgers, a one-year placeholder deal for Adams would make plenty of sense.


    Prediction: Adams receives the franchise tag from Green Bay.

TE Evan Engram

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    New York Giants tight end Evan Engram isn't going to command the sort of attention that Adams will. However, he was a Pro Bowler in 2020 and has had topped the 500-yard mark in three of his five seasons with the New York Giants.

    While he might not be the headliner in a tight end pool that includes Zach Ertz and Rob Gronkowski, he will likely get a noteworthy contract on the open market.

    Just don't expect the Giants to overpay to keep Engram.

    "Don't be shocked if someone gives him $8 million per season," SNY's Ralph Vacchiano wrote. "And that won't be the Giants."

    At 27, Engram is still in his playing prime. Expect that to be a factor, as teams both rich in cap space and with younger signal-callers under center consider upgrading their pass-catching potency at the position.

    The Los Angeles Chargers could move on from Jared Cook in free agency. The Cincinnati Bengals may lose tight end C.J. Uzomah in March as well. Both teams rank in the top six of projected 2022 cap space.

    The Giants don't quite know what they have in quarterback Daniel Jones. However, they are projected to have only $2.8 million in cap space.


    Prediction: New York does not retain Engram.

RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Four-time All-Pro return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson has emerged as a tremendous all-around offensive threat this season. The 30-year-old receiver/returner added running back to his job description with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, and he's become one of their most reliable weapons.

    While Patterson hasn't been prolific down the stretch, he has totaled 607 rushing yards, 547 receiving yards and 11 combined touchdowns. Patterson has also returned 18 kickoffs.

    With the Falcons finding a way to rejuvenate Patterson's offensive career, the Tennessee product could see himself finishing his career in Atlanta.

    "I've been around five teams, eight offensive coordinators; being here, I feel like I'm at home," Patterson said, per Kris Rhim of the team's official website. "Why not just finish my career here?"

    The Falcons will have to consider Patterson's age and the fact that he hasn't topped 60 scrimmage yards in any of his past four games. However, Atlanta doesn't have many established weapons, aside from rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and wideout Calvin Ridley—who is still away from the team to focus on his mental health.

    Ridley might not receive the sort of long-term offer that a young franchise cornerstone might expect, but the Falcons should want him back for another year or two.


    Prediction: Patterson signs two-year deal with Atlanta.