Ranking the 5 Worst Moves of the 2022 NFL OffseasonApril 12, 2022
Ranking the 5 Worst Moves of the 2022 NFL Offseason
The 2022 NFL offseason has been filled with all types of transactions.
Some have been considered shrewd, such as budget signings for impact free agents and trades that will help a team reach its goals during the upcoming campaign.
Others were much more concerning. Several clubs misjudged a positional market and ended up overpaying for replaceable players or were fleeced in trades that could set their organizations back.
This article will focus on the latter, highlighting the worst moves made since the new league year began March 16.
These have been ranked in ascending order based on projected costs—both short- and long-term, including team-building ramifications in terms of draft capital and finances.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers Sign Mitchell Trubisky
The Pittsburgh Steelers began the offseason desperate for a starting quarterback after the retirement of longtime signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger.
Unfortunately, that led to the club making a rather questionable signing. The Steelers pinned their hopes of contending in 2022 on Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in 2017 who flamed out with the Chicago Bears and spent last season riding the pine for the Buffalo Bills.
Although Pittsburgh's brass didn't dish out big money for Trubisky's services—he's averaging just over $7 million per year over the next two seasons—the franchise's wagon is now effectively hitched to a signal-caller.
Trubisky went 29-21 as a starter over his four seasons in Chicago. He completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 10,652 yards and 64 touchdowns against 38 interceptions during that span, making one Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2018.
While former Bears head coach Matt Nagy received some flak for his usage of the quarterback, Pro Football Focus' Kevin Cole found that Trubisky graded well below average on the majority of his career dropbacks.
Even in 2018, when he led Chicago to the playoffs, Trubisky only rated No. 11 in expected points added per play, and his 63.0 PFF grade ranked 27th at the position.
There's a chance that learning behind quarterback Josh Allen and studying under Brian Daboll for a year has revitalized Trubisky's career, but it's more likely that the 27-year-old is the same flawed signal-caller who couldn't elevate a stacked Bears team to anything more than a fringe playoff contender.
4. New England Patriots Deal Shaq Mason for Day 3 Pick
The New England Patriots seem to be making a habit out of helping former quarterback Tom Brady.
Two years after trading future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fourth-round pick, head coach Bill Belichick opted to give away one of the league's top offensive linemen in a cap-saving move.
The Patriots accepted a meager fifth-round pick for Shaq Mason, a bargain-bin price for a guard who earned a sterling 88.3 grade at PFF and rated as the site's 35th-best player of the 2021 campaign.
Mason, fresh off a season in which he allowed just 16 pressures and one sack on 589 pass-blocking snaps while protecting rookie quarterback Mac Jones, is now joining a Bucs team that direly needed to boost Brady's protection following Alex Cappa's departure in free agency and the retirement of Ali Marpet.
New England may have received far more for Mason if it had shopped the 28-year-old a bit longer.
Although the Patriots have long made a habit out of letting talented players walk or dealing them before overpaying on big contracts, it seems they let this guard go a little too early.
Mason still has two years left on the five-year, $45 million contract he signed prior to the 2018 campaign. He's owed just $15.9 million for the next two seasons, a budget price for a guard of his caliber.
While Brady is obviously happy about the trade, fans in New England are left hoping their team can fill the major void left by this trade in the upcoming draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars Give Christian Kirk a Massive Contract
The Jacksonville Jaguars invested the No. 1 overall pick into a franchise quarterback last year. After a rough start to Trevor Lawrence's career, it was clear the team needed to provide the signal-caller with more weapons in Year 2.
That line of thinking led the team to give a four-year, $72 million deal to a receiver. Unfortunately, the wideout who cashed in that massive payday is Christian Kirk.
That's an absurdly high cost for a four-year veteran who has yet to post a 1,000-yard receiving season or catch 80 balls in a single year.
While Kirk is coming off arguably his best performance as a pro in 2021—he reeled in 77 of his 103 targets for 982 yards and five scores while playing in a crowded Arizona Cardinals receiving corps—he's now making top-tier money.
The deal Kirk signed, which pays him an average of $18 million in base salary, is far greater than the $11.8 million AAV that Spotrac initially projected the wideout to earn on his next contract.
It's also more than fellow 2022 free-agent wideouts Allen Robinson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Russell Gage and DJ Chark Jr. each earned from their respective teams.
Kirk's AAV ties him with Kenny Golladay for the 12th-highest mark at his position and puts him ahead of Pro Bowlers like Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans, Adam Thielen and even reigning Triple Crown winner Cooper Kupp.
An argument can be made that Jacksonville needs to pay a premium to court free agents given the franchise's sparse history of success, but Kirk still netted far more than he likely would have earned from other organizations.
This decision could come back to haunt the Jags when they need financial flexibility in the coming seasons.
2. Dallas Cowboys Botch Multiple Moves
The Dallas Cowboys are having what may be the worst offseason of any team.
They appear to be poised for a regression following their resurgent 12-5 campaign thanks to the losses of key contributors in Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, La'el Collins, Cedrick Wilson Jr. and Connor Williams.
Facing a cap crunch, the team was on the verge of outright cutting Cooper before accepting a meager fifth-round pick and slightly upgrading its sixth-rounder in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.
Cooper is still just 27 years old and has been one of the game's more talented receivers when healthy, but he was due $20 million for the upcoming campaign. That figure didn't line up with his production, according to team owner Jerry Jones.
Those cap issues also led to the Cowboys releasing Collins, the team's starting right tackle since 2017. Although injuries and a suspension have limited his availability, the 28-year-old earned a commendable 82.0 grade at PFF in 2021 and proved he was still an asset after missing the entire 2020 campaign.
Dallas and Gregory agreed to a new deal in principle but the team ultimately failed to earn the edge-rusher's signature. The 29-year-old reportedly balked after the Cowboys inserted their standard salary forfeiture clause into the offer, prompting Gregory to take his talents to the Denver Broncos at the last minute.
Although the Cowboys did spend some money this offseason, their biggest splash was merely an extension for Michael Gallup. The wideout inked a five-year, $62.5 million deal after playing in just nine games and suffering a season-ending ACL tear last year.
Dallas could remain a contender in 2022, but the team will likely need to hit on several of its nine selections in the upcoming draft to have a chance at a Super Bowl.
1. Washington Commanders Overpay for Carson Wentz
The Washington Commanders have long coveted a franchise quarterback.
Despite this, the team hasn't been able to secure one through the draft and may have set itself back even further with one of the worst moves of the 2022 offseason.
The Commanders made the highly questionable decision to go all-in on Carson Wentz. They traded the No. 73 overall pick, a conditional 2023 third-round pick and swapped second-rounders—moving back from No. 42 to 47—to acquire the veteran signal-caller from the Indianapolis Colts.
That shows just how badly the Commanders misjudged the quarterback market.
The Colts were able to replace Wentz with a more consistent signal-caller in Matt Ryan for only a third-round pick.
Other comparable, or even outright better, quarterbacks to Wentz were still available.
The team could have tried to acquire San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, an obvious trade target going into the offseason after the team drafted Trey Lance at No. 3 in 2021.
San Francisco may have accepted a similar deal to the one the Commanders offered for Wentz, which would have provided Washington with a player who led his squad to the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl in his last two healthy seasons.
Washington also had the option of pursuing a veteran free agent, retaining critical draft capital in the process.
Making a run at someone like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston—who was performing admirably before his shoulder injury and earned a better PFF grade than Wentz last year—to serve as a bridge quarterback would have been more cost-effective.
Regardless, the Commanders are now stuck with the QB who flamed out with the Philadelphia Eagles and Colts in back-to-back seasons and has a $28.3 million cap hit in 2022.
It is unlikely he will solve this team's woes under center, and it would hardly be a surprise to find this team once again looking for a new starter going into the 2023 offseason.