The 2022 offseason is set to get underway, as teams prepare to rebuild, retool and reload. Some free agents hit the market at the right time, and now they’re set to make big money on the open market.
Now that Super Bowl LVI is behind us, we’re on to 2022. We’ve got an exciting NFL free agency approaching as big names hit the market, as well as some other hidden gems who may be lining up for big deals.
Whether it’s the depth of the running back group with guys like Leonard Fournette, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Rashaad Penny, or one of the biggest free agents ever in Davante Adams set to shatter all receiver deals, there are many topics to discuss as the fun begins with legal tampering on March 14.
So I’ve compiled a list of players who could be in line to break the bank at their respective positions. Let the games begin!
2022 NFL Free Agency: QB — Jameis Winston
All the 30 for 30 jokes were a treat after Winston’s 33-touchdown, 30-interception season in 2019. He would then attend Sean Payton and Drew Brees’ school for quarterbacking in New Orleans during the 2020 season, as he sat behind the latter in the final season of his Hall of Fame career.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner would show he was a viable pupil once his name was called in 2021. Winston got off to a fast start, going 5-2 as a starter with a 14-3, TD-to-INT ratio, going along with a career-high 102.8 passer rating and a 64.4 QBR (the second-best mark of his career). Unfortunately, his ’21 season was cut short due to ACL and MCL tears in Week 8 against his former Tampa Bay squad.
Although in a much smaller sample size, Jaboo also had career-best marks with TD% (8.7) and INT% (1.9). He also tallied a 70.4% on-target throw rate, the highest of any season for Winston over the last four seasons (according to Pro Football Reference). The 2015 No. 1 overall pick showed flashes of brilliance under Payton, but we may never know how that story could have ended, as the Saints head man is hanging up the whistle for the time being.
Despite his up-and-down career and recovering from knee surgery, Winston hits the market at the perfect time. In terms of fellow free agents, the former Pro Bowler’s got very little competition at the QB position. Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all seem to be on the same level as guys who may be low-end starters but could be better suited as high-level backups.
Winston appears to be the most physically talented of that bunch, but he also can fit in most schemes with his strong arm and subtle athleticism. There are a lot of QB needy teams he could choose, but one stands out to me.
Landing spot prediction: Indianapolis Colts
One of the best offensive minds in the game, Colts head coach Frank Reich has had success in Indy, totaling three winning seasons in four years for a 37-28 record. The biggest issue? Figuring out who’s lining up under center.
We saw the magic Reich could make with almost-destined-to-be Hall of Famer Andrew Luck, as he took home the Comeback Player of the Year award and lifted the Colts to an 11-5 season in 2018. Then he flipped the world on its axis in one of the most botched retirement announcements of all time.
Jacoby Brissett, Brain Hoyer, Phillip Rivers, and most recently Carson Wentz, all had a swing at it, but none of those guys have proven to be long-term options, let alone none of which have been the full-time starter for longer than a season. Seeing how well he played with a fellow QB whisperer in Payton, Reich could be the guy to get the most out of Winston if he’s brought into the fold.
Although he won’t get Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen money, Winston could be in line for a deal in the $20 million per year range, a huge upgrade from his $5.5 million salary in 2021. That $20 million range is right behind Derek Carr’s $25 million and above his Saints teammate Taysom Hill ($10 million).
At only 28 years old, I predict Winston gets a three-year deal worth $60 million, which would end after he turns 31.