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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Omar Kelly: Which AFC team had the best off-season in 2022?

Rex Ryan made national headlines in the summer of 2016 for infamously announcing the Buffalo Bills team he coached as the champions of the NFL offseason.

There is no title, honor, or crown awarded to an NFL team that makes the best move through free agency, transactions, and the NFL Draft. But these teams have to be mindful of all the money, time and resources spent in overhauling their rosters and staff.

Let us honor outspoken Ryan, former New York Jets and Bills coach and current ESPN analyst, naming the NFL’s off-season champion distinction after him.

With training camps open at the end of the month, let’s take a look at the AFC teams that have improved the most over the past year, front office and head coach changes, free agent signings and defection, trades and their 2022 draft picks. ,

NFC teams are to follow.

1. Denver Broncos

The Broncos received a new general manager (George Patton), coach (Nathaniel Hackett), and quarterback (Russell Wilson) starting the same season. The Wilson trade cost Denver no major component of the offense other than tight end Noah Fant, and the Broncos added UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich with the 80th pick. Pass rusher Randy Gregory signed a five-year, $70 million deal, and will be complemented by former Oklahoma pass rusher Nick Bonito (64th pick). The Broncos also signed linebacker Josie Jewell, defensive tackle DJ Jones, and offensive linemen Billy Turner and Tom Compton, and they could all potentially start.

2. Buffalo Bill

There’s an arms race in the AFC, as the top teams push to get better, and the additions of Buffalo’s free agency – Von Miller, Tim Settle, Dachon Jones, Duke Johnson, and Roger Saffold – are helping the Bills take the next step. Should help, if they can all stay healthy. The former Gators standout Carey alum delivered a man-coverage cornerback to Buffalo, with press ability put out Tre’Davies White. The rookie running behind James Cook is a perfect fit for the outside-field concepts used by the Bills. Boise State’s Khaleel Shakir was one of the best slot receivers in this draft and should help ease Cole Beasley’s off-season release. The biggest loss could be to former offensive coordinator Brian Dabol, who was named coach of the Jets. But former Hurricane veteran Ken Dorsey, his understanding, is taking over.

3. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins were determined to give Tua Tagovailoa a better supporting cast this off-season, and the process began with the hiring of Mike McDaniel, who intends to set up a West Coast, run-based offense. Trading in Tyrek Hill and signing Cedric Wilson Jr. and leaving behind Chase Edmonds, Sonny Mitchell and Raheem Mostart gives Miami one of the best weapons arsenals in the AFC, especially since Mike Gesicki has been playing on franchise tag this season. are. The only major loss on offense was DeVante Parker, who was traded to the Patriots. Miami retained everyone except two less-contributing defenders from last year’s respectable unit, and signed Taron Armstead and Connor Williams to bolster the team’s troubled offensive line. Taking Williams to the center is the biggest gamble, but if it pays off, Miami’s line could be overwhelming.

4. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders signed Derek Carr to a lucrative three-year, $121.5 million extension, then traded for their college receiver, acquiring Davante Adams from the Packers. Las Vegas also signed receivers DeMarcus Robinson and tight end Jacob Hollister to provide some arms to new coach Josh McDaniel. The Raiders also signed pass rusher Chandler Jones to pair him with Max Crosby, who signed a four-year, $99 million extension and acquired cornerback Rock Ya-Sin for pass rusher Yannick Ngakou. The offensive line remains Las Vegas’ biggest question mark, and the only draftee who can help is former Memphis center Dylan Parham, a third-round pick.

5. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers acquired Khalil Mack from the Bears for their 2022 second-round selection and 2023 sixth-round selection, and signed Pro Bowl cornerback Jesse Jackson to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. The Chargers also signed tight end Gerald Everett, who has caught 175 passes for 1,867 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first five seasons, potentially to replace Jared Cook. The Chargers used the 2022 draft to bolster the offensive line, and added defensive backs in the secondary, addressing the team’s two glaring needs. Zion Johnson (No. 17) and Jamri Salier (No. 195) both have the talent to start.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh signed former Bears starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky to a two-year deal of $14.25 million and will have to compete with former Pitt standout Kenny Pickett, who was selected with the 20th pick. To improve the Steelers’ troubled offensive line, guard James Daniels and center Mason Cole were added. The Steelers also signed linebackers Miles Jack and Genard Avery and cornerback Levi Wallace. But receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the Chiefs and fellow wideout James Washington signed with the Cowboys. His departure could be said to fill receivers rookie George Pickens and Calvin Austin III.

7. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens made solid additions in free agency, signing defensive tackle Michael Pierce, offensive tackle Morgan Moses and safety Marcus Williams. And the re-signing of defensive lineman Kallis Campbell shouldn’t be overlooked. But losing receiver Marquis Brown, who was traded to the Cardinals, will present some challenges. Fortunately for the Ravens, the franchise can often rely on strong drafts to rebuild, and the addition of Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton (No. 14) and center Tyler Linderbaum (No. 25) fit like a glove. However, not signing a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson could upset the franchise. But there is still time.

8. New York Jets

The Jets added guard Laken Tomlinson and re-signed offensive tackles from Conor McDermott and Dan Feeney. CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin were signed on to upgrade the tight end position. And the Jets also added defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, linebacker Jacob Martin, cornerback DJ Reed and safari Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner. The Jets pulled out of the draft with five possible starts at cornerback Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner, receiver Garrett Wilson, pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II, tailback Bryce Hall and tight end Jeremy Ruckert. The Jets could become a factor at AFC East if Zach Wilson takes a big step forward.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals may have made the Super Bowl, but it was clear that Cincinnati’s offensive line needed to be rebuilt. The signing of La’el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras was a step in the right direction. The Bengals added defenders who could help tighten Lu Anarumo’s unit with their first three draft picks. Michigan safety Daxton Hill (No. 31), Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt and Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter should all be able to play key roles as rookies.

10. Cleveland Browns

If we take ethics out of the equation, Brown made one of the biggest and boldest moves in free agency, landing quarterback Deshan Watson in a trade with the Texans that ended Cleveland’s draft capital. Whether Watson will be suspended for 2022 is not certain, but the Browns have upgraded to quarterback. However, Jacobi Brissette could be the team’s 17-game 2022 starter. Amari Cooper replaced Jarvis Landry, who was released and signed with the Saints. Re-signing Jadeveon Clowney was huge, and the addition of cornerback Martin Emerson from Mississippi State (No. 68) and UAB pass rusher Alex Wright (No. 78) should help with the defense.

11. Indianapolis Colts

Cutting the bait on Carson Wentz, trading him to Washington after one season, makes sense for the franchise. But replacing him with 37-year-old Matt Ryan hasn’t done so because it’s a short-term solution, and has a limited upside. It makes sense for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to get Yannick Ngakoue from the Raiders. Indianapolis signed Stephen Gilmore as Ya-Sin’s replacement, so the loss was not huge. Neither was his draft, which featured a handful of heavy college players.

12. Houston Texans

Landing Deshan Watson for three first-round picks, third-round picks, and two fourth-round picks allows the Texans to start anew as the starting quarterback for Houston’s second season with Davis Mills. Marlon Mack was added to a backfield that already had Rex Birkhead and Royce Freeman, who were re-signed. When healthy, Mack is a force to be reckoned with. Linebacker Blake Cashman was acquired from the Jets for the 2023 sixth-round pick. The Texans potentially added five starters to the second draft class of this massively rebuilt. But there’s a long road ahead and changes are few that Lavi Smith set a winning record in his first season as Houston’s coach.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars made a lot of moves this season, but most were not greeted with praise. And that includes hiring Doug Pedersen. But if he can develop Trevor Lawrence as quarterback, he’ll be setting himself up for success in the long run. Christian Kirk was a head-scratcher for the four-year $72 million deal awarded to Jacksonville (guaranteed $37 million). And receiver Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram, other veterans who were added to the offense by Jacksonville, have had careers so far. The Jaguars lost three starting offensive linemen, but signed Pro Bowl guard Brandon Sheriff to a three-year, $49.5 million deal. And in the draft, Jacksonville added Travan Walker (first overall pick), Devin Lloyd (No. 27), Luke Fortner (No. 65) and Chad Muma (No. 70) and need to make an immediate start.

14. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City traded Tyreek Hill, an offensive center point, to the Dolphins for a handful of draft picks, in order to avoid paying the perennial Pro Bowl a salary of $30 million a year. Kansas City added receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Corey Coleman to free agency, and in the second round, Skye Moore was drawn to replenish a receivers unit that ended with trades and free agent defections. Is. But the biggest loser was Pro Bowl safety Tyron Matthews, who signed with the Saints after being replaced by Justin Reid, who signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract ($20.5 million guaranteed) with the Chiefs. If Reid isn’t on the move, Kansas City’s defense may take a step back.

15. Tennessee Titans

Pass rusher Harold Landry, center Ben Jones, cornerback Buster Schrein and tailback Dontrell Hilliard were re-signed, retaining some of the core of the 2021 team as the Titans’ biggest moves this offseason. It was a bold move to trade AJ Brown to Philadelphia and draft Treylon Burks with the 18th pick. Only time and Burke’s development will tell whether it works out in Tennessee’s favor. Adding Liberty quarterback Malik Willis in the third round (No. 86) was a good move because he has the tools to beat Ryan Tanhill as he learns the offense and adjusts to the pace of an NFL game. With Derrick Henry’s advantage increasing, the Titans only have a season or two before rebuilding.

16. New England Patriots

The Patriots lost more significant contributors than they did this off-season, and that includes former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel. Cornerback Malcolm Butler returned to New England after spending three seasons with the Titans. The Patriots acquired receiver DeVente Parker and linebacker Mack Wilson in off-season trades, and signed safety Jabril Peppers. New England re-signed offensive tackle Trent Brown, safety Devin McCourty, kicker Nick Folk and linebacker Jahn Bentley. But the Patriots’ roster is full of holes and question marks. Chattanooga offensive guard Cole Strange was picked in the first round, which was ridiculed by most draft analysts. The Patriots added Baylor’s fast bowler Tyquan Thornton with the 50th pick.

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