The NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, and most team’s roster-building processes are done. Currently, a few veteran free agents are available to help teams. In this article, five teams will be highlighted who got this offseason right. However, these teams are not necessarily the ones who made the biggest moves. Available finances and current talent put each in a unique situation. In turn, this leads to different types of offseason decisions. Here, teams that did the best with what they could is who will be discussed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The defending Super Bowl champions are returning every starter. For this to happen, they efficiently re-worked some cap hits of players already under contract. Earned contract extensions were agreed to with Tom Brady and Donovan Smith. Both players were scheduled to be free agents in 2022. These transactions helped create some room financially for right now. Plus, Cameron Brate also re-worked his contract, which created more salary-cap space.
The Buccaneers then placed the franchise tag on Chris Godwin, a talented and young wide receiver. Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David were two very important re-signs. Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, and Antonio Brown were all added last year and were re-signed. Later, three interior defensive linemen, Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, and Steve McLendon, were all re-signed. Lastly, kicker Ryan Succop re-signed on a three-year contract.
In addition, the team signed Giovani Bernard after the Cincinnati Bengals released him. Bernard should work well with Brady as a receiving back. By re-signing their own and adding Bernard, they were able to draft for the future. Thus, they drafted Joe Tryon, an edge defender with lots of upsides due to his exciting physical traits. This enables the Buccaneers with a replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul in the future.
The next three selections were Kyle Trask, Robert Hainsey, and Jaelon Darden. Trask will have the opportunity to learn from Brady. Hainsey can backup 2022 free agents Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa as a rookie. In a year, Hainsey could be ready to start and is currently a part of a great group. At the same time, Darden joins an already deep receiver group and brings slot receiver ability for Brady.
Heading into this offseason, it was important for the Bills to re-sign their own. As a result of their recent success, it was essential to keep the team intact. Unlike their aggressive free-agent approach the last two years, the Bills had a successful offseason. Like the Buccaneers, the Bills found a way to make major re-signings.
Releasing John Brown and Quinton Jefferson were certainly hard transactions to make. However, the Bills had enough depth at both of those position groups to make those moves. This led to salary cap space being created to re-sign Matt Milano, Daryl Williams, and Jon Feliciano before free agency. This is something general manager Brandon Beane deserves a lot of credit for. It also says a lot about the Bills’ culture with head coach Sean McDermott and Beane. Milano, Williams, and Feliciano could have had big markets this offseason. But, they opted to re-sign.
In free agency, the big signing was Emmanuel Sanders, who can help fill Brown’s role. A few other good additions were Efe Obada, Matt Haack, Matt Breida, Tyrell Adams, and Mitchell Trubisky. Obada is an exciting player who can help replace the role Jefferson had for this front. Meanwhile, Breida has exceptional speed. Hopefully, he can break off a few big runs to help improve an area of weakness from a year ago. Plus, Adams provides good depth at linebacker.
Through the draft, Beane addressed depth in the trenches. Defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. were the first two draft picks. Rousseau is a young prospect with lots of potential. As a prospect, he is similar to what Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds were. And the Bills added depth to the offensive line with Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle.
Kansas City Chiefs
After coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, the Chiefs’ main need was their offensive line. Patrick Mahomes gave all the effort he could in the Super Bowl playing through an injury. This was not enough. The Buccaneers’ dominant front was too much for the Chiefs’ offensive line. So, they worked aggressively to improve their offensive trenches. By exploring all avenues, they did a pretty great job.
Right before free agency, Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones all agreed to contract restructures. In turn, the Chiefs were able to make the free agency signing of Joe Thuney. They also signed Austin Blythe and Kyle Long. Then, shortly before the draft, they made a big trade acquiring Orlando Brown. During the draft, they added Creed Humphrey in the second round and Trey Smith in the sixth. In the end, general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid deserve a ton of credit for this major overhaul.
Defensively, the Chiefs made two great additions as well. Signing Jarran Reed was an underrated move. Reed and Jones should work well together rushing inside. With their first selection in the draft, they added Nick Bolton, who is a great leader and a complete linebacker. Bolton will bring a great presence to the middle of their defense.
Similar to the Chiefs, the Browns attacked the need they had heading into the offseason. Their defense. They went on to do a great job of improving the unit. With all their offensive starters from a year ago under contract, they could spend all their premium resources on defense. The Browns spent in free agency and added to all three levels of this unit in the draft.
First, in free agency, the Browns made a big move adding John Johnson III. Johnson is a young player and one of the best safeties in the NFL. The team also acquired cornerback Troy Hill. Hill has played well the last two seasons, providing versatility as an outside and slot cornerback. Jadeveon Clowney was added to the defensive line. However, their infatuation with Clowney the last two years is a bit confusing. There were better and more reliable options.
The first two picks the Browns made in the draft were cornerback Greg Newsome II and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. These are two talented players with great athletic ability and should both have big roles right away. They added depth at defensive tackle with Tommy Togiai and Marvin Wilson. Tony Fields II and Richard Lecounte III were two later-round picks who have potential.
Offensively, they needed wide receiver depth. So, re-signing Rashard Higgins was a solid move. The Browns drafted Anthony Schwartz in the third round, who was the fastest player in the entire draft. Schwartz should make exciting plays as a rookie. Depth was also added on the offensive line, as James Hudson was selected in the fourth round.
Washington Football Team
Washington entered the offseason with a good core and needed to add some talent at a few positions. They did a great job through free agency and the draft. Adding Ryan Fitzpatrick was a solid move. It is refreshing to see a team focus on building a complete roster rather than overspending on a quarterback. In two years with Washington, Ron Rivera has already done a great job turning around the culture.
Furthermore, Washington started the offseason with a smart move bringing back Brandon Scherff. Then, in free agency, the team had a clear need to add wide receiver talent to help Terry McLaurin. A big move was made, signing free agent Curtis Samuel. Samuel will re-unite with former Ohio State teammate McLaurin. Samuel is a young player with great speed and versatility entering his prime. Next, Adam Humphries, who is a good slot receiver, was added to the receiver group. He reunites with Fitzpatrick, with who he played his best football on the Buccaneers. Also, Ereck Flowers was brought back in a trade.
Additionally, Washington made a big free-agent signing on defense in William Jackson III. He is a great man cornerback who will help the dominant defensive line. Moving forward, hopefully, they can re-sign both Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, as keeping this talented defense together would be beneficial. Similarly, Washington addressed other defensive needs in the draft.
First, they drafted Jamin Davis for their linebacker group, which was a good start. Samuel Cosmi was drafted to help the offensive line in the second round. In the third, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste and wide receiver Dyami Brown were selected. St-Juste and Jackson III will allow Kendall Fuller to play in the slot. Brown is an exciting wide receiver with great vertical-threat ability.
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