Top 10 early NFL free agents and possible destinations for 2022

It’s never too early to look to the future in the NFL, even if the image on the scoreboard at the Super Bowl is still fresh in our minds, and we kick off that practice with a look at the top free agents in the class of 2022.

It is possible that this list of the 10 best players available in the free agency market will vary as March 16 approaches, the date on which the new year of the NFL will begin and new agreements are made that will change the landscape of the league. .

SPOILER ALERT: In an age where the passing game dominates game plans, receivers take a prominent place in the list of available agents, at least in this Top 10.

In addition to highlighting the performance of these players, it also includes possible destinations where the talent of these elements could help improve the performance of a team or be the remaining piece to take the step to the next level. Some destinations may seem absurd, but a few years ago, nobody imagined that Tom Brady would win a Super Bowl with a team that did not play in Foxborough.

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W.R. Davante Adams

Possible destinations: Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers/Cincinnati Bengals

He is one of the most spectacular and dominant players to hit free agency and there will be more than a few who will call him, including the Packers.

Since 2018, Adams has led in hits (passes thrown his way), receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns and dropped only two passes last season.

It’s worth noting that a receiver like Adams, who has come very close to reaching the Super Bowl in recent seasons, may be intent on reaching a contender with whom he could take that last step, but in the end, money counts. and securing your future could also be your priority.

WR Mike Williams

Possible destinations: Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars

He’s a solid No. 2 receiver, a role in which he had 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns (ninth in the NFL) in 2021, when he was the target of 29.1 percent of Herbert’s passes when Chargers primary receiver Keenan Allen , was not in the field. Against that backdrop, Williams caught 66.7 percent of the passes.

The Chargers will try to keep him, but in Miami he would be an invaluable help to Tua Tagovailoa and to Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville.

WR Chris Godwin

Possible destinations: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

We warned that receivers would dominate this list. Godwin is perhaps the most physical player at the position in free agency and one of the most agile as well. In 2021, he finished sixth in receiving yards with 590 despite missing three games due to injury, and much of that production came from the slot position, where he caught 53 percent of the passes thrown at him.

The Buccaneers will try to retain a productive player, but if they don’t, the Patrots could be a good destination for their offensive system and to give Mac Jones a good assist. The same in Miami with Tua.

L. B. Von Miller

Possible destination: Los Angeles Rams

Why fix what isn’t broken?

For example, the following data: Miller added nine sacks and 45 tackles in 11 games after arriving at the Rams and added four CQB in the Playoffs to finish as the leader of the Rams. Also, since 2016, he has 55.5 sacks (eighth in the NFL).

The Rams acquired Miller to shore up an already premium defense to win the Super Bowl. Once the task is achieved, repeating could be what leads both parties to negotiate a contract that leaves them satisfied.

WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Possible destinations: Rams, Chiefs, Chargers

The big question mark with OBJ is his injury history, which grew with the knee injury he sustained in the second quarter of the Super Bowl and ended what was poised to be an MVP performance of the game. The other question is his personality, which was no problem in Los Angeles, where Beckham had 10 touchdown passes, including playoffs, after not catching one in six games with the Cleveland Browns.

The Rams will try to keep him and Beckham will probably consider staying in Los Angeles, but if he can’t get a deal done, there’s the other LA team, which has a strong-arm quarterback who can exploit OBJ’s ability on deep routes. Kansas City desperately needs a receiver to complement Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and with a system that favors the passing game with Patrick Mahomes, Beckham is a viable option.

W. R. Allen Robinson

Possible destinations: Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Dolphins

He didn’t have his best year in 2021 — he played in 12 games and had career-worst averages in receiving yards (10.8), receptions per game (3.2) and yards per game (34.2), but a veteran like Allen will always be welcome. in any offense.

He had more than 1,000 receiving yards in 2019 and 2020 and can be a good No. 2 receiver on offenses in need of one, like the Chiefs’, or a developmental asset to a young quarterback, like in Miami with Tua. In Indianapolis they have a good running game that opens up space in the passing game, but perhaps the possible departure of Carson Wentz will determine whether Robinson takes the Colts as an option.

T Orlando Brown

Possible destinations: chiefs

Taking care of Patrick Mahomes isn’t easy because of the free-roaming, mobile style with which the quarterback plays, but Brown is a lineman pretty much tailored for these types of situations, so the Chiefs have to be aggressive to keep him.

Where Brown, considered one of the best tackles in the NFL, can improve is in the running game, where the Chiefs ran better without him down the field averaging 5.68 yards and 5.31 with Brown lined up.

C.B. Stephon Gilmore

Possible destinations: San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers

Playing in Carolina didn’t help much, but the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year still generates plenty of buzz around the NFL. The 49ers and Steelers are two interesting destinations for a veteran like Gilmore, who can immediately improve San Francisco’s perimeter (27 in 2021) and bolster a Pittsburgh defense that has power in the trenches.

In 2021, Gilmore had two interceptions in eight games (three starts) and his completion percentage on delivery to his receiver has been steadily increasing over the past four seasons to 68 percent last season.

DE Randy Gregory

Possible destination: Dallas Cowboys

If the Cowboys managed to keep Dan Quinn on the team, ideally they would leave their defensive coordinator with the pieces that made Dallas’ defense one of the most consistent in 2021.

Last season, opposing quarterbacks had a 2.5 rating (50.0 is average) when Gregory was the first to rush them, rushing first 30 times while tying his career-high in sacks (6.0).

LB Chandler Jones

Possible destinations: Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns

With 10 years in the NFL, Jones began to lower his level in 2021, so playing in a defense with a good front line is what can help increase his production and the Patriots offer him that option, as do the Ravens and in Cleveland, Jones can be a good winger complement to Myles Garrett.

In 2021, Jones had 10.5 sacks, his lowest total since 2014 in a season in which he played in at least 15 games (19 sacks in 2019), though that’s an enviable number for any defensive end and as of 2015, he’s second in CQB. in the NFL with 84, behind only Aaron Donald’s 89 in that span.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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Top 10 early NFL free agents and possible destinations for 2022