2022 NFL Roster Question Candidates

2022 NFL Roster Question Candidates

With the 2021 NFL regular season now past the halfway point, we'll take a quick look at a notable player from each team who is trending toward some sort of "what if" in the upcoming offseason, be it an expiring contract, an extension worthy resume, a potential trade candidate, or a possible cap/roster casualty.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Christian Kirk, WR

He hasn’t had that “breakout” moment that suggests he could vault to WR1 status, but Kirk will play an above average depth role wherever he lands. Tim Patrick’s recent deal in Denver ups Kirk’s valuation to $12.5M.

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Matt Ryan, QB

The contract says he stays in 2022 ($40.5M of dead cap), but the Falcons’ organization has to be ready to turn the page at the QB position. It stands to reason they’ll acquire his predecessor this offseason, then let Ryan stick out one more season before cutting ties.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Bradley Bozeman, C

Moved from guard to center, Bozeman has gone from a “fill-in” player to a legitimate option for Baltimore’s future. The Ravens have a few mouths to feed this winter, but shoring up the O-Line has to remain priority.

 

BUFFALO BILLS

Tremaine Edmunds, ILB

The Bills exercised (and fully guaranteed) Edmunds’ $12.7M option for 2022, so there’s no rush in making a long-term decision here. Buffalo is better when Edmunds is on the field (115+ tackles in 3 straight years) but the advanced stats don’t love him as a complete player. The Bills have retained almost all of their pieces in their current window, but Edmunds might be squarely on the bubble come 2023.

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Sam Darnold, QB

Things were going well for Darnold until they weren’t (though the timing of an injury to Christian McCaffrey certainly made an impact). With Cam Newton now taking over, it appears the path for Carolina and Darnold will be to find a trade partner this winter for his $18.8M fully guaranteed salary. Spoiler: The Panthers will be eating some of that.

 

CHICAGO BEARS

Allen Robinson, WR

The QB situation in Chicago has rapidly changed the ability for Robinson to produce at his career level (yards/game less than half). With that said, a second franchise tag for A-Rob comes with a $21.4M price tag. It’s not an inconceivable outcome for 2022.

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS

C.J. Uzomah, TE

The Bengals need to shore up defensively next offseason, but another extension for Uzomah may also be one of the priorities. The 28-year-old has proven to be a viable redzone option for Joe Burrow, and it shouldn’t take much more than $10M per year to get something done here.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Baker Mayfield, QB

The Browns have already started locking in many of their core pieces (Bitonio, Teller), and more are still forthcoming (Ward), but all of the focus will remain on the QB position this winter. Baker’s $18.8M option for 2022 is fully guaranteed, so there’s no rush in making any decisions, but don’t be surprised if Cleveland is in on veteran trade options, or early round QBs in the 2022 draft.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

Amari Cooper, WR

It’s going to be difficult for the Cowboys to part ways with any of their major offensive pieces, as the system appears to be humming along strongly, but it’s a hard cap league, and Dallas currently holds 7 cap figures north of $15M. With Michael Gallup's contract expiring, a restructure here is more likely than a trade for now.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Courtland Sutton, WR

Sutton has had chances to show he’s a legit WR1-WR2 in this league, and his current resume suggests he can match his career high of 72 catches, 1,110 yards again in 2021. With Jerry Jeudy under control through 2024, & Tim Patrick recently locked up, will Denver shell out the $15M+ per year it could take to keep Sutton in the fold? And who will be throwing balls to this group in 2022?

UDPATE: Courtland Sutton signed a 4 yrs, $61M extension to stay in Denver

 

DETROIT LIONS

Jared Goff, QB

The Lions are going backwards (again) and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Goff may not be the solution. Goff is under contract through 2024, including $15.5M fully guaranteed next season. Unless a trade partner bails them out, look for Detroit to convert that to a signing bonus, then release Goff to help spread out the $30.5M of dead cap a little better.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Aaron Rodgers, QB /Davante Adams, WR

One of the best duos in the history of the game each come with a major question mark for 2022. Rodgers of course being rumored to demanding a trade post 2021, and Adams a pending free agent. Rodgers carries a strong $27M cash payout for 2022, so it’s conceivable that he could play out the contract then hit free agency, but will the Packers allow that? A franchise tag is likely looming for Adams, but will they offer him a multi-year deal with the QB position in flux?

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Deshaun Watson, QB

The Texans’ believe a better offer could be coming once Watson’s legal situation is finalized. That’s risky business (of course), but regardless, it seems likely that the plan is to acquire as many 2022/2023 picks as possible, and hit the restart button in Houston. Watson’ $35M salary for 2022 is already guaranteed, & his $37M 2023 compensation locks in next March. However, any suspension for personal conduct will likely void the guarantees on these figures.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

T.Y. Hilton, WR

The Colts have invested heavily in locking in their own core, and acquiring their current QB. Keeping a healthy, productive set of weapons on the field now becomes their offseason challenge. Hilton’s been a franchise favorite, but his ability to stay healthy likely means an ending to this marriage. Indy will be in the WR/TE game this offseason.

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Brandon Linder, C

The Jags have plenty to address under this new regime, but creating a better pass protection setting for their prized QB1 should be at the top of the list. Linder’s hit the IR 3 out of the past 4 seasons, & his contract carries $10M of savings for 2022 to move on from.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Tyrann Mathieu, S

Mathieu continues to be the Chiefs most versatile defensive player, especially in that he’s often covering up mistakes for the rest of the KC secondary. His contract is set to expire after 2021, and while the former 3rd rounder is pushing 30, he should be in the conversation for a $15M+ deal.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Mike Williams, WR

Williams was the talk of the league through the first quarter of the season, but has since cooled off (along with the rest of his team). LA rose some eyebrows by exercising his $15.6M option for 2021, but that seems to have been the right call for now. If he’s let to hit the open market, he’ll be looking hard at Kenny Golladay’s $18M mark, though that may be wishful thinking.

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Von Miller, EDGE

The Rams haven’t been shy to burn draft picks for immediate impact, but Miller will need quite a 2nd half to this season to warrant the 2nd & 3rd round picks given up to bring him on board. With that said, draft compensation like that generally signifies an extension with that team, and it stands to reason that the Rams can pull some value out of that portion of this deal when the timing is right. $10M per year ceiling?

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

Cory Littleton, ILB

Littleton’s contract has been restructured 3 times in 12 months, but his $15.7M cap figure for 2022 still places him on a bubble list right now. The Raiders may have no choice but to changeover a few more pieces than they were planning to based on recent events - or they might acquire Russell Wilson and make a huge all-in push. Weird must-follow team.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Mike Gesicki, TE

Xavien Howard (CB) & Tua Tagovailoa (QB) certainly belong in this discussion as well, but Gesicki not being under contract past 2021 while improving in each of his first 3 NFL seasons (and continuing to do so in Year 4), seems slightly baffling. Even if they QB position is changed going forward, this is an investment worth making. He values almost exactly to the 4 yr, $57M deal Dallas Goedert just scored in Philly.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Danielle Hunter, DE

Two restructures, two IR stints, a $26M cap hit in 2022, and a mild trade demand later, it sure seems like the Hunter/Vikings era is coming to a close. There’s an $18M roster bonus due in early March, so look for early movement on this situation.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Dont’a Hightower, ILB

The Patriots are legitimate AFC East contenders once again due in large part to their defense, with Hightower at the center of it. The 31-year-old is on an expiring contract, and the Patriots very rarely pay non-primary position players more than once, but it’ll be tough for New England to move on here without a legitimate replacement in tow. The problem? Off-ball linebackers now top out at $18M per year.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Michael Thomas, WR

After 3 straight seasons with 104, 125, & 149 catches respectively, it’s been a weird few years for Michael Thomas & the Saints. Thomas’ $15M+ salary fully guarantees in early March, & his contract currently holds $22.7M of dead cap for next season, so moving on won’t be pretty. Seems like the Saints will attempt to get a max trade pull, and if they don’t - they’ll hang on for one more season.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Jabril Peppers, S

One of the main pieces in the OBJ trade, Peppers found the IR after Week 6, heading toward free agency. The former #25 overall pick could be a franchise tag candidate this Februrary, and carries a 4 year, $50M valuation toward the offseason.

 

NEW YORK JETS

Marcus Maye, S

Maye and the Jets were far apart in multi-year extension terms before the season, and he settled for the $10.6M to start the year. An unfortunate achilles injury ended his season in early November, putting his immediate future in a bit of flux. The safety franchise tag should increase heavily thanks to plenty of recent contracts, so it’s likely not feasible to keep Maye for another round. He’s probably destined for the open market next March.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Derek Barnett, DE

The Eagles are better than they should be, and yet still may not have a clue if they have the right QB, or a roster they can afford to keep together for a short-term run. They do however have 3 1st round draft picks, and a decent amount of cap space to work with as needed in 2022 (assuming they stick with a rookie contract QB). Barnett is facing injuries, subpar production, & a roster that’s getting younger around him.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Ben Roethlisberger, QB

Ben isn’t Ben, & the Steelers offense isn’t what it used to be, but the AFC North is currently a dead heat at the time of this piece, and life without Ben in Week 10 wasn’t pretty. As for the 2022 QB? A late first round pick likely won’t help that situation, but an attractive run game/defense could help persuade a few potential trade possibilities to look their way. If not, Roethlisberger will likely offer to return on the cheap.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Russell Wilson, QB

Speaking of potential trade possibilities (see above), Seattle is currently playing themselves into a heck of a lot of change in 2022, with the cherry on the top possibly being a legitimate trade demand from franchise QB Wilson. Russell has 2 years, $51M left on his contract thru 2023, but none of it is guaranteed, and the Seahawks hold $26M of dead cap on his contract next March.

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Dee Ford, DE

Ford doesn’t seem like he can physically play the game at a regular clip anymore, though he gave it a legitimate effort in 2021. 2022 is his expiring contract year, & while there’s a fully guaranteed $4.6M bonus, a post June 1st release still seems in the cards. Obviously the future of Jimmy Garoppolo (1 yr, $25M left ) is a point of contention as well.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Rob Gronkowski/Cameron Brate/OJ Howard, TE

The only tight end listed here with a salary in 2022 is Cam Brate who holds 2 yrs, $14.3M left after 2021 ($0 guaranteed). Brady will push to bring Gronk back into the fold, meaning Howard likely hits the open market. He stands to join Evan Engram & David Njoku in this regard.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Harold Landry, EDGE

The Titans’ defense was supposed to be a massive liability in 2021, but Landry and Jeffrey Simmons have been a big reason why this is not the case. Landry’s production over the past year and half falls slightly under Shaq Barrett’s (TB), puting him in position for a deal around $17M per year.

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Landon Collins, S

Collins was overpaid the second he signed the deal to join Washington back in 2019, but that’s not his fault. A post June 1st release next March frees up $12M of cap space for WFT, and it seems very likely they go that route.

 

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