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Bold predictions for NFL free agency 2022: Destinations for 50-plus players

Matt Johnson

NFL free agency 2022 promises to deliver plenty of huge signings with Chris Godwin, Davante Adams and Von Miller among the top NFL free agents available.

Below, we’ll preview free agency by looking at the start date and offering predictions for the best players. We’ll provide updates as more players sign, adding new NFL free agency predictions throughout the offseason.

When does NFL free agency start?

NFL: Super Bowl LVII -Super Bowl LVII Handoff Ceremony
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency starts on March 16, 2022, at 4 p.m. EST. Once free agency begins, teams are allowed to sign any unrestricted free agents immediately.

Related: NFL games today – 2022 NFL schedule

The legal NFL tampering period begins on Monday, March 14. Teams will have 48 hours to legally start talking to agents representing unrestricted free agents. Importantly, players can’t speak directly to clubs during this 48-hour window. While contracts can’t be announced officially, two sides can reach a verbal agreement that becomes official on March 16.

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Let’s dive into our 2022 NFL free agency predictions.

Green Bay Packers prevent Davante Adams from testing open market

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Contract negotiations between Adams and the Green Bay Packers went poorly in 2021. Low offers from Green Bay’s front office bothered Adams, causing friction between the two sides. The All-Pro wide receiver wants to hit the open market, targeting a multi-year deal worth $30 million per season. It’s not going to happen. Even if Aaron Rodgers retires or asks for a trade, general manager Brian Gutekunst won’t let an elite player walk freely. Instead, he’ll apply the franchise tag worth more than $20 million guaranteed, either signing Adams to an extension or trading him. If Rodgers departs, Adams will be traded before the 2022 NFL Draft.

Related: 2022 NFL Power Rankings – Outlook for all 32 teams entering summer

NFL free agency predictions – Wide receivers

  • Chris Godwin – Franchise-tagged by Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1 year, $18 million
  • Mike Williams – Re-signed by Los Angeles Chargers – 3 years, $54 million ($18M AAV)
  • Allen RobinsonSigns with Washington Commanders – 2 years, $30 million ($15M AAV)
  • Michael Gallup – Re-signed by Dallas Cowboys – 2 years, $24 million ($12M AAV)
  • Odell Beckham Jr – Re-signed by Los Angeles Rams – 1 year, $6.5 million
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster Signs with Kansas City Chiefs – 1 year, $7 million
  • Antonio BrownSigns with Baltimore Ravens – 1 year, $4.25 million
  • D.J. Chark Jr. – Signs with Detroit Lions – 3 years, $33 million ($11M AAV)
  • Christian Kirk – Signs with Chicago Bears – 3 years, $36 million ($12M AAV)
  • Will Fuller – Signs with Buffalo Bills – 1 year, $7.25 million

Chicago Bears sign Terron Armstead

NFL: Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

While the Chicago Bears might rank behind other teams in terms of NFL cap space, they might be well-positioned for an Illinois native. Terron Armstead certainly won’t take a hometown discount, but Chicago doesn’t need to stoop to that level. It can offer him a multi-year contract worth $20 million per season, securing a Pro Bowl left tackle to protect Justin Fields.

Projecting landing spots for free agent offensive linemen

  • Orlando Brown Jr. – Franchise-tagged by Kansas City Chiefs – 1 year, $16.5 million
  • Duane Brown – Signs with Miami Dolphins – 2 years, $22 million ($11M AAV)
  • Morgan Moses – Signs with Cincinnati Bengals – 2 years, $18 million ($9M AAV)
  • Brandon Scherff – Signs with Cincinnati Bengals – 3 years, $51 million ($17M AAV)
  • Laken Tomlinson – Re-signs with San Francisco 49ers – 3 years, $27 million ($9M AAV)
  • Connor Williams – Signs with New York Jets – 3 years, $21 million ($7M AAV)
  • Ryan Jensen – Signs with Miami Dolphins – 3 years, $37.5 million ($12.5M AAV)
  • Bradley Bozeman – Signs with New York Jets – 3 years, $30 million ($10M AAV)

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Von Miller spurns the Los Angeles Rams, cashes in

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Von Miller made it clear he’d love to run it back with the Los Angeles Rams. However, this is a 32-year-old whose legacy is already cemented with 115.5 career sacks and two Super Bowl rings. At this point, it can be about providing for his family and their futures. Considering all the teasing Miller has done about rejoining the Denver Broncos, it only makes more sense now with Russell Wilson on the team. He’ll give Los Angeles a shot, but the Broncos can offer more money and he can end his career in the right spot.

NFL free agency predictions – Edge rushers

  • Chandler Jones – Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars – 2 years, $38 million ($19M AAV)
  • Za’Darius Smith – Signs with Baltimore Ravens – 1 year, $17.5 million
  • Jadeveon Clowney – Signs with Los Angeles Chargers – 1 year, $16 million
  • Randy Gregory – Signs with Cleveland Browns – 2 years, $25 million ($12M AAV)
  • Melvin Ingram III – Signs with New England Patriots – 1 year, $7.5 million
  • Emmanuel Ogbah – Signs with Seattle Seahawks – 2 years, $32 million ($16M AAV)
  • Harold Landry III – Re-signs with Tennessee Titans – 3 years, $45 million ($15M AAV)
  • Haason Reddick – Signs with New York Giants – 3 years, $39 million ($13M AAV)

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Jameis Winston joins the Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Making a nice recovery from a torn ACL, Jameis Winston hits the open market coming off a strong season. He posted a 14-3 TD-INT ratio and a 102.8 QB rating in seven starts and finished with a 5-2 record. Two seasons with Sean Payton and undergoing Lasik surgery seemed to help Winston correct some of his issues.

The arm talent is undeniable and he could be a quality two-year starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers – who are targeting him – as they develop a rookie quarterback like Malik Willis. As for these of the quarterbacks in NFL free agency, backup jobs and competitions result in one-year contracts.

NFL free agency predictions – Quarterbacks

Running backs find tough love in NFL free agency

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to NFL teams signing long-term deals with the best running backs, the position is relatively weak in NFL free agency. You’re not going to find a workhorse among the group, everyone is best utilized in a committee backfield. Fortunately, there are a lot of great fits. Leonard Fournette would be the perfect complement to Austin Ekeler, Cordarrelle Patterson found the right scheme with the Atlanta Falcons and Melvin Gordon proved to be very effective in 2021. Just expect a lot of short contracts.

Predicting landing spots for top running backs

  • Melvin Gordon – Signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1 year, $5 million
  • Cordarrelle Patterson – Re-signs with Atlanta Falcons – 2 years, $12 million ($6M AAV)
  • Rashaad Penny – Signs with Arizona Cardinals – 1 year, $4 million
  • James Conner – Signs with Seattle Seahawks – 1 year, $5.65 million
  • Raheem Mostert – Signs with Miami Dolphins – 1 year, $3 million
  • James White – Signs with Chicago Bears – 1 year, $2 million
  • Sony Michel – Signs with Houston Texans – 1 year, $3.75 million

De’Vondre Campbell returns to Green Bay Packers

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Facing a decision between re-signing cornerback Rasul Douglas and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, it won’t be an easy call. However, the Packers need to prioritize the position that proved to be an Achilles heel in their defense for years. Campbell is the perfect three-down linebacker for Green Bay’s defense and his desire to stay with the franchise makes a return even more likely.

NFL free agency predictions – Linebackers

  • Leighhton Vander Esch – Signs with Pittsburgh Steelers – 2 years, $16 million ($8M AAV)
  • Bobby Wagner – Signs with Los Angeles Rams – 1 year, $10 million
  • Josey Jewell – Signs with Dallas Cowboys – 1 yar, $5 million
  • Dont’a Hightower – Signs with Las Vegas Raiders – 2 years, $15 million ($7.5M AAV)
  • Anthony Barr – Signs with New York Giants – 2 years, $14 million ($7M AAV)
  • K.J. Wright – Signs with Los Angeles Chargers – 1 year, $3 million

Rob Gronkowski joins the Los Angeles Rams

NFL: NFL Honors-Red Carpet
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Even if Tom Brady returns in 2022, it seems unlikely it will be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rob Gronkowski seems confident his best friend won’t play next season. So, the future Hall of Famer goes to the Los Angeles Rams. He fits in perfectly with the atmosphere, will love Los Angeles and will have a great shot at a fifth Super Bowl ring. If not Los Angeles, he’ll team up with Joe Burrow.

NFL free agency predictions – Tight ends

  • Mike Gesicki – Signs with New York Jets – 4 years, $56 million ($14M AAV)
  • Dalton Schultz – Signs with Tennessee Titans – 3 years, $39 million ($13M AAV)
  • David Njoku – Re-signs with Cleveland Browns – 3 years, $36 million ($12M AAV)
  • Zach Ertz – Re-signs with Arizona Cardinals – 2 years, $20 million ($10M AAV)
  • C.J. Uzomah –Re-signs with Cincinnati Bengals – 2 years, $18 million ($9M AAV)
  • Evan Engram – Signs with Green Bay Packers – 1 year, $5 million

Seattle Seahawks land J.C. Jackson

NFL: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It feels increasingly likely that J.C. Jackson won’t return to the New England Patriots in 2022. Bill Belichick’s loss is another team’s gain. Jackson is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and he’s exactly what the Seahawks need. It might take a four-year contract worth $18 million per season, but there’s no denying he’d fill a huge void in Seattle’s secondary.

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Predicting landing spots for free agent defensive backs

  • Marcus Williams –Signs with New York Jets – 4 years, $65 million ($16.25M AAV)
  • Jessie Bates III – Franchise-tagged by Cincinnati Bengals – 1 year, $13 million
  • Stephon Gilmore – Signs with San Francisco 49ers – 2 years, $26 million ($13M AAV)
  • Carlton Davis –Signs with Houston Texans –4 years, $70 million ($17.5M AAV)
  • Tyrann Mathieu – Signs with Las Vegas Raiders – 3 years, $35 million ($15M AAV)
  • Darious Williams – Signs with Kansas City Chiefs – 2 years, $24 million ($12M AAV)

Let us know what you think of our 2022 NFL free agency predictions.