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NFL training camps 2022: 10 burning questions

Vincent Frank

NFL training camps are going to get going big time here within the next several days with the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars slated to open the preseason schedule on Aug. 4.

There’s so many questions around the NFL after what was among the most-active offseasons in league history. A total of nine teams have new head coaches. Star quarterbacks changed host cities at a clip we’ve never seen before, too.

One of those star signal callers in that of Deshaun Watson could be facing a lengthy suspension after the Cleveland Browns acquired him in a blockbuster trade. Where will Jimmy Garoppolo land? Which rookies will step up? These are among the 10 burning questions as NFL training camps get going. You can also scroll to the bottom for links to all 32 team training camp previews.

NFL training camp: Cleveland Browns preview

How will the Deshaun Watson situation play out?

nfl training camps: deshaun watson, cleveland browns
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

The individual responsible for handing down a Deshaun Watson suspension, Sue Robinson, should make a ruling at some point during the early stages of Browns training camp. As you already know, Watson just settled 20 civil cases stemming from women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. The NFL is pushing for an indefinite ban lasting at least a calendar year.

After giving up three first-round picks and change to acquire Watson from the Houston Texans, Cleveland is in limbo right now. If Watson ends up facing a long-term suspension, the Browns will have to likely rely on veteran journeyman Jacoby Brissett to be the starter. That’s a less-than-ideal scenario.

NFL training camp: Carolina Panthers preview

Legitimate quarterback competition in Carolina?

nfl training camps: carolina panthers, baker mayfield
Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina’s recent acquisition of Mayfield from Cleveland for a mere future mid-round pick was definitely not an endorsement of incumbent starter Sam Darnold. With that said, the Panthers’ brass has made it clear that this will be a training camp battle.

“This is an open competition. The reason why we added Baker was to make the group better as a whole. Our philosophy is to have competition not just in the quarterback room, but every position.”

Carolina Panthers GM Scott Fitterer on QB situation

Based on their track records, we have to take Fitterer’s comments with a grain of salt. Even after struggling last season, Mayfield has been far superior to his fellow 2018 draft classmate.

There’s a lot on the line here. Both Fitterer and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule are firmly on the hot seat. If they make the wrong decision at quarterback, it could lead to further struggles and their wait in the unemployment line.

NFL training camp: Kansas City Chiefs preview

Who will step up at wide receiver for the Chiefs?

nfl training camps: mecole hardman, kansas city chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City’s trade of star wide receiver Tyreek Hill leaves a major hole for Patrick Mahomes and Co. To say that Hill has been among the most-dynamic receivers in the NFL over the past few seasons would be an understatement.

Tyreek Hill stats (2017-21): 418 receptions, 6,037 yards, 50 TD, 67% catch rate

You don’t simply replace that production on a whim. Kansas City did add veterans JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency. Leading up to the start of NFL training camps, it’s the latter that has been opening eyes.

MVS caught 26 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns a season ago. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster is coming off his his third consecutive substandard campaign after dominating as a sophomore back in 2018.

Holdover Mecole Hardman might be the best bet to pick up a majority of the slack. the youngster put up a career-high in receptions (59) and yards (693) last season. In any event, this is a major storyline with Kansas City now existing in an AFC West that boasts three vastly improved teams.

NFL training camp: New York Giants preview

New faces, new regimes

nfl training camps: new york giants
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

A total of nine teams have new head coaches heading into the 2022 season. This represents one of the largest league-wide coaching shake-ups in modern NFL history. The cycle is headlined by Brian Daboll heading to the New York Giants, Josh McDaniels making his way to the Las Vegas Raiders and Doug Pederson now leading the charge in Duval.

  • Miami Dolphins: Mike McDaniel
  • Houston Texans: Lovie Smith
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: Doug Pederson
  • Las Vegas Raiders: Josh McDaniels
  • Denver Broncos: Nathaniel Hackett
  • New York Giants: Brian Daboll
  • Minnesota Vikings: Kevin O’Connell
  • Chicago Bears: Matt Eberflus
  • New Orleans Saints: Dennis Allen

Daboll will look to unlock young quarterback Daniel Jones after some major struggles from the former top-six pick in three seasons. The new head coach’s experience as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator with Josh Allen has expectations somewhat high in Jersey.

Speaking of expectations, the Raiders head into camp fresh off a surprising playoff appearance. They locked up franchise quarterback Derek Carr on a long-term deal and acquired All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams.

Remaining in the AFC West, Hackett comes over to the Broncos from his former Packers team. After working with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, he now has fellow future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson to call his own in the Mile High City.

Speaking of quarterbacks, two youngsters in Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) and Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) have new head coaches after some struggles as rookies. Of the two, Lawrence could be set up the best to succeed. He’ll work under a respected former Eagles head coach in Doug Pederson who has seen quarterbacks succeed under his watch over the past several seasons.

NFL training camp: New Orleans Saints preview

Jameis Winston and the new-look New Orleans Saints

nfl training camps: jameis winston, new orleans saints
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints deserve their own blurb in this preview of NFL training camps. Sean Payton resigned early in the offseason after 15 spectacular years as the Saints’ head coach. He was replaced by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen who deserved another shot in a head-coach role after struggles with the Raiders earlier in his career. At the very least, this provides the Saints with continuity. Retaining long-time offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael will certainly help matters on the other side of the ball.

However, it all starts and ends with recently re-signed quarterback Jameis Winston. He returns to the Saints after suffering a torn ACL seven games into the 2021 season. With Winston nearing 100%, expectations are high here. Winston was in the midst of a career-best season in 2021 before going down to injury.

Jameis Winston stats (2021): 59% completion, 1,170 yards, 14 TD, 3 INT, 102.8 QB rating

Star wide receiver Michael Thomas returns after he sat out all of last year with an ankle injury. New Orleans signed Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry and selected fellow pass-catcher Chris Olave in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Add in the presence of Alvin Kamara (for at least some of the 2022 season), and the weapons are around Winston for him to succeed. It’s now up to the former No. 1 pick to prove that he can be a consistent starter in the NFL.

Related: 5 position battles to watch in NFL training camp

2022 NFL Draft class

nfl training camps: new york jets
Anne-Marie Caruso / USA TODAY NETWORK

Without a top-end rookie quarterback, focus on first-year players leading up to the start of NFL training camps will be on other positions. It starts on the defensive end of the ball where Travon Walker (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit Lions) went off the board with the first two picks. Jacksonville’s decision to select Walker over more highly-touted EDGE prospect in Hutchinson threw many for a loop.

With that said, we want to focus on the wide receivers here. A total of four went within the top-12 selections, including Drake London to the Atlanta Falcons at eight. The USC product didn’t make many waves during off-season workouts.

On the other hand, New York Jets rookie No. 10 pick Garrett Wilson from Ohio State is already drawing rave reviews.

“You do see the natural, raw, athletic ability is there, one thousand percent. But there’s not one part of him that relies on that. He works just like anybody else. There’s no telling what his ceiling is, truly. He’s freakishly athletic, incredibly strong hands, (a) good route runner, understands football, and he works every day to become the best version of himself.”

New York Jets’ Braxton Berrios on Garrett Wilson

After flirting with trading the 10th pick for Deebo Samuel or DK Metcalf, the Jets are going to be relying on this rookie big time. Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson simply needs more consistent weapons. Can his namesake provide that in 2022?

As for our other focus here, New Orleans Saints rookie Chris Olave figures to be an impactful presence in 2022. The Saints will be relying on Garrett Wilsoon’s former Buckeyes teammate to perform at a high level for quarterback Jameis Winston. With Michael Thomas returning from injury and following the signing of Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry, Olave is in a great position to succeed out of the gate.

NFL training camp: Miami Dolphins preview

Next step for Tua Tagovailoa under Mike McDaniel?

nfl training camps: tua tagovailoa, miami dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s brass might say publicly that it didn’t flirt with a potential upgrade over Tua Tagovailoa in the offseason. Somehow, that seems hard to believe given the presence of first-year head coach Mike McDaniel and the quarterback’s struggles over two seasons.

This is not the type of production you expect from a former top-five pick. With that said, McDaniel does seem to be in on Tua 100% after coming over from the San Francisco 49ers.

“We’re going to have an extensive professional relationship, my man,” McDaniel says. “One thing I know about you is you have the ambition to be great. My job is to coach you, to get all that greatness out of you.”

Mike McDaniel to Tua Tagovailoa after being named the Dolphins’ head coach

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has done everything possible to provide Tua with the necessary weapons to succeed. That includes the blockbuster trade for All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill. He’ll team up with 2021 rookie standout Jaylen Waddle to provide Tagovailoa with an electric wide receiver tandem. The onus is now on Tua to take his game to the next level, because, he’s simply no longer considered that wide-eyed young quarterback.

Related: Players who could be dealt during NFL training camp

Veterans on the trade block during NFL training camps?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a number of players who could be on the trade block as NFL training camps get going. Obviously, the big name here is San Francisco 49ers signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo (we’ll have more on him below).

However, there’s players at other positions who could be moved. Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters is coming off a torn ACL that forced him to miss the entire 2021 season. He’s entering a contract year. Meanwhile, Baltimore could save $9.5 million by trading the Pro Bowler. If so, there’s going to be a ton of interest in his services.

We’re also highly intrigued to see if the Chicago Bears do indeed trade edge rusher Robert Quinn after he put up a career-best peformance in 2021 (22 QB hits, 18.5 sacks, four forced fumbles). Despite Quinn’s bloated contract, contending teams would love to have that otherworldly production.

On the offensive side of the ball, there’s a chance that the Giants’ new brass will trade running back Saquon Barkley. He was on the block throughout the offseason after two injury-plagued campaigns and is entering his contract year.

Other players potentially on the block include linebacker Deion Jones (Falcons), wide receiver Robby Anderson (Panthers) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (Steelers). Just don’t expect San Francisco 49ers star pass-catcher Deebo Samuel or his counterpart with the Seattle Seahawks, DK Metcalf, to be moved. Extensions seem more likely on those fronts.

Related: Ranking the top NFL QBs of 2022

Aaron Rodgers looking for new weapons?

nfl training camps: aaron rodgers, green bay packers
MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

Green Bay’s shocking decision to trade Davante Adams leaves a major hole at wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Even after signing his massive extension with the Packers, Rodgers expressed surprise that they didn’t retain Adams long-term.

“It was a little surprising with Davante — obviously when I made my decision, I was still thinking he was going to come back. I was very honest with him about my plans and my future and where I saw my career going, as far as how many years I want to play. But I felt like he was going to be back.”

Aaron Rodgers on Davante Adams departure

Green Bay didn’t go out there and add any big-name wide receivers to the mix. It signed veteran journeyman Sammy Watkins and will be relying on an underrated Allen Lazard to step up.

The Packers also picked up pass-catchers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs during the 2022 NFL Draft. In particular, Watson will need to use camp as a way to get accustomed to catching passes from Rodgers.

This is no small thing with Green Bay looking to once again contend for a conference title following its ugly home loss to San Francisco in the NFC Divisional Playoffs last year. Is the team relying too much on its two-time reigning NFL MVP? We’ll find out soon enough.

Related: Jimmy Garoppolo trade destinations

Will Jimmy Garoppolo be traded?

nfl training camps: san francisco 49ers
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of the 49ers, NFL training camps will be defined by the entire Jimmy Garoppolo drama. He was just recently cleared to practice again, leading to San Francisco allowing Garoppolo to seek out trade partners.

The team exhausted three first-round picks and change on Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s both their current and future starter under center. Despite some mixed reporting on Lance’s progression, there’s positive vibes coming out of Santa Clara.

“Trey Lance, I think he’s ready to go. And I think he’s incredible because he has that one aspect that Jimmy doesn’t have, and that’s the threat of running with the ball and stuff like that. So his mobility, his strong arm, and this guy, he’s before his time.”

49ers legend Jerry Rice on Trey Lance

As for Garoppolo, the off-season shoulder surgery he underwent coupled with his contract has thinned out the market for the Super Bowl quarterback.

Garoppolo, 30, is set to count $26.95 million against the cap in 2022. An acquiring team would be on the hook for $24.2 million of that. Despite this, his camp is willing to discuss a renegotiated contract with interested teams.

Right now, the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants have been most linked to Jimmy GQ. However, there’s a chance that the Cleveland Browns could come calling should Deshaun Watson receive a lengthy suspension. Either way, we’re not expecting Garoppolo to be on hand when the 49ers open camp. It’s Lance’s kingdom in Northern California.

NFL training camp: Team-by-team previews