The hype around offseason trades and free-agent signings is real. This was especially true in the most recent offseason cycle, when players were traded like baseball cards at recess.
A lot of those moves have paid off, but a number haven't. With the first five weeks of the 2022 NFL season in the books, I'm looking at eight offseason trades and/or signings from the offseason that rank as the most disappointing so far (arranged in alphabetical order).
Free-agent contract: three years, $21 million with $5 million guaranteed
The Bengals overhauled their offensive line in the offseason after watching Joe Burrow get harassed all last season -- specifically, in Super Bowl LVI, when he was sacked seven times. Scooped up following his release by the Cowboys, Collins was supposed to shore up Burrow's protection, but it's been more of the same in Cincinnati. Burrow, the NFL's 2021 sack leader (51), has been sacked 18 times in five games this season, putting him on pace for more than 60. Collins' overall offensive grade from Pro Football Focus (53.2) would rank as his worst since 2016, and his pass-blocking grade (42.7) would be a career low. Per PFF, he's allowed two sacks in five games already after allowing two total in each of the last two seasons. In other words, Burrow is still waiting for his self-proclaimed "bodyguard" to show up.
To me, Collins' deficiencies were hidden in Dallas when playing alongside Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. He's often off-balance, his change of direction isn't great and speed rushers routinely give him trouble. There are other issues on the Bengals' offensive line, but Collins can kick-start a turnaround if he corrects his play. He has a ton of room to improve. Just look at Collins' missed assignment during a failed fourth-and-goal attempt from the 2-yard line in Sunday night's loss to Baltimore, which caused a heated discussion between the tackle and coach Zac Taylor.
Free agent contract: three years, $51 million, with $32 million guaranteed
I was excited about Jones joining Maxx Crosby and the Raiders' defense, but the union is not looking so hot five weeks in. Las Vegas has registered a total of eight sacks as a team, and the veteran pass rusher (zero sacks, five QB hits, one tackle for loss) has not been the impact player the Raiders surely thought they were getting.
There was a glimpse of improvement in the first half of Monday night's loss to Kansas City, as Jones logged three QB pressures in the first two quarters. But he didn't get to Patrick Mahomes again after halftime, per Next Gen Stats. There is still time for Jones to live up to the hype, and it should be easier to do so with Crosby -- who's tied for the NFL lead with six sacks heading into Week 6 -- demanding attention on the opposite side. Jones now must channel the version of himself that has recorded 10-plus sacks in seven of his previous 10 seasons in the league.
Trade compensation: traded in exchange for a 2024 conditional fifth-round pick
In his four seasons with the Browns, Mayfield had spurts of good play, showing accuracy on quick passes and at short and intermediate distances. There's been no such thing in Carolina this season, as Mayfield has had one or zero passing touchdowns and a passer rating below 85 in each of the five games he's played (he's the only QB with five such games in 2022). In addition, he has career lows in many major passing categories, including completion percentage (54.9), passing yards per attempt (6.3) and passing yards per game (192.4), to name a few.
Mayfield has failed to get the Panthers' offense in a rhythm early, causing the attack to stagnate for drives at a time, with the unit ranking in the bottom five in many categories. A lack of creative play-calling has played a part, as well as Mayfield's passes constantly being batted down.
This week has been full of changes for the 1-4 Panthers, who have been seeking a long-term answer at QB since Cam Newton's last full season there (2018). Matt Rhule was fired from his head-coaching position Monday morning, and Mayfield is expected to miss some time with a high ankle sprain, with P.J. Walker ready to step Sunday against the Rams if Mayfield can't go. Whether the offense will improve after letting Rhule go is in question, especially considering the team retained offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. I guess time will tell.
Free agent contract: three years, $46.5 million with $30.25 million guaranteed
If the Rams thought they could do a straight swap of Odell Beckham Jr. (who remains a free agent after tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl) for Allen Robinson this offseason, it hasn't quite worked out through five weeks. Beckham was one of the most explosive players in the entire league earlier in his career, and he was showing some of that ability while getting his career back on track in Los Angeles last season. Robinson has been a solid possession receiver, but he's never been the kind of explosive playmaker who creates a ton of separation.
Between 2018 and 2021, Robinson accumulated a league-high 140 tight-window targets (less than 1 yard of target separation), and he ranks third with 51 receptions on tight-window throws in that span, according to Next Gen Stats. In his first five games with the Rams, Robinson has just six tight-window targets, with zero receptions on those throws. Now, it doesn't help that Matthew Stafford is one of the worst tight-window passers in the NFL currently, as he's completed seven of his 26 pass attempts into tight windows for a 26.9 completion percentage.
Sean McVay has been able to mask players' deficiencies in the past, but that can sometimes only go so far in making a player productive (SEE: Jared Goff). To stay at the top of the NFL, teams must have big-time talent, and right now, Robinson isn't it. Through five games, he has 12 receptions on 23 targets for 107 yards (8.9 yards per catch) and one touchdown. Defenses have discovered that they can man up on Robinson and essentially remove him from the play. It's a real problem for a one-dimensional offense that ranks 29th in scoring and 26th in total yards.
Trade compensation: traded in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick
There was a lot of optimism around Ryan in the offseason and preseason alike, with the Colts surely hoping he'd end their revolving door at quarterback. But when looking at his production in 2019-21 compared to Indy's four quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz) since Andrew Luck's retirement, it's a little tough to see the logic.
|From 2019-21||Ryan||IND's starting QBs|
This season, Ryan looks washed, having logged 11 fumbles and seven interceptions already. The veteran has difficulty escaping any sort of pressure, as evidenced by his 21 sacks, but even when he does, he's making poor decisions and is inaccurate. In last week's ugly win over Denver, Ryan was 15-of-26 for 118 yards with two interceptions and had a 37.0 passer rating when not under pressure, according to Next Gen Stats. The Colts have the worst offense in the NFL when it comes to scoring, and they rank 24th in yards. A lot of that can be attributed to Ryan's poor play.
History shows that when old quarterbacks hit a wall, there's no coming back. I'm afraid that's where the 37-year-old might be.
Free agent contract: two years, $14.3 million with $5.25 million guaranteed
The Steelers have trumpeted Trubisky's leadership skills and praised him for being a great teammate, but I don't think those attributes were ever the question. He didn't perform in Chicago, and he didn't perform in Pittsburgh, which led to his benching in Week 4. With Trubisky under center, the Steelers scored just four offensive touchdowns through three and half games. He also didn't have a single performance with at least 225 pass yards or 85-plus passer rating as the starter.
Trubisky is who we thought he was: a quarterback who makes half-field reads with poor vision and feel in the pocket, presents no threat of stretching the field but shows the occasional ability to escape pressure with his legs. Now, the entire Steelers' offense has been stagnant -- Mike Tomlin is motivated to find a solution after the Bils trounced the Steelers in Kenny Pickett's debut -- but based on what I saw early from the former No. 2 overall pick, it was time to move on, because he simply wasn't making the needed adjustments to get the offense back on track.
Trade compensation: traded to Colts in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick and a 2023 conditional second-round pick, along with a swap of 2022 second-round draft picks
A day after the Commanders lost to the Titans at home, Ron Rivera was asked why other NFC East teams (all 4-1 or better) are ahead in the division at this point.
He responded: "Quarterback. ... this is a quarterback-driven league and if you look at the teams that have been able to sustain success, they've been able to build it around a specific quarterback."
He continued to say he did not regret bringing in Wentz in the offseason, and then on Tuesday, he apologized to Wentz and the rest of the team for his initial comments. In Sunday's loss, Wentz seemed to put his team in position to win the game with an 18-play, 87-yard drive. Unfortunately, it ended with him throwing an interception on the Titans' 2-yard line with 6 seconds remaining. Wentz has folded in big moments throughout his career, so I'm not exactly shocked it happened again.
After a bumpy end to his five-year tenure with Philadelphia, Wentz seemed to be in the ideal situation with the Colts in 2021. He was back with his former coach (Frank Reich) in a familiar system and with an Indianapolis team that featured a top-tier run game and above-average defense. Still, he couldn't get it done. I find myself asking why Washington thought it was going to get a better result with Wentz as their quarterback. His apparent lack of confidence in the pocket and inability to get through his reads quickly have hindered his development. Honestly, it seems to me that playing the quarterback position doesn't come naturally for him -- as evidenced by his constant jumping around in the pocket. Perhaps things will improve with Brian Robinson's return in the run game, but we know what Wentz is. I'm afraid it's that simple.
New contract: five years, $245 million with $165 million guaranteed
I'm not sure anyone could've predicted what we've seen from Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson through the first five games of the season. Though they have no shortage of talent, the Broncos are averaging just 15 points per game (31st in the NFL), and it's due to a plethora of mental errors, the offensive players not being on the same page and poor execution from Wilson. The veteran quarterback is on pace for the lowest passer rating (82.2) and completion percentage (59.2) of his career, and he has just four passing TDs this season. He's also not making the off-schedule plays we were accustomed to seeing in Seattle.
Hopefully the procedure he had last week on his throwing shoulder will help him return to previous form. And hopefully he also corrects some of the bad in-game decision-making (SEE: Broncos' final play in Week 5). This is not all on Wilson, however. In his first year as a head coach, Hackett has made some questionable decisions and looks somewhat overwhelmed at times.
With the Chiefs cruising at the top of the AFC West, it feels like the Broncos are running out of time to get things figured out. One thing is for sure: Wilson has got to be better.