Which Teams Win Big in NFL Free Agency in 2022

by Aditya Fuldeore · Contracts & Free Agency

We have finally reached the end of the season and the Los Angeles Rams are champs! Now, the end of the 2021 season brings about the 2022 free agency frenzy. Many teams are poised to revamp their roster, make additions, and more in March, leading up to the draft. Out of the 32, there are a few that stand out with the potential to win 2022 free agency big. Let’s dive into teams poised to come out looking greater than before due to current rosters, cap space, and the free agent pool at areas of need.

All cap projections from Spotrac.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers were nearly a playoff team behind first-year head coach Brandon Staley and Pro Bowl QB Justin Herbert last season. They now enter the 2022 offseason with an estimated $57.5 million in cap space, and only have a small amount of dead cap.

Key Needs in 2022 Free Agency: OL, LB, DB, WR

Key free agents of their own include Mike Williams and Chris Harris. However, the Chargers already have key positions filled by stars Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Rashawn Slater, Joey Bosa, Derwin James, and of course, Justin Herbert. With those locked down, Los Angeles has big-time money to use to add to their star core.

Big free agents the Chargers can add in the $10-$20 million per year contract range include Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Brandon Scherff, Dont’a Hightower, Larry Ogunjobi, and Tyrann Mathieu. Maybe even Davante Adams ($20 million-plus). Tom Telesco has more than enough cap flexibility to add key free agents, even re-sign a player or two. He can potentially free up about $10 million with Bryan Bulaga being a cut candidate. While Corey Linsley is a restructuring candidate. The Chargers will have the money to make a star pair like Allen with Godwin or James with Mathieu.

Tyrann Mathieu Market Value via Spotrac

With high cap space, established stars, and the flexibility to add more, the Chargers are set to win free agency.

Miami Dolphins

Unlike the other two teams on here, the Miami Dolphins have a new head coach, controversy surrounding the owner, and a QB still doubted to be the franchise’s future. They do have one thing: the most cap space in the league.

Key Needs in 2022 Free Agency: OL, DL, WR, RB

With $64.7 million in cap, Miami has a couple big pending free agents in Emmanuel Ogbah and Mike Gesicki. The Dolphins should look to target offensive weapons, offensive line, and front seven; with Tua Tagovailoa, Jaylen Waddle, and Xavien Howard the key players set to return. Restructuring big contracts like Howard and Byron Jones would free up a lot more money for Miami to deal around.

Miami Dolphins Cap Space via Spotrac

There are a few solid lineman and linebackers headed for contracts $10 million or greater Miami can target. This includes Trent Brown, Akiem Hicks, Ogbah, Chandler Jones, and Anthony Barr. However, expect them to prioritize targeting offensive weapons for Tua and Mike McDaniel to play with. Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Mike Williams are all part of a pool of intriguing top options who would command $10-$20 million contracts, within Miami’s reach. Godwin especially is likely to be a top target given that he is one of the top receivers on the market and would not have to go far to Miami, who can flexibly meet his market value.

Chris Godwin Market Value via Spotrac

Zach Ertz, Melvin Gordon and Leonard Fournette are solid targets that would command a shorter, under $10 million deal to pair with a star signing. There are several intriguing options that Miami can realistically target to dish out big contracts. The Dolphins will look to surround Tua with weapons, and have the money to be big free agency winners.

Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati may have lost the Super Bowl, but it has a bright future. With several star players under rookie deals, they now have the opportunity to beef their roster up even more with established success. According to Spotrac, the Bengals project to have about $55.8 million in cap space entering the offseason.

Key Needs in 2022 Free Agency: DB, OL, DL

Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, and most of Joe Burrow‘s top offensive weapons return next season. This will allow Cincy to focus on a small number of major needs like the offensive line and secondary.

Jessie Bates is arguably the biggest free agent the Bengals can re-sign. But free agency is rich in the secondary. Tyrann Mathieu, Stephon Gilmore, and Patrick Peterson highlight veterans the Bengals can sign in the $10-$15ish million contract range. Brandon Scherff would be another veteran target for protecting Burrow, well within the budget.

Brandon Scherff Market Value via Spotrac

Cincy can also cut a guy like Trae Waynes to free up even more flexibility for a top tackle like Terron Armstead. A Waynes cut would give the Bengals the ability to pursue Armstead and another one of the aforementioned free agents. A young team that just won the AFC, the Bengals project to be a savory free agent destination. They have the money to grab top free agents and win big.

Honorable Mention No. 1 – Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are not generally seen as free agency heavyweights, especially with Russell Wilson as a popular trade option. However, Seattle enters the offseason with nearly $37 million in cap space. The offensive weapons are nearly set next to Wilson. But they need some help on the offensive line and front seven. With minimal draft capital, they have almost no option but to look to free agency, where guys like Terron Armstead, Chandler Jones, and Ryan Jensen await. Yet, they are limited by the large number of their own key free agents, limited amount of cut/restructure options, and the expensive veterans already on the roster. Expect Seattle to delve into free agency to fill its needs, where it can land a big name or two. It does, however, have a lesser chance than the previously mentioned teams to win free agency with a murkier path in its future.

Honorable Mention No. 2 – Aaron Rodgers Suitors

Aaron Rodgers is not technically a free agent yet, but the speculation around his future continuers. The Denver Broncos are the most rumored team to land Rodgers and potentially free agent Davante Adams with him. There is also a chance the Packers will retain both, while the Steelers, Commanders, and even the Buccaneers could have a shot at Rodgers. Whichever team lands him would be a top-tier free agent destination and a candidate to be a big free agency winner.