To say that this offseason was a wild one would be an understatement. Over the next few years, the start of the 2022 NFL league year will be discussed time and time again. Not all of the big moves will work out but they will certainly have repercussions throughout the league.
While most of the discussion will start with quarterback moves (or non-moves), that will not be where it stops. The trades of Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, as well as the decision by Aaron Rodgers to stay in Green Bay, have shifted the fates of many franchises including those that failed to acquire those players.
Yet, it may be the wide receiver moves that have the quickest impact.
It started with Christian Kirk getting $72 million to join the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 5’11” (mostly) slot receiver has not had 1,000 yards receiving or more than 77 catches in his four-year career yet hauled in a massive contract.
Kirk’s deal made Mike Williams’ $20 million a season contract seem reasonable. It also made the Cleveland Browns decision to acquire Amari Cooper’s $20 million a year deal seem even better.
Then things went even further off the rails with the trades and contracts for Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill.
Not only did the Las Vegas Raiders give up first and second-round picks in the 2022 draft but they also paid him a whopping $140 million over 5 years.
Then came the Hill trade with the Miami Dolphins giving up a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2022 as well as a fourth-round and a sixth-round pick in 2023. The Dolphins then gave Hill $120 million but just four years making him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL at $30 million a year.
With all the money and draft assets moved to acquire receivers this offseason, the NFL draft will see an impact. With the position valued at its highest level ever, teams will be likely to give it a boost come draft time.
Teams will also look at the rookie contracts as steals compared to where the market is today. Much as the fifth year of a first-round pick has often been linked to drafting a quarterback early, general managers could decide to move up for a receiver for the same reason.
This year’s receiver draft class is loaded up top. That kind of early depth had led to players falling in previous draft classes but this year’s offseason could lead to the opposite effect. With many experts believing this year’s overall draft class lacks the highest valued prospects, the position of wide receiver could benefit with between six and possibly eight going in the first round.
For the Browns, who are looking for one more top-level receiver to join their team, not having a pick until #44 could leave them on the outside looking in of this draft class. GM Andrew Berry may be looking at another position instead of forcing a receiver with their first pick.