The official start to the 2022 NFL season is quickly approaching with the league year and free agency opening at 4 p.m. on March 16. Teams will be able to begin signing free agents and any trades agreed to prior to the new league year will become official starting on that date.
There are a couple of other key dates to remember before the league year officially kicks off. Teams had to designate franchise players by March 8. The NFL also has a legal negotiating window from March 14-16 when teams can start contacting and negotiating with the agents of unrestricted free agents. We’ll hear of some deals breaking throughout that window, even though they can’t become official.
With that said, it’s time to start breaking down the 2022 free agency class, which includes Jameis Winston, Mitchell Trubisky, and Teddy Bridgewater at the QB position (there will be no Russell Wilson game changers available in free agency). Be sure to follow Fantasy Points throughout free agency for in-depth breakdowns of every major (and minor) move. We’ll be tracking every off-season transaction from a fantasy perspective through our “Off-season Tracker” articles and Graham Barfield’s “Fantasy Fallout” pieces. We’ll also be constantly updating our Best Ball rankings if you’re looking to get an early start to draft season.
NOTE: Players are loosely ranked based on talent, age, plus previous and expected future fantasy relevance.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Free Agency information courtesy of OverTheCap.com
Potentially Fantasy Relevant
Mitchell Trubisky (Buf, 28) — Perhaps one of the biggest surprise developments of the last few weeks is just how glowing the “inside” view of Trubisky is. Despite Trubisky throwing just 8 passes in the 2021 season as a backup to Josh Allen — one of them being intercepted — the prevailing belief around league circles is that Trubisky’s “career reset” went extremely well in Buffalo behind the scenes. The fact of the matter is he’s going to sign somewhere to be a starting quarterback. In fact, the market for Trubisky could be so robust that he might not even have to compete anywhere, which is probably shocking to many who saw his career flame out in Chicago so spectacularly. Still, Matt Nagy was clearly an issue, and Trubisky does have a 29-21 record as a starter. One thing Trubisky’s time in Buffalo apparently taught him to do was to rely more on his natural athleticism and mobility, which could honestly make him pretty useful for fantasy in the right spot.
Inside Mitchell Trubisky's career reset in Buffalo, and why the Bills believe he should once again be an NFL starter entering free agency.
Jordan Poyer: "One-thousand percent."
Josh Allen: "The dude is an AthLete." https://t.co/g5pn0hElpq
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 22, 2022
Potential landing spot: Trubisky will be able to hand-pick his spot given the reported interest, but how about going back to North Carolina (where he played college ball) and joining the Panthers? Matt Rhule is on the hot seat, and likely won’t want his job to rest on a rookie QB. We already know Sam Darnold isn’t the answer.
Jameis Winston (NO, 28) — Winston was 5-2 as the Saints’ starting QB in 2021, with 14 TD passes to 3 INT, before tearing his ACL and undergoing surgery in November. While he averaged just 25.2 pass attempts per game in his six full performances, note well that Winston was working with, potentially, the worst set of receivers in the NFL. The fact that he chucked just 3 picks was a huge positive step for him. A popular teammate, Winston will likely get a shot to compete for a starting job if his recovery is going well.
Potential landing spot: Nothing makes more sense for Winston than returning to the Saints and continuing his relationship with OC Pete Carmichael. Despite Sean Payton’s retirement, virtually the entire staff under new head coach Dennis Allen remains.
Marcus Mariota (LV, 29) — Mariota has spent the last two seasons as a backup to Derek Carr in Vegas. He made no starts, but was used in a “Mariota package” with the Raiders in 2021, using his running ability to give defenses a different look. Mariota attempted just 2 passes in 2021, but posted 13/87/1 as a runner. Unfortunately, as has often been the case for Mariota, he didn’t manage to escape the injury bug despite barely playing. A quad injury cost him a month and a half early in 2021, and it will be fair to question if he has the durability to be a full-time starter.
Potential landing spot: Pittsburgh makes a ton of sense if the Steelers can improve their offensive line. OC Matt Canada loves the RPO and zone read games, and Mariota would give him both. The Steelers clearly want to build around the run game given their first-round selection of Najee Harris last year. Mariota would help in that department, though he’d likely be bad news for target hound Diontae Johnson.
Teddy Bridgewater (Den, 30) — Bridgewater is a serviceable NFL QB, but teams that have him have constantly looked for upgrades. Despite coaxing good seasons out of DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel with the Panthers in 2020, Carolina moved on from Teddy given some late-game meltdowns and poor TD production (probably a mistake, given what they ended up with), and Bridgewater landed in Denver. However, despite a strong receiving group while throwing more TDs (18) and fewer INTs (7) than he had with Carolina the year previous, his tape was poor, and he’ll likely be looking for a new gig in 2022. Teddy has four seasons with 12 or more starts at QB, on three different teams, and still hasn’t had a 20-TD-pass season. Meanwhile, injuries have been a huge factor — we know about the knee, but more concerningly a horrifying concussion ended his season in December. As an NFL QB, he’ll keep your boat afloat, but you better not expect that boat to go anywhere while you wait for rescue.
Potential landing spot: Bridgewater might be the inner tube for a team striking out on a speedboat this off-season. The Colts, perhaps.
Andy Dalton (Chi, 35) — Dalton was signed last off-season to be the Bears’ starting QB in a failed attempt to save Matt Nagy’s job, though Chicago ended up trading up for Justin Fields. Dalton started just six games as he dealt with knee and hand injuries, and like the rest of the Bears offense not named David Montgomery, he looked broken, throwing 8 TD to 9 INT. Dalton’s days of competing for a starting job look to be over at this point, though he obviously has the veteran experience to be a valuable backup, as he was in Dallas in 2020.
Tyrod Taylor (Hou, 33) — Tyrod has been a solid starter and useful fantasy player in the past, but injuries have been a huge issue for him. A hamstring problem popped up for him in Week 2, costing him six games, and then an injured wrist in December left Davis Mills as the Texans starter. The rookie was relatively impressive, so if Taylor returns to the Texans, it will be as a backup, at best. He might be sick of getting benched for rookies on bad teams, and he’d be a relatively in-demand backup if he chooses to go that route. His days as even a “bridge” starting QB are likely over, however.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Was, 40) — A serious hip injury ended Fitzpatrick’s campaign as the Team’s starting QB after just 6 pass attempts. Now 40, it appears highly unlikely a squad will sign Fitz with the express intention of starting him the way Washington did last year. But if he wants to continue playing, there will certainly be a team willing to bring him in as a veteran backup QB. It will not be the Commanders, however — coach Ron Rivera already told reporters they are moving on.
Cam Newton (Car, 33) — Cam’s return to the Panthers gave them a bit of a midseason “vibes” spark, but that was about it. In eight appearances — five starts — Cam threw 4 TD to 4 INT, completed just 54.8% of his passes for a career-low 9.9 yards per completion, with a horrendous 64.4 rating and 25.5 QBR. Years of injuries have taken their toll on Cam — he simply can’t throw it anymore. He’s a weapon in the red zone as a runner, scoring 5 rushing TD in just eight games, but it’s a viable question if he’s a competent enough thrower to be a backup in the NFL.
Jacoby Brissett (Mia, 30) — Brissett is an experienced backup QB with some starting pedigree, though it’s more likely he has to take a job as a pure backup than as one who will be competing for a legit #1 job. He went 2-3 as the Dolphins’ starter in 2021 for an injured Tua Tagovailoa, throwing 5 TD to 4 INT. Brissett simply doesn’t have the pedigree to be the starting QB on a team with designs of airing the ball out — he’s averaged just 199.6 passing yards per game in 37 career starts with three different teams, mostly with the Colts. But he takes care of the ball, with a very low interception rate of 1.4% in his career, and he’s also excellent on QB sneaks, so much so that teams have put in a specific Brissett “sneak” package behind the likes of Tua and Philip Rivers. In ways, he can be a caretaker in the same way that Teddy Bridgewater is.
Blaine Gabbert (TB, 33)
Geno Smith (Sea, 32)
Colt McCoy (Ari, 36)
Joe Flacco (NYJ, 37)
Trevor Siemian (NO, 31)
Mike Glennon (NYG, 33)
Sean Mannion (Min, 30)
Brian Hoyer (NE, 37)
Chad Henne (KC, 37)
Josh Rosen (Atl, 25)
Chase Daniel (LAC, 36)
Tim Boyle (Det, 28)
AJ McCarron (Atl, 32)
Josh Dobbs (Pit, 27)
Jeff Driskel (Hou, 29)
Restricted Free Agents
Free Agency information courtesy of OverTheCap.com
Potentially Fantasy Relevant
Tyler Huntley (Bal, 24) — Huntley started four games this year for an injured or sick Lamar Jackson, and played the majority of another game. In those contests, Huntley averaged 17.7 FPG, despite throwing just 3 TD to 4 INT, which would have ranked him a respectable QB14 on the full season. That’s because he managed 44/284/2 rushing in those games. At 56.8 rushing yards per game in those five games, Huntley ranked in between Jackson (63.9) and Jalen Hurts (52.3), the two most productive runners at the QB position in 2021. His season fell apart a little bit late, throwing 3 INT with no TDs over his final two games with the Ravens falling out of the playoff picture (Baltimore lost its final six games, with Huntley playing the majority of snaps in four of them), but he did plenty of good things that would make him an attractive fantasy starter if pressed into action again.
Potential landing spot: Huntley is an exclusive-rights free agent, meaning he literally can’t turn down an offer from the Ravens if they choose to tender him a contract. Given his solid backup play, there is no reason for the Ravens to move on from him. He’ll be back.
Mike White (NYJ, 27) — White developed cult hero status for Jet fans in a four-game run filling in for the injured Zach Wilson, throwing for over 400 yards in his first career start. At that point, he was actually outplaying the rookie Wilson, but Wilson made strides late and obviously will be the Jets’ starter headed into 2022. However, Joe Flacco is an unrestricted free agent, and White certainly did enough to suggest he’s a capable backup.
Potential landing spot: White is a restricted free agent, so the Jets have every avenue to keeping him if they wish. He’s a young guy who certainly has the look of a decent backup.
Kyle Allen (Was, 26)
Garrett Gilbert (Was, 31)
Dwayne Haskins (Pit, 25)
David Blough (Det, 27)
Jake Fromm (NYG, 24) — Fromm is an exclusive rights free agent.
John Wolford (LAR, 27) — Wolford is an exclusive rights free agent.
Brett Rypien (Den, 26) — Rypien is an exclusive rights free agent.
Logan Woodside (Ten, 27) — Woodside is an exclusive rights free agent.