HCC Community Reacts to NFL Free Agency and Draft

NFL fans at HCC display mixed feelings regarding their favorite teams’ respective offseasons

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The 2022 NFL offseason has been marked by a series of big-name free agent signings and a chaotic NFL Draft rife with trades.

Ozair Hussain

With the 2022 NFL free agency period ending on April 22 and the 2022 NFL Draft wrapping up on April 30, fans are looking toward getting their first glimpse at their team’s new players when organized team activities (OTAs) begin on May 24.

This year’s free agency included a plethora of notable signings, whereas the draft was abundant in trades, particularly in the first round.

Some of the more significant signings included wide receiver Christian Kirk signing a four-year, $84 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, defensive end Randy Gregory coming to terms on a five-year, $70 million deal with the Denver Broncos and linebacker Von Miller agreeing to a six-year, $120 million deal with the Buffalo Bills.

Additional big signings included cornerback J.C. Jackson reaching a 5-year, $85.2 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers and safety Marcus Williams joining the Baltimore Ravens on a 5-year, $70 million deal.

An explosive free agency period was followed by a busy NFL draft, which included the most trades involving first-round picks (9) since 2004.

Some of the more noteworthy trades included the New Orleans Saints trading three picks in the top 120 to the Washington Commanders for the No. 11 pick, the Detroit Lions trading three early round picks to the Minnesota Vikings for the No. 12 and 46 picks, and the Philadelphia Eagles trading four picks — all of which were from the first four rounds — to the Houston Texans for the No. 13 pick.

Kate Seagroves, head coach of the HCC women’s soccer team and lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, expressed mixed feelings about the Cowboys’ free agency.

“On one hand, they brought back some of their guys that helped them have the successful year they had last year,” Seagroves said. “On the other hand, they [released] some pretty key positions that have yet to be filled.”

Some of the players the Cowboys re-signed were defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., linebacker Leighton Vander-Esch and safety Jayron Kearse. However, some of the players no longer on the team are Gregory, wide receiver Amari Cooper and tackle La’el Collins.

Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller will join the Buffalo Bills on a six-year deal worth more than $100 million. (Brooks Ward; Flickr)

One of Seagroves’ favorite moves was the team franchise tagging tight end Dalton Schultz. She hopes Schultz and the Cowboys can agree on a long-term extension because he “really stepped up the last few seasons and [I see] great things from him.”

Seagroves was not pleased, however, with the Cowboys’ decision to trade wide receiver Amari Cooper and a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for a pair of 2022 late-round picks.

She “really liked him and felt he was the reason [quarterback Dak Prescott] had the success he had [when the Cowboys traded for Cooper] a few seasons ago.”

As someone who does not watch much college football, Seagroves did not have a strong opinion about the Cowboys’ draft. The Cowboys selected tackle Tyler Smith at No. 24, but the board didn’t fall in their favor, as many talented offensive linemen were selected in the top half of the draft.

“Based on the podcasts I listen to, people are giving them a C,” Seagroves said, though she suggested the Cowboys drafted “a little bit better than that.”

HCC alumni Sebastian Maric, a diehard Cleveland Browns fan, was satisfied with his team’s free agency period, grading it as “a B+.”

Maric’s favorite move was the acquisition of Cooper from the Cowboys, though he was skeptical on why the team re-signed¬†kicker Chase McLaughlin, who made just 15 of 21 field goal attempts last season.

Maric considered the Browns’ draft as “average,” mainly because the team didn’t have a first-round pick as a result of the Deshaun Watson trade. However, despite the limited draft capital, Maric “[loved] drafting [former LSU kicker Cade York] in round 4.”

Blaine Lowry, a part-time employee at HCC and passionate Green Bay Packers fan, felt “indifferent” about the Packers’ free agency, which “definitely had its ups and downs.”

The Packers were able to retain quarterback and two-time reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers with a three-year, $150 million deal, but took away his favorite target, trading wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for the No. 22 and 53 picks.

“It started off on a great note when [the Packers] got Rodgers back,” Lowry explained, “then it quickly went downhill when they couldn’t get Adams [to resign].”

Losing Adams was crushing for Lowry, who quipped that “Rodgers is going to have to put it in the air and run downfield and catch it himself.”

With the Packers’ top three wide receivers now being Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and the newly signed Sammy Watkins, Lowry hoped Green Bay would “address [getting a wide receiver] early in the draft,” as the team hasn’t selected a wide receiver in the first round since 2002.

Four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will remain in Green Bay for at least three more seasons. (Deposit Photos)

While that trend continued in 2022, the Packers did select a receiver fairly early, nabbing former North Dakota State standout Christian Watson with the 34th overall pick.

Watson finished last season with 43 receptions, 800 yards and 7 touchdowns to go along with 15 carries, 114 yards and a touchdown.

In regards to the draft, Lowry was disappointed the Packers didn’t trade up to select an elite receiver but was “happy” with the upgrades to the defense.

His favorite selection was “100%” Watson, while he was the least enthusiastic about the team drafting former Wake Forest guard Zach Tom in the fourth round.

Athletic trainer and adjunct professor Tim Happel, a Baltimore Ravens fan since 1996, thinks the Ravens “have mostly done good” and “addressed a lot of the needs they have” in free agency.

However, Happel wished the Ravens “would’ve done a bit more” during the offseason and hopes they have “another move or two left in them” before the season starts.

While he was unsure what he wanted to see from the Ravens during the draft, Happel was pleased with how Baltimore used its picks.

“I think they had a solid draft,” he said. “Their first two picks were widely regarded as the top players in their [respective] position[s],” referring to safety Kyle Hamilton, whom the Ravens picked at No. 14, and center Tyler Linderbaum, who was picked 25th overall.

Happel’s favorite pick was David Ojabo, who Baltimore selected with the No. 45 pick. Ojabo was considered one of the top linebackers in the draft before suffering a torn Achilles¬†at his pro day. The former Michigan Wolverine finished last season with 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 3 passes defended.

On the other hand, Happel’s least favorite pick was punter Jordan Stout, who was picked in the fourth round. Happel liked Sam Koch, the Ravens’ current punter, and believed drafting a punter that early in the draft was aggressive, even if it was a need.

The Marcus Williams signing was the most significant move to Happel, who expressed that Williams is “the guy I’m most excited to see.” However, Happel didn’t like the Ravens “not being aggressive enough” addressing their needs at defensive end and outside linebacker.

It will be interesting to see how each team’s free agency and draft will correlate to success on the field when the 2022-23 NFL regular season kicks off on Thursday, September 8. The NFL season inches even closer to kickoff with the schedule reveal, which will occur on May 12 at 8 p.m. E.T.