Opinion & Analysis

NFL: Under The Radar Player Moves

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Oliver OngOpinion & Analysis
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It has now been 143 days since the Rams scored a 4th quarter touchdown to defeat the Bengals and lift the Lombardi trophy, in just their first season with new quarterback Matt Stafford. This leaves us 64 days until week 1 kicks off and we get to hear Scott Hanson say the most beautiful words in the world (at least for me): 7 hours of commercial-free football, starts now!

Now, Matt Stafford was the perfect example of how one player can transform a team’s fortunes. This year we have seen some blockbuster moves, especially in the wide receiver market, with players such as Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams making the headlines and resetting the market while they do it (not to mention Christian Kirk, who managed to pocket himself 20mil a year).

These moves have got everyone talking, and rightly so. But it does mean that a few of the ‘lower profile’ moves might have slipped under the radar a bit. Here’s a quick refresher of some of the moves that I think could prove valuable in the 2022 season.

Raheem Mostert – San Francisco 49rs to the Miami Dolphins

This selection comes with a major caveat that it could all mean nothing if his unfortunate reputation for injuries continues. However, we shall take the optimistic approach and manifest a 17-game season for Raheem Mostert. Mostert has followed in McDaniel’s footsteps, swapping West Coast for East Coast and settling in sunny Miami.

Did you know that Mostert has never averaged under 5 yards a carry? Yes, these are slightly false numbers given his injury history, but it shows that when on the field, he can be an elite talent at the running back position. For Miami, who have struggled to run the ball over the last few seasons, the partnership of the speedy Mostert and run game wizard McDaniel could prove to be the perfect cure.

Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints to the Baltimore Ravens

If you played fantasy NFL last year, you will likely remember the ‘pass funnel’ that was the Baltimore defence. In total, they allowed 4742 passing yards against them, ranking them dead last in that category.

For context, the best team in this category, Buffalo Bills, only allowed 2771 yards against them throughout the 17-game regular season. That’s just under 2000 yards difference and evidence that help is needed.

Enter, Marcus Williams (and a couple of others…). It will take more than just 1 man to help counteract 2000 or even 1000 pass yards across a season and, thankfully, the Ravens will also benefit from the return of CB Marcus Peters and the addition of exciting rookie safety Kyle Hamilton.

Add in the services of one of the leagues better free safeties across the last couple of years, and that defence could soon be dominating in the fashion we have come to expect in the last few seasons.

La’el Collins – Dallas Cowboys to Cincinnati Bengals

This one is simple. Joe Burrow just took the Bengals to the Super Bowl and is one of the most excited young QBs in the league. He was, however, also the most sacked QB last year, being taken down 51 times in his 16 starts (he was rested in the final game). His connection with the rookie, and ex-college teammate, Ja’Marr Chase was electric, resulting in 101 yards and a TD in their first NFL game together. With Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd rounding out one of the scariest WR cores in the league, the Bengals should have great motivation to keep their star QB on his feet.

La’el Collins comes in to add some valuable experience and undeniable talent to a Bengals OL that, despite the sacks, showed some potential last year.

Jonah Williams played 100% of the snaps across 16 games in his second-year season, providing an excellent bookend to pair with Collins. Joining Collins on the new-look Bengals O-Line will also be Alex Kappa and Ted Karras, proving that the Bengals recognised this position as an absolute priority this off-season.

The NFL starts sooner than you think...But have you forgotten who has moved squads?

James Bradberry – New York Giants to Philadelphia Eagles

It’s always juicy when a player swaps over to a division rival.  On the surface, it seemed a bit of a shock to see the Giants willing to part ways with their top cornerback. They opted to prioritise the cap space and cut their premier defender when no trade partner could be found.

Bradberry is a rock-solid option at one of the league’s toughest positions, and the City of Brotherly Love will have taken great pleasure in watching him leave their division rivals to sign with the Eagles. This is a low-risk signing as Bradberry joins on a one-year contract after missing just 2 games in his last 5 seasons and was selected into the pro-bowl in the 2020 season.

He joins a secondary that already looked strong with names such as Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox. Add in the strong moves they made on offence and the Eagles may just be a team to watch next year.

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