Hindsight is 20/20, both in life and in the NFL. There were 38 NFL trades between the start of the 2022 league year in March and the beginning of the regular season in September, and front offices on both sides of those deals probably felt good about the swaps when they occurred.
But with 10 weeks of the regular season in the books, we can begin to re-evaluate some of those trades with a critical eye. In some cases, a trade was a clear win-win with positive results for both teams; in others, a deal obviously benefited one club more than their rival. We also saw one trade that both teams would probably like to undo (and you might be able to guess which deal that was).
Let’s walk through the offseason’s 10 most significant offseason trades in chronological order and determine which sides of the deal are pleased with the results.
Reassessing 2022’s Biggest NFL Offseason Trades
A note on listing draft compensation — when denoting an NFL draft choice from 2022, I’ll list the round followed by the overall pick number. For example, the first pick of the second round (the 33rd overall choice) would be expressed as 2-33.
March 16 | Commanders Acquire Carson Wentz
Terms: Commanders acquire Carson Wentz, 2-47, 7-240; Colts acquire 2-42, 3-73, conditional 2023 third.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Washington
The Washington Commanders reportedly created a list of 42 quarterbacks they could potentially target in the 2022 offseason. They ultimately landed on Wentz, but his results this year have been anything but inspiring.
Wentz only started six games for the Commanders before going down with a fractured right ring finger. Washington went 2-4 in those contests. Their two victories — over the Jaguars in Week 1 and the Bears in Week 6 — came by an average of 5.5 points. In their four losses, the Commanders were defeated by an average of 11 points.
Among the 24 quarterbacks with at least 230 attempts this season, Wentz ranks 23rd in adjusted net yards per attempt, ahead of only Matthew Stafford. Instead of serving as a panacea for Washington’s offensive woes, Wentz has become another member of the Commanders’ QB carousel. Washington can exit Wentz’s contract with no dead money next offseason, and it seems likely they’ll do just that.
Taylor Heinicke has been better in Wentz’s stead, and the Commanders have posted improved offensive success and more wins with Heinicke under center. It’s unclear if Wentz will regain his starting job when he’s eligible to return from injured reserve next week.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Indianapolis
It’s difficult to imagine the Commanders were facing much competition in the Wentz sweepstakes, so credit to Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard for getting at least one guaranteed third-round pick in exchange for the much-maligned quarterback.
Indy will pick up a 2023 second-rounder if Wentz plays at least 70% of Washington’s snaps this season; otherwise, the pick stays in the third round. If Wentz reclaims his starting position in Week 11 and takes every snap for the rest of the year, he could hit that threshold. But unless the Commanders are threatening for a playoff spot, they’ll probably sit Wentz to ensure that pick doesn’t get upgraded.
Wentz had no future in Indianapolis following his late-season implosion in 2021, and this trade allowed Ballard to defray some of the cost of acquiring him from the Eagles in the first place. Indianapolis would do this deal again in a heartbeat.
Verdict: Commanders would undo the Wentz trade, but Colts would redo it.
March 16 | Chargers Acquire Khalil Mack
Terms: Chargers acquire Khalil Mack; Bears acquire 2-48, 2023 sixth.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Los Angeles
Plenty has gone wrong for the Los Angeles Chargers this season. Several of their key contributors, including Joey Bosa, Rashawn Slater, Mike Williams, and J.C. Jackson, have suffered serious injuries. Brandon Staley’s defense is a defective unit despite costly offseason investments. Los Angeles wouldn’t be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Thus, the result of the Mack trade has been a breath of fresh air amidst a somewhat disappointing start to the Chargers’ season. Through 10 weeks, Mack is tied for 10th in the NFL with seven sacks, and he’s also played outstanding run defense.
Mack is probably getting a little lucky in terms of sack production. He’s only generated nine quarterback hits (tied for 42nd in the league), while his 13.1% pass-rush win rate is just 72nd among qualifying edge defenders, per PFF. Still, he’s been a stabilizing force on a Bosa-less defense. Just imagine how poor the Chargers’ defense would be if Mack weren’t around.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Chicago
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles wasn’t under any illusions about the state of the team he inherited in the spring. Chicago needed a complete rebuild, and Poles hastened that process by trading away the 31-year-old Mack, who will likely be nearing the twilight of his career when the Bears hit their next competitive window.
Poles also shipped out Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith in the months since dealing Mack, signaling a total youth movement on defense. That movement will include safety Jaquan Brisker, one of 2022’s most exciting defensive rookies and the player whom the Bears drafted with the selection they received for Mack.
Verdict: Both the Chargers and Bears would do the Mack deal again.
March 16 | Browns Acquire Amari Cooper
Terms: Browns acquire Amari Cooper, 6-202; Cowboys acquire 5-155, 6-193.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Cleveland
I’d love to know if Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry executed the Cooper trade in anticipation of a wild wide receiver trade market, or if Cleveland simply got lucky. Wideout prices exploded just one day after the Browns officially acquired Cooper and remained costly throughout the offseason (as we’ll touch on later).
Cooper joined the Browns with three years and $60 million left on his contract, which now seems like a perfectly reasonable total. All Cleveland had to do to pick up a 27-year-old WR1 on a team-friendly deal was sacrifice a fifth-round pick and move down nine spots in the sixth round.
The trade has been worth it and then some for Cleveland. Cooper has dominated the Browns’ passing game — his 27% team target share ranks 11th league-wide. He’ll always be a streaky player, but a 42-585-5 line through nine games puts Cooper on pace for a terrific debut campaign in Cleveland.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys would like to have this one back. Dallas remains in a good position even after losing to the Packers on Sunday, and their offense is starting to catch up to their defense following Dak Prescott’s recent return from injury.
Still, the Cowboys clearly need help at wide receiver. CeeDee Lamb is an excellent pass catcher, but he requires a running mate, and it doesn’t seem like Michael Gallup — who’s yet to top 50 yards this season — is fully recovered from his January ACL tear.
Dallas looked into Brandin Cooks and Jerry Jeudy at the trade deadline, and club management can’t stop talking about signing free agent Odell Beckham Jr. They should have just tried to keep Cooper, even if that meant reworking his deal or restructuring another veteran to fit the wideout on the books.
Verdict: Cleveland would redo the Cooper trade, but the Cowboys would undo it.
March 16 | Broncos Acquire Russell Wilson
Terms: Broncos acquire Russell Wilson, 4-116; Seahawks acquire Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, 1-9, 2-40, 5-145, 2023 first, 2023 second.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Denver
As a supposed solution to the Denver Broncos’ never-ending quarterback problem, Wilson was supposed to mark the beginning of a bright era in Denver. With a new head coach and a new scheme in place, Wilson would team with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Javonte Williams to create a dominant offensive attack.
The Broncos so strongly believed that line of logic that they locked Wilson into a five-year, $245 million extension sight unseen. Denver can’t realistically exit the contract, which includes $124 million fully guaranteed and made Wilson the second-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, until the 2026 offseason.
That’s a concern! Wilson’s completion percentage, interception rate, QBR, and adjusted net yards per attempt are all at career-worst marks, and he’s on pace to absorb nearly 60 sacks. Among 33 qualifying quarterbacks, Wilson is 27th in EPA + CPOE composite.
Wilson will turn 34 years old later this month. Tom Brady can play until he’s 45, but it’s probably a mistake to assume that every signal-caller — even those as accomplished as Wilson — can maintain above-average play into their late 30s and beyond.
Maybe Wilson can turn things around, but that will be hard to do this season, especially with Williams, Tim Patrick, and left tackle Garett Bolles already on IR and Jeudy banged up after Week 10. His struggles could theoretically lead to Nathaniel Hackett’s ouster after only one year at the helm.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Seattle
It seemed impossible at the time of the trade, but the Seattle Seahawks are getting better quarterback play in 2022 than they received from Wilson in 2021. Geno Smith’s production is on par with Wilson’s 2020 performance and just a tier below Wilson’s peak output.
On top of that, Seattle used the early-round selections acquired from Denver to draft left tackle Charles Cross and edge rusher Boye Mafe, locking in toolsy players on rookie contracts at premium positions. They’ll also receive the Broncos’ first- and second-rounders in 2023, which as of today, would slot in as the seventh and 43rd overall choices.
And let’s not forget about the veteran assets Denver gave Seattle. Noah Fant is third on the team in receptions and yardage. He’s only 24 years old and under contract for $6.85 million in 2023. Defensive lineman Shelby Harris, included in the trade to help offset salary, has consistently generated pressure up front.
The Wilson trade has already turned into a heist for the Seahawks just halfway through the 2022 season. As the weeks, months, and years go on, Seattle may only look wiser.
Verdict: The Broncos would undo the Wilson deal, but the Seahawks would make the trade again.
March 17 | Raiders Acquire Davante Adams
Terms: Raiders acquire Davante Adams; Packers acquire 1-22, 2-53.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Las Vegas
It’s not as if Adams hasn’t been productive for the Las Vegas Raiders. He has.
The two-time All-Pro is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns, sixth in yardage, and eighth in receptions. If Adams continues at his current pace, he’ll finish with 108 receptions, 1,481 yards, and 15 touchdowns, better than his four-year average with the Packers from 2018-21 (108-1,328-12).
And yet, the Raiders are 2-7. They just lost to Jeff Saturday in his first game as the Colts’ interim head coach, aren’t anywhere near playoff contention, and would hold the second overall pick in the 2023 draft if the season ended today.
First-year head coach Josh McDaniels is already facing questions, leading to a show of support from owner Mark Davis on Monday.
Of course, none of this is Adams’ fault. But it’s apparent the Raiders’ roster is in a different place than McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler may have thought when Las Vegas acquired the ex-Packers receiver.
The Raiders still have a plethora of offensive line issues. With Darren Waller still battling injuries, they don’t have a reliable No. 2 pass catcher behind Adams. Meanwhile, Patrick Graham’s defense ranks dead last in DVOA.
Vegas probably isn’t as poor as its record. Their -23 point differential means they should be closer to a 4-5 team than a 2-7 squad. But it’s not as if a 4-5 club would represent a serious competitor in the AFC West or the conference as a whole.
By trading for Adams, the Raiders proclaimed themselves contenders, but it’s evident they aren’t there yet.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Green Bay
This is the only trade that I think both teams would vote to undo. As much as the Adams trade hasn’t worked out for the Raiders, it’s perhaps gone even more poorly for the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay didn’t necessarily want to trade Adams. The veteran receiver confirmed the Packers offered him more than the five-year, $140 million contract he eventually signed with the Raiders. But Adams, perhaps worried about Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay, wanted to return to his home state and reunite with his former Fresno State teammate, Derek Carr, and the Packers honored his request.
Without Adams, Green Bay has limped to a 4-6 record. Before Sunday’s 31-point explosion against the Cowboys, the Packers had averaged just 17.1 points per game, while their pass offense ranked 24th in dropback EPA.
Romeo Doubs (now injured), Allen Lazard, and Christian Watson (three TDs against Dallas) have all flashed, but Rodgers doesn’t have the same sense of rhythm and timing with those options as he displayed with Adams.
The pair had a mind meld that Rodgers hasn’t developed with his other receivers, and the lack of connection has shown up in the mercurial quarterback’s performance.
Even if Adams was still around, the Packers might not have been able to compete with the now 8-1 Vikings in the NFC North. But if they’d found a way to retain the 29-year-old, they could’ve had a better shot at a Wild Card berth.
Verdict: Both the Raiders and Packers would undo the Adams swap.
March 21 | Colts Acquire Matt Ryan
Terms: Colts acquire Matt Ryan; Falcons acquire 3-82.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Indianapolis
If you predicted the highlight of Matt Ryan’s season with the Colts would be a 39-yard scramble in a game led by interim head coach Jeff Saturday, you’re probably the same lucky person who won the $2.04 billion Powerball lottery.
It’s safe to say things haven’t turned out the way Ryan or the Colts envisioned. Instead of dominating the AFC South, Indy is on the fringes of playoff contention. The Colts fired head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, then shockingly replaced Reich with Saturday, who’d never coached at the college or NFL level.
Indy believed the 37-year-old Ryan could be a multi-year solution to their QB issues, but they benched him for two weeks in favor of former sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger. Saturday put Ryan back in the starting lineup for Week 10, and the Colts earned their first victory since Week 6.
With the benefit of hindsight, Indianapolis would realize their roster isn’t as talented as they thought. The Colts lack talent at premium positions, their o-line is a mess, and they need more playmakers. Ryan isn’t necessarily the problem, but he isn’t a cure-all, either.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Atlanta
Totally fine. The Atlanta Falcons arguably should have tried to trade Ryan before the 2021 season, which would have saved them millions of dollars in cap space that they could have used to invest in other areas of the roster.
Atlanta hadn’t been over .500 with Ryan under center since 2017, and their squad required a rebuild. Despite his long-standing ties to the team, it was time for the Falcons to move on. Given how Ryan has looked at times with the Colts, a third-round pick is an excellent return.
Verdict: The Colts would probably undo the Ryan trade, but the Falcons would do it again.
March 23 | Dolphins Acquire Tyreek Hill
Terms: Dolphins acquire Tyreek Hill; Chiefs acquire 1-29, 2-50, 4-121, 2023 fourth, 2023 sixth.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Miami
The Miami Dolphins’ decision to trade for Hill, in tandem with their move to hire Mike McDaniel as head coach, has turned around the franchise’s fortunes, rescued Tua Tagovailoa’s career, and turned Miami into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Not bad, Chris Grier!
While he’s no longer on pace to break the single-season receiving-yardage record, Hill still ranks first in the NFL in receptions and yards. He leads the league by a mile in yards per route run, and he’s posted at least 140 yards in half of his games.
Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and McDaniel’s scheme create swaths of space for the Dolphins’ offense to maneuver, and Tagovailoa has become a master of finding and hitting the right read. Tua leads all quarterbacks in EPA per play, QBR, passer rating, ANY/A, and touchdown rate. He’d be the leading candidate for MVP if he hadn’t missed two full games and parts of two others with head and back injuries.
The Dolphins are a near-lock for the playoffs. As an organization, they’re in the best position they’ve been in for decades. That’s not all because of Hill, but he’s played a massive role in Miami’s transformation.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Kansas City
As amazing as Hill has been for the Dolphins, there are a few reasons to believe the Kansas City Chiefs would make this trade over again.
Let’s start on the field. Kansas City didn’t procure a like-for-like replacement for Hill because no such player exists. Instead, they replaced him in the aggregate by signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, drafting Skyy Moore in the second round, and trading for Kadarius Toney at the deadline.
Through 10 weeks, the Chiefs rank first in points per game, yards per play, and efficiency, and second in yards per game. While Hill is posting a season for the ages in Miami, Kansas City hasn’t missed a beat. That’s a testament to Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.
Trading Hill has also given the Chiefs financial flexibility. Kansas City understood that if you have Mahomes under center, you probably don’t need a wide receiver making $30 million per season. Combine the 2022 cap charges for Smith-Schuster, MVS, Moore, and Toney, and you’re looking at a figure below $10 million.
By saving money on pass catchers and trusting Mahomes and Reid to make hay, the Chiefs can reinvest those savings at other positions of need. They can continue to bring in highly-paid offensive linemen like Joe Thuney and Orlando Brown Jr. or add veteran pieces to their defense, even as Mahomes’ cap numbers approach the $40 and $50 million range.
It sounds odd to say Kansas City is better off without Hill, especially as he dominates for the Dolphins. But when you factor in his salary and how Mahomes can elevate his receivers, the Chiefs made the right call from a roster-building perspective.
Verdict: Both the Dolphins and the Chiefs would redo the Hill deal.
April 28 | Eagles Acquire A.J. Brown
Terms: Eagles acquired A.J. Brown; Titans acquired 1-18, 3-101.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Philadelphia
Like the Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles had questions about their young quarterback after the 2021 campaign. And like Miami, they decided to give their signal-caller a WR1.
Brown hasn’t posted the same sort of volume that Hill has with the Dolphins, but he’s been outstanding nonetheless. With 44 receptions, 725 yards, and six touchdowns through nine games, Brown is on pace to match or exceed his previous career highs.
He’s also become an alpha for Jalen Hurts while pushing DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and the rest of Philadelphia’s receivers one notch down the depth chart. Brown and Hurts nearly singlehandedly gave the Eagles the win against the Steelers in Week 8, when they connected six times for 156 yards and three scores.
Philadelphia also signed Brown to an extremely team-friendly deal after acquiring him from the Titans. His $25 million annual average value ranks fifth among wideouts, while his three-year cash value ($69 million) is seventh. Brown is younger than every receiver ahead of him in both metrics except for DK Metcalf.
Howie Roseman should be Executive of the Year after adding pieces like Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson (another trade he’d easily redo), but Brown has been the Eagles’ most impactful acquisition.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans likely figured they were in line to take a step back this season. With Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry a year older, Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel may not have felt Tennessee’s roster was in a position to contend again after earning the AFC’s No. 1 seed last season.
And yet, here we are again. The Titans are 6-3, sit as the conference’s third seed, and hold a two-game AFC South lead over the Colts. Vrabel’s team has used a lot of smoke and mirrors to get where they are. Most of the credit should go to Tennessee’s defense, one of the NFL’s best against the run and above-average against the pass.
Meanwhile, the Titans’ pass offense ranks just 22nd in EPA per dropback. They’ve posted only 21 passing plays of 20+ yards, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Robert Woods, Tennessee’s leading receiver with 24 catches for 266 yards, is no longer an explosive player.
Treylon Burks, whom the Titans drafted with the first-round pick they received in exchange for Brown, could eventually become a big-play threat. But it probably won’t happen in his rookie year, especially after he missed four games of development due to injury.
Tennessee could use a player like Brown right about now. So why did they trade him? The Titans’ front office pegged it as a financial decision, but they could have made the money work if they wanted to.
Brown’s 2022 cap charge is just $5.68 million, and he won’t have a $13+ million cap hit until 2025. Those would have been easily affordable numbers for Tennessee, especially if Tannehill and Henry’s contracts come off the books soon.
Instead of the $25 million salary he eventually landed from Philadelphia, Brown says the Titans offered him just $16 million annually, with the chance to make $20 million per year via incentives. It was a mistake that Robinson and Vrabel are likely regretting.
Verdict: The Eagles would redo the Brown trade, but the Titans would not.
April 28 | Cardinals Acquire Marquise Brown
Terms: Cardinals acquire Marquise Brown and 3-100; Ravens acquire 1-23.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Arizona
The headline of the Brown trade was that the Arizona Cardinals gave up a first-round pick for Hollywood. But when you factor in the third-rounder Baltimore sent back to Arizona, the Cards’ only sacrificed the equivalent of a late second-round choice.
That’s a pretty good price for a 25-year-old receiver with Brown’s track record, especially given the packages that rival teams traded for other pass catchers. He’s also under contract through 2023 at roughly $15.5 million in total.
Brown was on pace through six games to set new career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. With DeAndre Hopkins suspended, Brown was Kyler Murray’s No. 1 receiver and performed as such with a 43-485-3 line.
A foot injury has sidelined Brown since Week 6, but he could return after Arizona’s Week 12 bye. At that point, we’ll have to see how he’s reintegrated into an offense that now features Hopkins and Rondale Moore in prominent roles.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Baltimore
Brown wasn’t happy with his role in the Baltimore Ravens’ offense and requested a trade. Baltimore’s front office is typically accommodating, and they may not have wanted to get involved in Brown’s looming contract negotiations.
Still, the Ravens could absolutely benefit from having a receiver like Brown. Rashod Bateman is done for the year after suffering a Lisfranc injury, but he wasn’t all that productive before going down. Mark Andrews is Lamar Jackson’s top pass catcher, but Baltimore needs a speed threat to open up the offense (hence why they just signed DeSean Jackson).
The Ravens were counting on Bateman, and they couldn’t have known he’d be injured and ineffective. But even if Bateman were healthy, I think we’d all feel a bit better about Baltimore’s chances in the playoffs if they still had an option like Brown in their wide receiver corps.
Verdict: The Cardinals would redo the Brown deal, but the Ravens probably wouldn’t.
July 6 | Panthers Acquire Baker Mayfield
Terms: Panthers acquire Baker Mayfield; Browns acquire conditional 2024 fifth.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Carolina
The Carolina Panthers thought Mayfield would represent a substantial upgrade over the QB play they’d received in recent years, and who could blame them? Surely, Mayfield would be a better option than the Kyle Allen/Teddy Bridgewater/Will Grier/Sam Darnold/PJ Walker disaster combination of the last three seasons, right?
Well, not quite. Mayfield has easily been the worst quarterback in the league by EPA and QBR. He looked lost and disjointed in Weeks 1-5 before going down with a high ankle sprain, and he couldn’t recover his starting role from Walker upon returning.
With Walker now dealing with an ankle injury of his own, Mayfield will start in Week 11. More than likely, he’s auditioning for another team. The Panthers will have a new head coach in 2023 and target quarterbacks near the top of the draft. Mayfield almost assuredly won’t be on the roster.
How the Trade Has Worked Out for Cleveland
After trading for Deshaun Watson, the Browns had to get Mayfield off their 53. With no other teams searching for a quarterback, Cleveland did well to get anything for Mayfield, even if it meant eating $10.5 million of his salary.
The fifth-rounder the Browns acquired will turn into a fourth if Mayfield plays at least 70% of Carolina’s offensive snaps this year. He’s currently at 54.1%, so he should get there if he remains the Panthers’ starter for the rest of the season.
Verdict: The Panthers wouldn’t acquire Mayfield again, but the Browns would redo the trade.