The AFC possesses more than half a dozen of the NFL’s upper echelon quarterbacks, so don’t be surprised if this conference is the most competitive in 2022.
Especially after the improvement made by such teams as the Buffalo Bills (Von Miller), Denver Broncos (Russell Wilson), Los Angeles Chargers (Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson), Las Vegas Raiders (Davante Adams), Cleveland Browns (Deshaun Watson) and Miami Dolphins (Tyreek Hill) have made this offseason.
Take a look at the key additions and departures from every AFC team, analyzing what teams improved the most, and which ones remain stagnant. We also break down the top four position needs for each team heading into the NFL draft.
Additions: Added pass rushers Von Miller and Shaq Lawson and defensive tackles DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle and Jordan Phillips, who should improve the defensive front of a unit that finished as a top-five defense in 2022. Offensive tackle Rodger Saffold was signed to replace Jon Feliciano. Tailback Duke Johnson and tight end O.J. Howard were added to complement the offense.
Departures: Slot receiver Cole Beasley got waived, and Emmanuel Sanders remains a free agent. Buffalo re-signed Isaiah McKenzie and added Jamison Crowder as their replacements, but that’s a lot of veteran savvy lost. The Bills also lost defensive tackle Harrison Phillips to the Vikings, and cornerback Levi Wallace to the Steelers.
Top Needs: CB, LB, OG, RB
Additions: Miami traded three 2022 draft picks and two 2023 selections to acquire Pro Bowl receiver Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins also signed offensive tackle Terron Armstead and offensive guard Connor Williams to improve last year’s troublesome offensive line. And Miami added tailbacks Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to replace Duke Johnson, Malcolm Brown and Phillip Lindsay. Receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. was signed to man the slot, and Teddy Bridgewater was added as Miami’s veteran quarterback.
Departures: DeVante Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick were traded to the New England Patriots for a 2023 third-round selection. Offensive guard Jesse Davis and receiver Allen Hurns were waived to create cap space. Davis signed with the Vikings. Cornerback Justin Coleman signed with Seattle and veteran defensive back Jason McCourty remains a free agent.
Top Needs: ILB, EDGE, C, CB
New England Patriots
Additions: Cornerback Malcolm Butler returned to New England after spending three seasons with the Titans. The Patriots acquired receiver DeVante Parker and linebacker Mack Wilson in offseason trades, and signed safety Jabrill Peppers. New England also re-signed offensive tackle Trent Brown, safety Devin McCourty, kicker Nick Folk and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Departures: Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers. Offensive linemen Ted Karras signed with the Bengals and Shaq Mason was traded to the Buccaneers for a 2022 fifth-round pick. Linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, who were all starters last season, remain free agents. And Chase Winovich was traded to the Browns.
Top Needs: CB, Edge, ILB, WR
New York Jets
Additions: The Jets added guard Laken Tomlinson and re-signed offensive tackles Conor McDermott and Dan Feeney. C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin were signed to upgrade the tight end position. And the Jets also added defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, linebacker Jacob Martin, cornerback D.J. Reed and safeties Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner.
Departures: Receiver Jamison Crowder signed with the Bills, further depleting a lackluster receiver unit. Starting right tackle Morgan Moses signed with the Ravens. Safety Marcus Maye signed with the Saints, and linebacker Jarrad Davis signed with the Lions.
Top Needs: OT, WR, LB, CB
Additions: Safety Marcus Williams signed a massive five-year, $70 million deal to join the Ravens. Offensive tackle Morgan Moses was added to compete with a rehabbing Ja’Wuan James to become Baltimore’s starting right tackle. And nose tackle Michael Pierce was re-signed after spending one season with the Vikings.
Departures: Aged veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell remains a free agent, as does defensive tackle Brandon Williams, edge players Pernell McPhee and Justin Houston and receiver Sammy Watkins. Center Bradley Bozeman signed with the Panthers and cornerback Anthony Averett signed with the Raiders.
Top Needs: Edge, IOL, DL, CB
Additions: The Bengals beefed up their troublesome offensive line by adding right tackle La’el Collins, offensive guard Alex Cappa and interior player Ted Karras, who has started 49 games the past six seasons. Cincinnati also signed defensive tackle B.J. Hill, tight end Hayden Hurst, re-signed cornerback Eli Apple, and used the franchise tag to retain safety Jessie Bates.
Departures: Starting tight end C.J. Uzomah signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Jets. And receiver Auden Tate signed with the Falcons. Offensive linemen Trey Hopkins, Riley Reiff and Quinton Spain remain free agents. Cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III, Trae Waynes and Tre Flowers are also still free agents, and safety Ricardo Allen retired.
Top Needs: CB, OL, DT, Edge
Additions: Cleveland acquired Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston that sent the Texans three first-round picks (2022-24), a third-round pick (2024) and two fourth-round selections. The Browns also traded a 2022 fifth-round pick and swapped sixth-round selections with the Cowboys for receiver Amari Cooper, and signed receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant. Cleveland also acquired pass rusher Chase Winovich from the Patriots for linebacker Mack Wilson.
Departures: Tight end Austin Hooper signed with the Titans and quarterback Case Keenum was traded to the Bills. The Browns released starting center J.C. Tretter and receiver Jarvis Landry, who each are still free agents. Defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney, Takkarist McKinley and Malik Jackson all remain free agents, as do safety Ronnie Harrison and linebacker Malcolm Smith.
Top Needs: Edge, DT, WR, S,
Additions: Pittsburgh signed former Bears starter Mitch Trubisky to a two-year deal worth $14.25 million and will have him compete with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins for the starting quarterback job. To improve the Steelers’ troublesome offensive line, guard James Daniels signed a three-year, $26.5 million deal, and center Mason Cole was added. The Steelers also added linebackers Myles Jack and Genard Avery, and cornerback Levi Wallace.
Departures: Ben Roethlisberger retired, and three of his former receivers — Juju Smith-Schuster (Chiefs), James Washington (Cowboys) and Ray-Ray McCloud (49ers) — left as free agents. Offensive linemen Trai Turner and Zach Banner, tight end Eric Ebron, cornerback Joe Haden, linebacker Joe Schobert and safety Terrell Edmunds remain free agents.
Top Needs: CB, S, OL, QB
Additions: Marlon Mack was added to a backfield that already had Rex Burkhead and Royce Freeman, who was re-signed. Linebacker Blake Cashman was acquired from the Jets for a 2023 sixth-round pick, and will work alongside newcomers Obo Okoronkwo and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and holdovers Neville Hewitt, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey, who were all re-signed.
Departures: Deshaun Watson was traded to the Browns for a bounty of picks, and veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor signed with the Giants. The Texans signed veteran quarterback Kyle Allen to compete with Davis Mills, who had a 88.8 passer rating in his 11 starts as a rookie, for the starting quarterback job. Cornerback Terrance Mitchell signed with the Patriots and safety Justin Reid signed with the Chiefs. Tailback David Johnson, receiver Danny Amendola and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon are still free agents.
Top Needs: Edge, OT, CB, TE
Additions: The Colts acquired 37-year-old quarterback Matt Ryan from the Falcons for a 2022 third-round pick after trading Carson Wentz to Washington for a swap of second-round picks, a 2022 third-round pick and a conditional 2023 third-round selection. Indianapolis also acquired pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue from the Raiders for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, and re-signed tight end Mo Alie-Cox.
Departures: Indianapolis must rebuild its secondary because of the trade that sent Ya-Sin to the Raiders, and the fact corners Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie and safeties Andrew Sendejo, Jahleel Addae and George Odum are all free agents. Tight end Jack Doyle retired and pass rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad signed with the Bears as a free agent. Starting right guard Mark Glowinski signed with the Giants. Offensive tackle Eric Fisher and receiver T.Y. Hilton remain free agents.
Top Needs: OT, WR, Edge, CB
Additions: Jacksonville remade their offense by adding two front-line receivers, signing Christian Kirk to an eye-opening four-year, $72 million deal, Zay Jones to a three-year deal that could be worth as much as $30 million, and tight end Evan Engram to a one-year deal worth $9 million. The Jaguars also used the franchise tag to retain left tackle Cam Robinson and signed offensive guard Brandon Scherff to a three-year deal worth $49.5 million. On defense, Jacksonville signed cornerback Darius Williams, linebacker Foye Oluokun, defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi and pass rusher Arden Key.
Departures: The Jaguars lost three starting offensive linemen this offseason. Starting center Brandon Linder retired, and starting guards A.J. Cann (Texans) and Andrew Norwell (Commanders) signed elsewhere. Receiver D.J. Chark signed with the Lions. Linebacker Myles Jack, who was released, signed with the Steelers, and fellow starting linebacker Damien Wilson signed with the Panthers. Defensive lineman Jihad Ward signed with the Giants, and defensive line cohort Taven Bryan signed with the Browns.
Top Needs: Edge, S, OT, IOL
Additions: The Titans acquired receiver Robert Woods from the Rams for a 2023 sixth-round pick, re-signed tight end Geoff Swaim and added veteran tight end Austin Hooper this offseason. Tennessee also re-signed pass rusher Harold Landry, center Ben Jones, cornerback Buster Skrine, and tailback Dontrell Hilliard, keeping some of the nucleus of the 2021 team intact.
Departures: Julio Jones, whose 2021 season was hindered by injuries, was released. As was starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Neither of these veteran starters have signed elsewhere yet. Offensive guard Rodger Saffold signed with the Bills, linebackers Jayon Brown (Raiders) and Rashaan Evans (Falcons) left Tennessee. David Quessenberry, who started all 17 games at right tackle last season, remains a free agent.
Top Needs: WR, LB, OT, CB
Additions: The Broncos acquired Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round selection and three veterans. Pass rusher Randy Gregory signed a five-year, $70 million deal, and the Broncos signed linebacker Josey Jewell, defensive tackle D.J. Jones and offensive linemen Billy Turner and Tom Compton.
Departures: Quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive tackle Shelby Harris were the three veterans who were traded to Seattle for Wilson. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater signed with Miami. Receiver DaeSean Hamilton signed with the Texans. Tailback Melvin Gordon, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Kareem Jackson, and offensive linemen Cameron Fleming and Bobby Massie remain free agents.
Top Needs: Edge, LB, TE, RB
Kansas City Chiefs
Additions: Kansas City added JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Corey Coleman to replenish a receiver unit that has been depleted by trades and free agent defections. The Chiefs also signed tailback Ronald Jones to a one-year deal that’s worth up to $5 million and linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr.
Departures: The Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins for a treasure chest of draft picks, but also lost receivers Byron Pringle (Bears) and Demarcus Robinson (Raiders) this offseason. Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu remains a free agent, but likely won’t return because of the signing of Justin Reid and Deon Bush.
Top Needs: WR, CB, Edge, S
Las Vegas Raiders
Additions: The Raiders reunited Davante Adams with Derek Carr, his college quarterbacks, by trading a 2022 first- and second-round pick to Green Bay for the Pro Bowl receiver. Las Vegas also signed receiver DeMarcus Robinson and tight end Jacob Hollister to provide new coach Josh McDaniels some weaponry. The Raiders also signed pass rusher Chandler Jones to pair him with Maxx Crosby, who signed a four-year, $99 million extension.
Departures: The Raiders traded Yannick Ngakoue, who registered 10 sacks last season, to the Colts in exchange for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. Quarterback Marcus Mariota signed with the Falcons. Zay Jones signed with the Jaguars. Defensive linemen Quinton Jefferson signed with the Seahawks. Solomon Thomas signed with the Jets, and Gerald McCoy and Carl Nassib are free agents. Linebackers Cory Littleton signed with the Panthers, and Nicholas Morrow signed with the Bears. Cornerbacks Casey Hayward (Falcons) and Brandon Facyson (Colts) signed elsewhere, and cornerback Desmond Trufant, linebacker K.J Wright, receiver DeSean Jackson and offensive guard Richie Incognito remain free agents.
Top Needs: OL, DT, CB, WR
Los Angeles Chargers
Additions: The Chargers acquired Khalil Mack from the Bears for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 sixth-round selection, and signed Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. The Chargers also signed tight end Gerald Everett, who has caught 175 passes for 1,867 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first five seasons, to potentially replace Jared Cook, who remains a free agent.
Departures: Linebackers Uchenna Nwosu (Seahawks), Kyler Fackrell (Raiders) and Kyzir White (Eagles) signed elsewhere. Offensive linemen Oday Aboushi, Bryan Bulaga and Michael Schofield, cornerback Chris Harris and defensive tackle Linval Joseph are still free agents.
Top Needs: OT, DT, LB, WR