Analysis

Five NFL teams that significantly helped their quarterbacks this offseason -- and three that didn't

From Seattle to Houston, Miami to Green Bay, quarterbacks -- as always -- drove the NFL's berserk offseason news. It wasn't just how many of them were on the move, although that was certainly the story of this year. It was also all the machinations teams made -- or, just as intriguingly, did not make to support the one person around whom a franchise must revolve.

Would you rather be in the shoes of Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Fields right now? Exactly.

It's far too soon to know how all of this will turn out, and who will have the best or worst offenses in 2022. Cleveland, after all, made one big move -- adding Amari Cooper -- that'll help Deshaun Watson (the most significant transaction of the entire offseason), but is still waiting to find out if Watson will be suspended following a league investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

At the same time, it's not too early to hand out plaudits to those teams that did the most to bolster their quarterbacks and raise some questions for those who just might have undermined them.

The applause goes to ...

General manager Joe Douglas has surrounded Zach Wilson with the kind of talent that Sam Darnold never saw. This offseason, he completely overhauled the tight end room, signing C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin before drafting Jeremy Ruckert. He also drafted the best running back in the class in Breece Hall and -- in the biggest addition -- spent the No. 10 overall pick on Garrett Wilson, a threat via yards after the catch and downfield passes. And don't forget the signing of guard Laken Tomlinson, addressing an offensive line need. It all comes down to Wilson's development, of course, but it's hard to imagine the Jets being 28th in scoring again. 

The Dolphins invested heavily in making Tua Tagovailoa's life a little easier, signing left tackle Terron Armstead and receiver Cedrick Wilson, then pulling off the mega-trade for receiver Tyreek Hill, one of the game's most dynamic players. And they loaded up on veteran running backs, signing Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel and Raheem Mostert in free agency. Perhaps most importantly for Tagovailoa, new coach Mike McDaniel is considered an offensive guru who appears to believe in this quarterback.

Derek Carr was already coming off the best season of his career (especially considering the tremendous adversity Vegas faced) and a playoff appearance when the Raiders hired one of the NFL's most accomplished offensive minds in Josh McDaniels. Then came Christmas in March: the bombshell trade for Davante Adams, merely the best wide receiver in football. Carr and Adams were wildly productive college teammates at Fresno State, and Adams should be the elite target who can take some of the attention off tight end Darren Waller

The Cardinals haven't yet given Kyler Murray what he really wants -- a new contract -- but they did provide him with a very nice token of their affection in the meantime. Set aside the compensation the Cards relinquished in the trade for Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. They gave Murray a big-play weapon and, not incidentally, his favorite receiver from their Oklahoma days. In three seasons with the Ravens, Brown had 11 touchdowns of at least 20 yards. And his presence in Arizona became even more critical when DeAndre Hopkins was suspended six games for violating the performance enhancing drug policy. 

Buffalo lost offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the Giants and replaced him via the in-house promotion of Ken Dorsey, a switch that will be closely watched. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders hit the open market. But the Bills responded by supplying Josh Allen with a whole host of new targets, adding a slot receiver to the attack in Jamison Crowder, a tight end to join Dawson Knox in O.J. Howard, plus draftees Khalil Shakir (who can line up at any of the receiver positions) and James Cook (a pass-catching weapon who will also help what has been an inconsistent running game). And just last week, they signed speedster Tavon Austin, who can also work in the slot. There is a reason why the Bills are Super Bowl favorites right now. Adding this many options for an offense that was already third in scoring, that is led by a premier quarterback, is scary for Buffalo opponents. 

Withholding judgment

The Patriots added pieces -- trading for DeVante Parker and drafting Tyquan Thornton -- that should improve the receiving corps. But the departure of Josh McDaniels creates huge issues around offensive play-calling and which coaches are most closely involved in Mac Jones' development. Perhaps Joe Judge or Matt Patricia or someone else on the current coaching staff is the perfect fit, but we won't know that for a while -- and thus, won't know if eschewing the hiring of an experienced offensive guru was the right decision for Jones' progression. 

Is that all there is?

It's hard to get excited about what the Bears are doing with Justin Fields. They did not make a move to acquire or draft an elite receiver or offensive tackle, using their top picks on defense. All in all, it seems clear that this is a rebuilding year. Chicago will have more money to spend and better draft capital in 2023, but that doesn't help Fields (who is coming off a statistically poor rookie season) develop now. This is a difficult roster situation for a quarterback who needs help and who, at least according to some analysis, is in a prove-it season with the new Bears regime.

There is no way to spin the departure of Davante Adams as anything but a huge loss for Aaron Rodgers. Also gone: Marquez Valdes-Scantling. That's a total of 149 receptions and nearly 2,000 receiving yards from last season out the door. And the Packers did not use either of their first-round picks on a receiver (sound familiar?). That leaves Allen Lazard, who's seeking a new contract and currently absent from minicamp, and rookie Christian Watson, the 34th overall draft pick from North Dakota State, to fill the holes. Rodgers can smooth over a lot of growing pains with his own talent and he seems at peace with the moves this offseason. But you can't say these Packers are better than the team that made an early playoff exit again last season.

Follow Judy Battista on Twitter.

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