Amidst organized team activities, the start of the regular season may seem a long way off for NFL fans. But with training camp now just two months away, it won’t be long before the Seahawks and all 32 teams are back in action in September.
After turning the page of the most successful extended run in franchise history, a rebuilt Seattle roster faces a daunting schedule of out-of-conference matchups against the loaded AFC West, challenging games against the NFC South and, of course, six brutal bouts against division opponents .
Looking at the Seahawks’ entire schedule, which of their upcoming opponents improved their roster the most from the start of the new league year through the 2022 NFL Draft?
1. Denver Broncos
The Most Notable Additions: Russell Wilson, Randy Gregory
Best draft pick: Nick Bonito
The Broncos, the most obvious improved team on Seattle’s schedule, finally found a franchise quarterback seven years after Peyton Manning retired by acquiring Russell Wilson from the Seahawks in a blockbuster trade in March. The nine-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer immediately gives them one of the league’s best signal callers with a bevy of weapons on the outside including fast receiver Jerry Jeudy, behind a strong offensive line anchored by tackle Garrett Bolles. His arrival was to transform her from a basement dweller into a viable contender for the division’s title.
Wilson wasn’t Denver’s only big signing during free agency, either, as the team invested in pass rusher Randy Gregory on a five-year, $70 million deal and strengthened its inside line by signing former 49ers defensive tackle DJ Jones. Even without a first-round pick, they landed another quality rand rusher in the second round, who picked Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto to help chase down all of the AFC West’s talented quarterbacks. This revamped roster may take time to solidify, but no team has improved more from the sport’s most important position.
2. Las Vegas Robbers
The Most Notable Additions: Davante Adams, Chandler Jones
Best draft pick: Dylan Parham
The Raiders reunited quarterback Derek Carr with his close friend and former Fresno State teammate and dealt the Packers a first- and second-round pick to acquire Davante Adams in March and signed him to a five-year extension in the amount of 140 million US dollars. Adams will join an offense already represented by dynamic tight end Darren Waller, slot receiver standout Hunter Renfrow and running back Josh Jacobs, giving Carr no shortage of weapons to take on new coach Josh McDaniels’ offense to lead.
On defense, the Raiders doubled down on their pass rush and signed former All-Pro linebacker Chandler Jones to a three-year, $51 million deal. Along with rising superstar Maxx Crosby, they should have one of the best one-two rushing tandems in the NFL. While the team lost some key starters in free hands and only made five picks in the draft, this was a ready-made contender that only got better by adding arguably the best receiver in football and top-notch pass-rushing power.
3. Chargers from Los Angeles
The Most Notable Additions: JC Jackson, Khalil Mack
Best draft pick: ZionJohnson
The Raiders weren’t the only AFC West side to continue building their franchise quarterback, as the Chargers took a slightly different route to strengthen their roster for competition in the league’s toughest division. After general manager Tom Telesco signed standout receiver Mike Williams to a new three-year deal, he traded a second-round pick and a future sixth-round pick for Khalil Mack to the Bears, bringing the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year back to the West with Joey Bosa to work together. Days later, they flaunted their second-rate by handing ball-clearing All-Pro cornerback JC Jackson to a five-year, $82.5 million contract.
On offense, the Chargers used the draft to bolster their offensive line and direct the game, picking versatile guard Zion Johnson in the first round and facing the reserved Isaiah Spiller in the third round. Both players have a good chance of making it as rookies at some point. Former Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett also signed a one-year deal to catch passes from Justin Herbert and will compete against his two previous employers in 2022.
4. New York Jets
The Most Notable Additions: Laken Tomlinson, DJ Reed
Best draft picks: Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson
After a disappointing first season under coach Robert Saleh, the Jets suddenly look like a sleeper in the AFC East. Armed with two top-10 picks, including one they received from the Seahawks in a trade with Jamal Adams, they snagged cornerback Ahmad Gardner with fourth overall pick and gave quarterback Zach Wilson another viable target that receiver Garrett Wilson ranked 10th .Selected all choices. Later in the round, general manager Joe Douglas traded to return to the first round for a third time and added Jermaine Johnson as a defensive end, giving the team another talented pass rusher. They also improved their running game in the second round by selecting running back Breece Hall to start on day one.
Aside from killing it in draft, the Jets also made a few key additions in free agency. After a couple of strong seasons with the 49ers, Tomlinson will join a much-improved offensive line as an inside anchor, while Reed should start in a revised secondary position opposite Gardner. The key to a true turnaround will be Wilson’s development, but the front office did what it had to do to build around the young quarterback and give him the best chance of success.
5. New York Giants
The Most Notable Additions: Mark Glowinski, Tyrod Taylor
Best draft picks: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal
The Giants shook up the lineup with a new coach in Brian Daboll, capitalizing on two top 10 picks while attacking the trenches and shored up two critical need areas. Once viewed as a potential No. 1 overall, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux should be an instant starter chasing Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts in the NFC East. Evan Neal, who started at both tackle spots and guard at Alabama, would be a staple of New York’s offensive line for years to come. Both players will be building blocks for what the organization hopes to be an up-and-coming contender in the near future.
What’s stopping the Giants from being higher on this list? They still have Daniel Jones at quarterback, and while Daboll may be able to work similar magic to that of Josh Allen and the Bills, he hasn’t proven himself to be more than a marginal starter in his first three seasons. With salary cap-related issues, the franchise also didn’t take many free-hand moves to improve the team, though former Seahawks guard Mark Glowinski should be a slight improvement on the inside offensive line protecting Jones.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions
The Most Notable Additions: Deshon Elliot, DJ Chark
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Best draft picks: Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams
Like the Giants, the Lions haven’t necessarily made a big splash in free agency, and they still have long-term questions at quarterback with Jared Goff returning as a starter for a second year. But manager Dan Campbell has an exciting young side to work with and after a strong finish to the 2021 season, the arrival of pass-rushing phenom Aidan Hutchinson and lightning-fast receiver Jameson Williams as first-round picks could help the team on pushing for a playoff spot earlier than expected.
With Williams potentially missing part of his rookie year coming back from a cruciate ligament rupture and notable roster holes yet to be filled, Detroit likely remains a year or two away from the competition. But with players who buy what Campbell sells and plenty of fascinating young figures on both sides of the ball, this will be a side nobody wants to play against in 2022.