Free agency can propel an NFL team to a new level. Ask Cincinnati, which ran to the Super Bowl on the back of a defense mostly built by free agency.
Players such as Trey Hendrickson, Vonn Bell, Larry Ogunjobi and Chidobe Awuzie all played key roles as the Bengals fought their way through the AFC. The Rams were able to stall them in the Super Bowl through contributions from guys like A'Shawn Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Leonard Floyd -- all of whom joined the champs from the open market.
Of course, free agency doesn't always work out that swimmingly. The most expensive of the Bengals' free-agent additions was Trae Waynes, who barely played a role during the playoff stretch. The Patriots got back on track with their free-agent spending spree last spring, but several of those players faded down the stretch and were nowhere to be found in the blowout loss to the Bills in the postseason, leaving the Pats looking for more help in 2022. Big signings like Kenny Golladay, Bud Dupree and William Jackson III failed to live up to expectations in their first seasons with their new teams.
Let's run through the first couple of days of 2022 free agency and try to identify which organizations, players and positions have been winners or losers during the legal negotiating period. The specifics of some deals are still coming in, and there's plenty of work to be done in the days to come, but we can start breaking down who should feel good about the moves they've made so far. Let's start with the league's biggest spenders.