Five most underrated signings in 2022 NFL free agency

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Devin Morris, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Free agency is one of the most exciting times of the NFL season. The ground-breaking, earth-shattering, landscape-altering moves grab headlines and dominate the discourse. However, very few of these blockbuster moves involving superstars actually pan out. More often than not, the teams that excel in free agency do so by making astute acquisitions.

NFL free agency analysis: Underrated bargains

Here are the top five most underrated signings of free agency so far.

5. Ray-Ray McCloud – 49ers

Terms: Two years, up to $10.4 million

This may not have been the wide receiver signing that 49er fans were hoping for, but it is a much-needed one.

Ray-Ray McCloud led the entire NFL in punt return yards last season with 367 return yards. Despite a fantastic showing in the divisional round of the playoffs, the 49ers special teams were one of the worst units in football last year. McCloud brings a huge boost to this unit that lacked a designated returner for the entirety of the 2021 season.

Moreover, McCloud operated as an acceptable number four receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Possessing stellar speed and elusiveness, while not the flashiest or most expensive signing, McCloud could turn out to be an efficient signing for the 49ers as he can contribute in both the return game and the passing game.

4. Jordan Whitehead – Jets

Terms: Two years, up to $16 million

With the Buccaneers, Jordan Whitehead was an enforcer; a safety that relished playing downhill and in the box, making tackles and setting the tone on the backend. Jets head coach Robert Saleh coached a fierce 49ers defence that was strong against the run and stout against the pass. If you’re looking for a comparison for how Whitehead will look for the Jets, Jaquiski Tartt in San Francisco would be accurate.


Per Pro Football Reference, in 14 games for the Buccaneers last season, Whitehead recorded two interceptions along with 73 tackles. Although some may accuse Whitehead of being a liability in coverage (a lazy critique of a lot of in-the-box, hard-hitting safeties), the former Buccaneer is sure to be more than serviceable in Saleh’s cover 3 scheme.

3. Alec Ingold – Dolphins

Terms: Two years, up to $17.5 million

Alec Ingold might just be the best fullback in the NFL not named Kyle Juszczyck. Which makes his move to the Mike McDaniel coached Miami Dolphins all the more exciting.

Ingold possesses a similar skillset to Juszczyk; a fierce blocker as well as a sneakily good weapon in the passing game. Ingold can light up a 250-pound linebacker on one play then torch past that same linebacker on a wheel route on the next play.

Dolphins fans should be salivating at the thought of Ingold playing in an offence called by run-game savant Mike McDaniel.

2. Sebastian Joseph-Day – Chargers

Terms: Three years, up to $24 million

When looking at the LA Chargers 2022 defence, your eyes are immediately drawn to the secondary. And who can blame you?

J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., Derwin James and Nasir Adderley are a kettle of hawks. However, in head coach Brandon Staley’s 2-high scheme, the defensive line is just as important personnel-wise as the secondary. This is why the signing of Sebastian Joseph-Day could prove to be a masterstroke.

Joseph-Day is one of the premier run defenders in the NFL. His ability to shed blocks in the run game will allow the Chargers to play with a light box on early downs which ultimately gets them closer to their goal of stopping the pass. Moreover, on the defensive line itself, Joseph-Day joins a group that already includes three studs in Linval Joseph, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.

1. Russell Gage – Buccaneers

Terms: Three years, up to $30 million

Wide receiver Russell Gage initially thought it was a prank when Tom Brady called him up and recruited him to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Gage’s play on the field is no joke.

Per Pro Football Reference, in 4 years with the Atlanta Falcons, Gage was targeted 287 times, accumulating 193 receptions, 2065 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns in the process.

Gage could be the perfect Antonio Brown replacement for this Buccaneers offence. Operating both in and out of the slot, Gage has the route-running as well as the size to produce in the NFL. Alongside Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Gage is sure to help the Buccaneers reproduce that deadly trio that helped win them the Super Bowl in 2020, just without the off-the-field, or rather running off-the-field, distractions that Brown brought. A hard-working reliable receiver with explosive upside is sure to thrive in a Tom Brady led offence.

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About Matthew Bowen 161 Articles
Matthew is an MA history student at Swansea University. He is an avid supporter of the San Francisco 49ers and Liverpool FC. Twitter: @MatthewJBowen7

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