High Risk Player Additions to Watch in Week 1

Free Agency is a critical portion of team-building in the NFL, and its successes and failures can define a season. Take last night's season opener between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams for instance. Linebacker Von Miller was a free agent splash for the Bills this past offseason, and he rewarded them by notching two sacks for a juiced-up pass rush that took down quarterback Matthew Stafford seven times. Meanwhile, the Los Angles Rams' big free agent addition Allen Robinson II thoroughly underwhelmed, hauling in a lone reception for 12 yards on a passing attack that struggled all night. Miller's success was a triumph for the Bills, and Robinson's ineffectiveness spelt doom for the Rams.

With that in mind, let's have a look at a few high-risk, high-reward additions who could make or break Week 1 for their new teams:

Photo Credit: © Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars

Wide receiver Christian Kirk blew fans' minds this offseason when he signed a massive deal that many deemed an overpay. After all, Kirk had never even crossed 1000 yards receiving in a season. But fans don't know everything. Should Kirk continue his efficient production (9.5 yards per target last year) at a higher volume, his $18 million annual average will seem like peanuts; it's already only the 19th highest among wide receivers, and many new contracts will soon top it. But should he remain as anonymous with the Jaguars as he had been with Cardinals, the Jaguars may have wasted another year of all-time quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence.

Photo Credit: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers had a forgettable defense last year, and they took major strides to transform it this offseason. Fans will have to wait to see free agency addition J.C. Jackson in action, but massive trade acquisition Khalil Mack should be ready to go. A six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Mack joins the Chargers after a down year with the Chicago Bears. The Chargers hope Mack can bring some pass-rushing juice to a defense that only managed 35 sacks last year, but at 31 years old, it's no guarantee he has many (if any) peak years left.

Photo Credit: © George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wide receivers Julio Jones and Russell Gage join a Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing attack that ranked first overall in yards and touchdowns last year, ostensibly replacing departed pass catchers Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. The former Falcons teammates have a chance to elevate the Bucs to even greater heights by proving key components of maybe the best wide receiver group of all time.

Of the two, Jones has the higher upside and lower downside, having tallied 63.4 yards per game and 10.4 yards per target over the past two seasons. He was even better before that, compiling an amazing 102.0 yards per game over six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2014 to 2019. The issue, of course, is availability: Jones has missed 13 games since 2020. If Jones can stay on the field, he could make the Bucs just about unstoppable. If injuries rear their ugly head again, the Bucs could find themselves undermanned in what might be quarterback Tom Brady's final season.

Photo Credit: © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports