Heisman Winners In The NFL Dig Into Training Camps As 2022 Season Nears

Kyler Murray signing his new contract with the Arizona Cardinals. / Photo credit: Arizona Cardinals

The cork has popped on the start of NFL training camps and Heisman Trophy winners in the league are in the early stages of getting ready for the 2022 season.

No Heisman winner has won a Super Bowl since Charles Woodson in Super Bowl XLV, though Joe Burrow gave it a run last season in LVI. 

There are numerous Heisman recipients in the league who could lead their teams to a run at a ring, including Burrow as he tries to make a repeat trip. But the third-year Bengal, who threw for 4,611 yards (sixth-most in the league) and 34 TDs in 2021, is missing a chunk of August camp following the recent removal of his appendix. He is expected to be back and healed up in time for the season opener.

Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 3,787 yards and 24 scores in 14 games while rushing for 432 yards and five more TDs last season, opens the 2022 with a new contract worth $230.5 million that his him in a Cardinal uniform through at least 2028. Murray led Arizona to the first round of the playoffs last season.

“For me, it’s a blessing,” Murray told the media after signing the new deal. “I’m so grateful and honored for the confidence that they’ve shown in me, the faith that they’ve shown in me to take a 5-foot-10 quarterback. That’s never been done before. I understood the heat that they would take for doing that, but for me, I’m thankful. It’s a blessing for me. It’s always been about fulfilling my promise, which is hopefully one day to bring a championship to this organization, and I’m a firm believer in bringing that here. I know we’re capable. I know it will be done.”

Fellow young star and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson may also have a new deal in the offering as he begins his fifth season in the NFL.

Jackson, the 2019 league MVP, is looking to rebound physically after missing five games in 2021 due to injury. He is 37-12 as a starter.

He has impressed his offensive coordinator Greg Roman early in camp, as the O.C. told reporters recently: “He’s throwing it better than I’ve ever seen him throw it. He’s really worked hard in the offseason and it’s showing. We’re all very excited about that.”

Receiver DeVonta Smith, coming off a 64-catch, 916-yard, five-TD rookie campaign, enters his sophomore season in Philadelphia with a new wide receiver teammate in Pro Bowler A.J. Brown. 

Smith, who set the Eagles rookie receiving yardage record despite playing in an offense that leaned heavy to the run, has embraced playing with his accomplished new teammate who is taking a mentorship role and who could also loosen up coverages for Smith.

“It means a lot,” Smith told media on the addition of his new teammate. “We have a lot of young guys so we need somebody that’s been there before that can kind of walk us through it.”

Derrick Henry, who was teammates with Brown in Tennessee, missed a huge chunk of 2021 with a foot injury and the Titans are taking it easy with him this camp, limiting him to practice and keeping him out of preseason games.

Despite playing in only seven regular-season games, his 937 rushing yards were still ninth in the league while he scored 10 rushing TDs and he did manage to come back for a playoff game against Cincinnati.

The 28-year-old back enters this season with 6,797 career rushing yards. He has the chance to pass some Heisman winners on the NFL career rushing chart. He’s just under 400 yards shy of George Rogers (7,176) while fellow Alabama back Mark Ingram, the senior of all current Heisman winners in the league, sits at 7,878. If Henry stays healthy, he and Ingram could both pass Herschel Walker (8,225) this year.

Marcus Mariota, after two years as the back-up quarterback in Las Vegas, will start the 2022 as the starting QB in Atlanta, the Falcons head coach announced last week. 

Mariota, who signed a two-year contract with Atlanta in the off-season, has 61 career starts under his belt, all with Tennessee between 2015-2019. He also started two playoff games with the Titans in 2017, going 1-1.

Another Heisman QB making a fresh start is, of course, Baker Mayfield, now a Carolina Panther and in competition with Sam Darnold for the Panthers’ starting role. Mayfield started 59 games in four seasons in Cleveland before the Browns moved him to Carolina in the off-season.

Panther coach Matt Rhule told The Athletic this on Mayfield since he joined the team: “He’s got a lot of juice and energy. He’s a worker. (If) Sam makes a nice throw, he’s the first guy screaming, ‘Yes.’ Same thing for Sam. That whole quarterback room is just rooting for each other to play well.”

Jameis Winston, now in is eighth year in the NFL, is coming off of a torn ACL he suffered last season after seven starts with the Saints (he started 70 games for Tampa Bay between 2015-19). But he appears to be headed to a healthy Week 1 start.

He told NewOrleansSaints.com that he is: “Blessed and grateful. Grateful to be back out here with this team, grateful for another opportunity to come out here and play some football. It’s still going to be a progression, but I worked my tail off and I’m going to continue to do that.”

Winston’s Heisman colleague and teammate, Ingram, is in his 12th NFL training camp. Ingram, 32, is the third-oldest active NFL running back in the league.

He told ALcom: “They keep bringing up my age, man. No, I’m just blessed man. I’m thankful. I’m still here playing. To be healthy, to have the drive, the commitment, the determination to do it at the highest level, I have no plans to – I know the game doesn’t last forever, but I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.”

Ingram, in his second stint with the Saints and the team’s all-time leading rusher (6,267), gained 554 yards on 160 carries last year, 294 with Houston and 260 more after being traded to New Orleans.

Cam Newton could add to the list of Heisman winners in the league, but  the 11-year veteran is still currently a free agent.