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5 potential dark horses for the 2022 NFL MVP award

Matt Ryan is an Indianapolis Colt in 2022
Matt Ryan is an Indianapolis Colt in 2022
Andrew Hughes

The NFL MVP award is routinely a quarterback competition since the turn of the millennium. Only one running back has won it in the last decade, and only four have won it overall since 2000.

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In 2022, just who will be the NFL MVP is the million dollar question, and that is meant literally, given all of the incentives in a modern NFL contract.

Starting in 2022, and for 10 years running, Patrick Mahomes has a $1.25 million incentive for winning AFC Championship game and a $1.25 million incentive for winning NFL MVP, per source. That’s $25M of incentives over 10 years, taking value of his deal from $477M to $503M.

The Patrick Mahomes', Josh Allen's, and Joe Burrow's of the world will all be linked to the award, but this coming season sees a lot of quarterbacks finding new homes. Several established players could also see the time they put in with their franchise finally pay off. In either category, the potential to be a dark horse NFL MVP candidate is there.

Here are 5 potential dark horses for the 2022 NFL MVP award:

Jalen Hurts has an improved Eagles wide receiver room
Jalen Hurts has an improved Eagles wide receiver room

Jalen Hurts

The narrative for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2022 season is whether or not the man under center will be enough to lead them to the playoffs.

If Jalen Hurts can simply have a middle-of-the-pack performance, the Eagles will be NFC East contenders. They signed several championship-caliber players from the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs, who were added to their veteran-laden defense. If they can get an imporved performance from Hurts, an MVP award is not out of the question.

Miami Dolphin quarterback Tua Tagovaiola
Miami Dolphin quarterback Tua Tagovaiola

Tua Tagovaiola

Tua Tagovaiola could already be nearly at the MVP level and we might not realize it. Tagovaiola has played just 21 games in his career, with last season being interrupted by a Week 1 rib fracture while facing the Buffalo Bills.

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If he can finally stay on the field for 17 games, minus a pair at most, he could reach his potential at the professional level as an MVP contender.

Mac Jones has the Bill Belichick machine backing him
Mac Jones has the Bill Belichick machine backing him

Mac Jones

Mac Jones has had the most success in the NFL out of the quarterbacks on this list. He led the Patriots to an AFC wild card spot as a rookie after being selected in the first round of the 2021 draft. With Bill Belichick behind him, Jones can continue to carry the torch for an offense that was historic in the years preceding his arrival in New England.

Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill

While he doesn't get much MVP attention, Ryan Tannehill could be the Tennessee Titan to bring the award to the 'Music City'.

Look who is tied for a VERY EARLY favorite to win his third-straight MVP @CaesarsSports πŸ‘€πŸ†Aaron Rodgers +700Patrick Mahomes +700Josh Allen +900Joe Burrow +1200Justin Herbert +1400Matthew Stafford +1500Derrick Henry +1800 https://t.co/m4ru2w13K5

Derrick Henry's legendary career has possibly seen its peak, but Tannehill, at age 33, is right at the age where some quarterbacks hit their form. The Titans are already at the top of the AFC, so a standout season from Tannehill could get him into that conversation.

Matt Ryan has joined the Indianapolis Colts
Matt Ryan has joined the Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan

Similar to Matt Stafford's situation in 2021, Matt Ryan has been traded from a perennially under-achieving, down-on-its-luck franchise to one with a championship infrastructure.

Ryan will be joining a Colts offense that rolled out the red carpet for Carson Wentz last season, only to receive a moderate return. The long-time Falcons quarterback had a career completion percentage of 65.5% over 14 years and won an MVP award in 2016.

A change of scenery could be the late-career refresher the 37-year-old may need to become an MVP candidate once again.


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Q. Will there be a first-time NFL MVP in 2022?

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Edited by John Maxwell

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