The first week of 2023 NFL free agency is almost in the books. The league’s official year didn’t begin until Wednesday, but big-name deals have been pouring in since Monday, and already dozens of the best veterans available have found new homes.
You can get caught up in all the action with these important pieces:
Now, if you’re wondering which teams really hit the ball out of the park after the first wave of activity (and maybe which dropped the ball), we’ve also identified the winners and losers from week one:
They wanted a proven quarterback, and now that Aaron Rodgers has publicize one’s intentions to play for them, they basically have one. Never say never, of course; Rodgers remains under contract with the Packers. But Green Bay doesn’t hold much sway now that A-Rod has revealed the team is ready to move on. Sure, the Pack would benefit financially by delaying a trade until this summer barring a big renegotiation of Rodgers’ deal, but are they really ready to turn that inevitable rift into a horrific months-long divorce, repeating the Brett Favre saga? That’s not to say the Jets won’t have to give up some sort of bounty compensation. to seal the dealbut at the end of the day, they’re about to get what they’ve wanted all along: a franchise QB for a playoff-caliber roster.
Sticking with the AFC East, it’s hard to be thrilled with what New England is doing offensively (again). The arrival of Bill O’Brien probably means more to QB Mac Jones than any of their reshuffles. But committing $25 million for JuJu Smith-Schuster instead of $33 million for historical target Jakobi Meyers? It can be forgiven, but it reads like a lateral move for a more injury-prone player. Signing James Robinson for $4 million a year (roughly top 16 RB money) is more questionable after his flat 2022 campaign, especially with Rhamondre Stevenson headlining their already capable backfield. That’s to say nothing of their investment in the Bengals and Bears who dismissed Riley Reiff as a likely starting tackle.
Because the Packers, for all intents and purposes, are his team now. He may be a relative unknown after nearly two decades of Rodgers MVP-caliber production. But A-Rod himself basically considered Love a worthy successor while addressing his plans for 2023 this week. Entering a one-year contract (with a fifth-year option likely to be added), he has the chance to earn his own big-money extension by showing his live arm in Matt LaFleur’s offense.
Loser: Ron Rivera
You may have swapped out commanders QB Sam Howell for Rivera here, because the arrival of Jacoby Brissett via free agency could well mean the end of Howell’s tenure as QB1 before he begins. But the real loser has to be the man in the lead, who — barring a blockbuster move for a QB in the draft — will be entering his fourth season as Washington coach simply extending a marriage to average veteran flaggers. . From Alex Smith to Ryan Fitzpatrick to Carson Wentz to Taylor Heinicke, Rivera has never fielded a lasting winner under center, and the trend looks set to continue, even as the team wisely added the Chiefs at tackle. Andrew Wylie for enhanced front protection.
The Giants are really betting on their medical staff this year, as their top non-QB re-signing (RB Saquon Barkley) and top outside additions (WR Parris Campbell, TE Darren Waller) have all battled serious and/or persistent injuries these last years. Provided they stay mostly healthy, however, they should give Jones more confidence following his ultimate confidence-building debut under Brian Daboll. A true No. 1 WR would still be nice, but the young QB at least has more playmakers at his disposal — not to mention a big boost from his own $160 million extension. A year ago, even Jones couldn’t have foreseen rewriting his reputation in a new system, then cashing in on the ninth-highest-paid QB in the game, then finally getting some real guns.
Loser: TE and EDGE markets
Typically, pass rushers help set the tone in free agency; in fact, 15 different top players currently average at least $15 million a year on their current offerings. This week, only Marcus Davenport topped $10 million a year, and he was satisfied with a relatively friendly team one-year, $13 million contract with the Vikings. There just wasn’t an abundance of up-and-coming Pro Bowl-caliber veterans available for that position. Meanwhile, the Vikings have oddly committed $7 million a year to back up Josh Oliver, but even that bloated deal hasn’t revived a free agent pool that still includes unsigned starters like Dalton Schultz, though Mike Gesicki reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Patriots on Friday.
Winner: Sean Payton
Regardless of what happens with Russell Wilson, the new Broncos coach has wisely invested a lot of money in the team’s infrastructure, spending top dollar to reinforce the trenches on both sides of the ball. Sure, they might be paying a bit too much for the additions of big O-line names Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers, but this investment could/should mark a return to the first offense that better suits Wilson. Former Cardinals up-and-coming prospect Zach Allen should fit in well as the centerpiece of the D-line, meanwhile, and former Raiders replacement Jarrett Stidham is a sneakily high emergency option behind Wilson.
OK, so obviously, as long as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are in Kansas City, we’re never In fact down on the heads. But the beginnings of free agency were not necessarily promising. They were probably right to back down from Orlando Brown Jr.’s demands, and the market seemingly validated them, with the Bengals signing the left tackle for $16 million a year – a far cry from the reported an annual total of $23 million KC offered him before 2022. But then the Chiefs turned around and spent $80 million ($20 million a year) on Jawaan Taylor, who was patchy during his tenure at the Jaguars and could switch positions to fill the LT hole. On top of that, they still have a WR hole to fill with the departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster to New England.
Chicago certainly did well by QB Justin Fields in landing WR DJ Moore as part of his trade from the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. OG Nate Davis also helps up front. But did the Bears really need to pay more than $90 million to Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards at linebacker, especially after dealing Roquan Smith following his 2022 contract demands? The Eagles should be happy to have Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce and Darius Slay back in the locker room, as well as James Bradberry back on the corner for a reasonable number. Their Rashaad Penny bet at RB is also profitable. But you wonder if their allegiance to Super Bowl veterans – such as Slay And Bradberry in an aging CB room – may be perceived differently on the road. And Carolina should be thrilled to have their pick of top QB prospects after moving up to No. 1. Andy Dalton is also a solid bridge QB. But after displacing DJ Moore, they’re still sorely lacking in reliable weapons for the QB they welcome to town.