Although several starter-caliber veterans remain unsigned, NFL teams have largely taken their big swings this offseason. Be it through free agency, the trade market or the draft, franchises have updated their rosters in hopes of improving in 2023.
Any conversation of 2023 improvement efforts probably needs to start with the Jets. Thanks to the Sacramento Kings’ playoff advancement, the Jets hold major North American sports’ longest postseason drought — at 12 years. After missing on a few rookie-contract QBs in the time since their last playoff run, the Jets now have Aaron Rodgers. The six nationally televised games on Gang Green’s docket illustrate Rodgers’ impact on the team’s perception, and although the four-time MVP will turn 40 before year’s end, he has made the Jets a free agency destination of sorts. The team added ex-Rodgers Packer wideouts Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, with those moves coming after the addition of safety Chuck Clark via trade.
As the Jets stands to be a factor in the one of the deepest conferences in recent memory, the Dolphins added Jalen Ramsey via trade and will pay Vic Fangio upwards of $4.5MM to run their defense. Miami will bank on Tua Tagovailoa health and showed faith in the oft-scrutinized passer by picking up his fifth-year option two months early.
The Ravens took their biggest steps yet — in the Lamar Jackson era, at least — to strengthen their receiving corps, keeping Odell Beckham Jr. from a Big Apple return (via a $15MM guarantee) and drafting Zay Flowers in the first round. The Browns bolstered their receiving corps as well, trading for Elijah Moore and drafting Cedric Tillman in Round 3. Cleveland also has now added two edge rushers — with Jadeveon Clowney not expected back — in Za’Darius Smith and Obo Okoronkwo to complement Myles Garrett. Cincinnati may have made the biggest outside addition in the AFC North, signing Orlando Brown Jr., though the team did lose both starting safeties (Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell) in free agency. The Steelers added two likely O-line starters, in Broderick Jones and Isaac Seumalo, and made changes at cornerback by signing Patrick Peterson and drafting Joey Porter Jr.
The returns from this year’s top AFC South headlines likely will not emerge until the mid-2020s, but the Texans, Colts and Titans drafted hopeful long-term QBs (C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis). Houston also gave up a bounty to move back into the top three for Will Anderson Jr.
Making Nathaniel Hackett just the third HC since the 1970 merger to be fired before his first season ended, the Broncos paid up — both in terms of draft capital and salary — to add Sean Payton. They also spent heavily to better protect Russell Wilson, signing Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey. The latter will be Denver’s 11th Week 1 right tackle in 11 years. The Raiders added Tyree Wilson in Round 1, but the team’s Derek Carr-to-Jimmy Garoppolo transition injects considerably more injury risk into their equation.
Darren Waller going from Las Vegas to New York provided the centerpiece of the Giants’ hopeful pass-game upgrade, which includes a few midlevel wide receiver investments. The team added likely starters in cornerback Deonte Banks and center John Michael Schmitz. Dallas brought in Pro Bowlers Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore via trade, and Mike McCarthy will dust off his play-calling chops after Moore’s Chargers exit. The Eagles drafted two more Georgia defenders (Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith) in Round 1 but lost Javon Hargrave and both coordinators.
Few position groups received more attention than the Lions’ secondary. The rising team added Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley and second-rounder Brian Branch. This came after Jameson Williams‘ six-game gambling ban and after two first-round picks (Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell) receiving positional value-based criticism. While the Bears collected future assets from the Panthers in the Bryce Young swap, they pried D.J. Moore from Carolina and added two likely O-line starters in Nate Davis and Darnell Wright.
Carolina stopped its QB carousel with the Young move, and Frank Reich will be tasked with developing the atypical prospect. The Panthers also lured Ejiro Evero from the Broncos, despite Denver’s interest in retaining its DC. Though, the team’s receiving situation — now featuring Adam Thielen and DJ Chark — may take multiple years to fix post-Moore. The rest of the NFC South will also include new Week 1 starting QBs. The Saints made the second-most notable veteran quarterback addition this year — in giving Carr what amounts to a three-year, $100MM deal — and will hope this brings the QB stability Drew Brees‘ retirement stripped away two years ago.
While the 49ers lost another coordinator (DeMeco Ryans) to a head coaching job, they gave new DC Steve Wilks superior D-line talent via Hargrave’s $20MM-AAV deal. With the Colts taking Richardson at No. 4, the Seahawks doubled down on the recently re-signed Geno Smith by beginning this year’s receiver run with Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20. Seattle also zagged from its Pete Carroll–John Schneider M.O. by taking cornerback Devon Witherspoon at 5. This and the Dre’Mont Jones contract headlined a big year for Seahawks defensive investments.
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