Odell Beckham Jr.

Giants Meet With Quentin Johnston, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers; Veteran WRs Still On Radar

Although the Giants used a first-round pick on a wide receiver in 2021, connecting them to a dive back into that pool is not especially difficult. Kadarius Toney is gone, and the team’s lot of free agency moves led complementary-type options coming in or staying put.

Unsurprisingly, this year’s top receiver prospects have heard from the Giants. The team has now met with TCU’s Quentin Johnston, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Boston College’s Zay Flowers at pre-pro-day dinners, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes (Twitter links). Johnston’s meeting occurred Thursday. The other top-four wideout in this year’s class, USC’s Jordan Addison, said the Giants were the most recent team to contact him.

Mentioning Smith-Njigba as a wideout GM Joe Schoen is doing extensive homework on, NJ.com’s Darryl Slater notes the team filled its quota of signings in this year’s unremarkable free agency class. The next step would be to take a swing at a player with a better chance of becoming a lead pass catcher.

I think we’re better than we were,” Schoen said of the team’s receiver situation. “I think Daniel [Jones] has a better group. It goes back to: It’s not fantasy football. So to say, ‘Go get a No. 1 receiver,’ you’re only afforded what’s on the market and what’s available. So all these things sound great. But with the receiver group that was out there…

Schoen’s voice trailing off effectively illustrated the leaguewide view of this year’s free agent receiver class. No top-25 contract at the position ended up going to a wideout, which marks a change from recent years, when the likes of Christian Kirk, Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay and Corey Davis scored such deals as UFAs. John Mara said the team might not be done in free agency, and the owner said earlier this week the team is not out on Odell Beckham Jr.

The former Giants Pro Bowler has received multiple offers, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com adds, though they have clearly not met with the mercurial talent’s approval. Attempting to pair him with Aaron Rodgers, the Jets remain the most likely Beckham destination, per Graziano, who adds OBJ may be waiting on the Rodgers deal to be finalized before he commits.

Schoen said a trade for a receiver remains in play. The Giants made a push for Jerry Jeudy before the 2022 deadline, but the Broncos want a first-round pick for their top wideout. That seems like a non-starter for the Giants, who prioritized draft capital — a third-rounder, which turned into Darren Waller — over waiting on Toney’s potential. Denver also wants a second-rounder for Courtland Sutton. Barring a big offer, the Broncos are standing pat at wide receiver.

The Giants could be a DeAndre Hopkins suitor as well; they will have competition for the Cardinals standout. The Waller move makes it a bit more difficult to envision the Giants dealing away another prime draft asset for a veteran pass catcher.

The Giants doing work on Smith-Njigba adds up, after the promising playmaker finished an abbreviated junior year. JSN broke through for 95 receptions, 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore, leading the Buckeyes in receiving by a substantial margin despite that squad housing 2022 first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. That included a monstrous 347-yard showing in that season’s Rose Bowl. Smith-Njigba, however, only played three games last season, catching just five passes. ESPN’s Todd McShay said in December Smith-Njigba had healed from his nagging hamstring injury by the Buckeyes’ semifinal game against Georgia but was protecting his draft status. That claim drew backlash from the junior wideout’s family, but his third-season no-show has undoubtedly prompted teams to examine the lengthy absence.

This year’s receiver class has not generated the buzz of recent crops, but ESPN’s Scouts Inc. rates Johnston, Addison, Smith-Njigba and Flowers as first-round talents. Johnston is coming off an MCL injury in TCU’s semifinal win over Michigan. None are viewed as top-10-level talents, though the top three here are each listed in the scouting service’s top 20 at the position. New York holds the No. 25 overall pick in next month’s draft. Mel Kiper Jr. mocks Addison to New York at 25.

The Giants, who retained Isaiah Hodgins as an RFA, re-signed Sterling Shepard and 2022 receiving leader Darius Slayton and added Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder. Wan’Dale Robinson still represents the centerpiece here, being signed through 2025. Though, the Kentucky-developed slot player is coming off an ACL tear. There probably will not be room for this sextet to each be part of Brian Daboll‘s second roster, and how the Giants proceed early in the draft will play a major role in determining this position group’s 2023 outlook.

Giants Not Out On Odell Beckham Jr.; Jets, Ravens, Rams Interested

MARCH 28: Attempting to move this process along, Beckham has arrived in Arizona for this round of owners’ meetings. The free agent receiver is expected to meet with teams, and Josina Anderson of CBS Sports notes the Ravens are one of them (Twitter link). Baltimore has added Nelson Agholor in free agency, but the team still features a need for pass catchers — regardless of who will be playing quarterback in 2023. For the time being, Beckham is not expected to meet with the Giants at the league meetings, SNY’s Connor Hughes adds (on Twitter).

MARCH 27: The Giants have been busy at the receiver position this offseason, bringing back Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton and signing Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder. This glut of veterans, however, will not take them off the Odell Beckham Jr. radar.

While a previous report indicated the Giants are likely out on a Beckham reunion, John Mara said Monday (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard) he is in favor of bringing the standout wide receiver back. The longtime owner, however, deferred to his GM and head coach by indicating this is contingent on OBJ fitting into Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll‘s plans.

Mara’s comments come after Robert Saleh confirmed the Jets are indeed interested in signing Beckham, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. The Jets have been on the OBJ radar for a bit now, with Aaron Rodgers wanting to see his likely next NFL team add the talented but injury-prone wideout. Mutual interest is believed to exist.

Beckham expressed interest in rejoining the Giants, who traded him in March 2019, and the team re-signing Shepard and franchise-tagging Saquon Barkley will help keep that door open. Both players have been longtime Beckham friends, dating back to the trio’s time together before the Browns trade. But the Giants still should be considered more likely to finish off their wide receiver augmentations early in the draft. Still, Beckham being available nearly four months after his free agency visit — and after the Cowboys went in another direction — keeps the door slightly ajar for the Giants, who should not be considered certain to carry each of the receivers they signed and re-signed on their 53-man roster come September.

Jets GM Joe Douglas confirmed Monday he has spoken with Beckham’s agent, noting productive conversations have taken place. Douglas expressed confidence in the team’s adjusted receiving corps, via Garafolo, but added OBJ is a “unique player” who remains on the team’s radar. A Beckham-Jets meeting is in play, but Douglas adds nothing is scheduled just yet.

The Jets have signed Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman while shipping out Elijah Moore after two seasons. Beckham remaining on the radar keeps Corey Davis on unsteady ground. The Jets can save $10.5MM by moving on from the former top-five pick, who has one season left on his three-year contract.

The Rams are still keeping tabs on Beckham, GM Les Snead said Monday. That said, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue does not sense much urgency on the Rams’ part here (Twitter links). Last year, the Rams, as they eyed a Super Bowl title defense, loomed as the frontrunners for months. Snead, Sean McVay and COO Kevin Demoff expressed a desire for Beckham to be re-signed. But OBJ did not like the team’s incentive-laden offer and went ahead with Bills, Giants and Cowboys visits.

McVay’s team is in a different place a year later, trading Jalen Ramsey and cutting Leonard Floyd as they attempt to cut costs and regroup after years of a Super Bowl pursuit. Unless Beckham’s market nosedives further than it already has appeared to, the Rams do not make too much sense as a landing spot any longer.

Jets Still Interested In Odell Beckham Jr.

The Jets’ wide receiver rearranging may not stop at swapping out Elijah Moore for Mecole Hardman. Despite adding Hardman and Allen Lazard, the Jets are still interested in signing Odell Beckham Jr., SNY’s Connor Hughes tweets.

Previous reports have indicated the Jets’ interest, though that remaining the case after Lazard and Hardman’s arrivals is certainly of note, but Hughes adds Beckham and Aaron Rodgers have discussed playing together in New York. Beckham is also interested in joining the Jets, Hughes tweets. Rodgers’ interest in playing with Beckham in New York became known last week, after the eight-year veteran joined Lazard, Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis on the quarterback’s list of hopeful Jet targets.

[RELATED: Jets Trade Elijah Moore To Browns]

New York’s receiving corps houses holdovers Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis. The Offensive Rookie of the Year is not going anywhere, but this continued Beckham interest points to the team considering taking Davis’ salary off the payroll. The Jets would obtain $10.5MM in cap space by releasing or trading Davis, who has one season remaining on the three-year, $37.5MM deal he inked in 2021.

Beckham, 30, is far from a safe bet. But Davis has missed 12 games since joining the Jets. OBJ obviously eclipses the former top-five pick for injury risk, having suffered two ACL tears between October 2020 and February 2022. The latter led to the former Pro Bowler missing all of last season, despite the Giants, Cowboys and Bills bringing him in for highly publicized December visits. Beckham both sought more money than those suitors were willing to pay and presented injury concerns — worries that became public after his Cowboys meeting.

The Packers pursued Beckham during his brief free agency stay in 2021, after the Browns agreed to release him. Green Bay ended up finishing second there, and Beckham made significant contributions to the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI-winning season. He topped 100 receiving yards in the 2021 NFC championship game and was on pace to do so again in the Super Bowl, but the second-quarter ACL tear sidetracked that effort — and Beckham’s career — instead.

Although Beckham has long been connected to a $20MM-per-year ask, he recently denied that is the case. Teams are clearly not going anywhere near that number for the talented but injury-prone target. The Jets hold just more than $10MM in cap space, though Rodgers’ contract is not yet on their payroll. The Jets are operating as though the four-time MVP will be their quarterback, and that is expected to happen.

New York’s receiving corps will already look different around its next QB, but will the team end up with three key additions around Wilson or just two? The Chiefs have also been loosely linked to Beckham, as they were in each of the past two years, and the draw of playing with Patrick Mahomes certainly would represent a threat to the Jets’ hopes here. DeAndre Hopkins has also been connected to Kansas City, with veteran NFL reporter Mike Jurecki again indicating (via Twitter) the defending champions are interested in these veteran pass catchers. The Chiefs have now lost Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and while they plan to give Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore bigger 2023 roles, another veteran presence makes sense.

The Giants and Cowboys are believed to be out on OBJ, though the rest of his market is not known. The Jets’ enduring presence here does make a Beckham Big Apple return an obvious scenario to monitor.

Cowboys Unlikely To Pursue Odell Beckham Jr.?

The Cowboys are one of a few teams which have frequently been mentioned as serious suitors for free agent wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Given their acquisition of Brandin Cooks earlier today, however, they might not be a landing spot for Beckham any longer.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that with Cooks now in the fold, the Cowboys are “likely out of the competition” for Beckham (Twitter link). The latter was mentioned throughout the 2022 season as a candidate to head to Dallas, with owner Jerry Jones repeatedly singing his praises. Beckham ultimately sat out the entire campaign, though, returning his focus to his ongoing ACL recovery in advance of finding his next NFL home.

Even with the Texans agreeing to pay one third of Cooks’ 2023 salary, adding Beckham to the Cowboys’ receiver room would be difficult. The 30-year-old has been attached to an asking price of $20MM per season on his next deal, something which would take him out of consideration for the Cowboys and, presumably, many other teams facing tight cap situations. Beckham has pushed back on the reported AAV he is seeking, though.

The three-time Pro Bowler recently tweeted a denial that he has formally asked for $20MM on his next contract. He added, however, that a $4MM-per-season pact is below what he is willing to sign for. An annual salary ranging somewhere between those figures could prove to be a worthwhile investment for a team interested in adding Beckham provided they are satisfied with his knee’s health following his recent workout.

Dallas being out of the running could point Beckham towards a reunion with the Giants, something which has been reported to be on New York’s radar for quite some time. GM Joe Schoen has been busy in the pass-catching department this offseason, though, including multiple re-signings at the WR position, the addition of Parris Campbell and the trade acquisition of tight end Darren Waller. Beckham tweeted a response to Giants running back Saquon Barkley hinting that he would still be interested in a new Giants deal if it were to be possible.

Recently, however, the New York team mentioned as most likely to acquire Beckham has been the Jets. Especially if an Aaron Rodgers trade were to be finalized, Beckham’s presence on the quarterback’s reported wish list could see him be a Jets target as they look to re-tool their offense for 2023. In any event, the chances of a Beckham-to-Dallas deal now appear to be at their lowest yet.

Jets Interested In Odell Beckham Jr.; Giants Out Of Mix?

The Jets are now connected to every player on Aaron Rodgers‘ wish list. The highest-profile name on said list, Odell Beckham Jr., is on the team’s radar, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Beckham surfaced as a possible Jets target earlier this week, when Russini listed him as part of Rodgers’ list of free agents he wanted the Jets to acquire. Rodgers said later this week he would love to play with OBJ, and Russini adds the Jets have stayed in touch with the veteran wide receiver’s camp.

Allen Lazard has officially signed with the Jets, checking off one of the names from the list, and the team has been connected to both Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis. Neither have joined Lazard in signing, and Beckham has been linked to a few other teams. One of those, the Giants, looks likely to move on. After hosting Beckham on the first visit of his December free agency tour and being expected to resume that free agency courtship this year, the Giants re-signed Darius Slayton and added Parris Campbell on Thursday. OBJ is believed to be out of Big Blue’s price range, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets.

The latest Rodgers trade saga finally looks to have the future Hall of Famer set to relocate, but the Packers and Jets do not agree on compensation. It does not sound like the teams are close, with Jets brass viewing the Packers’ reported ask — a first-round pick and then a conditional 2025 draft asset for a scenario in which Rodgers plays in 2024 — as unreasonable for a player they are not planning to use next season. But the Jets are proceeding with the expectation they will employ Rodgers in 2023. And they are considering an overhaul of their receiver room — much of it, at least.

Lazard joins Garrett Wilson as the team’s top two receivers. While Corey Davis would qualify for such status over Lazard, his place with the organization is tenuous due to his salary and the Lazard signing. A Beckham addition would almost certainly lead to Davis’ departure. Elijah Moore remains in the picture, with the Jets not honoring his in-season trade request last year. But the former second-round pick did not match his rookie-year production in 2022. Beckham being a legitimate candidate to join the Jets would call Moore’s role into question as well.

As of Friday morning, the Jets hold barely $15MM in cap space. Were Rodgers’ contract to land on New York’s cap this year, he would be tied to a cap number just north of $15MM. We are a long way away from that part of Gang Green’s offseason, it appears, and the team will make more moves to free up funds as well. Davis could be one of them. Cutting the former Titans top-five pick would save the Jets more than $10MM.

Beckham, 30, is also tied to an unreasonable price point and has been for months. Still connected to a $20MM-per-year ask, Beckham will need to move off that number — likely by a considerable margin — to land with a team and resume his career. The former Giants standout did make significant contributions to the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning effort in 2021, but his second ACL tear and full-season absence altered his career path. A $20MM-per-year deal would have been realistic had OBJ finished Super Bowl LVI unscathed, but that obviously did not happen.

The Giants’ receiver room resembles its 2022 composition, with both Slayton and Sterling Shepard re-signing despite initially arriving under previous GMs (Jerry Reese, Dave Gettleman). Campbell and ex-Brian Daboll Bills charge Isaiah Hodgins join them, as does 2022 second-rounder Wan’Dale Robinson. Darren Waller is the biggest name in the Giants’ pass-catching mix, but the Pro Bowl tight end has also struggled to stay healthy. The Giants are likely still on the hunt for a starter-caliber receiver — probably in the draft — but they look to be closing the door on a Beckham reunion.

Aaron Rodgers’ Jets Free Agency Wish List Includes Odell Beckham Jr., Marcedes Lewis

The Buccaneers loaded up their roster with Tom Brady-approved acquisitions in 2020, adding the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown. Of course, those players became Buccaneers after Brady committed. The Jets may be dealing with a different situation.

Aaron Rodgers has given the Jets a free agency wish list that includes a few ex-Packers — Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis — but Dianni Russini of ESPN.com reports the future Hall of Fame quarterback also wants the team to acquire Odell Beckham Jr. (Twitter link). Both the Jets and Raiders are believed to be interested in Lewis, despite the tight end going into an age-39 season, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

It should not be assumed Rodgers will only commit to the Jets if they land all these targets, but the team has been connected to each of the ex-Packers already. The Packers were interested in OBJ back in 2021 as well, though the team stood down and let him sign with the Rams. This marks the first known Beckham-Jets connection, with his previous return-to-New York rumors involving his former team. The Giants, along with the Cowboys, Rams and others, are still believed to be interested in Beckham. Given the QB circumstances at play, the Jets should be counted among the talented but injury-prone wideout’s suitors.

The Jets and Packers have discussed a Rodgers trade for a while, and while it is not known if the parties have agreed to all terms, the holdup here is believed to be Rodgers’ interest in becoming a Jet. The four-time MVP has still not committed to playing a 19th season, despite a round of Jets players sending out celebratory tweets Monday. Putting out a free agency wish list, however, does point to Rodgers being prepared to suit up again.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson is obviously not going anywhere, but the Jets’ receiver room could look quite different soon — depending on how many of Rodgers’ guys the team acquires. The Jets have Corey Davis under contract for one more season, but with $10MM-plus in savings attached to cutting him, that should be considered a possible outcome. Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims also remain on Gang Green’s roster, each attached to rookie contracts. Both were in trade rumors last year; the Jets shopped Mims but did not honor Moore’s trade request.

Even as the Jets have made a run of overtures to Rodgers, the team rearranging its skill-position depth chart before he agrees to join them would be a notable development. Rodgers committing and then the team making an effort to add his preferred weaponry would be more in line with how Brady played it three years ago. While this might be a LeBron James-style effort to apply extra pressure to a team to acquire his preferred weaponry, he also may already be committed to the Jets. The latter scenario would make this list easier to understand, compared to an ultimatum.

As for Beckham, this represents another opportunity for him to maximize his value. It is unknown if he is interested in teaming up with Rodgers, but the 30-year-old wideout is once again seeking money seemingly well out of step with his value. Beckham was connected to a $20MM-per-year ask during his December free agency sweepstakes; that number has come up once again. While OBJ is extraordinarily unlikely to approach that price point, given his two ACL tears and missed season, this Rodgers tie could help him on the market.

Lewis was with the Packers throughout new Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett‘s Green Bay stay. He could profile as a third tight end for a team that already employs C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. A longtime Rodgers ally, Cobb has played 10 of his 12 NFL seasons with the all-time QB great. Rodgers drove the Packers, calling off his trade request, to reacquire him in 2021.

Giants Rumors: Lawrence, Edwards, WRs, Love

The Giants have been eyeing an extension for star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence for a while now and, following a breakout season, the team has made it a priority. New York started preliminary conversations with Lawrence about two weeks ago, but Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS claims he wouldn’t be surprised to see a new deal done “sooner than later.”

Despite the ever-growing markets for every position, the league’s market for defensive tackles has never been near the contract of generational talent Aaron Donald. It appears that this will continue to be the case as we see the defensive tackle market reestablished this offseason. Washington has already made Daron Payne the new second-highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL behind Donald with a four-year, $90MM contract. Payne’s average annual value of $22.5MM is still well short of Donald’s $31.67MM per year.

It will be interesting to see where the Giants go from Payne’s deal. Payne established himself as a premier pass-rushing defensive tackle in the league this season but struggled in run defense. Lawrence didn’t have the pass rush production that Payne did but still excelled in the area while also being strong against the run.

Lawrence graded out as the second-best defensive tackle in the league this year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). It would make perfect sense for the Giants to reward Lawrence with a contract that surpasses that of Payne’s new deal, but will Lawrence be able to come anywhere close to the heights reached by Donald?

Here are a few more rumors surrounding the Giants’ priorities at the start of the new league year:

  • Starting the offseason with 21 unrestricted free agents, New York had a laundry list of names and positions to take care of. One of those positions that has been getting some chatter is inside linebacker. Specifically, the Giants have continuously been connected to Eagles pending free agent linebacker T.J. Edwards, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. The four-year Philadelphia defender has had two increasingly impressive breakout seasons, recording career-highs last year in total tackles (159), tackles for loss (10), sacks (2.0), quarterback hits (5), and passes defensed (7). Aside from Edwards, the top name expected to be available at the position is Tremaine Edmunds from Buffalo. Other names of interest for the G-Men include the Commanders’ Cole Holcomb, the Bengals’ Germaine Pratt, the Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch, the Lions’ Alex Anzalone, and the Chargers’ Drue Tranquill.
  • The wide receivers position has been an obvious need on the Giants’ roster for some time now, but it doesn’t appear that the Giants intend to address that through free agency, according to Pat Leonard of New York Daily News. With their focuses in free agency and the draft reportedly on inside linebackers, defensive linemen, cornerbacks, and interior offensive linemen, thoughts are that the trade market may make more sense for New York. If the Bills aren’t able to reach an extension agreement with Gabriel Davis, the Giants could be strong contenders to acquire his talents. The Rams have granted receiver Allen Robinson permission to seek a trade. Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins appears to be available for a price, as well. There are other names that could be interesting additions to the trade market such as Cincinnati wideout Tyler Boyd or Denver’s Jerry Jeudy. The team might still make free agency moves for veterans like Cole Beasley or Odell Beckham Jr., but the trade market could be a more attractive way to bring in established talent to New York.
  • There is reportedly optimism that the Giants will be able to come to an agreement to re-sign pending free agent safety Julian Love. After two seasons of relatively down play, Love had a bounce-back, breakout season in a contract year. He led the team in tackles by a mile with 124 total and tacked on two interceptions for good measure. Love may not be expected to make top money at the position, but after playing out his rookie contract, it appears Love is on the right track to remaining in New York long-term.

Latest On Odell Beckham Jr.

9:05pm: In the aftermath of Beckham’s workout, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the three-time Pro Bowler is seeking a deal worth up to $20MM per season, as was the case at one point during the 2022 campaign. His injury absence makes that ask one which is highly unlikely to be met, though the attendance at yesterday’s showing points to a number of suitors still being keenly interested in signing him.

1:38pm: The rare free agent to skip a season and still be expected to generate extensive interest on the following year’s market, Odell Beckham Jr. is believed to be fully recovered from the ACL tear that altered his 2022 hopes.

Beckham is now 100%, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. He attempted to showcase that form in a workout attended by nearly half the league. OBJ did not work out for teams during his late-season push to land a multiyear deal — evidently contingent upon a playoff-only role with a contender last season — but he attracted a nice audience Friday.

Twelve to 14 teams attended the workout, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Representatives from the 49ers, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chiefs, Giants, Jets, Panthers, Patriots, Rams, Ravens and Vikings were at the event, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes (Twitter links). Perhaps the most notable Beckham suitor, the Cowboys, were not believed to be one of the teams observing Beckham’s form.

The Cowboys certainly should not be described as out of the Beckham mix, and the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins notes the team remains comfortable signing the eight-year veteran if his health and price demands are right (Twitter link). They are widely expected to revisit the pursuit they scrapped in December. The Rams and Giants are also among the teams expected to go after OBJ again. Sean McVay confirmed, via ESPN’s Sarah Barshop, the Rams are “absolutely” monitoring their former receiver. Before falling out of contention, the Rams were viewed as the favorites to land him last year. But Beckham’s knee ended up needing more time to heal.

Beckham, 30, missing last season means he can sign with a team at any point. Though, every unrestricted free agent wideout can begin talking to teams at 3pm CT Monday, when the legal tampering period starts. The former Giants, Browns and Rams pass catcher is now nearly 13 months removed from his second ACL tear. He returned to action 10 months after his first and ended up making an impact for the Rams, a stretch that concluded with a Super Bowl LVI touchdown.

This year’s iffy wide receiver market should help Beckham’s value, but because of his age and the injury-induced full-season absence, this stands to be one of the more unusual free agencies for a player in recent memory.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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Cowboys Aim To Add Another Weapon; Team Eyeing Extensions For CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs

The Cowboys have Michael Gallup entering the second year of his five-year extension, and the team’s No. 2 wide receiver is now more than a year removed from his ACL tear. The team is also expected to use the franchise tag to keep Tony Pollard off the market. But it is eyeing an addition to its skill-position corps as well.

Dallas will pursue a “dynamic weapon” this offseason, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News notes. This will naturally reconnect the Cowboys to Odell Beckham Jr., but Gehlken cautions nothing is imminent there. The addition could also come in the draft.

It also might come at tight end, as Dalton Schultz is likely to leave in free agency. Headlined by Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer and Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, this tight class is viewed as the best in many years. Both those options could well be gone by the time the Cowboys’ No. 26 overall pick arrives. This draft’s receiver class is not viewed as highly, at least compared to the past few, and Stephen Jones‘ comments of the team readying to use the franchise tag almost certainly point to Pollard being the recipient. It would cost just $10.1MM for the Cowboys to keep Pollard. It would be the sixth straight year in which Dallas has used the tag.

As far as veteran receivers go, Beckham headlines a free agency crop not viewed glowingly. It would be interesting to see the Cowboys pay Gallup, tag Pollard and spend on another wide receiver. The team also has designs on extending CeeDee Lamb, with Jones indicating (via the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins) both he and Trevon Diggs are in the team’s long-term plans.

Lamb’s fifth-year option will be picked up, Gehlken adds, as could be expected given his status as a cornerstone player for the team. This would lock in Lamb through 2024, with his price rising next year. Without a fifth-year option available regarding Diggs, a second-round pick, the Cowboys will soon see their top cornerback enter a contract year.

Beyond Beckham, the market stands to include JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers, DJ Chark and Allen Lazard. Michael Thomas also looks to be available, but the former Saints All-Pro has missed much of the past three seasons. At close to his best, Beckham would qualify as a dynamic weapon. He showed that during the Rams’ 2021 Super Bowl run, one that included an explosive Beckham Super Bowl LVI start before his ACL tear. Beckham did not play last season, healing the second of his two ACL tears sustained during the 2020s, and will turn 31 during the 2023 slate. The Cowboys, Rams and Giants are expected to resume their pursuits of the eight-year veteran, and while Dallas was viewed as the favorite during the late-season sweepstakes, this will be one of the harder price projections to make in recent free agency history.

The Cowboys ended up selling low on Amari Cooper, collecting late-round picks from the Browns for their former No. 1 receiver, and Gallup did not show his previous form after returning from the December 2021 ACL tear. Third-round pick Jalen Tolbert did not acclimate as quickly as the team hoped, Gehlken adds. The South Alabama alum did not see much action last season, and the Cowboys cut James Washington not long after he recovered from his summer foot fracture. Lamb, Gallup and Tolbert are the top receivers under contract; six-year Cowboy Noah Brown is also a free agent. Gallup also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery a few weeks ago but is expected to be ready for OTAs.

Cowboys target Brandin Cooks is again available via trade, though the Texans’ new price point remains to be seen, but Gehlken adds the team is not close on trading for a pass catcher. DeAndre Hopkins joins Cooks in being on the trade block. Jonathan Gannon stopped short of guaranteeing Hopkins will be a Cardinal in 2023, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com notes, and the former All-Pro’s 2022 PED suspension voided his no-trade clause.

Dallas’ recent big skill-position swings have moved the needle significantly. Cooper made two Pro Bowls as a Cowboy and reeled off three 1,000-yard seasons, while Lamb — chosen after Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy but before Justin Jefferson — broke through for a career-high 1,359 yards and nine touchdown catches in 2022. It appears a serious effort to complement Lamb and Pollard will commence soon.