The Complete Guide to 2023 NFL Free Agency

The franchise tag deadline last week has already provided us with plenty of off-season shenanigans, thanks to the Ravens’ decision to use a non-exclusive tag on QB Lamar Jackson. But that was just a warm-up. This week we are waiting for the main event: free will.

The NFL legal intervention period begins on Monday, after which players can agree to contracts with new teams; teams can officially sign players at 4:00 pm ET on Wednesday, when the new league year begins. To prepare you for a busy month, we’ve put together this guide that highlights the best players available in each position. Which free agents will offer the most value? Which players should teams avoid? And what teams are applying for what positions in the market?

A little cleaning before we start: Projected value of contracts provided by Pro Football Focus. and are based on the average annual salary. The dollar number next to each team’s name represents it. available cap space as of Sunday evening, rounded to the nearest million.

With that on the way, let’s get started.


Marketed: Raiders ($44M), Texans ($39M), Panthers ($23M), Lions ($18M), Commanders ($16M), Colts ($11M).

Best in Class: Lamar Jackson
Expected Deal Value (PFF): Average salary of $52 million per year, five years (plus two first-round picks).

While it doesn’t look like NFL owners are interested in a war for the 26-year-old former MVP, they should be – and probably would be – if his announced contract requirements didn’t include a fully guaranteed contract. I can’t blame NFL teams for being hesitant to give all that money to a player who couldn’t complete either of the last two seasons due to injury, but Jackson is a talent worth risking everything for, even if his numbers are down. . since he won the league’s top individual honor three years ago. The reality is that Jackson’s individual performance has improved over this time; a supporting cast provided by the Ravens front office switched sides and caused the production to drop. (When Jackson won MVP in the 2019 season, at least he had first-round rookie Marquise Brown as the No. 1 receiver.) Staying with the Ravens, either on a $32.4 million-a-year, non-exclusive franchise, or new long-term a deal remains the most likely outcome for Jackson, but some team may (and should) be willing to give him enough money to make his current employers think twice before accepting the offer.

Best Value for Money: Jameis Winston
Estimated Trade Value (via PFF): N/A

Any team looking to get lucky with Jeno Smith should consider Winston, who will reportedly be fired by Wednesday if he doesn’t accept the Saints’ offer to restructure his contract to stay in New Orleans as Derek Carr’s understudy. There are many parallels between Smith and Winston, from their skill sets as big-handed and bold quarterbacks who are right at home in the pocket, and even extending to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s shared bench experience. With a wide class of quarterbacks available this offseason, Winston should be a cheap option for any team looking to save on position in 2023.

Buyer Beware: Baker Mayfield
Estimated Deal Value (via PFF): $6.3 million per year, two years.

Which GM is going to convince itself that Mayfield’s ex is gone. 1st pick, is it possible to save after seeing him pass to open receivers in Sean McVeigh’s action-playing offense? I would put Scott Fitterer of Carolina at number one, but he already did that last year. Seriously though, Mayfield is a solid fallback. Just don’t expect more.

Other notable free agents: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brisset, Carson Wentz, Andy Dalton.

On the way back

Marketed: Cardinals ($33M), Giants ($16M), Cowboys ($15M), Dolphins ($12M), Eagles ($7M), Pirates ($2M), Rams (minus $3 million), Crows (minus $3 million), Vikings (minus $7 million)

Best in Class: Miles Sanders
Expected transaction value (via PFF): $7.5 million per year, three years.

Teams will have to figure out if Sanders’ career year in 2022 was a true representation of his talent or just a product of Philadelphia’s dominant offensive line and running pattern. It could be both! A Philadelphia run blocking is all a quarterback can ask for, but baseline figures show Sanders has done his bit too. He finished an average of 0.44 yards higher than expected per attempt according to Next Gen Stats, which weighs various factors, including how well a run game is blocked, to get a statistic. Some context: recently marked Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs finished with averages of 0.6 and 0.52, respectively. It’s not a big gap. Sanders has production teams to look for and he only has 795 career carries including the postseason, so he’s 25 years old. decent return on investment.

Best Price: Rashad Penny
Estimated Deal Value (via PFF): $3.3 million, one year.

Penny is the most physically gifted runner in this class. In fact, let me rephrase: he is the best runner in this class, period. He would be especially effective in a zone running system – are you paying attention, Sean McVeigh? — but teams might be put off by his injury history, which, admittedly, is terribly scary. He never played a full season, and in 2022 he only had five games due to a broken leg.

Buyer Beware: Leonard Furnett
Estimated Trade Value (via PFF): N/A

Tom Brady should be rewarded for getting as much out of it as he did out of Furnett, a hard-working runner who doesn’t offer much in a playthrough other than a few brutal pickups. And only two runners lost more total EPA on rush attempts last season, according to it doesn’t look like he did it on the ground.

Other notable free agents: David Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, Karim Hunt, Devin Singletary, D’Onta Foreman, Damien Harris.

wide receiver

Marketed: Bears ($75M), Falcons ($63M), Texans ($39M), Cardinals ($33M), Patriots ($31M), Seahawks ($20M), Titans ($17M) ), Giants ($16 million). ), Jets ($14 million), Colts ($11 million), 49ers ($7 million), Ravens (minus $3 million), Vikings (minus $7 million)

Best in Class: Jacobi Meyers
Estimated Deal Value (via PFF): $16 million per year, four years.

I mean right? Jacobi Meyers – the best thing we could have done this year? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player. Just don’t expect it to lift your receiving body much. Meyers is a good size (6ft 2, 200lbs) and a secure pair of mittens and can open for the most part. Had he been a more accurate route runner, he could have been worth the investment at the level of Christian Kirk. I wouldn’t say the same about Meyers’ 2022 version.

Best value for money: DJ Chark
Expected deal value (via PFF): $11.7 million per year, three years.

Chark was undervalued last free-agent cycle when Jacksonville (wrongly) let him go, and it looks like it will be the same this year. He is not a WR1 or WR2, but Chark wins on vertical courses and has no problem making accurate passes. He would be a great third option for any team.

Buyer Beware: Michael Thomas
Expected transaction value (via PFF): $12.5 million, one year.

Maybe Thomas can reinvent himself as a powerful slot receiver who can win in divisive situations. But judging from last year’s film, it’s hard to imagine him as the nimble route runner and fast separator he was at his peak in New Orleans.

Other notable free agents: Juju Smith-Schuster, Odell Beckham Jr., Adam Thielen, Allen Lazard, Parris Campbell, Julio Jones, Sterling Shepard.

tight end

Marketed: Texans ($39M), Bengals ($34M), Patriots ($31M), Packers ($24M), Panthers ($23M), Chargers ($19M), Lions ($18M) ), Titans ($17 million). ), Giants ($16 million), Commanders ($16 million), Dolphins ($12 million), Jaguars ($7 million)

Best in Class: Dalton Schultz
Expected transaction value (via PFF): $14.5 million per year, four years.

I’m getting a call from Schultz. He is a traditional tight end in the line who can crack from time to time, as new age players regularly do when getting tight ends. There will be a bidding war for Schultz, and the contract numbers will shock some. It is because of this extra charge that I would not participate in the auction. If you’re paying close to $15 million a season, he better be Travis Kelsey. Shit, Kelche even that doesn’t work. Smart teams don’t waste money on good but not great players in secondary positions.

Best Value: Hayden Hurst
Expected transaction value (via PFF): $8.5 million per year, three years.

Hurst may not have the receiving skills to become a superstar tight end, but there aren’t many players in this position who are better at handling the ball. With a good caller and/or smart quarterback, Hurst can be the deciding factor in a highly effective passing game.

Buyer Beware: Mike Gesicki
Estimated Deal Value (via PFF): $11 million per year, three years.

Gesicki is more like a wide receiver pretending to be a tight end, which defeats the purpose of what should be a multifaceted position. Blocking Gesicki is still ridiculously bad, though it’s clear he’s put in some effort to improve, and the opposing defense treats him like he’s the receiver when deciding how to recruit as a result.

Other notable free agents: Austin Hooper, Foster Moreau, Robert Tonyan.

offensive tackle

Marketed: Bears ($75M), Falcons ($63M), Raiders ($44M), Bengals ($34M), Broncos ($33M), Cardinals ($33M), Patriots ($31M) ), Packers ($24 million). ), Chargers ($19 million), Colts ($11 million), Jaguars ($7 million), Rams (minus $3 million), Bills (minus $19 million)

Best in Class: Orlando Brown Jr.
Estimated Deal Value (via PFF): $21 million per year, five years.

Little talent left…


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