2023 NFL Free Agency: Every NFL team's biggest loss

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) looks on during warmups before an AFC divisional round game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

• Bengals will have two new faces on back end of defense: Both of their starting safeties from 2022, Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell, are headed to the NFC South.

• Jaguars will need Travon Walker, others to step up: After losing Arden Key, Jacksonville will look to find another consistent source of pass-rush production.

• Steelers still need reinforcements at cornerback: Heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh is thin at the all-important position.

Estimated Reading Time: 21 mins

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Arizona Cardinals: DI Zach Allen

Amid J.J. Watt‘s retirement to boot, Arizona may have the worst defensive line in the NFL on paper heading into the 2023 campaign. New head coach Jonathan Gannon has his work cut out for him after coordinating a Philadelphia Eagles defense that recorded 70 regular-season sacks in 2022, the third most all time. 

They didn’t get there by relying on one or two marquee players, either. In fact, they became the first team in NFL history to have four different players record double-digit sacks in a year. Now in Arizona following Allen's departure, Gannon is left with a current top pass rusher who may not rank in the top five on the Eagles roster, and that’s even after interior defender Javon Hargrave signed a massive deal in free agency with the San Francisco 49ers. Fortunately, Arizona has the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and could add a difference-maker on Day 1.

Read more: 2023 free agency grades for all 32 teams


Atlanta Falcons: CB Isaiah Oliver

Oliver has been quietly solid as a depth piece in the slot for Atlanta for the past two years in a limited capacity, and that’s after beginning his career using his 6-foot, 210-pound frame to play on the outside. Oliver’s 75.1 coverage grade when lined up in the slot over the past two seasons ranks in the top 30, albeit on a smaller sample.

Atlanta has made a ton of defensive additions this offseason, most recently bringing in former first-round cornerback Mike Hughes, who also offers inside-outside flexibility and looks to be the 2023 starter in the slot. Realistically, Atlanta didn’t lose much this offseason, but Oliver provided some value as a versatile defensive back.


Baltimore Ravens: OG Ben Powers

Powers was one of the big winners in free agency, signing a massive four-year, $52 million contract with the Denver Broncos that had almost as much guaranteed money as any other free-agent guard received in total contract value this offseason. Powers was an above-average to good pass blocker through his first three seasons, and he earned an 86.5 grade in that facet in 2022 at just the right time.

Baltimore does have some offensive line depth to work with, with Ben Cleveland and Patrick Mekari in the fold, but Powers is a big loss.


Buffalo Bills: LB Tremaine Edmunds

The Bills simply could not afford to even come close to matching the four-year, $72 million contract Edmunds signed with the Chicago Bears — a deal that includes effectively $50 million fully guaranteed at signing — especially after linebacker Matt Milano earned a slight pay raise due to his stellar play the past few seasons following an extension of his own.

That said, it’s never easy to lose a player you traded up in the first round to draft and who finally blossomed in his fifth-year option season. Edmunds will start his sixth NFL season at just 25 years old and is coming off a season in which he earned a career-high 88.1 coverage grade. The NFL game is starting to slow down for him, with better play recognition enabling him to think less and use his athletic tools to their full ability.


Carolina Panthers: WR D.J. Moore

Moore was not lost to free agency but just had to be our answer here, especially considering the Panthers were set to lose the fewest snaps to free agency of any team in the NFL and they retained center Bradley Bozeman.

The Panthers now arguably have the worst collection of offensive weapons in the NFL, even after adding very capable players in wide receiver Adam Thielen and tight end Hayden Hurst, both of whom will be 30-plus years old in Week 1. 

Interior defender Matt Ioannidis could end up the true best answer here, though he still remains unsigned and could perhaps return to Carolina after all.


Chicago Bears: RB David Montgomery

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person in the Bears' building who doesn’t love David Montgomery the person, and while he may not have been a great fit as a runner in their wide-zone-heavy rushing attack, he provides more pass-catching chops than their current committee. The newly signed Travis Homer can be a solid pass protector out of the backfield, another strength of Montgomery’s — his 71.7 pass-blocking grade since 2019 is a top-10 mark at the position — but as of right now, each running back's presence in the backfield could be a bit of a tell to opposing defenses. 

All of that said, signing D’Onta Foreman for $3 million on a one-year flier is a great early-down replacement at a good value, and perhaps Chicago could add a Day 3 pick to round out the running back room if they’re not in love with 2022 sixth-rounder Trestan Ebner.


Cincinnati Bengals: S Jessie Bates III

The Bengals clearly weren’t going to offer Bates the big multi-year deal he earned from the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of $64 million over four years. Former Los Angeles Rams safety Nick Scott is a solid replacement at free safety, but Bates’ loss will certainly still be felt. Cincinnati has not had the best play from its outside cornerbacks in recent seasons, in particular following an injury to Chidobe Awuzie in 2022, and Bates’ ball-hawking ability on the back end is a big reason why the defense was still able to hold up in coverage.

The loss was compounded by the ever-reliable Vonn Bell also departing to the Carolina Panthers. Over their past three seasons together, the Bengals' safety unit ranked sixth in run-defense grade and sixth in coverage grade. It will be interesting to see how the defense fares going forward without the dynamic duo patrolling the secondary.

Read more: 2023 free agency grades for all 32 teams


Cleveland Browns: EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

Newly signed edge defender Ogbonnia Okoronkwo could fill Clowney's void, but while Clowney may not have been as productive as the other No. 1 overall pick edge defender across the line in Myles Garrett, he had a very high floor of play.

Clowney’s 91.0 run-defense grade since he joined the league in 2014 is the fifth-best mark among edge defenders in the NFL, and his 12.2% pressure rate over the past two seasons ranked 46th at the position.

Cleveland retained center Ethan Pocic and off-ball linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., two other potential departures that would’ve been notable.


Dallas Cowboys: TE Dalton Schultz

The Cowboys were willing to pay Schultz a $10.93 million franchise tag in 2022 but apparently were not interested in topping the one-year, $6.75 million deal he signed in 2023 free agency. Dallas got out ahead of Schultz’s departure by adding tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot ahead of the 2022 season, but there’s no guarantee either develops into the quality all-around player that Schultz has become.

As evidenced by the free-agent period across the tight end position, the NFL has adjusted after second-tier players like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and others dramatically underperformed relative to their deals. Additionally, this could be a signal that the NFL views the tight end class in the 2023 NFL Draft as one of the best in years, a common opinion among analysts.


Denver Broncos: DI Dre’Mont Jones

The Broncos have a host of edge rushers, and they quickly reunited new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph with Arizona Cardinals interior defender Zach Allen, who Joseph coached up over the past few years, culminating in his breakout 2022 season with a career-high 35 quarterback pressures.

That said, over the past two seasons, Jones outpaced Allen in pass-rush win rate (14.7% to 9.8%) and pressure percentage (10.3% to 7.3%) by a good margin.


Detroit Lions: IOL Evan Brown

An underrated part of the Lions’ excellent free agency thus far is that they either had an in-house replacement for every player they lost or signed someone to fill that void. This applies to Brown, as well, but he provided solid interior offensive line depth with the flexibility to play at all three spots, though he was best suited at center.

Brown earned a 72.4 pass-blocking grade while starting most of the season at center in 2021 and was a shrewd addition among many such signings by the Seattle Seahawks.


Green Bay Packers: TEs Marcedes Lewis & Robert Tonyan

We’re still in a holding pattern with the pending trade of Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets, but the expectation is the ageless wonder Marcedes Lewis would follow him. Over the past three seasons, Lewis’ 75.9 run-blocking grade ranks fourth among tight ends, and he’s shown few signs of slowing down entering his age-39 season in 2023, which would be his 18th.

Tonyan joined his hometown Chicago Bears coming off a season in which he put up a career-high 53 receptions, and his 1.6% drop rate over the past three seasons is the top mark among tight ends. Neither tight end is a game-changing weapon, but both are very solid within their roles.

Safety Adrian Amos is the other potential answer here, especially with former first-round safety Darnell Savage benched this season before moving to slot cornerback, but with Green Bay keeping defensive coordinator Joe Barry on staff, it doesn’t seem to matter how many investments they make on defense.


Houston Texans: EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

It’s a bit puzzling as to why Houston didn’t do more to try to keep Okoronkwo, but perhaps they did and he just wanted to go elsewhere. After a slow start heading into the team’s Week 6 bye, Okoronkwo exploded out of the gate from Week 7 on, with his 88.5 pass-rush grade ranking sixth among edge defenders from that point on.

Okoronkwo’s 22.9% pass-rush win rate ranked seventh and his 17.5% pressure percentage ranked eighth among edge defenders over the same span, and he became a starter for the first time in his career in Week 11 without a drop-off in down-to-down efficiency. He may not be a 1,000-snap player, but the value of 500-700 snaps at this level is worth quite a bit, and Cleveland may have landed a steal here.

Read more: 2023 free agency grades for all 32 teams


Indianapolis Colts: WR Parris Campbell

Linebacker Bobby Okereke makes a lot of sense here, as well, but the Colts have a ton invested in Shaquille Leonard at the position, and although E.J. Speed’s main contributions so far have been on special teams, he earned a 78.4 overall grade and an 82.8 run-defense grade in 2022.

Campbell’s production in 2022 exceeded his three-year cumulative totals from 2019-21 in nearly every statistical category once finally healthy, with nine games of at least 40 receiving yards on the year. The New York Giants continue to load up their roster with slot receivers, a trend that has spanned across multiple regimes, but the $4.7 million one-year flier for Campbell is a great value.

The Colts' offense ranked dead last in EPA per dropback in 2022, and while a new quarterback can change that more than Campbell ever could, he certainly would’ve helped.


Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Arden Key

Yes, Jawaan Taylor signing a four-year, $80 million contract with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs would make a lot of sense here. However, there’s a reason the Jaguars chose to use the franchise tag on tight end Evan Engram instead: Clearly, they have a lot of belief in 2021 second-round pick Walker Little to take over for Taylor.

Key had a career year playing on a one-year, $4 million flier, with his 81.3 overall grade his top mark for a season by more than 10 grading points. Over the past two seasons, Key recorded 80 quarterback pressures on 546 pass-rush reps, with the 14.6% pressure rate good for 17th among edge defenders over the span.

Key generated at least three quarterback pressures in each of Jacksonville’s final five regular-season games and both playoff games, repeatedly stepping up big when it was do-or-die time. He made it very clear he wanted to be back in Duval County and felt disrespected by Jacksonville’s offer, so his two matchups a year against the team as a member of the division-rival Tennessee Titans will be fun to watch.

Fellow edge defender Dawuane Smoot deserves a mention, as well, though his injury suffered right at the end of the season may delay any signing. 


Kansas City Chiefs: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Patrick Mahomes proved last season he can win with just about anyone catching passes, but Smith-Schuster was highly productive with 36 more receptions and about 250 more receiving yards than the next best wide receiver on the team.

Kansas City opting to buy low with the one-year flier and then let Smith-Schuster sign elsewhere is likely a sharp move, but it’s not like he’ll be easy to replace. Smith-Schuster’s 2.9% drop rate over the past three seasons ranks seventh among qualifying wide receivers, and he actually lined up out wide at a higher percentage than in the slot for the first time in his career, so he may be a bit harder to replace if Kansas City specifically wants to replace him with a wide receiver who can line up predominantly out wide.


Las Vegas Raiders: DI Andrew Billings

While we did count D.J. Moore for the Panthers, we'll look elsewhere for the Raiders in regard to quarterback Derek Carr, who was cut, and tight end Darren Waller, who was traded. Billings was the highest-graded interior defender on the Raiders' roster by more than 20 grading points, with his run-defense grade also the top mark by a hefty margin.

The Raiders' defense still needs a ton of help at outside cornerback, as well. Getting Rock Ya-Sin back in the fold would go a long way, but if he ultimately signs elsewhere, he has an argument to be the selection here.


Los Angeles Chargers: LB Drue Tranquill

It’s somewhat surprising the Chargers weren’t willing to exceed the one-year, $3 million flier Tranquill ultimately signed with the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. Tranquill racked up 52 defensive stops in 2022, which ranked 14th among off-ball linebackers. His 76.7 coverage grade ranked 11th, and his 15 quarterback pressures and four sacks were both top-10 marks at the position, as well. It's hard to argue with that stat line, even if it was Tranquill's first year as a starter.

The arrival of veteran stalwart Eric Kendricks will certainly help fill the void, but the Chargers have a tough road ahead to turn over this roster as players age out and quarterback Justin Herbert’s gigantic extension hits the books.


Los Angeles Rams: CB Jalen Ramsey

We’re deviating from the assignment again here, as Ramsey was traded away by the team and not lost in free agency, but we had to highlight just how good Ramsey has been in Los Angeles amid discussion of whether he has fallen off.

His numbers in press-man coverage are not what they used to be, so that argument may be fair, but he wasn’t asked to do a lot of that with the Rams and he won’t be asked by Vic Fangio to play much man coverage, either.

However, Ramsey’s 90.6 coverage grade over the past three seasons ranks second among cornerbacks, and his 91.2 run-defense grade ranks first. His 80.3 coverage grade from the slot over the past three seasons ranks fifth. With the level of talent all over this Dolphins defense, Ramsey can have a very specific role that caters exactly to what he does best.


Miami Dolphins: WR Trent Sherfield

Miami did not have many candidates here, and in a vacuum tight end Mike Gesicki is arguably the best football player they lost this offseason, but he could not have been a worse fit in the Dolphins' offense. On the flip side, Sherfield was a perfect third wide receiver alongside Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, with plenty of his own speed to boast in addition to a 76.2 run-blocking grade that ranked fifth among wide receivers in 2022.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel absolutely loved Sherfield, who followed him from San Francisco to Miami, so this loss will be felt in many ways.

Read more: 2023 free agency grades for all 32 teams


Minnesota Vikings: DI Dalvin Tomlinson

Tomlinson was arguably not utilized in the most favorable manner in Minnesota — as a three-technique alongside even bigger nose tackles. That was his most advantageous alignment to begin his career with the New York Giants. That said, he’s been one of the most consistent players in the entire NFL over the past six seasons, and that is always tough to lose.

Tomlinson has never earned a season-long grade below 74.9 and has logged at least 550 snaps each year.


New England Patriots: WR Jakobi Meyers

New England very quickly replaced Meyers with JuJu Smith-Schuster on a cheaper three-year deal, but Meyers’ contributions in New England as an undrafted free agent gem have gone overlooked.

Since 2020, Meyers dropped just 3.1% of targets, a top-20 mark among qualifying wide receivers, and at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds he uses his frame to battle for contested catches. Meyers’ 63.2% contested catch rate ranks fourth best among all wide receivers over the past three seasons, as well.

New England did add tight end Mike Gesicki, who can win up the seams and on contested targets, but Meyers was a tremendous value for the Patriots over his tenure.


New Orleans Saints: EDGE Marcus Davenport & DI David Onyemata

Davenport struggled to stay on the field throughout his five years with the Saints, but they will now be relying a ton on 34-year-old Cameron Jordan in the final year of his contract in 2023. (To his credit, he’s maintained a very high level of play throughout his later years.) Over the past three seasons, Davenport’s 19.0% pass-rush win rate ranks 14th and his 14.2% pressure rate ranks 17th among edge defenders.

It’s understandable that New Orleans would move on, and hopefully for their sake they see growth from 2021 first-rounder Payton Turner. Even more concerning may be the departure of interior defender David Onyemata. New Orleans did sign Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd to fill the void up the middle, but Onyemata’s 113 quarterback pressures over the past three regular seasons are 42 more than the combined output of Saunders and Shepherd over the span, and that’s with Onyemata serving a six-game suspension to start the 2021 season.


New York Giants: S Julian Love

With quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley back in the fold after an 11th-hour extension of Jones and franchise-tag of Barkley, Julian Love is the most notable departure. Many people around the league are very surprised by Love signing a deal for just two years and $12 million. It will be interesting to see how the Giants address their secondary because they need reinforcements.

Love earned a career-high 71.5 coverage grade in 2022 and lined up all over the formation, with 271 snaps down in the box, 154 in the slot and 494 at free safety. He’s a Swiss Army knife on the back end who rarely misses a tackle. Among 43 safeties with at least 150 tackles over the past three seasons, Love’s 13 missed tackles are the second fewest.

The Giants' defense under coordinator Wink Martindale is always going to be predicated on generating pressure up front, which will require investments in the front seven. The addition of off-ball linebacker Bobby Okereke addressed a massive need, but New York’s secondary doesn’t look great on paper as of today.


New York Jets: C Connor McGovern

The Jets dealt with injuries all over their offensive line throughout 2022, but McGovern brought consistency and a high floor for whoever was under center. Those are qualities that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would perhaps appreciate whenever he ultimately finds his way to the Jets.

McGovern has logged around 1,000 snaps in five straight seasons, with his 74.7 grade over the past two seasons ranking 13th among centers, his 69.8 pass-blocking grade ranking 16th and his 76.9 run-blocking grade ranking 13th. If the Jets do make a big splash and acquire Rodgers, they may feel the need to go cheaper at center, but a trusted relationship between a veteran signal-caller and his center could go a long way.

The Jets lost two solid interior defenders in Sheldon Rankins and Nathan Shepherd, but with Quinnen Williams‘ payday looming, they can’t allocate too many resources to one position group.


Philadelphia Eagles: DI Javon Hargrave

The Eagles had pending free agents all over their defense, so they were bound to lose some talent, but they did well to retain cornerback James Bradberry at a good value. That said, the most impactful loss was always going to be interior defender Javon Hargrave, especially as Philadelphia showed throughout 2022 they felt inadequate up front by signing multiple veterans during the season.

Since 2020, Hargrave’s 92.2 pass-rush grade trails only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones among interior defenders, with his 18.8% pass-rush win rate also ranking third. There’s a reason the soon-to-be 30-year-old received a four-year, $84 million contract from a San Francisco 49ers team that already has an elite defensive line. As great as Fletcher Cox has been throughout his career, and even after the team traded up for Jordan Davis in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, interior defensive line may arguably be the biggest need for Philadelphia going forward.

Read more: 2023 free agency grades for all 32 teams


Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Cameron Sutton

Pittsburgh signed veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson to a two-year, $14 million deal in free agency to help fill the void left behind by Sutton, but that will be easier said than done for a player who seemed to benefit from a lot of off-zone coverage in Minnesota.

Sutton earned a career-best 72.2 grade in 2022, allowing just 0.76 yards per coverage snap, which ranked 11th among cornerbacks with at least 200 coverage snaps on the season. After a strong free agency period for Pittsburgh elsewhere along the roster, particularly along the offensive line and in the front seven, cornerback remains the Steelers' top need by a solid margin.


San Francisco 49ers: OT Mike McGlinchey

McGlinchey was in a tough spot from an optics standpoint, playing opposite one of the best tackles of this generation in Trent Williams. McGlinchey is still a very solid player in his own right, but San Francisco had no business matching the offer he got from the Denver Broncos. Still, whenever you lose a player to a five-year, $87.5 million deal, he clearly had some value. Where his loss will be felt the most is in the run game, with McGlinchey’s 89.5 runs blocking grade on outside-zone runs over the past three seasons the fifth-best mark among tackles.

San Francisco lost as much talent as anyone this offseason, with defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam also departing, among others, but their defense can overcome all the losses, especially after the team added interior defender Javon Hargrave.


Seattle Seahawks: DI Poona Ford

There’s still time for Ford to return to Seattle, but if he doesn’t, the Seahawks lose a player who was a highly productive undrafted free agent gem over his tenure. While Ford did earn a career-low grade in 2022, he graded out above 70.0 in 2020 and 2021 and generated a career-best 33 quarterback pressures in 2021.

Seattle has quietly had one of the best offseasons of any team, either replacing all outgoing players or strengthening existing position groups that were solid to begin with. But Ford was important to this team the past few years.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Mike Edwards

It was somewhat surprising to see cornerback Jamel Dean return to Tampa, and retaining legendary linebacker Lavonte David was a big win, so the Buccaneers didn’t lose a ton to free agency after all — that is, if we don’t count Tom Brady’s retirement.

Edwards is an up-and-down player, but he's a ball hawk on the back end who can flip the field in big moments. His six interceptions over the past three seasons rank in the top 20 among safeties despite his playing fewer snaps over the span than every other player but one.


Tennessee Titans: OG Nate Davis 

The Titans' offensive line was a major weakness throughout the 2022 season once left tackle Taylor Lewan went down with an injury, but Davis was a rare bright spot, earning a career-high 66.8 pass-block grade. Davis’ 79.3 run-blocking grade on outside zone rushes over the past three seasons ranked seventh among guards, making him the staple of the Titans' rushing attack.

Linebacker David Long was another candidate here, but Tennessee is clearly overhauling its roster and may need to prioritize spending on the offensive side of the ball for the next quarterback.

Read more: 2023 free agency grades for all 32 teams


Washington Commanders: LB Cole Holcomb

Holcomb unfortunately missed the second half of the 2022 season following a procedure on his foot, but he was in the midst of earning a career-high 66.6 overall grade and a 67.0 coverage grade. Through Week 7, Holcomb’s 20 defensive stops were a top-20 mark among linebackers, and his 10.5% forced incompletion rate was in the top 15. 

Washington obviously has a ton invested in its front seven, but Holcomb’s loss won’t go unnoticed. 

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