- Atlanta Falcons sign the best safety on the market: Due to lacking playmakers in the secondary, Atlanta filled that hole by acquiring the playmaking safety Jessie Bates III.
- Buffalo Bills wise not to overpay: It's easy to overpay to retain your own players, but the Bills were smart enough to not get into a bidding war for Tremaine Edmunds‘s services.
- Dallas Cowboys commit to Tony Pollard: The Cowboys are finally starting a new chapter in the backfield, where Pollard is the No. 1 option.
Estimated reading time: 17 minutes
The first wave of free agency has passed, so it's time to take a gander at how each team fared but with an optimistic tint. What follows is a look at one positive takeaway for each team after the first week of free agency.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
Arizona Cardinals: Not overpaying for their own players during a rebuild
Arizona’s new general manager Monti Ossenfort and new head coach Jonathan Gannon probably looked at this roster and realized a rebuild is necessary. As a result, they were ready to move on from some expensive veterans, such as wide receiver Chosen Anderson and edge rusher Markus Golden, while they did not match cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and interior defender Zach Allen‘s contract offers. It is also the reason why wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is expected to be traded. The Cardinals have seemingly pressed the reset button, which should be a promising sign for Cardinals fans for the future.
Atlanta Falcons: Getting the top safety on the market
Atlanta was really lacking elite players on the defensive side of the ball in recent seasons, especially at the safety position. In response, the Falcons went out and grabbed the best available safety in free agency in Jessie Bates III, who graded as the top safety in the NFL in 2020 and even though he had somewhat lower grades over the last two seasons, he was still the leader of a very good Bengals defense.
Baltimore Ravens: Still having Lamar Jackson on the team?
The Ravens are one of just two teams to not have signed a new player in the first week of free agency, so it is not easy to find something positive here. However, the fact that Jackson is still on the team can be highlighted as a positive aspect of the Ravens’ offseason so far. The former league MVP received the non-exclusive franchise tag earlier this month, which means he still may end up with another team, but his presence on the roster is definitely a positive at this point.
Buffalo Bills: Not overpaying for Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds was regarded as one of the top linebackers in free agency and was the second-highest-ranked linebacker in PFF’s free agent rankings. However, this was very much due to a breakout 2022 season in which he became one of the top coverage defenders in the entire league. Still, it is risky business to give out a big contract based on one good season, especially when a player is helped by a solid unit around him and an elite linebacker playing next to him in Matt Milano. Buffalo decided to not take that risk, allocating those resources elsewhere on the roster, such as the offensive line, which seems to be a good business decision when a team already has a linebacker of Milano's caliber.
Carolina Panthers: Bringing in multiple starting caliber players
Although the Panthers were not far from making the playoffs in 2022, that was more a result of a bad division than the Panthers possessing a strong roster. Carolina’s offseason moves show that the front office was also aware of this, as it made a move to acquire the first overall pick and also brought in plenty of free agents. The commonality in these players is that they might not catch the eye individually; however, they are all high-floor players who have plenty of experience and can be counted on as starters, including Andy Dalton, who might be the starting quarterback until Carolina’s rookie is not ready.
Chicago Bears: Not being afraid to spend the money
No team had more resources than the Bears going into the 2023 offseason, which included both draft picks and cap space. Much to the Bears fans’ pleasure, the Bears were not afraid to use those resources, as they turned the first overall pick into a very good wide receiver in D.J. Moore and additional draft picks. Furthermore, they used the enormous cap space as well to bring in free agents. Have they overpaid for some players such as linebacker Tremaine Edmunds? Maybe, however, they were in position to do so, and moves like these are also necessary to bolster a roster that earned the worst overall record in the NFL in 2022.
Cincinnati Bengals: Improving the offensive line
For the second straight offseason, the Bengals were all about the offensive line. Despite the moves Cincinnati made in 2022, the offensive line still remained a weakness that limited their options on offense the entire season. While the addition of La’el Collins in 2022 was supposed to improve the right tackle position – the jury is still out on the success of that. Bringing in Orlando Brown Jr. should result in an upgrade at the left tackle position, as Jonah Williams played his worst season to date in 2022, earning a 61.0 PFF grade while allowing 12 sacks in 16 games in the regular season.
Cleveland Browns: Bolstering the defense
Cleveland's offseason was supposed to be all about the defense, which started the day after the Browns' season ended, as they fired defensive coordinator Joe Woods on January 9. Two months later, the moves continued, as the Browns signed three players with high-upside who are projected to start on the Browns defense — edge defender Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, interior defender Dalvin Tomlinson and safety Juan Thornhill.