Most of the NFL is looking to improve their teams for next year. The three ways teams can do that are through the trade market, the free agency period, and the NFL draft. I will give one name from each category and potential fits for each name.
Arguably the most important position on the field, certainly the most polarizing. The last off-season brought us some massive moves that shook the league up and this year will be no different.
Trade Market: Kyler Murray
The Cardinals fired Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Kleim had already stepped away to deal with his undisclosed medical issue. They are tearing down the front office and whoever is coming into those spots may be interested in starting over with a QB they picked for themselves.
Kyler has had impressive stretches of play during each season of his career but finding that consistency for an entire season has proved to be an issue. Trading a player like Kyler would fetch an incredible haul, in my opinion, the Texans have enough capital from the Watson trade to pull it off and have enough to build around him.
Another team that could be interested in Kyler is the Colts who have the fourth overall pick from a tough season, this wouldn’t be a retread Murray is a true talent if healthy and Indy would be a dangerous offense with cap space to improve the line.
Free Agent Target: Tom Brady
Brady is back on the market, even though he’s probably going to make it to the NFC championship game, possibly even the Super Bowl Brady wants out of Tampa Bay. Brady could play at a high level till he’s 50. The real juice is where will he play.
There are the Raiders who are stocked with offensive talent and should add their offensive line throughout the off-season. Josh McDaniels and Brady were in lockstep for 15 years, they could be again as Albert Breer mentions.
Does the prince return to his home? Mr. Irrelevant is leading the charge in San Fran but let’s imagine what the team could do with Brady under center. The perfect offense with pieces that fit right into place.
Draft Target – CJ Stroud
Most people will prefer Bryce Young, but after what I watched him do to the nation’s best defense in the semi-finals I decided that’s this class’s top QB in my eyes. He is three inches taller than Young with a better feel for the pocket. Young is better off script than Stroud at this stage but CJ has a much higher ceiling to those same traits.
Idk if a single game has ever influenced my opinion of a player like this performance from CJ Stroud pic.twitter.com/i98AzADy4z — James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) January 6, 2023
I couldn’t agree more with James Foster, I had the class relatively close and this performance just vaulted Stroud ahead of the others. He is big-armed, tall with room to build, and a plus athlete who can make all the reads. He is a better passer than his predecessor Justin Fields but not as dynamic of a ball carrier as many can live within a QB.
The Colts could be extremely lucky to have him fall to number four overall or someone comes knocking on the Bears down for the top spot overall and drafts Young, the Texans will be the lucky ones. I’m not down on Young, I am just much higher on Stroud.
This could be the most robust market in all of the 2023 off-season.
23 Free Agent RBs Saquon Barkley Josh Jacobs Miles Sanders David Montgomery Tong Pollard Devin Singletary Alexander Mattison Kareem Hunt Mostert Foreman JRob Penny D Harris pic.twitter.com/yDNRtKGWKF — Dynasty Dad (@Dynasty_DadFF) January 8, 2023
Trade Market: Joe Mixon
This is a more under-the-radar idea but the Joe Burrow extension is coming sooner rather than later, deservedly so that dude is as cool as they come. Tee Higgins needs to get paid as well. Zac Taylor has leaned on Pereine before they can probably do it again. Mixon has been a great player for Cincy but he holds cap hits of 12.8 and 13.1 million with a dead cap of only 5.3 million. They could save seven million and pick up some draft capital.
Teams like the Dolphins or the Chiefs could use a second and a fourth to make a splash. Both offenses could benefit from a every down back like Mixon who had another strong season adding more receiving work to his game. However, The Dolphins need a premiere back more so they can lean on when Tua unfortunately gets another concussion.
Free Agent Target: Josh Jacobs
This could be an unpopular option with Saquan Barkley in play but I think he goes back to the Giants as they continue building that program the right way. Josh Jacobs on the other hand seemed like a man who was frustrated and he made sure his paid day will come. As he is the NFL’s leading rusher with over 1600 yards and over 50 receptions.
The Falcons have a real chance of signing him they have the second most cap space with 58 million and Patterson has gained some wear and tear and has dealt with injuries, they may look to go longer with Alegier but having one capable back is never a great answer. They could sign Jacobs to a Mixon deal type deal and have the tandem healthy and fresh all season.
Draft Target – Jahmyr Gibbs
Bijan Robinson is going to be everyone’s top RB in the class and I don’t think they are wrong, my concern is the same one I had with Najee, breakaway speed. Gibbs doesn’t have that issue he can take almost any play to the house. He doesn’t just have 40-yard dash speed he was clocked in at over 22 mph on one of his TD rushes.
Jahmyr Gibbs has declared for the NFL Draft 🥲❤️ Thank you for everything 🐘❤️pic.twitter.com/clxICaKnhv — Alabama DieHards (@DiehardsAlabama) January 2, 2023
I think he is a mixture of D’andre Swift & Alvin Kamara, he will need to add some size if he wants to be an every-down back but most teams are shifting away from that sort of team building. On top of his game-breaking speed, Gibbs also runs crisp routes but still needs improvement with pass blocking. If the Chiefs pick up Gibbs and fix the pick they made selecting Clyde. Gibbs, Juju, Kelce, Toney, and Skyy Moore are a crazy amount of YAC on one team, especially with Mahomes’ distribution.
This position has become much more crucial to roster building and the crop of players’ skill levels has increased throughout. However, most teams in the race have an elite option outside, and teams that don’t are clamoring for one.
Trade Market: Jerry Jeudy
Deprived of draft picks this year and up against it on the cap, Jerry Jeudy will be looking for an extension that the Broncos might not be able to afford. Jeudy has slightly underperformed due to injuries and poor QB play during his career but he has shown signs of the ultra talent he was at Alabama.
There was a reason Jeudy was a top pick he just needs to be the centerpiece of an offense, he hasn’t been and that is an issue because he has much more potential than what his career numbers are (157 receptions 2,295 yards, and nine receiving touchdowns) as compared to Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb who were in the same class.
This is the Patriots fan in me but they have the 14th overall pick they could trade back to the early 20s and pick up a mid-second trade that early 20s pick to Denver then extend Jeudy to a bigger version of the Diontae Johnson deal four years for 72 million and pair Mac Jones up with one of his former teammates and really add some youth and explosiveness to the Patriots, they have the cap space, the desperate need, and the inability to fire an elite option in the draft.
Free Agent Target: JuJu Smith Schuster
This is a tough FA class for wide receivers most teams will have to look towards the draft if they want to add a top-caliber WR to their roster but Smith-Schuster does have solid value on the current market. According to spotrac he would be worth 9.7 million over three years. He leads the class in receptions and yards so for him to be signed for less than a Meyers or Lazard is a steal.
The Ravens could be suitors, along with the Bears. Chicago was waiting for this off-season they have over 100 million in cap space a three-year deal for just under 30 million wouldn’t do much to hurt that figure and they could use a chain mover like JuJu to add to Darnell Mooney.
Draft Target: Jaylin Hyatt
I went into this article believing that Quinten Johnson will be my pick here but after some film review and diving into the scouting reports I changed my mind. Hyatt is Jameson Williams but he’s healthy coming into the draft process. Johnson is a much bigger player but Hyatt has elite speed and quickness that translate on the field in route running and field stretching.
The only concern for Hyatt is he had one elite year during his time at college but that one year was truly something special, any team could add Hyatt at a value due to his smaller sample size. His speed and athleticism are a true game-breaker.
Many NFL fans call the Tight End position the QB’s best friend, I am no different. Growing up watching Brady to Gronk can do that to a guy.
Trade Market: David Njoku
I feel like Njoku has been a popular trade candidate for the past few seasons but I think the jig is finally up for him in Cleveland. As the Watson contract comes into effect the negative six million will only get worse this is also the time of David’s contract when it will be reasonable for a team to trade for him. At times David has shown elite traits for a TE, then sometimes he disappears or unfortunately gets injured.
A team like the Giants could be in need of a difference-maker at that position since they can’t seem to get the receiver position sorted out. They have had a string of unimpressive placeholders there since deciding not to move forward with Evan Engram.
Free Agent Target: Evan Engram
We just mentioned him so this is a pretty good transition if I do say so myself. However flattery aside Engram has had a much better season in Jacksonville, well enough that he was featured during a few games and really showed up. His highlight game came in Week 14 with 162 yards and two touchdowns. He showed why he was a top pick. As a TE it takes longer to fully develop but whoever signs Engram this season could be getting him in his prime could be a very valuable contract
I imagine a team like the Commanders signing him to a contract similar to Jonnu Smith’s three for 30 could be a good price for his services. They could have a very dangerous set of offensive pieces if he joined the team. Part of me thinks the Jags retain him.
Draft Target: Michael Mayer
It’s really difficult to move away from the chalk in this class. I don’t love Mayer, I don’t think he has anything special to his game. I think he can be a really solid player my best comp is a slightly more explosive Hunter Henry. This class just doesn’t have the scouting report talent, I need more information about some of these other prospects. The combine is important to me when it comes to TE. I came out of last year really liking what I saw from Isiah Likely and Greg Dulcich
Michael Mayer 👀 pic.twitter.com/bT9CBI32ds — Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) October 22, 2022
I could see the Lions using 18 overall to draft him and replace Hockenson, The Bengals could get lucky and take him at the end of the first round and add another weapon for Joe Burrow who is under a rookie contract.
This piece has gotten a bit longer than I had intended so I am going to go through my top three picks in the line overall.
Trade Market: Donovan Smith Tackle (Bucs)
It’s looking like the TB12 era in TB is coming to an end, they have one more run in them this year but they will be going into 2023 down 43 million in cap space. That has to be relieved in a few spots. The 29-year-old second-round pick is still a very capable player but could become a casualty in creating space.
Smith can be an answer at tackle for many teams such as the Bears, Patriots, and Falcons at a high level for five to six years, he would most likely cost a third-round pick since this season they would be on the hook for a 17.6 million cap hit. After 2023 the contract scales down.
Free Agent Market: Orlando Brown Jr Tackle (KC)
Brown Jr is going to get the bag, as the blindside protector of the most important position on the field. He is entering his prime now about to be 27 with five years of pro ball under his belt. I strongly believe that the Chiefs will lock him back up but he will hit the open market. I believe he could get a five-year 120 million dollar deal which gets more difficult as the Mahomes’ contract grows.
The Patriots are again on my list of teams who could use a player like this to protect their franchise signal caller. The Jags have Cam Robinson but Brown would be an upgrade and that protection is of the utmost priority for all teams.
Draft Target: Peter Skoronski Tackle (Northwestern)
Skoronski is a bit undersized for a traditional Left Tackle in the NFL but that doesn’t prevent him from being the best lineman in this class for me. He has elite strength and fine footwork. He is the nation’s best pass blocker and will immediately step into the pro game with a nasty edge to his game.
Peter Skoronski vs Aidan Hutchinson 👀 pic.twitter.com/8yGyIskcSe — cristian (@Cristianspfc_) December 12, 2022
He could fall in the draft slightly and become a value due to some scouts seeing him as a right tackle or even kicking him to the interior, but like I said he is pro-ready and has a high ceiling to be built out I would comp him to a slightly smaller Quinten Nelson but all the ability in the world, he can be a team captain as a rookie.
If you have made it this far thank you for reading I appreciate it, More words came out on this topic than I was expecting. I hope everyone enjoyed this early look at the top offensive positional market groups. I will be back soon with the defensive edition.