Grading the Biggest Winners of NFL Free Agency
Trevor takes a look at the teams that have made the best moves in the first few weeks of the NFL offseason.
The NFL offseason is well and truly underway, with plenty of free-agent signings and even a few huge trades. While every single team has been active, some have separated from the pack with smart moves to improve their rosters for 2023 and beyond. Let's grade the biggest winners of the early NFL offseason.
NFL Free Agency Winners
Chicago Bears: A
The Chicago Bears have had probably the NFL’s best free agency and offseason thus far. That was to be expected, considering they had the number one overall pick and the most salary cap room, but they have still made the most of their assets. Their best move was trading the number one overall pick to the Carolina Panthers to drop down to the ninth pick while acquiring multiple picks, including the Panther’s 2024 first-round pick. The cherry on top was adding WR DJ Moore, who should quickly be the Bear’s number-one receiver and gives Justin Fields a much-needed weapon. The Bears did lose running back David Montgomery but were able to sign D’Onta Foreman at half the price of Montgomery. Foreman is a hard-nosed bulldozer-type runner that will give the Bears a good 1-2 punch with RB Khalil Herbert. Free agent guard Nate Davis should help open up holes in the run game, and if the Bears take an offensive tackle as expected with the ninth pick, their offensive line could turn into a strength instead of a liability. Still not done on offense, they also signed TE Robert Tonyan, who is best suited as a number two tight end rather than a starter like he was in Green Bay. The Bears didn’t just improve offensively but also improved defensively by signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, who should have huge impacts. They also signed edge pass rusher DeMarcus Walker who is an immediate upgrade at the position. All in all, the Bears have placed themselves in a position to be very competitive in a changing NFC North. Fantasy-wise, quarterback Justin Fields should be the biggest beneficiary and has an outside chance to be a top-five quarterback. With that said, though, he has shot up in Best Ball ADP from a fifth-round pick all the way up to mid-third, which may be an overreaction.
Dallas Cowboys: A
The Cowboys didn’t do much in free agency, but they made two big trades that should improve the team dramatically. In a surprise move, they acquired CB Stephon Gilmore from the Colts for a fifth-round pick, a very small price to pay for a top-notch corner. They also acquired WR Brandin Cooks from the Texans for fifth and sixth-round picks. Cooks should give QB Dak Prescott a more stable option as the team’s second wide receiver and should make the offense better. Cooks should be considered as a fantasy wide receiver three or a flex. Prescott is a bit more appealing with the addition of Cooks and has been dropping in Best Ball drafts.
Denver Broncos: B
The Broncos have clearly realized that they have to do a much better job running the football and protecting QB Russell Wilson. They significantly upgraded their offensive line by signing tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Ben Powers to four-year deals. They should allow the Broncos to run the ball much better and give Wilson the time he needs. Newly acquired RB Samaje Perine is an upgrade at running back and should be the lead back until Javonte Williams is healthy. Look for the Broncos' offense led by new head coach Sean Payton to make a big leap, and I would not be surprised if they are not a top-10 offense. As for fantasy, Wilson will be a target as my backup QB as I think he has a bounce-back season. Perine can be a bargain running back, and WR Jerry Jeudy could have a monster season if healthy.
Detroit Lions: A
The Lions are starting to have big aspirations and are the favorites to win the NFC North. Not only do the Lions have a ton of draft capital, but they also had a decent amount of cap room to improve a rising defense, mainly in the secondary. The Lions were able to sign cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, and then added safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who should significantly give the secondary a big boost. The Lions did lose fan favorite RB Jamaal Williams, but may have upgraded at the position by signing David Montgomery, who comes into a dream situation as the Lions have a top three offensive line, something he never had in Chicago. I expect these moves to indeed catapult the Lions to win the NFC North and become a top team in the NFC. As for fantasy, I would expect the Lions' offense not to miss a beat and bolster Montgomery as a solid running back option. Also, the Lions' defense/special teams could be a good unit to draft late, as they should get after the passer and create turnovers.
Miami Dolphins: B+
The Dolphins significantly upgraded their secondary by trading a third-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for CB Jalen Ramsey. The addition of Ramsey could make the Dolphins a top-five defense which would make them Super Bowl contenders, provided the offense stays healthy.
New York Giants: B
Not only were the Giants able to retain Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, but they added a top tight end option in Darren Waller for a third-round pick. If Waller can stay healthy, he will give Daniel Jones a go-to target and solidify Jones as a top-10 quarterback. The Giants also signed Parris Campbell, who could be a diamond in the rough as he is coming off his best season statistically playing for the Indianapolis Colts. I would not be shocked if he approached 800 yards receiving. As for fantasy, these additions make Daniel Jones a solid QB target if you are waiting at the position. Look for him in Rounds 8 or 9 and he could be a huge bargain.