The first waves of 2023 NFL free agency may be over. Most of the big-money deals may be complete. But that doesn’t mean more activity isn’t on the way. All 32 teams will keep their eyes on available veterans in the lead-up to April’s 2023 draft. And there are actually quite a few notable names still on the open market.
With that in mind, let’s play matchmaker for 10 of the top remaining free agents:
Yes, you read that right. Technically the Ravens own the rights to their star quarterback, but the non-exclusive franchise tag still allows any team to make an offer. And Detroit has signaled with its busy offseason that it’s ready to go from scrappy spoiler to spicy contender. After adding basically five veteran starters in free agency, including running back David Montgomery and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, what better way for Motown to further demand the spotlight than by juicing up the QB spot? Jared Goff is well-liked but easily expendable; a post-June 1 cut would save almost $21 million, and the Lions already have roughly $26M in cap space. Better yet, they’ve got multiple first- and second-round draft picks this year as ammo.
Austin Ekeler is infinitely more valuable in today’s NFL, but he’s reportedly seeking a trade amid a contract dispute. If he is moved, Elliott could be a plug-and-play option alongside Joshua Kelley. Remember, L.A.’s new offensive coordinator is Kellen Moore, Elliott’s old friend from Dallas, and 2022 fourth-rounder Isaiah Spiller took just 18 carries as a rookie. Even if Ekeler sticks, Zeke could still have appeal as a more traditional, rotational ball-carrier.
Aaron Rodgers might want Odell in New York once he officially lands with the Jets, but a bigger opportunity could await OBJ back in Rodgers’ longtime division. After parting with Adam Thielen, Minnesota is still in need of a running mate for Justin Jefferson, whose celebrity dynamism is similar to that of a younger Beckham. On a one- or two-year flyer, he makes a lot of sense as a proven route-runner opposite Jefferson’s speed, especially with Kirk Cousins entering a make-or-break year.
A big-bodied speed threat when healthy, Chark is still looking to fully rebuild his value four years after topping 1,000 yards with the Jaguars. He’s ripe for another prove-it deal, and this time, why not do it back home? A Louisiana native and LSU product, Chark could fill the Saints’ need for a WR2/3 at a reasonable price. Michael Thomas is back, of course, but his availability is a persistent question mark, and this team is clearly all in on winning sooner rather than later after adding Derek Carr under center.
Hayden Hurst cashed in with the Panthers, meaning Cincinnati is still without a proven No. 1 at tight end. Not that Joe Burrow necessarily needs a big-money starter there, considering what he’s got out wide. But Schultz isn’t nearly as middling as his slow market suggests. He can do everything fairly well, just like Hurst, and going on 27, he’d theoretically still have room to grow as part of the Bengals’ ascending passing corps. Cincy is in win-now mode, and it still has more than $17M in cap space.
San Francisco has invested plenty into the trenches, paying Trent Williams top dollar and just extending center Jake Brendel. By nature of cycling through so many QBs under Kyle Shanahan, however, they depend more than most on the fortification of their front. Second-year man Aaron Banks is coming off a promising start at left guard, but Risner is a well-versed veteran who could provide both competition and insurance in front of whichever QB opens — and finishes — the 2023 season under center.
The Lions were already a feisty organization before their 2023 moves, but adding physical defenders like Cameron Sutton and C.J. Gardner-Johnson makes them even more imposing. Clark is of the same mold, thriving as a rough-and-tumble crunch-time performer in Kansas City. He may not be built to play every down like he once was, but the former Pro Bowler could easily slot in as a split-starter with John Cominsky opposite Aidan Hutchinson. He also went to Michigan, confirming the area connection.
Arizona lost some pop up front when Zach Allen landed a lucrative deal with the Broncos, and new coach Jonathan Gannon surely wants the trenches beefed up after his Super Bowl bid guiding the Eagles‘ loaded D-line. Ford can help do just that after four solid, if unspectacular, seasons as a Seahawks starter. He’s got the size to line up at nose or occasionally at 3-4 DE, and at 27, he’s still young enough to be a potential building block for a franchise in transition.
Going on 33, Wagner is purely a short-term option at linebacker, but that’s precisely what Buffalo could use after losing the rangy Tremaine Edmunds at the heart of their defense. Matt Milano is still in tow, but Wagner’s experience and instincts would certainly be a welcome complement for an annual Super Bowl hopeful. A reunion with the Seahawks makes some sense, but that ship has probably sailed, with Seattle taking a flyer on ex-Steelers starter Devin Bush.
After losing C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the Eagles’ biggest need in their post-Super Bowl secondary lies at safety, where starter Marcus Epps also departed in free agency. Johnson didn’t live up to his big-money billing with the Browns, but he was on the Eagles’ radar back when he hit the market in 2021, and he’s been a solid all-around center fielder before. At 27, he’s a bit younger than the team’s internal investments in the defensive backfield this offseason, which is also a plus.
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