The 2023 NFL offseason is far from over. Free agency’s opening wave has come and gone, but additional signings and trades will occur for weeks and months ahead. And then there’s April’s draft, where all 32 teams will further fortify lineups for the summer and beyond. Most of this year’s available big names, however, have found their homes for next season.
Considering everything from one-year free-agent flyers to splashy coaching additions to blockbuster trades, here are 10 of our favorite offseason moves to kick off 2023:
10. Vikings sign DE Marcus Davenport
Za’Darius Smith is likely on his way out amid Minnesota’s defensive rebuild, and Davenport is about as good of a potential successor as you might find on the open market. As a former first-rounder, his name might still be bigger than his resume. But on a one-year, $13 million deal, he’ll barely be making top-25 money at age 26, two years removed from a nine-sack breakout. All parties are set up for victory; if Davenport shines under Brian Flores, he could stick as a building block or re-test the market in 2024, returning the team a top compensatory draft pick.
9. Bengals sign OT Orlando Brown Jr.
It turns out the Chiefs weren’t the only team hesitant to make Brown a top-of-the-market left tackle. After reportedly seeking well over $20M per year on a long-term deal, the Pro Bowl blocker managed “just” $16M per year on his four-year deal with the Bengals. But both sides should be elated: Cincinnati is upgrading from Jonah Williams on Joe Burrow’s blind side without breaking the bank at a premium spot, and Brown is going from one title contender to another in the AFC.
8. Eagles re-sign CB James Bradberry
This one looked a bit better before the Eagles also committed new money to fellow corner Darius Slay, a justified fan favorite and Pro Bowl-caliber starter who just happens to be entering his age-32 campaign. Bradberry, after all, is no spring chicken himself, going on 30. But at three years for $38M, after a slightly sturdier season than even Slay, he still represents a bargain as the 15th-highest-paid at his position, having proven reliable for three different teams. Retaining a starter of his caliber is a win for a Super Bowl contender, especially when it’s coupled with low-risk, high-upside signings like that of RB Rashaad Penny.
7. Dolphins hire Vic Fangio
If Miami wasn’t going to add better insurance for Tua Tagovailoa at QB, its best path to an improved playoff bid in Mike McDaniel’s second season was going to be a defensive rejuvenation. And Fangio, 64, isn’t just inheriting a relatively talented group, which suffered through secondary injuries in 2022. He’s bringing a proven ability to shepherd stingy play, leading four different organizations — most recently the Broncos and Bears — to top-10 scoring, takeaway and overall defensive ranks over the last 20+ years as a coordinator. Even if the Dolphins’ offense still battles QB availability, the “D” should raise the floor.
6. Panthers hire Frank Reich
Retreads are retreads, so Reich’s arrival as the successor to Matt Rhule/Steve Wilks wasn’t necessarily as colorful as, say, a potential DeMeco Ryans or Ken Dorsey hire. But much like his old Eagles boss, Doug Pederson, Reich tends to transcend mercurial public perception by way of his even-keeled, culture-fostering temperament. He’s a good old quality leader, as evidenced by his 40-33-1 mark as Colts coach despite a revolving door of declining QBs. Even better, he’s gotten the best out of said QBs, and now he’s finally in position to handpick and develop a franchise signal-caller of his own with the No. 1 pick.
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5. Lions sign S C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Much has been said about Gardner-Johnson’s failure to land lucrative money after a productive, play-making pit stop with the Eagles during their Super Bowl bid. But on a one-year deal worth up to $8M, just the 20th-highest mark among safeties, he’s a true bargain. Feisty, chirpy and opportunistic, he’s got the makings of a potential Dan Campbell favorite — he was also well-liked by the energetic Nick Sirianni — and, more importantly, should be motivated to take an improving secondary to the next level.
4. Dolphins acquire CB Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey isn’t necessarily the shutdown defender he was when he first joined and cashed in with the Rams. But his standard has been so high that his recent downturn, going on 29, is probably exaggerated. This is a guy who, since 2021, has still totaled eight picks, 34 pass deflections, three forced fumbles and 13 tackles for loss. All 32 teams would sign up for his tenacity. Miami is guaranteeing him top-five money through 2024, but the acquisition cost — a third-rounder, plus sparingly used backup tight end Hunter Long — was nothing for the chance to pair Xavien Howard with a fellow Pro Bowl starter.
3. Bears acquire WR D.J. Moore
Chicago desperately needed a true No. 1 target for QB Justin Fields. Now they have a bona fide top-10 talent. Moore will only be 26 in 2023, he’s locked up through 2025 at $20M per year (appropriately ranked 10th among wideouts), and he should be primed for career marks after racking up 5,200 receiving yards in five years with middling Panthers QBs. The fact the Bears added him while netting an additional first-round pick, plus two seconds, in a trade down from the No. 1 pick is a cherry on top.
2. Lions sign CB Cameron Sutton
If there’s one thing Detroit needed this offseason, it was corner help. Rather than excitedly overpay for name recognition, or opt for an aging placeholder, they played it smart for the short and long term, managing to add both one of the top veteran cover men available and an ascending prospect who, freshly 28, can still grow with their lineup — all at a modest $11M annual price tag, tied for just the 17th-largest at the position. Best of all, his physical approach meshes well with the Dan Campbell regime.
1. Jets (set to) acquire QB Aaron Rodgers
Like Rodgers himself, this one’s an anomaly, chiefly because it hasn’t happened yet. But everyone knows it’s a matter of when, not if, the longtime Packers QB will suit up for Gang Green. With Green Bay understandably ready to turn the page to Jordan Love, A-Rod has set his sights on the Jets, who should vault right to playoff contention even if he’s not in MVP form. Other gambles have more upside (i.e. Lamar Jackson, a trade up to draft a QB), but unless they’re sending multiple first-rounders or premium players back to the Packers, they’re set for a near-Tom Brady-level rental at the most important position in sports. Is it a long-term fix? No. Is it a reasonable swing that can justify title aspirations? Absolutely.