Unlike the MLB free agency period that moves slower than a turtle running through molasses with a parachute on its back, the NFL gets down to business as soon as the new league year opens. Those without contracts don’t waste time finding their new team, potentially becoming the most impactful NFL free agents for the 2023 season.
Orlando Brown Jr., Bengals
There’s no question that the Bengals are on the cusp of winning their first Super Bowl title in franchise history with a dynamic offense led by Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins. Cincinnati decided to raid KC’s cupboard to be on par with the Kansas City Chiefs, inking Orlando Brown Jr.
Brown has been a stalwart tackle for years. First, he anchored the Ravens’ offensive line that propelled Lamar Jackson to an MVP award. Following a dispute with Baltimore, Brown went to Kansas City after the Chiefs’ offensive line folded like a cheap suitcase against Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl.
Saquon Barkley, Giants
Although he’s re-upping with his original team, locking up Saquon Barkley will be pivotal to the emerging New York Giants. The Giants surprised fans last season by making the playoffs and defeating the Minnesota Vikings on their home turf during Super Wild Card Weekend.
Along with Daniel Jones, it was paramount that the G-Men kept their superstar running back on their squad for the 2023 season. In most cases, paying a running back big money backfires in the long term, but Barkley is the cog of that offense, and letting him go wasn’t an option worth exploring.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Lions
After a slow start to the season, the Detroit Lions made it clear that they were a team no one wanted to see on their schedule. Dan Campbell and his Motown warriors will look to ride that wave of momentum into 2023 with an improved secondary anchored by the trash-talking extraordinaire Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
CGJ was a major contributor that led the Eagles’ secondary to the best pass defense in 2022. After hauling in six interceptions in 12 games, one would have assumed CGJ would get a huge payday, but luckily for the Lions, he settled on a one-year deal for $8 million to be CB1.
Dalton Schultz, Texans
When things got rough for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys offense, they knew they could rely on Dalton Schultz being open the same way Jason Witten was for years in Big D. So, it shocked everybody when Jerry Jones passed on re-upping Schultz, allowing him to sign with the Houston Texans on a one-year deal. Schultz could be Houston’s top offensive weapon to help the incoming rookie quarterback they select.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders
Derek Carr’s benching towards the end of last season was an unmistakable signal that his time with the silver and black was up, but who would be his replacement?
Eventually, the Raiders settled on someone who Josh McDaniels helped mold, Jimmy Garoppolo. We’ll see if Jimmy G can lead a high-octane offense to great things, although becoming Derek Carr-lite is likelier.
Once the dust settled, we identified the most impactful NFL free agents for the 2023 season. We’ll have to wait until September to see the results. You shouldn’t wait until September to focus on the NFL when you can take advantage of our early bird packages with our NFL expert picks. Begin the season in the victory column while our team scours through the action with a fine-tooth comb.