Here’s a look at the updated NFL rumor mill three days into free agency and with the 2023 NFL Draft quickly approaching.
Arizona is in a “sand it down” rebuild and looking to move players that don’t factor into long term plans or that they can reap a return on. DeAndre Hopkins is on the block and the
team has had several calls. I expect him to be dealt prior to the NFL Draft.
San Francisco 49ers
All eyes on the quarterback situation. Brock Purdy and Trey Lance will battle it out to be the quarterback of the future. Both are coming off injuries. Despite the higher investment in Lance, sources indicate Purdy will be the favorite to win the job.
Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL trade tracker and grades
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa is looking at a “soft rebuild” post Tom Brady. The team has decided on pitting Kyle Trask against low-cost veteran options to see if they already have their quarterback, or if they’ll potentially be going to the draft next year in a loaded class. They’ve signed Baker
Mayfield to a low cost deal, and may add Drew Lock as well.
Atlanta was eyeing the Lamar Jackson situation, but like many teams feel that Baltimore will match any deal Lamar would agree to. While internally they’re not entirely sold on Desmond Ridder, he’ll get the opportunity to earn the job with his play this season.
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft
Sources have told me that C.J. Stroud is the preferred quarterback at No. 1 in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Panthers haven’t finished their process yet, but there is a strong sentiment in the building that it’s trending that way.
Dallas seems to be the frontrunner for Odell Beckham Jr. While a half dozen teams have inquired, as of this writing Dallas is furthest down the road.
Philadelphia was initially set to move on from cornerback Darius Slay, but both sides wanted to work it out and it looks like Slay, a locker room leader, will stay. Teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has drawn interest from multiple teams, and it seems unlikely they’ll be able to bring him back.
New England Patriots
No surprise New England is in the wide receiver market. The Patriots have made multiple phone calls to put the right skill position players around Mac Jones. Bringing in Bill O’Brien adds credibility to the offense, but they’re still lacking enough talent to maximize Jones. Expect them to continue to be active.
Related: Ranking Aaron Rodgers and the top NFL QBs of 2023
New York Jets
At this point, everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is coming. Getting his “wish list” of players shouldn’t be too difficult now that his favorite target last season in Green Bay, Allen Lazard, is in the fold.
The Jets had competition from Denver for Lazard but the idea of reuniting with Rodgers was too strong to pass on. The Jets were also very active on left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., although they ultimately lost out to the Cincinnati Bengals.
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The specter of Lamar Jackson hangs over everything. The rest of the league hasn’t rushed to the Ravens aid to set the market for them. The team is built around the very specific skillset of Lamar on offense. They tendered Tyler Huntley with a right to match tender. They’re going to have to find a solution better than drafting Stetson Bennett late day 3.
The Browns have also been active in calling teams about wide receivers. We touched on this earlier in the week. Read that information here.
Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL free agent tracker with grades
Denver has been totally remaking its offense in free agency. While most people think of a Sean Payton offense slinging the ball all over the yard, Denver has been adding players that suggest they want to play “bully ball.”
Russell Wilson is on a one-year audition and the team has been listening to calls on several stalwarts including wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. There’s a scenario where neither is in Denver next season.
NFL Draft rumors
The draft is not far away, and I fully expect three quarterbacks in the top five picks, and four in the top 10 picks. After the big four (Young, Stroud, Levis and Richardson) Hendon Hooker is the lone QB in the “second tier” among NFL people I talk to. There is some thought that Jake Haener and Tanner McKee could go early Day 3 but after the big four, there just aren’t many viable QBs in this class.
Defensive tackle Jalen Carter, once considered the consensus top pick, might fall out of the top 10. Concern about his off-field issues in multiple areas and showing up to his pro day out of shape has not endeared him to teams.
Oregon cornerback Christian Rodriguez is considered a top 10 “lock” by multiple people I talked to. Arizona is a likely targeter, especially if they move back from third.
A few weeks back in Mobile at the Senior Bowl I asked a few coaches what the new league year
would hold for offenses. Over the past few years, defenses have largely pivoted from middle of
the field closed; high pressure looks back to middle of the field open, lower pressure looks with
a lot of quarters match and two deep man under taking hold.
There were several offensive coaches who intimated a league shift back to more 12 personnel and away from three wide receiver sets. Free agency first wave has certainly helped reinforce that belief.
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