NFL Free Agency: 3 Key Takeaways from Early Moves

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The two-day free agency negotiating window that precedes the start of the NFL’s new league year is underway, and so far, things are going as predicted. Many defensive players and offensive linemen are in high demand, and there has already been a trade for an All-Pro cornerback (former Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is headed to Miami), a reunion for a couple ex-Pats in Las Vegas (quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Josh McDaniels worked together in New England), and a number of these transactions. It doesn’t matter that there aren’t as many well-known brands in the market as there were during the previous offseason. Some major players have already relocated, and more will presumably follow suit in the near future.

The NFL as a whole is still watching what happens with Aaron Rodgers and a potential Green Bay to New York Jets deal. The Baltimore Ravens are unsure if their choice to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson — which gives them the option to match any offer another team makes to Jackson or accept two first-round picks as severance in the event of his departure — will ultimately be helpful in those contract talks. With his signing last week, Derek Carr is already adjusting to life with the New Orleans Saints. Now that Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett are among the less skilled signal-callers looking for new opportunities, we’ll see what the market has to offer.

We do know that the NFL news cycle will continue for a while. This is also an excellent opportunity to explain what has happened over the last few days. With the three most important lessons learned so far throughout the 2023 NFL free agency period, The First Read launches into this edition.

1) In the AFC West, Sean Payton is attempting to assert his dominance. At this time last year, the Denver Broncos shocked everyone by making a significant trade to acquire former Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. The buzz surrounding that deal persisted even after Wilson took over what would turn out to be one of the worst offences in recent memory. Wilson needed more support around him, and the Broncos secured enough on Monday by reaching a contract agreement with right tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Ben Powers.Both players excelled in run-heavy offences in their respective cities of San Francisco and Baltimore last season. They will set the tone for what ought to be an eventual change in this team’s offensive strategy. For the Saints to develop into title contenders in their final years together in New Orleans, Payton had to surround Drew Brees with a better running game. The same may be said about how Wilson needs to work with the Broncos’ rookie coach in Denver. The truth is that Wilson is at his best in an attack with a strong running game, despite his desire to “cook” in Seattle and during his first season in Denver.While the Pro Bowl left lineman Garett Bolles, running back Javonte Williams, and wide receiver Tim Patrick will all be back for the Broncos this upcoming season, attitude will be everything with this group. When Wilson arrived last year, the Broncos believed they were on the verge of being a playoff club. With the guys they signed up front, they appear to have much higher odds of doing that.

2) The Raiders took the appropriate action. Despite all the early speculation that the Raiders were interested in trying to trade for Aaron Rodgers, it has always made more sense to sign a player like Jimmy Garoppolo. Rodgers’ price tag was always far too high to allow for that kind of cost-effective roster construction, and Las Vegas needs to make further moves to strengthen its depth chart, particularly on defence. Garoppolo received a three-year, $72.75 million deal with a $34 million guarantee, making it a good deal. He also provides the Raiders a tonne of flexibility in the 2023 NFL Draft because they can now consider picking a potential quarterback with the seventh overall pick instead of looking for another defensive playmaker.

3) Jalen Ramsey is not enough for the Dolphins. There are many obvious reasons why this transaction is hot. Ramsey, who is 28 years old and the best cornerback in football, is in the prime of his career. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case the backup plan fails. The real concern is whether Miami can provide a consistent enough pass rush to improve the performance of the back end.

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