The first major part of free agency is now essentially over. At the time of this writing, it’s been nearly two weeks since free agency started, and most free agents have found their home for the next year. Of course, there are a ton of quality players who remain unsigned, but we’ve definitively passed the first checkpoint of free agency. With that complete, here are three winners and losers from the NFL free agency period up to this point.
Winner: Detroit Lions
Detroit has one of the youngest, most exciting rosters in the NFL. The Lions missed the playoffs last year by the skin of their teeth, despite an impressive 2022 campaign.
With money to spend, the Lions made a handful of moves. Detroit signed C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley, and Cameron Sutton on the defensive side of the ball. Those three should dramatically improve a secondary that was torched for most of the 2022 season.
They lost Jonathan Williams, but replaced him with a more-than-capable David Montgomery. Losing Williams might hurt the locker room, but this young team is easily one of, if not the, biggest winners from the first wave of NFL free agency.
Loser: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are coming off a wildly successful year, but their roster has taken a bit of a hit during this free agency period.
The Eagles have lost a whopping seven starters to free agency this year. Javon Hargrave, T.J. Edwards, Kyzir White, C.J. Gardner Johnson, and Marcus Epps have left the defensive side of the ball. The offense has lost Miles Sanders and Isaac Seumalo. All this adds up to the Eagles being one of the big losers from the NFL free agency period thus far.
This isn’t exactly a surprise. Philadelphia had a laundry list of players hitting the market this offseason, without the funds to keep them all. Still, losing seven starters hurts, and this team will look very different come training camp.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have had a very interesting offseason. Carolina sent an envoy of assets to Chicago for the number one pick. They’ve recouped some of those in free agency as well.
Carolina did have to send away their star receiver, D.J. Moore, in order to get the first pick. However, they recovered some of that lost talent by signing Adam Thielen. Staying on the offense, the Panthers also picked up tight end Hayden Hurst, running back Miles Sanders, and wide receiver D.J. Chark. With these additions, whichever quarterback they take will have a lot of weapons around him.
Loser: Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have undergone more change than most of the NFL as a whole during this offseason. They’ve rid themselves of Derek Carr and Darren Waller, with many fans wondering who the next player to go is.
Jimmy Garoppolo will be their quarterback in 2023, but his deal makes it so he can be cut after a year without too much dead money. It seems like Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler are aiming for a Patriots reunion, picking up Jakobi Meyers to pair with Garoppolo. The Raiders have made every move possible on offense, while mind-numbingly ignoring a defensive unit that, on paper, is easily one of the worst in the league.
The Raiders are in NFL purgatory. They don’t know whether they want to contend or rebuild, and by not making a choice, they’ve made the worst choice possible.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons made a variety of key signings during this period. Atlanta is a team on the rise, and with some of their moves this offseason, they seem to be just a quarterback away from contention.
On defense, the Falcons were able to grab Jesse Bates and David Onyemata. On offense, they added Mack Hollins and Jonnu Smith. These two, with Drake London and Kyle Pitts will make for a dynamic receiving corps.
Atlanta just needs their quarterback now. Whether their franchise quarterback will come through the draft, a trade, or he’s already in house, one thing is for sure: The Falcons have set themselves up very well and are a clear winner of this year’s NFL free agency period so far.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
The Packers have found themselves in quite the pickle. Green Bay has had a bit of a stagnant free agency, but their hands are tied. The main reasons for this are a lack of cap space, and the whole Aaron Rodgers situation.
The Packers do have his predecessor in Jordan Love, but they’ve been put in a precarious situation. Until they agree with the Jets on compensation for a Rodgers trade, their lack of cap space prevents them from signing any new free agents.
After the Rodgers saga is over, the Packers might very well come out of this offseason in a better place. As of now though, their lack of ability to sign notable free agents makes them a loser up to this point in the NFL free agency period.