Predicting the free agency market after the 2023 NFL Draft

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals (Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports)
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals (Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports) /

After the 2023 NFL Draft, we should see another small wave of free agency. Let’s predict some of the remaining moves that we can see.  There are still quite a few very talented free agents out there, some even elite.

The 2023 NFL Draft is a great time for teams to fill out the remaining holes of their roster, but they never always goes perfectly to plan.  For that reason, we usually see another small wave of free agency when the draft is over and the bulk of undrafted free agent signings are made.

Let’s try to predict some of those remaining moves:

Predicting the free agency market after the 2023 NFL Draft

DeAndre Hopkins to the Buffalo Bills

The Bills did not take a first round wide receiver and could benefit from adding one.  They did draft one in the fifth round, but the odds that Justin Shorter makes noise in Buffalo is unfortunately slim.

Why can’t the Bills send a 2024 or 2025 mid round pick to the Cardinals for Hopkins?  I was shocked that Hopkins wasn’t dealt during the 2023 NFL Draft and I do think that Buffalo needs to make a big move to see if they can break through in the playoffs.

Dalvin Cook and Ben Jones to the Denver Broncos

OK, so perhaps me being a Broncos’ fan makes this a bit of a biased line of thinking, but I think there’s an argument for both of these players.  Dalvin Cook’s cap hit in 2023 is well over $10 million and Vikings’ General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah went to work earlier this offseason parting with some veteran players.

He also brought back Alexander Mattison on a two year deal and I don’t see why Cook would be on the roster in 2023.  Broncos’ General Manager George Paton was in the front office when Cook was drafted and the team might not have Javonte Williams for week one.

Ben Jones is probably the best remaining free agent and would fill the Broncos’ last need on offense at center.  Denver did draft a seventh round center in 2023 in Alex Forsyth from Oregon, but I’m not sure we’d see him make much noise in year one, but I do think Forsyth is a very talented player.

Ben Jones is a significantly better option than Lloyd Cushenberry and would put the finishing touches on what would be an elite offensive line.

Donovan Smith to the New England Patriots

The New England Patriots somehow did not draft a tackle during the 2023 NFL Draft but did take a few interior players along their offensive line.  Right now, their projected tackles are Riley Reiff and Trent Brown.  Eh.

Donovan Smith was a second round pick in 2015 and played the first eight years of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He had a rough 2022 season, but so did their entire offense.  I think Smith makes a ton of sense for the Patriots for a year while they see once and for all if Mac Jones can be the guy.

Carson Wentz to the Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders did not draft a QB with their first round pick in the 2023 NFL draft and could benefit from this last wave of free agency.  Carson Wentz was cut by the Washington Commanders earlier this offseason and might be an enticing reclamation project for Josh McDaniels, and a much higher ceiling backup option than Brian Hoyer.

So, these last remaining free agency moves would surely make sense for each team and it’s clear that there is some talent left in the free agency market.