Winners and Losers after Week 1 of Free Agency

NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The NFL Network name for it is certainly fitting. Free Agency Frenzy opened up and certainly lived up to craziness for the start of the new league year in the NFL. With the start of the league's free agency period, on March 11, the past four days have seen a flurry of moves that have some of the biggest names in the league going to other teams. With the first week coming to an end, who are the biggest winners and losers so far?

Winner - Baltimore Ravens

One of the biggest needs that the Ravens have needed has been the running back position. While they have had some quality running backs through the years, they have been very snake-bitten with injuries through the tenure of Lamar Jackson. How does the team address the need? They sign one of the most dominant running backs to have played in Derrick Henry. Since entering the league in 2016, Henry has run through defenses on his way to 10,000+ yards. He also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in five of his eight seasons. He has also contributed as a receiver during his time with the Titans, where he recorded 1,546 yards since 2016.

Draft outlook - While not having to trade for anyone (so far), the Ravens still hold all their selections and will be able to address needs elsewhere on the roster. Perhaps at receiver or linebacker.

Loser - Los Angeles Chargers

We all knew that new coach Jim Harbaugh and new General Manager Joe Horitz would be changing the roster. Mostly since they inherited a roster that was over the salary cap, with the likes of Austin Ekler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Gerald Everett departing via free agency and trades, Justin Herbert is going to have a very different offense at his disposal. On defense, while they were able to keep Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa the team did lose linebackers Eric Kendricks and Kenneth Murray. The talent level that departed, far outweighs the talent brought in, as tight ends Will Dissly and Haden Hurst headline the new signees.

Draft outlook - The team holds the fifth overall selection in the draft and has added a fourth-round selection due to the trade sending Allen to Chicago. Offensive weapons for this team seem to be the priority for the Chargers in April's NFL Draft.

Winner - Philadelphia Eagles

This seems to be a yearly occurrence, general manager Howie Roseman and the staff for the Eagles seem to always do a masterful job in freeing up cap space, but bringing in quality on the free agent market and this year was no different. With rumors that starting linebacker Haason Reddick wanting to depart, the Eagles bring in Devin White, and Bryce Huff, and bring back CJ Gardner-Johnson to shore up the secondary. They also resigned guard Landon Dickerson to keep the offensive line together after the retirement of Kelce. Also on the offensive side of the ball, while the team saw D'Andre Swift depart in free agency, they welcomed Saquon Barkley from the division rival New York Giants. The team is now entertaining offers for Reddick and defensive end Josh Sweat as well as needs to address via the nine draft picks the team currently owns.

Draft outlook - The rich get richer, a loaded draft class, and ammunition to make offers to get the players they want.

Loser - Carolina Panthers

This has been one puzzling offseason for the Panthers. As the team saw the defense get obliterated with departures via free agency and trades, the team turned around and at least on paper overpaid for guards to help protect their quarterback, Bryce Young. While the team did acquire wide receiver Dionte Johnson from the Steelers, the $153 million in contracts to guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis seem excessive. The departures of Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos, Frankie Luvu, Jeremy Chinn, and Vonn Bell will be large shoes to fill for coach Dave Canales and company.

Draft outlook - Best available player with the amount of needs the team has and only seven draft picks the team's talent and value at the position will be at a premium.

Winner - Minnesota Vikings

So the Vikings land in my winner's column, because they have had a sneaky good free agent period. While they do have some areas to address, namely at quarterback, they have gone and gotten players to bolster their defense and added former Packers running back Aaron Jones. Adding edge rushers Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and bolstering their defensive line with Jerry Tillery. With a revamped defense and the weapons in place on offense, they could be in store for a quick turnaround from their 7-10 finish in 2023.

Draft outlook - With eight selections in the draft, including two in the first round (11th, and 23rd) they have positioned themselves well to select the player they want most at quarterback. Possibly even a Drake Maye?

Loser - New York Giants

So although I like the addition of Brian Burns to a defense with Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux and will be exciting to watch. The team is on my losers of free agency list because that offense lost a ton headlined by Saquon Barkley leaving to a divisional rival. Also, seeing Paris Campbell and Sterling Shepard leave via free agency will hurt this offense in 2024. The Giants also parted ways with Isaiah Simmons and Xavier McKinney, with McKinney joining the Packers. The 2023 season was rough and the outlook for 2024, at least before the draft leaves a lot more questions than it answered.

Draft outlook - With only six selections in the NFL Draft, the Giants are in a tough spot. They need help and a lot more than six selections can produce. Selecting the best available seems like the logical approach to the draft.

Winner - Washington Commanders

Yes, the Commanders made the list for winners in free agency, The team has a new coach and general manager and has made splashes in who they have brought in with Austin Ekeler on offense and Bobby Wagner on defense, but also with getting pieces to be leaders, with Tyler Biadasz following new coach Dan Quinn from Dallas and bringing in guard Nick Allegretti in from Kansas City. Also on the defensive side of the ball, the team added linebacker Frankie Luvu and safety Jeremy Chinn who both will look for fresh starts after leaving the Panthers. With needs still present, especially at quarterback, the team brought in veterans Marcus Mariota at quarterback and Zach Ertz at tight end to provide a good learning environment for a new signal caller.

Draft outlook - The Commanders currently hold nine selections in April's NFL Draft. While quarterback will surely be addressed, with the second selection most likely, the team will likely also look to add playmakers on both the offense and defense sides of the ball. They could even be in a prime position to be much better in 2024 than the 4-13 mark they had in 2023.