10 bold predictions for the 2023 NFL offseason
With the NFL Scouting Combine less than two weeks away, and free agency starting in less than a month, there are several storylines that are developing behind the scenes by the day.
As we slowly but surely begin the trudge to training camp, here are 10 of my boldest offseason predictions around the NFL.
The Lions make a big splash via trade and/or free agency
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Detroit became the darling of the NFL last season, winning eight of their final 10 games to finish 9-8 and just outside of the playoffs. Their offense was among the most explosive in the NFL, but they need more juice on the defensive side of the ball, specifically their secondary. Rumors of the Lions being interested in Jalen Ramsey are starting to make their rounds. Even if they don’t acquire Ramsey, someone like Marcus Peters could be a prime target for Detroit as they look to add a proven, veteran cornerback.
The Cowboys will make it known they are looking at the rookie QB class
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Have the Cowboys hit their ceiling with Dak Prescott? Dallas has just two playoff wins since Prescott took over in 2016, and have yet to make it past the divisional round. Prescott also had a bad tendency of turning the ball over in 2022, leading the NFL with 15 interceptions despite missing five games. In a full 17 games, he was on pace to throw 21 interceptions. With Mike McCarthy now taking over playcalling duties, and Brian Schottenheimer holding the offensive coordinator position, the Cowboys offense has clearly downgraded. This situation mirrors that of Derek Carr in Las Vegas — a good quarterback who, more often than not, was the victim of a poorly run organization and coaching staff. Don’t be surprised if 2023 ends up being Dak’s final year in Dallas.
Mac Jones gets traded to the Raiders, replaced in New England by Jimmy Garoppolo
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The Mac Jones experiment was a head-scratching one from the start. He didn’t have first-round pick talent. He was able to sit in a clean pocket at Alabama and throw to All-World receivers while the best defense in the nation kept opponents out of the end zone. In 2021, the Patriots benefited from a schedule that saw several of their opponents hampered by injuries, or just lack talent as a whole, and rode that to a playoff berth before getting boat raced by the Buffalo Bills. This past season, Jones was outperformed, and briefly benched in favor of Bailey Zappe. Now, rumors out of New England are that the Patriots don’t see a big gap between the two quarterbacks, and would be willing to trade Jones. The familiarity with Josh McDaniels and the lack of big money would make sense for both Jones and the Raiders. The same can be said about the Patriots and Garoppolo — he was Bill Belichick’s guy that he was ready to move forward with, and now he has a second chance at doing so.
Steelers trade for Jalen Ramsey
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Pittsburgh practically has two first-round picks in the upcoming draft after acquiring the 32nd overall pick from the Chicago Bears, a pick that would be the final pick of the first round if the Miami Dolphins did not have to forfeit their selection. We’ve seen the Steelers get aggressive in acquiring a star defensive back before when they traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019. With Cam Sutton possibly leaving via free agency, the Steelers should go all in and get a star cornerback, perhaps Ramsey. That also gives them the ability to add an offensive playmaker or lineman with the No. 17 pick.
Keenan Allen stays in the AFC West, but as a member of the Chiefs
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The Chargers could save a lot of money if they were to release Keenan Allen before March 19. He has a $3.5 million roster bonus that would kick in on that day, and his salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 21. His cap hit would be just under $22 million, and his dead cap would be just under $7 million. With the aging receiver finding himself injured more than he is healthy as of late, the Chargers should let him go and explore other options. Meanwhile, the Chiefs need a true No. 1 receiver. Allen can still be that in Kansas City without feeling the pressure or lack of depth behind him. Allen is on the final holes of his career and would love to get a ring before calling it a career — what better place to go than Kansas City?
DeAndre Hopkins gets traded to Buffalo
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Gabe Davis was a big disappointment in 2022. After what was supposedly his breakout performance against the Chiefs in the divisional round, where he caught four touchdowns, Davis notched only 48 catches on the season, and was very boom or bust. The Bills need a 1B to Stefon Diggs’ 1A. Hopkins has shown that he is still capable of being a top 10 receiver in the game, it just won’t be in Arizona. Pairing him with Josh Allen and Diggs would greatly benefit both Buffalo and Hopkins.
Bears trade for Chris Godwin
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In the third of our trifecta of receivers being moved, the Bears get Justin Fields a go-to receiver by acquiring Chris Godwin. The Buccaneers are in a weird place right now where they don’t have a solidified starting quarterback on their roster, and only made the playoffs in 2022 because their division was dreadful. A rebuild could be on the horizon, which could see the Bears swoop in and give up a couple of draft picks for the talented receiver out of Penn State.
Derek Carr signs with the Saints
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I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Carr denied his no-trade clause being waived immediately after his meeting with the Saints. Yes, he is meeting with the Jets, but it’s smart for all parties involved to do their due diligence. The Saints seemed convinced that they are still a real player in the NFC and just need a quarterback to get them there. Whether you buy that or not (I don’t) is a different discussion. Carr goes to the Saints, while another quarterback lands in New York.
Aaron Rodgers is traded to the Jets
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It makes sense for all involved. The Packers can send Aaron Rodgers to the AFC, the Jets have a roster that doesn’t require Rodgers to be Superman, and Rodgers gets to get arguably the most help he’s had since 2010 when the Packers won the Super Bowl. With Nathaniel Hackett being there, as well, Rodgers would inherit an offense he already knows, with good weapons and a solid offensive line that can be made better throughout the offseason.
Lamar Jackson wants out of Baltimore, gets traded to the Falcons
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This is a move I’ve been bullish on for the last month and a half or so. The Falcons have over $80 million in cap space, and Jackson would fit effortlessly into Arthur Smith’s scheme. Plus, in a division that was by far the worst in football last season, the Falcons would be head and shoulders above the Panthers, Saints, and Buccaneers when it comes to the quarterback position. If Jackson is traded to the Falcons, expect other stars to join him. Someone like Tony Pollard could see this as a better opportunity than being in Dallas. On the defensive side, Jessie Bates or Jordan Poyer could make their way to Atlanta, as well. Jackson’s star power combined with Atlanta’s available money would lead to an influx of talent for the Falcons.
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