Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
FREE AGENCY – DO THE SHUFFLE
As the new league year begins this week, so does chaos in the form of NFL Free Agency. Now that we’ve entered the age of way-too-instant updates and blue check marks that can be bought, this here internet is about to turn into the wild wild west as we officially turn the NFL’s business page over to a new season. While the league will tell you that the league year for business “officially” commences at 4pm E.T., anyone with a news feed at their disposal knows the tampering is fully underway and wheelings and dealings behind the scenes have commenced weeks ago.
This is a quarterback-driven league, so where the signal callers move in this league determines most of what the league looks like this season. The upcoming weeks are about to be a fast and furious deluge of breaking news, so let’s get our notifications set properly and begin to digest some of the biggest free agency quarterback storylines of the 2023 offseason, and who would be the biggest movers and shakers in acquisition this spring.
The outset of this NFL Free agency period is framed by the current draft demand for QBs at the top of the board, as it seems to be every year. Whether it’s a loaded class of QBs or a meager one, there always seems to be mysterious upward momentum for incoming rookie quarterbacks in the month of march as free agency begins. The Panthers, Texans, Colts, and Raiders are all picking in the top seven of the NFL Draft and are clearly in the market for a QB. The Panthers are so in on a rookie that they dealt the farm and DJ Moore away to take the Bears’ number-one selection in April. Right off the bat, we can eliminate those teams from competing in the quarterback free agency carousel that is set to ensue for some of the biggest names in the games.
AR OUT OF THE DARKNESS
That quarterback carousel begins unequivocally with the decision from Aaron Rodgers on his future in football. As he emerged from his four-day darkness retreat as any normal athlete would, it seems he’s found enough clarity to entertain the idea of playing again. He’s already being wooed by Jets ownership and brass who flew out to Cali, and there are some west coast destinations rumored to be interested in the 39-year-old’s services under center. My prediction is he requests a deal that lands him in NYC and plays out a very similar ending to Brett Favre’s career (i.e. mediocrity). Still, he’s been known to be unpredictable at every corner of his career. Where #12 moves will certainly clear up options for the rest of the league and set the table for the offseason.
One of the more peculiar storylines of this offseason surrounds the 2019 NFL MVP in Baltimore Lamar Jackson. Without donning my tinfoil hat and getting too wacky with the conspiracies, I still have to wonder out loud…what’s really going on here? Despite Lamar’s ornery behavior and handling of the end of the 2022 campaign, his talent level and desire to play are undeniable. Now, out of thin air, we get a buffet of teams outwardly stating that they are NOT interested in pursuing Jackson as their QB – when were the last several teams that went so public in that manner to deliver a free agency player update? The Ravens placed a very non-committal franchise tag on Jackson that allows him to talk with other teams, but will one of his suitors present an offer worth darting for? My guess is YES, and he’ll be thrilled to change scenery after this awkwardness.
TB12..NOT AGAIN RIGHT?
At what point do too many retirements and un-retirements become an issue? Asking for a friend. Here we are at another offseason, on the heels of another Tom Brady retirement, and of course, there are still rumors about him coming BACK to play in the fall. This man already chose football over family once and he’s as addicted as they come to being under the NFL lights. He’s the goat and MY goat, but he absolutely refuses to leave the game and spotlight and I honestly think it’s a coin flip at this junction whether or not he returns to play. As free agency begins, the first organization to watch is the Miami Dolphins – what they do with Tua’s option, where they may draft a rookie, or how they might move around cash – all could be pre-indicators of a Brady signing. It’s no secret he has a home there and the appeal to the market is there. Other suitors could emerge as the quarterback shuffle gets going but I get the sense he’ll be picky with his next destination…if there is one.
INFLATION HITTIN’ HARD
All of these QB moves this free agency come with the context that everybody is getting PAID like you wouldn’t believe. Scratch out any pre-existing notions of what you thought reasonable QB salaries were in the previous NFL. In this day and age of quarterbacking, a one-season come-up like Geno Smith yields $35 million a year on his new deal, a serviceable Daniel Jones commands $40 million a year, and the elite QB will rake in upwards of $45-50+ million a season. While those numbers are head-scratching, it’s the new normal so get ready to see spending in every direction.
Let the free agency QB shuffle commence.