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5 teams positioned for a jump in 2023 with a big Free Agency

What teams can help themselves the most if they nail their signings in the coming weeks?

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

While the NFL Draft is about building the future of your team, NFL Free Agency is about adding the pieces to help you right now. All 32 franchises will soon set off on the high-stakes, high-speed chase that is Free Agency. For some teams, salary cap restraints will inhibit them from really being able to plug the necessary holes to earn contender status, but for others, a couple or three good signings can really make a difference in their overall outlook and expectations for 2023.

With that in mind, here are the five teams I believe are a good Free Agency period away from taking a quantum leap forward this coming season, in no particular order.


The Bears have the most money to spend this FA period, so that makes them an obvious candidate for this list. What makes them a team to watch as a potential rebound candidate in 2023, though, is the presence of potential breakout star Justin Fields at QB. Adding real talent around him has to be priority No. 1. After last weeks humongous draft trade news, Chicago has already added a big time piece on offense in former Panthers’ WR DJ Moore. Look for the Bears to pursue several high-priced assets on Defense, such as DT Javon Hargrave and CB James Bradberry, while continuing to build around Fields on “O” by upgrading the OL and adding proven playmakers at RB, WR, and even TE. With almost $76M in cap space to spend, it’s not about how much can they add, it’s about can they use it all in a wise, franchise-altering way. It’s a big year in the Windy City.


The Broncos were all the rage last offseason after the trade for QB Russell Wilson, adding him to a locked and loaded playoff roster seemingly missing only a stud QB to make them a Super Bowl contender. Things went south quick on that sentiment, and the Broncos are now busy clearing cap space at a furious pace to prep for a make or break FA period under new coach Sean Payton. With a solid amount of cap to spend, the Broncos will look to boost the defensive front and offensive line over the next few weeks. With very little valuable draft capital at their disposal after the Wilson trade, nailing Free Agency will be key to making last year’s vision this year’s reality. If the Broncos hit on some signings and Payton can fix Wilson’s 2022 woes, watch out NFL.


The Falcons have a big-time opportunity in front of them this offseason with almost $64M in cap space to play with. They could walk away as the biggest winners of Free Agency if they decide to get back into the seemingly inevitable Lamar Jackson sweepstakes and land some high-profile defenders to fix a moribund defense. The Falcons have a good Head Coach in Arthur Smith, and that offense is young, explosive, and even deep at the skill positions. Another team that should be in on the Javon Hargrave bidding, the Falcons need to get DT Grady Jarrett and CB A.J. Terrell some real help on that side of the ball. This free agent class is deep at IDL and ILB, which are positions of need for the Dirty Birds. Atlanta’s one of the few teams who can just throw money at big names without taking on much collateral damage, and they should. If they get it right, the NFC South could be theirs for the taking.


The Lions are many pundits’ off-season darlings, and for good reason. Dan Campbell’s squad is ahead of schedule and they are cohesive and gritty on both sides of the ball. The foundational pieces are in place for a playoff run in 2023 behind Jared Goff, Amon Ra St. Brown, Aidan Hutchinson, and Malcom Rodriguez, and the team has a decent amount of Cap space to work with (approx. $21.3M). Adding some key contributors at DL and in the secondary, as well as shoring up the interior OL should be priorities. If handled correctly and the players work out, the Lions could make a jump from fun upstart to NFC North champion contender in a hurry.


For the Steelers, all eyes will be on the growth of Kenny Pickett and whether or not Matt Canada’s offensive concepts can actually take full advantage of the plethora of weapons the team possesses at the skill positions in 2023. The defense needs some retooling as well, but has 3 big-time building blocks in place in Cam Heyward, TJ Watt, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. You’re banking on this foundation taking the next step in 2023. Assuming it does, Free Agency becomes a major hinge point for the Steelers entire 2023 story. Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin will have to be resourceful, prioritizing their own key contributors (Cam Sutton, Alex Highsmith, Terrell Edmunds) while at the same time finding good deals on veteran stalwarts to plug holes and provide depth across the board. Specifically, depth along the OL and DL is lacking, but adding some high-upside, potentially low-cost pieces at positions of need such as OT Andre Dillard, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Germaine Pratt, or any number of solid contributors at these important spots could solidify a roster that wants to compete for the AFC North right away. The opportunity is there. Play Free Agency right and the Steelers could go from over-achieving, we’ll-coached roster in 2022 to AFC North bullies once again. It’s exciting to ponder the possibilities.

Just Missed: New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams

These 5 squads can change their whole outlook for 2023 with a brilliantly executed Free Agency period.

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