Free Agent Frenzy, Pt. 1

It’s the most action-packed week of the off-season for fantasy football fans as free agency and the new league year begins. As expected, we saw a flurry of moves in the last few days and we’re just getting started. Throughout the week, I’ll be updating the key moves for fantasy and the NFL. That includes a massive trade for the No. 1 overall pick.

The Bears move No. 1

The Chicago Bears pulled off a blockbuster move Friday, moving the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers got the No. 1 pick, while the Bears got the No. 9 and No. 61 pick, a 2024 First Round Pick, a 2025 Second Round Pick and wide receiver D.J. Moore. It was quite a haul for a Bears team that’s trying to build a contender this off-season.

Moore has caught 364 passes for 5,201 yards and 21 touchdowns. He becomes the Bears’ best receiver and is a WR2 for me in fantasy. I like his potential paired with Justin Fields. Darnell Mooney is a WR3/4, while Chase Claypool drops to a boom-or-bust WR5 for me. Cole Kmet is a TE2. The Bears still have questions on offense, including at offensive line and running back. During the first day of Free Agency, the Bears did make a few additional moves, signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds, of the Bills, and T.J. Edwards, of the Eagles, to bolster the defense. The Bears also added DeMarcus Walker at defensive end and added Nate Davis to bolster the offensive line.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are poised to make a splash at the No. 1 overall pick. While the team maintains they haven’t settled on a player, it seems likely they traded up to acquire a franchise quarterback. That makes for an uncertain future for 2022 Third Round pick Matt Corral, who missed his rookie season with a foot injury.

The Panthers also had a busy first day of free-agency, re-signing center Bradley Bozeman while adding two pieces on defense. The Panthers signed nose tackle Shy Tuttle and signed safety Vonn Bell, who played with the Bengals in 2022.

Quarterback Roulette

It was a busy day for quarterbacks as well. The biggest of the first day signings was Jimmy Garoppolo, who signed a three-year, $67.5 million deal. He’ll assume the starting position for the Raiders, re-united with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. In addition to Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs, the Raiders also signed former Patriots receiver Jakobi Myers to a three-year deal. That sets up quite the offense for Jimmy G., who is 40-17 as a starter. I like Jimmy G. as a solid QB2 after the deal, while Myers is a WR4 for me.

In addition to Jimmy G., several other quarterbacks signed to bolster rosters around the league. Former Jets’ quarterback Mike White signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins as a backup to Tua Tagovailoa. Sam Darnold, a former First Round pick who spent the last two years in Carolina, signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers to provide some depth behind Trey Lance with Brock Purdy likely to miss most of the 2023 season. Jameis Winston, recently released from the Saints, signed a one-year deal to return, likely to serve as backup to newly signed Derek Carr.

In addition, Easton Stick re-signed with the Chargers and Nick Mullens re-signed with the Vikings. Finally, Taylor Heinicke, who spent the past few seasons with Washington, signed with the Atlanta Falcons, likely setting up a competition with second-year quarterback. Desmond Ridder.

Texans and Broncos go on a spending spree

Two of the busiest teams on the first day were the Texans and Broncos. Both teams also added quarterback depth. The Broncos agreed on a two-year deal with Jarrett Stidham, previously with the Raiders, to serve as a backup to Russell Wilson. In a corresponding move, the Broncos declined to tender restricted free agent Brett Rypien, who served as the team’s backup quarterback in 2022.

The Broncos also bolstered their lines. The team agreed with former 49ers’ Right Tackle Mike McGlinchey on a five-year deal, signing former Ravens guard Ben Powers to a four-year deal. Finally, the Broncos added blocking tight end Chris Manhertz to a two-year deal. All three moves figure to cement the offensive front. The Broncos concluded the day signing former Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen to a three-year deal, reuniting him with Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph. The Broncos also re-signed linebacker Alex Singleton, while defensive end Dre’Mont Jones left to sign a three-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Texans added veteran quarterback Case Keenum on a two-year deal. The Texans still have third-year quarterback Davis Mills and are expected to draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick. That gives the Texans a deep quarterback room. The team also signed running back Mike Boone and fullback Andrew Beck, both of whom spent the past few years with the Broncos. The Texans also added receiver Robert Woods on a two-year deal. Woods spent 2022 with the Titans. He’s had some good production but remains a WR4/5 for me. The Texans also bolstered their offensive line, agreeing to a trade with the Buccaneers for guard Shaq Mason.

Defensively, the Texans added defensive end Chase Winovich and a pair of former 49ers, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and safety Jimmy Ward. Both players reunite with Demeco Ryans, who was their defensive coordinator in 2022.

Defensive Moves

There was a slew of other interesting defensive moves as well. It began over the weekend as the Rams agreed to trade Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins. On Monday, former Steelers’ corner back Cameron Sutton agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions while former Vikings’ cornerback Patrick Peterson agreed to a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Philadelphia Eagles also lost a number of defensive pieces, including seeing defensive lineman Javon Hargraves leave to sign with the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile safety Mike Epps signed with the Raiders. In addition, former Vikings’ linebacker Eric Kendricks signed with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Among the bigger moves, former Bengals’ safety Jessie Bates signed a four-year deal with the Falcons. That means the Bengals lost both starting safeties on the first day of free agency. The Falcons, meanwhile, added Bates and Heinicke, while completing a trade with the Patriots to acquire Jonnu Smith, giving them a busy Monday as well.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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