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2023 Free NFL Agency: 5 Most Impactful Moves on Day 1

Chicago Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

Jimmy Garoppolo lands in Sin City. Javon Hargrave heads to the City by the Bay. A pair of linebackers blows into the Windy City. Plus, a rugged safety goes for the ATL, and the top tackle takes off to the Rockies.

Teams bolted into the legal tampering period for free agency like Tyreek Hill heading deep. The Las Vegas Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos agreed to the most impactful deals on Monday – in some cases significantly affecting the teams each player left.

Five Most Impactful Moves

1. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Raiders

Garoppolo, the top untagged quarterback on the market, landed in Las Vegas for three years and $67.5 million, according to ESPN. Having sent long-time starter Derek Carr packing even before the 2022 season ended, the Raiders were in a somewhat desperate situation. Their thinking is that Josh McDaniels is a quarterback whisperer – though he’s yet to prove that as a head coach – and Garoppolo is a winner when healthy (which isn’t often enough). They might draft a QB this year to develop behind the 31-year-old Garoppolo, but the key weapons are present for him, most notably, receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs (who was given a franchise tag).

>>READ: Four Ways to Fix Raiders in 2023

2. Javon Hargrave, DT, 49ers

It was a bit of a surprise that San Francisco went heavy early to add to its top-ranked defense, yet this is a double-pronged power move. Not only does it diminish Philadelphia’s D-line, but Hargrave provides a massive, impressive presence up front. He joins Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead on a line in need of an intimidating nickname, and he should take some attention away from Bosa. Hargrave, 30, had 11 sacks as a highly disruptive force last season in Philly and was rewarded with a four-year contract worth $84 million.

>>READ: Fixes to Improve 49ers in 2023

3. Jessie Bates, S, Falcons

No surprise here. Atlanta must shore up at safety, and Jessie Bates is only 26, yet has tons of experience – including deep playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance. He’ll be the leader of the Falcons’ secondary, as he should be for $64 million over four years. The NFC South is wide open, and Bates brings a winning attitude. Meanwhile, the Bengals have lost both safeties, Bates and Vonn Bell to the Carolina Panthers.

>>READ: Three Fixes Falcons Must Make in 2023


4. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Broncos

Few offenses – if any – need more fixing than Denver’s. Enter mastermind Sean Payton, who struck quickly by grabbing the best right tackle in this crop. Mike McGlinchey, 28, gets a five-year deal for $87.5 million, not bad for a solid but hardly spectacular blocker. However, he is a Mile High upgrade for the Broncos, who also brought in Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Powers, and probably aren’t done addressing the trenches.

5. T.J Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, LBs, Bears

When Chicago opted last season to trade rather than pay its best defender, Roquan Smith, bolstering the linebacking unit for the Milquetoasts of the Midway became an immediate need. The Bears did well by getting Buffalo’s Tremaine Edmunds (four years, $72 million) and Philadelphia’s T.J. Edwards (three years, $19.5 million). Edmunds is only 24 and comes off, by far, his best NFL campaign. Edwards is 26 and, while overshadowed by other Eagles defenders, he went from undrafted to a starting Mike LB on a Super Bowl team.

>>READ: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

The Bills and Eagles took big hits with these departures and likely will look to the draft for replacements. Of course, that’s what happens when you build dominant rosters with players other teams covet.

Barry Wilner was a sportswriter for the Associated Press for 46 years. He has covered virtually every major sporting event, including 14 Olympics, nine World Cups, 34 Super Bowls, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup Finals, and has written 75 books. Follow him on Twitter @Wilner88