2023 NFL Free Agency: 10 Players Who Could Get More Money Than Expected
Free agency comes next week, and it will get chaotic. Teams and agents have been talking numbers and potential contract structures for weeks now, and eventually deals start rolling through one after the other.
Executives don’t view this year’s free agency class as strong compared to other years, but a large number of players will get paid, and teams are prepared to spend, especially after the salary cap increased by $16.6 million (from $208.2 million to $224.8 million). The cap is expected to take another significant jump next offseason.
While players like Jessie Bates, Orlando Brown Jr., Tremaine Edmunds and Javon Hargrave are set to headline the free agency market, several other names should also cash in. Here’s a look at 10 free agents who could get paid more than you might expect:
Top 150 Free Agent Rankings | Free Agency Tracker
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 6
The Eagles acquired C.J. Gardner-Johnson before the start of the season for a pair of Day 3 picks, and he played a massive role in the secondary. He finished the year tied for the league lead with six interceptions, despite missing five games.
His production, age (25) and versatility will make him a hot commodity on the open market, and Philadelphia could be bracing to lose him.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 10
Jimmy Garoppolo’s health is a primary concern, as he’s missed 32 games to injury since 2016. The one year he didn’t miss any games was the 2019 season when the San Francisco 49ers made the Super Bowl. Garoppolo has a quick release, is loved by his teammates and has proven he can be a viable starter.
An advantage Garoppolo has in free agency is his connections around the league, thanks to the Kyle Shanahan and Bill Belichick coaching trees. There’s Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, Robert Saleh with the Jets, DeMeco Ryans and Bobby Slowik with the Texans and Ran Carthon with the Titans.
Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL. It will not be a surprise if Garoppolo gets a deal somewhere in between what Geno Smith ($35 million per season) and Derek Carr ($40 million per season) got.
WR Jakobi Meyers
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 20
The wide receiver market is not strong, and the position’s draft class is not as stacked as in previous years. That will benefit Jakobi Meyers, who should get at least $13 million per year. The 26-year-old former undrafted free agent finished 2022 with 67 catches, 804 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games for the New England Patriots.
He caught 70 percent of his targets, ranking 10th among all receivers (minimum 90 targets). Simply put, Meyers could not have found a better time to be a free agent, especially after last year’s spike in pay at the position.
CB Jamel Dean
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 21
Jamel Dean started 38 games in four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including 15 this past season, his first as a full-time starter. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound Dean plays physically and matches up well with big-bodied receivers. He allowed a completion percentage of 51.9 percent during the past two seasons.
Dean, 26, will be a highly coveted player, and his market could end up taking him to at least $14 million per year.
TE Dalton Schultz
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 23
Dalton Schultz ranks fourth in receptions, seventh in yards and fifth in touchdowns among all tight ends during the past three seasons. He’s one of seven tight ends with 2,000 or more yards during that stretch. Travis Kelce, George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert and Darren Waller are the others. Schultz also brings value as a run blocker, something he’s improved on throughout his career.
The Dallas Cowboys used the franchise tag on Schultz last season, but he’ll hit the open market this time. Expect his market to take him over $10 million per year.
OG Isaac Seumalo
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 26
Isaac Seumalo is the least talked about offensive lineman on the Philadelphia Eagles‘ front, but he deserves his flowers. The 29-year-old can play all three interior positions and started all 20 games in 2022 after playing just 12 games the previous two years because of knee and foot injuries.
Expect him to land somewhere in the $8 million- to $11 million-per-year range.
OT Jawaan Taylor
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 34
A second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, Jawaan Taylor is coming off the best season of his young career, specifically from a pass-protection standpoint.
Taylor, 25, has been durable, starting every game he’s played, including 100 percent of Jacksonville’s snaps in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and 98 percent of the snaps this past season.
DE Zach Allen
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 45
Zach Allen racked up 95 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 61 pressures and 12 pass breakups during the last two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He was in the same defensive line room with future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt during that span, and Allen gave Watt a ton of credit for helping take his game to the next level.
Teams are always looking to add pass rushers, and Allen’s best football is in front of him. He’ll turn 26 in August.
LB Bobby Okereke
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 49
A third-round pick in 2019, Bobby Okereke has been a full-time starter for two seasons and took a significant step forward this year with 151 tackles (99 solo), six tackles for loss, five passes defended and two forced fumbles.
He showed he could play more than one linebacker spot during his four years with the Indianapolis Colts. The off-ball linebacker market is reasonably deep this year, but Okereke should have a decent market.
IDL Dre’Mont Jones
The 33rd Team Free Agency Ranking: 86
A Denver Broncos‘ third-round pick in 2019, Dre’Mont Jones has 22 sacks in his first four seasons, and his 138 quarterback pressures are top 20 among all interior defensive linemen during that span.
There’s still room to improve, but contracts are all about projecting forward rather than rewarding past production. With Jones turning 26 in January, he should do well on the open market. Look for him to land a deal with an annual value of $14 million to $18 million.
Other names to keep an eye on:
- LB David Long Jr. (No. 22)
- CB Jonathan Jones (No. 60)
- G Ben Powers (No. 27)
- OT Andrew Wylie (No. 85)
- S Julian Love (No. 37)
- C Bradley Bozeman (No. 58)
- DT Greg Gaines (No. 77)
2023 NFL Free Agent Rankings: Top 150 Available Players
One-and-Done or Dynasty? What Future Holds for Eagles, Chiefs
Super Bowl LVII Betting: Evaluating Which Eagles, Chiefs Players Can Win MVP
In the first installment of our two-part Super Bowl MVP series, we took a deep dive into the history of the Super Bowl MVP. We did that so we can make more informed bets. Now, we’re going to analyze more than two dozen players with a path to winning this year’s Super Bowl MVP. The lines provided in this column come from BetMGM. If you’re considering a Super Bowl MVP wager, make sure you line shop at multiple sportsbooks for the best odds and promotions.
If you’re considering a bet on a quarterback, 31 quarterbacks (~55%) have won the Super Bowl MVP. The most common paths to a quarterback winning Super Bowl MVP are either high-end production or a late, game-winning drive.
Jalen Hurts +110
Can a dual-threat quarterback with a loaded supporting cast like Jalen Hurts win Super Bowl MVP? He sure can. Should we bet on him to do so at +110 odds? Not only do you have to essentially pick the winning team with that bet, but as we just discussed, quarterbacks win this award 55% of the time. I’d rather bet the Eagles’ money line at -125, considering how many of his teammates have a realistic path to a spike game.
Patrick Mahomes +125
If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, there’s a high chance Patrick Mahomes is the driving force behind that outcome. That said, I’d rather bet the Chiefs’ money line at +110 than I would on betting Mahomes to be the game’s MVP at +125.
>> READ: Mahomes’ Legacy Nearing All-Time Great QBs
A running back hasn’t won the Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII (32). That said, exceeding 100 total yards with two or more scores will put a running back right in the mix for this award.
Miles Sanders +3000
Early in the week, Miles Sanders was available at 50:1 odds on FanDuel, which I viewed as an early misprice. Sanders has a realistic path to 100 yards rushing and multiple scores behind the Eagles’ top-five offensive line. I’m not head over heels at 30:1 odds, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk you out of that bet, either.
Isiah Pacheco +5000
Isiah Pacheco has been the Chiefs’ primary ball carrier for months, but his usage has been scaled back during his past four games, which includes the playoffs. Pacheco has been a pleasant surprise this season, but he has yet to put up a monster box score. Considering how pass-centric the Chiefs’ offense is, a lot of things would have to bounce Pacheco’s way for him to win the Super Bowl MVP over Mahomes or Travis Kelce.
Jerick McKinnon +5000
Jerick McKinnon went on a touchdown spree down the stretch, scoring nine times during his last six regular season games. Apart from the touchdowns, McKinnon has only breached 100 yards receiving once this season, and he’s only had double-digit carries in two games. McKinnon has only 30 total yards during this year’s playoffs.
If you’re considering a bet on a pass catcher, eight (~14%) wide receivers have won the Super Bowl MVP. No tight end has ever won this award. In most instances where a pass catcher has won this award, they accounted for a large portion of the team’s passing offense while the quarterback has more of an average or worse outing. Further, recent Super Bowls where a wide receiver wins the MVP have gone under their game total.
Travis Kelce +1100
Kelce is the standalone primary pass catcher in Mahomes’ offense, which puts him in a strong position to win the Super Bowl MVP. A tight end has never won this award before, which might actually be an advantage for Kelce if he has a big game and the Chiefs win. That type of outcome offers an opportunity for history to be made, which could be a tiebreaker of sorts for voters.
A.J. Brown +1400
A.J. Brown breached 100 yards receiving in five games this season while scoring multiple touchdowns in two of those matchups. Brown certainly has the spike game potential to win this award. However, my primary concern with betting on the Eagles’ offense in specific ways is they have four, bordering on five, players capable of massive production.
DeVonta Smith +2500
DeVonta Smith also breached 100 yards receiving in five games this season while scoring multiple touchdowns in one of those matchups. Four of those five 100-yard outputs came in the final six regular season games, including two with Gardner Minshew at the controls. Smith has considerable spike game potential, which is why I’d have his MVP odds closer to Brown’s. If I were an oddsmaker, I’d have Smith’s MVP odds in the 18:1 to 20:1 range.
Dallas Goedert +5000
I don’t see Dallas Goedert as an automatic cross-off, but he’d have to outproduce Hurts, Sanders, Brown and Smith to contend for this award. Considering Goedert only had one 100-yard game this season, he has a narrow path to winning Super Bowl MVP.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling +6600
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is coming off his best game of the season, which also happens to be just the second time he breached 100 yards receiving this year. The Eagles’ cornerbacks are among the best in the league, which reduces my already limited enthusiasm in Valdes-Scantling having another spike game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster +6600
JuJu Smith-Schuster breached 100 yards receiving twice this year, in back-to-back October games. Smith-Schuster is currently on the injury report and hasn’t breached 40 yards receiving in any of his last five games, which includes the playoffs.
Quez Watkins +12500
I like Quez Watkins as a player, but he’s seeing limited opportunities, and he’s only exceeded 40 yards receiving in two games this year.
Skyy Moore +15000
A number of Chiefs’ wide receivers are on the injury report, which could lead to another uptick in opportunities for Skyy Moore in the big game. Moore has only exceeded 50 yards receiving in one game this year. He’d need to have the outlier of all outlier performances to win Super Bowl MVP.
Kadarius Toney +15000
When Kadarius Toney is healthy, he’s a difference-making talent that would warrant serious consideration at 150:1 odds. Unfortunately, availability has been a major issue for Toney throughout his two-year career. Toney left the AFC Championship early with an ankle injury.
Defensive linemen have won the Super Bowl MVP three out of 56 times. If you’re considering a bet on one of those options, you’re looking for a decisive victory that’s primarily driven by the winning team’s pass rush. You’re then looking for one player to have multiple sacks and, ideally, at least one forced turnover.
Haason Reddick +3000
Haason Reddick ended up being one of the more impactful signings of last year’s free-agent class. Reddick had 16 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries during the regular season. He had multiple sacks with at least one forced fumble or fumble recovery in three different games this year.
If Reddick has that kind of performance during an Eagles win in a low-scoring affair, he would have a real shot to win MVP. Not all major sportsbooks have released Super Bowl MVP odds yet. Reddick is on my short list of options I will bet on if I can get him at a better price.
Chris Jones +5000
If you’re going to bet on a Chiefs defender, Chris Jones has the best chance for a game-derailing performance by a considerable margin. Including the playoffs, Jones had five multi-sack games this season, and he’s one of the premier interior defenders in the league.
Brandon Graham +8000
Brandon Graham has been a disruptive force for over a decade, but this season he had a career-best 11 sacks with three multi-sack games. If Graham has a big Super Bowl, he also has a compelling story, as he missed most of the 2021 season with an Achilles injury.
Frank Clark +12500
Frank Clark is a good player that would need an outlier performance against an elite offensive line to put himself in the Super Bowl MVP conversation.
George Karlaftis +15000
George Karlaftis had an encouraging rookie year, and he was among my favorite players in last year’s draft class. Karlaftis had six sacks this season, but he’s still searching for his first multi-sack game.
Josh Sweat +15000
Josh Sweat finished the year with 11 sacks and two multi-sack games. He had another three games with 1.5 sacks. Sweat is a pass rusher capable of spike games, which makes him an interesting super longshot option.
Fletcher Cox +20000
Fletcher Cox is at least a borderline Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle. If he has a big game, he’ll at least be in the conversation.
If you’re considering a bet on a linebacker, only three (~5%) have ever won the Super Bowl MVP. You’re going to need a performance with multiple splash plays (sacks or turnovers) without any offensive player on the winning team having a big game.
Nick Bolton +10000
Nick Bolton is an interesting longshot candidate that finished with the second-most tackles in the league this season. In Week 11 against the Chargers, Bolton had 14 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. If this contest ends up being low scoring in nature, and Bolton has the kind of box score he had against the Chargers, he could bring home the MVP.
T.J. Edwards +10000
T.J. Edwards has emerged as a rock-solid linebacker for the Eagles during the last two seasons. That said, he didn’t have an interception this season, and he only has two in his four-year career. Betting on Edwards to have a massive spike game against Mahomes’ offense is pretty thin.
If you’re considering a bet on a secondary player, only three (~5%) cornerbacks or safeties have ever won the Super Bowl MVP. You’re going to need multiple turnovers, maybe a score, without any offensive player having a game-breaking performance.
Darius Slay +5000
Darius Slay plays the overwhelming majority of his snaps on the perimeter (~91%). The Chiefs don’t have a perimeter receiver that “needs” the ball for their offense to function, which means they could go out of their way to avoid Slay if they wanted. Slay is an exceptional player, but I’d be surprised if he saw enough opportunities to have a monster game.
James Bradberry +15000
James Bradberry also plays the overwhelming majority of his snaps on the perimeter (~90%). Bradberry is one of the better second corners in the league, but he’s more likely to be tested than Slay. Keep in mind Bradberry has just one multi-interception game in his seven-year career.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson +15000
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a versatile player who, in a best-case scenario, has a game with a forced fumble, an interception and close to 10 tackles in his range of outcomes.
Justin Reid +15000
Justin Reid is a good player, but he only has seven interceptions in his five-year career.
L’Jaruis Sneed +15000
L’Jarius Sneed is currently on the injury report after playing only four snaps in the last week. Sneed has eight interceptions in his three-year career.
Trent McDuffie +25000
Trent McDuffie had a good rookie year, but he has yet to record an interception as a pro.
WATCH: Best Super Player Props
Player Prop Happy Hour: Early Super Bowl Props
The biggest week in prop betting is upon us, and The 33rd Team’s Betting and Fantasy experts have you covered with the best Super Bowl player props.
Ryan Reynolds’ Top 3 Props
Patrick Mahomes Oover Pass Completions 24.5 (-125 on BetMGM)
- Patrick Mahomes has gone over this number in 11 of 19 games this season, including the playoffs. The Chiefs are the most pass-centric offense in the league. They’re also projected to be a slight underdog in this game, so we can either reasonably expect this game to be close or for Kansas City to have to play from behind.
- I also still expect more short throws to help Mahomes manage the pressure on his high ankle sprain. With the Chiefs going up against a talented Eagles defense, I could see an uptick of dump-off passes to running backs and outside screens to receivers.
- The Chiefs’ perimeter receivers are in a pretty tough spot here against James Bradberry and Darius Slay, leading to more passes to the middle of the field. I think there’s a 70% chance this line goes over 24.5.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Over Tackles 5.5 (+115 on DraftKings)
- Kansas City’s high-volume passing game puts the over in play. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a super-versatile player, playing roughly half his snaps as a safety, a quarter of them at slot corner and another quarter in the box. He saw a bit of an uptick in slot corner snaps when Avonte Maddox was banged up in Week 18 and again in the Divisional Round. He’s only beaten this number in five of 12 regular-season games. However, he’s had exactly five tackles in four other games, and another with five in the playoffs. So even when he falls below this, he’s right there within striking distance.
Dallas Goedert Over 45.5 Yards Receiving (-115 on DraftKings)
- This number’s a little lower than I think it should be. With that said, I’m not in love with it because I think potentially every Eagles receiver can get there. It’s one of the problems with picking any of their over/unders throughout the playoffs for me. That said, the Chiefs have allowed the most PPR points to the tight end position in the slot this year. Dallas Goedert plays 29% of his snaps in the slot.
- Before Goedert got hurt, he was third in the league in yards after the catch, which is kind of mind-blowing if you really think about it. But part of the reason for that is because they design short-passing plays for him. So we can expect at least one or two of those. He beat this number in 9 of 14 games this year.
- One issue I have with this, looking at it from a Chiefs’ perspective, they faced the 49ers’ George Kittle and the Raiders’ Darren Waller this year. Kittle had 98 yards receiving, Waller had 35 late in the year. But they didn’t play a top tight end otherwise. Both Albert Okwuegbunam and Greg Dulcich of the Broncos reached 40 yards receiving against the Chiefs later in the season. So I think Goedert has a chance to reach 45.5 yards.
Ben Wolby’s Top 3 Props
Miles Sanders Over 57.5 Yards Rushing (-115 on DraftKings)
- I was on Miles Sanders over 55.5 rushing yards early in the week. It’s since moved to 57.5 yards. When the Eagles are going up against bad rush defenses, Sanders has a good game. We’ve taken Sanders rushing overs against bad rushing defenses before.
- But Kansas City, they don’t have a bad rushing defense; it’s just average. The Chiefs were ranked 15th throughout the regular season, but if we take a look at how they’ve been in the playoffs, they actually haven’t been great. They’re the second-worst playoff team when it comes to rushing DVOA. However, last week they held Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to a combined 41 rushing yards. We did see Travis Etienne get 62 yards on just 10 carries in the Divisional Round. Sanders’ attempts currently sit around 13.5.
- Here’s where I get sold on this prop. If we take a look at games where Jalen Hurts has started, Sanders is averaging 76.5 rushing yards per game. He’s over this number in nine of 15 games and three of those losses came against top-10 DVOA teams.
Jalen Hurts Longest Rush Over 13.5 Yards (-105 on DraftKings)
- If you watched the show last week, you know I took Joe Burrow’s longest rush over 9.5 yards; he had four rushes, two that went for 11 and 14 yards, which is also higher than Hurts’ line. Why did I take this last week? Because quarterbacks rush at the third-highest rate against Kansas City, and they’ve been good at doing it. The Chiefs are bad against rushing quarterbacks. They’ve allowed 11 rushes of 14 or more yards to quarterbacks this season, second-most in the NFL.
- Hurts’ rushing attempts line is 10.5. He’s averaging 10 rushes per game (that are not kneel-downs). So 10 attempts against this defense? It’s going to be hard to keep him under that number when he is fifth in rushes of 14 or more yards with 11 in the regular season.
- Last week, Hurts faced San Francisco and the second-best rush DVOA. He still had a 14-yard rush, which would have topped this line against one of the best rush defenses, and it came in the third quarter when the 49ers were up by two touchdowns.
- Hurts is going to run the ball all the time. Whether the Eagles are down or whether they’re up, he’s going to run the ball.
Jalen Hurts Under 247.5 Yards Passing (-117 on Caesars)
- Hurts has only gone over this number in five of 18 games this year. Three of the games where he went over were against bottom-10 pass DVOA teams, including Chicago (last), Tennessee (28th) and Minnesota, which we were picking against all year. He also went over in a divisional game against Washington and against Pittsburgh without T.J. Watt.
- Kansas City’s defense is average in pass DVOA. But during the second half of the season and the playoffs, there’s only one quarterback who has passed this number: Burrow. That is it. There have been so many other quarterbacks since Week 12 who have not topped this number. Furthermore, because it’s the Chiefs, the other quarterbacks were in a negative game script the entire time. Still, these quarterbacks were averaging just 204 yards per game, despite that losing game script.
- The Eagles have the fourth-highest rush percentage among all teams in the regular season. Even when they are down by three or more, they are still rushing at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL.
Josh Larky’s Top 3 Props
Jerick McKinnon Under 23.5 Yards Rushing (-115 on DraftKings)
- Jerick McKinnon has five or fewer carries in four of his past five games. He just hasn’t played much recently, and on top of that, he hasn’t been carrying the ball much. He’s had seven or fewer rushing yards in four of the last five games. It’s crazy this line is at 23.5.
- McKinnon did beat that number once in those last five games when he had a season-high 11 carries for just 25 yards. So even when he had a season-high in carries, he barely cleared the number. McKinnon is averaging 1.8 yards per carry during the last five games.
- The Eagles are an average run defense at this point. They were near the bottom early in the season. They fortified it by signing Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh. Jordan Davis, their star first-round rookie, returned from injury.
- There’s still a chance Clyde Edwards-Helaire is activated for this game. I think there’s a good chance he’s active instead of Ronald Jones, and I think they like him more than Jones. I don’t think this affects Isiah Pacheco at all. But I do think this could actually affect the few carries McKinnon has. They could just go to Edwards-Helaire as they deploy McKinnon mostly as a third-down back.
Jerick McKinnon Longest Rush Under 9.5 Yards (-125 on Draftkings)
- Everything I talked about with McKinnon above still applies. This guy does not get a lot of carries. If we look at carries over 9.5 yards, we’re gonna take him under. He’s gone over this in five of his 87 carries in the regular season and in the playoffs; that is 1 in 17.5 carries. As I mentioned, his season-high is 11 carries. Only in one of his last five games did he reach five carries. I don’t understand how you would see this line and take the over.
Jalen Hurts OverPass Completions 21.5 (-108 on FanDuel)
- This is -130 at pretty much every other book because people love this. This is a great play. But we’re gonna get it at -108.
- Hurts was over this number in just five of his 17 games this season, including the playoffs. But let’s look at the matchup. Quarterbacks against Kansas City average 36.7 pass attempts and 24.1 completions per game. Twenty-four is much higher than 21.5. And that includes the Malik Willis game, where he completed five passes. If we look at the 19 games the Chiefs have played, including playoffs, the opposing quarterback had more than 21.5 completions in 15 of them.
- I think the Chiefs are the Vikings of completions overs because in pretty much every game, the opposing quarterback has an over. Here are the four quarterbacks who didn’t have more than 21.5 completions against the Chiefs this year: Derek Carr, Willis, Bryce Perkins and a game against the Texans where Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel split duties.
- I understand Hurts runs a lot, but the Eagles have been very opponent-specific with their game plans. The Chiefs quietly allowed about 6.5 yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks this season, which is incredibly low.