Aaron Rodgers is taking his sweet time making a decision on his future, and he's effectively holding the Jets and Packers hostage while they wait for his decision. He even reportedly submitted a list of his favorite former Packers teammates – and, apparently, Odell Beckhem – for the Jets to acquire.
Reports indicate Rodgers is likely to go to the Jets, but until they hear that from him directly, both sides are in a holding pattern. And, in many ways, so is the rest of the NFL.
But not the Raiders. They added Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers to their offense in the first two days of free agency, a sign they don't plan on taking a step back in the aftermath of the release of Derek Carr, although they will be doing so without Darren Waller.
That's the big headline from the first 24-plus hours of the free agency legal tampering period, and while the Rodgers situation is probably holding up some other deals, it's certainly not the only news we've gotten. In today's newsletter, we'll break down everything you need to know from the first day of free agency, starting with expectations for the new-look Raiders:
Raiders add Jimmy Garoppolo, Jakobi Meyers
So far it feels like the Raiders have made a bunch of high-profile lateral moves so far. Derek Carr is a limited passer, and so is Garoppolo. Meyers is a solid wide receiver with a knack for getting open, but he isn't the matchup nightmare Waller can be for opposing defenses. You add it all up, and this feels like more or less the same offense it was a year ago, which is fine for Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs; Adams finished as the No. 3 WR last season while Jacobs was RB3.
Jacobs' value holds steady with this move, and I expect him to be used more or less the same way he was last season. He dominated RB snaps and touches for the Raiders like few backs, and as long as he can hold up to that kind of usage, he's going to remain a high-end Fantasy option, and I would imagine pretty much everyone agrees.
I think there will probably be more questions about Adams, but I don't think there should be. He's the most proven target earner in the NFL, and his value held more or less steady despite going from Aaron Rodgers to, eventually, Jarrett Stidham. He'll likely see fewer deep targets from Garoppolo than he did from Carr -- Carr ranked fourth in the NFL in average intended air yards last season at 9.1, while Garoppolo was 25th at 6.9 -- but he should also improve on his 55.6% catch rate from last season, too.
Adams will be 31 by the end of the season, but he's shown basically no signs of decline so far, and I'm not really projecting any. He steps on the field and earns a 30% target share every time out, and I don't think swapping Carr for Garoppolo and Waller for Meyers is going to change that. Adams is a top-five WR for 2023, while Meyers is in the WR3 discussion for PPR leagues; Hunter Renfrow is a PPR flex at best, but he'll have periods when he's useful in this offense.
For more on the Garoppolo signing and the fallout from that, Heath Cummings has you covered here.
Giants add TE Darren Waller
The Giants needed to add some pass-catching talent after re-signing Daniel Jones, and Waller is a very talented pass catcher. The question is whether he's still a difference maker heading into his age-31 season, coming off two injury-plagued campaigns, though for the price of a third-round pick, it's hard to complain either way.
At his best, there weren't many tight ends who presented a bigger challenge to defenses than Waller, who put up consecutive 1,100-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020. He wasn't quite George Kittle or Travis Kelce with the ball in his hands, but Waller had the skill set to make plays down the field and after the catch, and if he can get back to that level, he'll be a boon for this offense.
The nice thing is we can be pretty confident he's going to get the opportunity. The Giants likely aren't done making additions to their receiving corps, but right now, he's by far the best pass catcher on this offense. Waller might just open the season as Jones' No. 1 option, and that's a very good place for any tight end to be, even if you aren't a believer in Jones – and I'm not.
Prior to this trade, I had Waller as my No. 9 tight end for 2023, but I think this realistically pushes him back into the top-five discussion. We'll see who else the Giants add, but right now, I'm thinking Waller slots in between T.J. Hockenson and Dallas Goedert as my TE5. For more thoughts, check out Dan Schneier's writeup on the Waller trade. And you can listen to the FFT team's thoughts on the trade here.
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Michael Thomas re-signs with Saints
This one comes as a legitimate surprise, as it seemed like Thomas was on his way out in New Orleans after restructuring his contract back in January. However, he's returning to New Orleans on a one-year, $10 million deal with incentives that could push it as high as $15 million. Derek Carr isn't a superstar, but he's probably the best quarterback the Saints have had since Drew Brees.
However, Thomas isn't returning to the same team where he once led the league in receptions. He'll be competing for targets with second-year receiver Chris Olave, who looked like a potential superstar while Thomas was once again sidelined for nearly all of the 2022 season. Thomas did have three touchdowns and 171 yards in three games last season, and could still be a useful Fantasy option, though almost certainly not the No. 1 guy he was. He might complement Olave very well, and the fit with Carr could be pretty good, so he's back on Fantasy radars as a sleeper for 2023. I won't pay much for him after he's played just 10 games over the past three seasons, but I can't say I won't draft him this offseason.
Eagles add RB Rashaad Penny
Across five seasons, Penny has played just 42 of 82 possible games, so he was almost certainly always going to end up in a committee of some sort. As committees go, of course, this isn't a bad one. He missed most of the 2022 season after fracturing his tibia, but he was once again playing very well to open the season for the Seahawks, rushing for 346 yards and two touchdowns on 57 carries in four and a half games. He'll have a chance to fill the Miles Sanders role, and Sanders had 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rusher last season. Penny has a lot of injury risk, but he's going to come cheap enough to make it worth the gamble, in my view. I would probably be willing to draft him as an RB3, especially if we get reports indicating he's going to get a chance to be the lead back.
Dolphins re-sign RBs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson
There have been rumors linking the Dolphins to Dalvin Cook, though making that work under the cap was always going to be a challenge. I would imagine re-signing their top two running backs from last season likely forecloses the possibility that they'll take a big swing at the position, and I would say there probably isn't much to get excited about here. As The Athletic's Jake Ciely pointed out, Mostert and Wilson both played eight of the team's final nine games, splitting snaps 47.4% (Wilson) to 43.4% (Mostert). They put up very similar numbers on very similar usage, and I'd guess we'll see a similar split next season. Both will just be bench depth options with occasional upside on a weekly basis if one or the other is dealing with an injury or emerges as the clear lead option.
Falcons add QB Taylor Heinicke, TE Jonnu Smith
In all likelihood, neither of these deals is likely to matter much. Heinicke gives the Falcons a competent backup behind Desmond Ridder, but you have to imagine they're going to give Ridder the first crack to win the job. And, while Smith would, at first glance, represent some complications for Kyle Pitts, I'm not sure that's actually the case. Smith played 72% of his snaps in 2020 lined up as a true tight end in Arthur Smith's offense, while Pitts was at just 38% last season. The Falcons are going to play with plenty of two-TE sets, and I have to imagine Pitts will be the priority on passing situations anyway. I don't think this impacts him much – the Falcons need to throw more for him to live up to his potential, and not much else matters.