The NFL Draft has come and gone and teams are now transitioning from the roster-building period of the offseason to the on-field preparations for the 2023 regular season. Of course, this latest game of offseason musical chairs has answered a fair amount of questions for each team, but there are still some things lingering as we put the draft in the rearview mirror.
Here, we're going to be diving into some of the major questions facing each team with free agency and the draft now in the books. These questions will range from hyper-specific roster decisions to more big-picture views of the team heading into 2023 and beyond. Even as we approach the dead period on the NFL calendar, you and I both know that the league never sleeps, so it's important to keep your head on a swivel and be on the lookout for teams giving us an answer to some of these questions between now and Week 1.
Will DeAndre Hopkins be traded?
Heading into the NFL Draft, Hopkins was looked at as one of the big names to monitor in a possible trade. A deal never materialized over the three days of the draft and now it stands to wonder if a trade will happen at all. The wideout recently saying "Who said I wanna go? Who said I wanna leave? I'm out here working." Have things smoothed over between the two sides and paved a way for Hopkins to continue his tenure in Arizona? His contract may force that issue with Hopkins having a $30.75 million salary cap hit for 2023.
Will Desmond Ridder be the QB Atlanta can build around?
It never came to pass, but it would have been fascinating to see what would've happened if C.J. Stroud or Anthony Richardson fell to the Falcons at No. 8 overall. Atlanta never really seemed to be in the quarterback market this draft cycle and with the team not addressing that position in a meaningful way at the draft, all eyes will be on Desmond Ridder, the club's third-round pick in 2022. He has plenty of weapons around him headlined by tight end Kyle Pitts, wideout Drake London and rookie running back Bijan Robinson. If he can grab ahold of this throughout 2023 he'll continue to fend off any talk of the Falcons drafting a new QB. If not, there will be plenty of Caleb Williams/Drake Maye talk.
Who will start opposite of Marlon Humphrey?
The biggest thing for Baltimore was that the team was able to patch things up with Lamar Jackson and ink him to a record-breaking contract. Not only that, they used their first-round pick on Boston College wideout Zay Flowers to continue bolstering the offense. So, let's now turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball, specifically the corner position. Marcus Peters is still on the free agent market and there's no clear answer as to who'll start opposite of Marlon Humphrey. After the Ravens didn't use a Day 1 or Day 2 pick on a corner, does that pave the way for Peters to return? Or does the team decide to bring in a different veteran corner?
How different will Buffalo's offense look?
I like what the Bills have done on offense this offseason. Damien Harris is a great addition to a backfield that already has Nyheim Hines and James Cook, and he should take the pressure off Josh Allen constantly utilizing his legs in the red zone. Allen himself noted this offseason that he play the physical style that folks have grown accustomed to and added that he's "always had the mindset of I've been a football player first and a quarterback second, and at some point that's going to have to switch." With Harris now in the fold, it'll be curious to see if that switch comes as early as this season and how much different this Bills offense will look with a more calculated Allen under center.
How quickly can Bryce Young get up to speed?
More than any other division in the NFL, the NFC South seems like it's truly up for grabs given the mediocrity of all four teams. And if Bryce Young can hit the ground running out of the gate during his rookie season, the Panthers have the talent and coaching ability to win it. Already, Carolina owns the second-best odds to win the division at +300 and is only looking up to the Saints. Young was billed as the most NFL-ready quarterback of this year's class and it seems like a lock that he'll be the team's starter come Week 1. If that holds true, the No. 1 overall pick could be playing in the playoffs in Year 1.
Will Justin Fields take a leap as a passer?
Justin Fields showed the Bears front office enough to trade away the No. 1 overall pick this year and kick the QB conversation down the road. How far down the road may be determined by Field's ability to develop as a passer. For his career, Fields has a completion percentage of just 59.7 and a passer rating of 79.7. Those marks need to see an uptick in 2023 and the Bears hope that with the pass-catching options they've brought aboard -- most notably D.J. Moore -- Fields could see a Jalen Hurts-like boost. The former first-round pick has already shown lethal rushing ability and if he complements that with even an average passing attack, the Bears will be set at QB for the foreseeable future.
What does the backfield look like in 2023?
We could easily point to the Bengals needing to figure out Joe Burrow's extension, but we'll dig a bit deeper and look at the backfield. Joe Mixon is coming off a so-so season in 2023 where he averaged just 3.9 yards per rush and will now account for $12.7 million against Cincinnati's salary cap. He's also dealing with an off-the-field issue where he has pled not guilty to a misdemeanor aggravated menacing charge. Maybe the Bengals rework his deal to make it more palatable or do they hit the self-destruct button, cut Mixon and pivot to another back on the market?
What will Deshaun Watson look like in 2023?
The major subject that everyone will be following as it relates to the Browns is Deshaun Watson entering Year 2 with the organization. After coming back from his suspension, the former Texans quarterback looked like a guy that had missed a considerable amount of football, completing just 58.2% of his passes. With the suspension behind him and now a full offseason to work with the Browns, it'll be fascinating to see if Watson can return to being arguably a top-five quarterback like he was during his early days with the Texans. If he continues to look like the player we saw last season, we could be looking at a historic disaster for the Browns.
Who is kicking for the Cowboys in 2023?
The Cowboys wanted to come out of the 2023 NFL Draft with a kicker but were unable to do so. So, it stands to wonder who'll be carrying those kicking duties this upcoming season. Does Dallas go back to Brett Maher or do they find another veteran kicker on the market and bring him aboard? Veteran Robbie Gould is available. As the Cowboys learned last postseason, this isn't a position that you want to be sweating about.
Will Denver trade one of its wide receivers?
Sean Payton and the Broncos have been adamant that neither Jerry Jeudy nor Courtland Sutton are on the trade block, despite plenty of rumors saying the contrary. On top of that, Denver's first pick in the NFL Draft -- -- was former Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims. Currently, the Broncos have 12 (!) wide receivers on their roster, including Jeudy, Sutton, Mims, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler. There has to be an odd man out right? Now that the draft is over, it'll be interesting to see if a team that struck out on getting a receiver decides to call up the Broncos to try to pry one of the pass catchers away.
Will Jahmyr Gibbs make an immediate impact?
One of the more surprising picks on Day 1 of the draft was the Lions taking Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 overall pick. While Gibbs is certainly talented, that seemed like a bit of reach taking a running back that high. Gibbs will be able to silence some of those doubters, however, if he can come out of the gate hot and prove to be a key piece in Detroit's backfield. The Lions were just outside the top 10 in most rushing attempts by a team in 2022 and with Jamaal Williams departing in free agency and D'Andre Swift since traded to Philadelphia, Gibbs will see plenty of work alongside David Montgomery.
Is Jordan Love the next 'guy' for Green Bay?
It's a new day in Green Bay. With the dust settling on the Aaron Rodgers trade to New York, the Packers can now turn their attention toward Jordan Love and get him ready for his first season as the full-time starter. The team did not pick up Love's fifth-year option and instead agreed to athat includes fewer guaranteed dollars than the fifth-year option. Contractually, Love now has two years to prove to the Packers that he can carry the torch from Rodgers and be their quarterback of the future. If it becomes apparent that he can't in Year 1, Green Bay could be entering an uncertain quarterback abyss that they haven't been through in decades.
Will Houston regret trading up to No. 3?
It seems silly to knock a team that came away with two of the top five players in the draft like the Texans did with C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson, but the cost to move up to No. 3 overall is a risky one. Houston shipped away a 2024 first-round pick (along with other assets) to get up to No. 3 and select Anderson. Initially, it was unclear whether or not the first-rounder that the Texans traded to Arizona was their own or the first-round pick Cleveland gave them as part of the Deshaun Watson deal. As the deal came into clearer view, it was revealed that the Texans gave up their own first-rounder, which is quite the roll of the dice. Houston appears to be in a multiyear rebuild, meaning that most don't expect them to be competitive in 2023, thus that first-rounder is expected to be high in the 2024 NFL Draft. So while making a move up to get Anderson is intoxicating at the moment, they could end up regretting it if they find out they gave away a top-five selection, in what is considered to be a higher-ceiling draft, to do so.
Will Anthony Richardson be Indy's Week 1 starter?
Richardson was the most tantalizing prospect in this class. At his ceiling, he could be one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL. However, most evaluators also gave the caveat that he ideally needs time to develop to get there. Will he be afforded that in Indy? Or will he be thrust into a starting role right out of the gate? The Colts do have Gardner Minshew on the roster along with Nick Foles so there are options -- albeit lower ceiling options -- to give Richardson time to get acclimated to the NFL. That said, the Colts' patience could be tested pretty early in the season.
Will Travon Walker take a leap in Year 2?
The Jaguars didn't do much to deepen their pass-rushing unit in the NFL Draft, which places a lot of hope in last year's No. 1 overall pick in Travon Walker and his ability to take a leap in Year 2. Walker had just 3.5 sacks last season and 21 total pressures. Given where he was selected, Walker will be asked to anchor Jacksonville's pass rush in a 2023 season where expectations are to make the postseason again.
What will Patrick Mahomes' reworked contract look like?
Quarterbacks have been getting paid this offseason and a couple more -- Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert -- are expected to cash in. Those teams will further reset the market, which will have the Chiefs needing to rework Patrick Mahomes' deal. As things stand currently, Mahomes is the seven-highest-paid quarterback from an average annual value standpoint. That is expected to fall even lower once Burrow and Herbert agree to their deals, so this will be something that Kansas City could look to address later this summer once the market gets in a clearer view.
Can Jimmy Garoppolo stay healthy?
This has been an annual question in San Francisco for years and now it pivots to Las Vegas. When healthy, Garoppolo has proven that he can lead his team to victory more often than not. However, injuries have routinely proven to be a speed bump for him and have the potential to completely derail the Raiders' 2023 season. On paper, they have a talented roster on both sides of the ball. Garoppolo has familiarity with Josh McDaniels' offense, so they should get better quarterback play than when they were trotting out Derek Carr. However, if Garoppolo can't stay on the field, Las Vegas' ceiling is greatly diminished.
When will Justin Herbert ink his extension?
The Chargers picked up Herbert's fifth-year option earlier this offseason, but that is a mere placeholder for what is expected to be another mega-quarterback extension. Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson agreed to extensions this offseason that pay them north of $50 million annually, so that could be the market that Herbert finds himself in when he finally puts pen to paper on a deal.
Can L.A. rebound after an abysmal 2022?
This is one of the bigger-picture questions as we take a look at each team, but it's a giant one. After the Rams were able to win Super Bowl LVI, it seemed like they were poised to go on a mini run to possibly repeat, especially given their top-tier talent in Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. However, the 2022 season was a nightmare filled with injuries and a 5-12 record. It even led to the possibility of Sean McVay mulling the idea of stepping away from coaching. However, he has since returned as have Donald, Stafford, and Kupp, so the pillars of that championship team are intact. That said, they are returning to a very young roster. The NFC is not nearly as competitive as the AFC these days, but the Rams do find themselves in a division where both the Seahawks and 49ers will give them fits.
Can Miami crash the party in the AFC East?
The AFC East is as loaded as it's been in quite some time. Now, not only do the Dolphins have to deal with the Buffalo Bills, but Aaron Rodgers is leading the New York Jets. So long as Tua Tagovailoa can remain healthy, however, Miami does have the pieces to crash the party in this division. The Dolphins have tremendous speed on offense and made the savvy trade to acquire star cornerback Jalen Ramsey this offseason, which should be looked at as a solid counter to the Rodgers trade. If things fall in their favor, they could rival both New York and Buffalo for the division crown despite getting the third-most fanfare.
Is Dalvin Cook going to be traded?
Similar to DeAndre Hopkins, Dalvin Cook was a name that folks were monitoring to possibly be on the move at some point during the NFL Draft. However, that never materialized, so it'll be interesting to see how this shakes out and whether or not he's moved before training camp. Cook has a base salary of $10 million in 2023 with a salary cap hit of $14.1 million. If teams missed out on a running back in the draft, it may be wise to call up Minnesota to see what it'd take to acquire Cook.
Is Mac Jones in a position to succeed?
Bill Belichick hung his quarterback out to dry last season when he decided to place Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in charge of the offense. He has since corrected that mistake by bringing aboard Bill O'Brien as the team's new offensive coordinator. The Patriots also swapped JuJu Smith-Schuster in for Jakobi Meyers and Mike Gesicki in for Jonnu Smith, giving themselves a couple of higher-ceiling players. That said, the offensive line is still a major question in front of Jones, who did not play well when pressured last season. The unit also still lacks a true game-breaking skill position player like other teams have given their young quarterback (Eagles with A.J. Brown or Bills with Stefon Diggs). Will those somewhat minor alterations be enough to get Jones back on track?
Will Alvin Kamara be suspended by the NFL?
The Saints running back Kendre Miller in the third round of last week's draft.earlier this year, including battery resulting in substantial bodily harm, stemming from an incident in February 2022. While Kamara, who pleaded not guilty, still needs to see his case played out, this situation does open the back up to possible suspension by the NFL. New Orleans did draft TCU running back
What is Saquon Barkley's future with the Giants?
After agreeing to a long-term extension with quarterback Daniel Jones, the Giants placed the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley. With the draft now in the rearview mirror, Barkley's future with the team beyond 2023 becomes more of a priority. The two sides have as Barkley has yet to sign his franchise tag and is not expected to take part in any of the team's voluntary offseason workouts.
How will New York protect Aaron Rodgers?
Heading into the NFL Draft, one of the big priorities for the Jets was to solidify their offensive line for their new quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. For a minute, it seems like Georgia tackle Broderick Jones was going to be available to them at No. 15 overall, but the Patriots traded out of No. 14 to allow Pittsburgh to move up and take him. That left the Jets with no suitable tackle options at that spot, so they pivoted to the defensive side of the ball in Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV. New York was able to select center Joe Tippmann in the second round and Carter Warren in the fourth, but it's a bit unclear how this O-line will shake out.
Will there be a Super Bowl hangover?
If there was ever a team to not be impacted by a Super Bowl loss, it may be the Philadelphia Eagles. Historically, the Super Bowl loser has struggled to find its footing the following season, but the Eagles are coming off a free agency period and NFL Draft where they've completely retooled their roster into another juggernaut. They had two first-round steals in Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith and were able to swing a trade for D'Andre Swift to help replace Miles Sanders. On paper, this doesn't look like a team that will be dealing with any Super Bowl hangover.
How will the secondary shake out?
Pittsburgh has invested heavily in its secondary this offseason and was headlined by an NFL Draft where it came away with Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice, who were two of the tallest corners in this class. With Patrick Peterson in the fold and Chandon Sullivan also coming aboard from Minnesota, the Steelers are looking at an extremely crowded cornerback room. That's not a bad problem to have whatsoever, but it'll be fascinating to see how a guy like Porter Jr. meshes into a secondary that has Peterson and Levi Wallace on the outside and safeties like Keanu Neal and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Who is San Francisco's quarterback?
I'm sure 49ers fans are absolutely sick of dealing with uncertainty at the quarterback position, but here they are again. Brock Purdy, the presumptive starter, is recovering from offseason surgery to repair his UCL, so it's unclear if he'll be ready to roll at the start of the 2023 season. Meanwhile, that the Niners could be entertaining trade offers for former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. If Purdy was healthy, a Lance trade may be more palatable, but there is a world where the club moves off from Lance and is forced to start veteran Sam Darnold while Purdy recovers. Or Lance could come in and live up to that first-round billing, which would throw things further into chaos. It seems like we're still at least a few months away from having firm clarity on this quarterback situation in the Bay Area.
What can Geno Smith do for an encore?
Geno Smith surprised most of the NFL by not only keeping the Seahawks' ship afloat in 2022 post-Russell Wilson but leading them to a playoff berth. The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year was sensational wire to wire, leading the league in completion percentage while throwing a career-high 30 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. All that earned him a contract extension and the Seahawks ultimately decided to pass on taking a quarterback in the first round, further emboldening Smith as the starter going forward. So, what will his encore performance look like? Will he continue the level of play we saw in 2022 after Seattle gave him another pass-catching weapon in Jaxon Smith-Njigba along with running back Zach Charbonnet or does he take a step back?
Who will start at right tackle?
One of the Buccaneers' biggest needs entering the NFL Draft was to come away with a starting right tackle, which they were unable to do. They drafted North Dakota State lineman Cody Mauch who did play tackle at the collegiate level but projects more as an interior lineman in the NFL. That begs the question as to who will be starting the right side opposite of Tristan Wirfs, who is transitioning to left tackle. Luke Goedeke, Tampa's 2022 second-round pick, may move to right tackle after playing left guard last year, but this doesn't seem like the Bucs are operating under Plan A.
Is there enough at wide receiver?
Tennessee landed two big-time prospects atop its draft board by adding Peter Skoronski in the first and Will Levis in the second. While those two do fill positions of need, the Titans are still extremely thin at wide receiver and took a late-round flier on UT-Martin pass catcher Colton Dowell in the seventh. Atop the depth chart are Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips, which doesn't exactly strike fear in an opposing secondary.
Is Sam Howell legit?
Washington is another team that stuck to its guns and stayed out of the QB market in the NFL Draft. That leads to 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell owning the inside track to be their starting quarterback heading into 2022. Howell started just one game for the Commanders last season, leading the club to a Week 17 win over the Cowboys, so we've only seen a small sample size at the pro level.