2023 NFL offseason: 32 players who need a fresh start on a new team

ByNFL Nation reporters ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 1, 2023

We're quickly approaching the NFL's version of Silly Season, as the free agency negotiating period will start March 13 in the lead-up to the start of the league year on March 15.

Many players will be getting paid by their current teams, while others will be on the move. Our goal here was to pick one player on each team who might be eager to move on to a new situation. Whether they are young guys looking for increased playing time, players who would benefit from a new scheme or veterans who might not want to be part of a rebuild, we had our NFL Nation writers pick one person from the team they cover who should be happy with a new home for the 2023 season.

Jump to:




NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF



Buffalo Bills

Devin Singletary, RB

There's not an obvious player on the Bills who needs a change. But Singletary, who led the team in rushing yards (819), is set to be a free agent and changing teams could be best for both sides. As rookie James Cook's snaps and production rose toward the end of 2022, Singletary's decreased, so Cook should have a larger role in 2023. The Bills also traded for Nyheim Hines during the season, looking for a player who could handle returns and be a receiving back. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Miami Dolphins

Mike Gesicki, TE

Last season represented a sharp decline for Gesicki, who played under the franchise tag. Durham Smythe effectively replaced him as the Dolphins' starting tight end toward the end of training camp, and Gesicki recorded his lowest catch and receiving yards totals since his rookie season. He is still a threat as a receiver but is not likely to have a major role in Mike McDaniel's offense -- especially considering Gesicki is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

New England Patriots

Isaiah Wynn, OT

The 2018 first-round pick from Georgia fizzled out after being gifted a $10.4 million salary in 2022 as a result of the team picking up his fifth-year option. He played in nine games (seven starts), which reflected how four of his five seasons with the club were cut short by injuries, as he played in 43 of a possible 82 regular-season games. Wynn is an unrestricted free agent, and there's no questioning his talent. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him stay on the field longer and become a more reliable option. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets

James Robinson, RB

Robinson was hailed as the ideal midseason fix when he was acquired from the Jaguars in a trade -- one day after the Jets lost rookie RB Breece Hall to a season-ending knee injury -- but Robinson fell short of expectations and became disgruntled. He lacked burst and wasn't a fit in the outside-zone running scheme. He was surpassed by rookie Zonovan Knight and complained to ESPN in late November, saying it "pisses me off" not to play. He was inactive in six of his 10 games with the Jets. Robinson will be a restricted free agent. The Jets have a new offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, but his scheme isn't that different from the previous one. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens

Chuck Clark, S

Clark has been a dependable player and admirable leader, starting Baltimore's past 60 games. But the Ravens need to find out what Kyle Hamilton, the No. 14 overall pick in 2022, can do at safety after spending his rookie season as a nickelback. Plus, Baltimore can create $3.5 million in much-needed salary cap space by releasing Clark. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Eli Apple, CB

Apple is coming off his second consecutive one-year contract with the Bengals. With rookie Cam Taylor-Britt waiting in the wings, it makes sense for Apple to test the market, even if it's for another one-year deal, but this time at a place where the path to being a starter is much clearer. That could also be Apple's best chance at securing a potential multiyear deal. -- Ben Baby

Cleveland Browns

Jadeveon Clowney, DE

The 2014 No. 1 overall pick was disgruntled in his second season in Cleveland and had only two sacks in 12 games. As his 2021, nine-sack season showed, Clowney can still perform at a high level when healthy. But after he called out the organization late in the year, Clowney, a free agent, and the Browns seem headed for a split this offseason. -- Jake Trotter

Pittsburgh Steelers

Devin Bush, ILB

The Steelers declined Bush's fifth-year option a year ago, and while he showed improvement in 2022, it's clear that the former top-10 pick isn't a fit in Pittsburgh and will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year opens. In a rare draft-day move, the Steelers traded up 10 spots in 2019 to snag Bush, and he had an encouraging rookie season. But Bush never reached his potential after tearing his left ACL in 2020. He plateaued -- and even somewhat regressed -- physically and mentally in the seasons that followed. Bush played only 10 defensive snaps in the last two games. -- Brooke Pryor


Houston Texans

Brandin Cooks, WR

Regardless of hiring new coach DeMeco Ryans, Cooks needs a new home after posting the third-lowest single-season receiving yards of his career (699) in 2022 after having back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Cooks wanted to be traded at the trade deadline and missed a game after that didn't happen. He has since stated he doesn't want to be part of a rebuild. Cooks can still play at an impactful level, as he showed in the season finale against the Colts when he caught five passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. -- DJ Bien-Aime

Indianapolis Colts

Kenny Moore II, CB

Moore was a centerpiece of the Colts defense in former coordinator Matt Eberflus' scheme. But since Eberflus' departure, Moore has been through a contract dispute and has had difficulty adapting to Gus Bradley's system. Moore's slot corner role is deemphasized in the current scheme, reducing his once-significant impact and making him less valuable to the Colts. -- Stephen Holder

Jacksonville Jaguars

Shaquill Griffin, CB

Griffin missed 12 games in 2022 because of a back injury but wasn't playing well before the injury. The Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $50 million contract with $29 million guaranteed in 2021, but Griffin had no interceptions, opposing QBs completed 67% of their passes and he allowed six touchdowns when he was the nearest defender in 19 games with the Jaguars. With Jacksonville $31 million over the salary cap, he's likely to be released in a move that will save the team $13.15 million. -- Michael DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Caleb Farley, CB

Farley's rookie season was cut short because of a torn left ACL. Then a herniated disc in his back kept him out for the final two months of last season. Farley was supplanted as a starter by rookie cornerbackRoger McCrearyduring training camp last season. McCreary will likely remain the starter, once again relegating Farley to a reserve role. Farley would benefit from a fresh start with a team that allows him to play man coverage. -- Turron Davenport


Denver Broncos

Dalton Risner, G

Risner is poised to be an unrestricted free agent after having started 62 games over the past four seasons. Until he went to injured reserve for the final two games of the 2022 season, he was one of the few examples of continuity on an injury-riddled offensive line. But the team never really made a significant move to discuss a contract extension, and his 2022 season was a model of frustration with some on-field flare-ups and a sideline confrontation with backup quarterback Brett Rypien during a blowout loss to the Rams. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

The Chiefs might keep him around for the final season of the contract he signed as a first-round draft pick in 2020, but Edwards-Helaire seemingly has no significant role after the emergence of Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco, a seventh-round pick last year, was everything the Chiefs hoped Edwards-Helaire would be, and Edwards-Helaire was a healthy scratch for Super Bowl LVII. Edwards-Helaire's long-term future with the Chiefs looks bleak at best. -- Adam Teicher

Las Vegas Raiders

Clelin Ferrell, DE

It's not Ferrell's fault the Raiders used the No. 4 overall draft pick on him in 2019; edge rusher was their primary need that year and Ferrell was their second-ranked player at that position behind Nick Bosa, who went second in that draft. Ferrell's production has dipped since he started 15 games as a rookie and had 4.5 sacks. In 15 combined games since, he has 5.5 sacks, with the Raiders bringing in Yannick Ngakoue and Chandler Jones the past two years to replace him. Ferrell has been a solid special teams player, but if he wants a fresh start, it would seemingly have to be somewhere else. -- Paul Gutierrez

Los Angeles Chargers

Nasir Adderley, S

A second-round pick in 2019, Adderley has yet to develop into a consistent playmaker. Now that he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, it would be best for the Bolts and Adderley to part ways. Last season, Alohi Gilman, a 2020 sixth-round pick, started in place of Adderley in Week 6 and again in the most important game of the season -- a wild-card playoff against the Jaguars. In four seasons, which included spending most of his rookie year on injured reserve, Adderley has 227 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defended. -- Lindsey Thiry


Dallas Cowboys

Kelvin Joseph, CB

Joseph has been one of the Cowboys' best special-teamers. That's not good enough for a 2021 second-round pick. When the Cowboys lost Anthony Brown to a left Achilles tear last season, Joseph could not hold on to the starting spot. There is no more guaranteed money in his contract. It's probably best for both sides that they move on. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants

Kenny Golladay, WR

It just didn't work with the Giants. The final tally will be that Golladay collected $40.5 million for 43 catches, 602 yards and one touchdown in two seasons since signing with the team. The likelihood is Golladay is shot, sapped of his explosiveness by a string of injuries, but a new environment certainly can't hurt and will be a last gasp at resuscitating his career. Update: Golladay was cut on Tuesday.-- Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles

Andre Dillard, OL

Dillard is an unrestricted free agent and likely to land elsewhere. The 2019 first-round pick dealt with his share of injuries in Philadelphia and lost out on the starting left tackle job to Jordan Mailata. But he has plenty of ability, has shown position versatility -- he played some guard this past season -- and has the potential to be a quality starter in this league. -- Tim McManus

Washington Commanders

Taylor Heinicke, QB

This comes with a caveat. Washington still has interest in re-signing him and Heinicke is open to staying. There's part of him that could probably use a break after he was benched late in the season. And he would need a fresh start if the Commanders also want him to compete with another veteran or rookie to be the primary backup. If he's a clear No. 2 behind second-year man Sam Howell-- Carson Wentz was released on Monday -- Heinicke would be OK. If not, he could use a fresh start. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears

Cody Whitehair, G

Whitehair is the longest-tenured holdover from the Ryan Pace era (drafted in 2016) and has the second-highest cap hit ($14.1 million) on the Bears' roster. After maintaining a near-perfect bill of health his first six seasons, a knee injury sidelined the left guard for four games in 2022, when he allowed four sacks and 14 total pressures. With how pleased the Bears were withTeven Jenkins' move from tackle to right guard, it's possible Chicago looks to upgrade the interior of the offensive line at center and left guard. -- Courtney Cronin

Detroit Lions

Amani Oruwariye, CB

After experiencing a career-best season in 2021 in which he logged six interceptions -- third most in the NFL -- things didn't exactly take off the way the Lions hoped for Oruwariye in 2022. He started five of 14 games and grew frustrated after he was benched at New England in Week 5 as a healthy scratch. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could certainly benefit from a change in setting. -- Eric Woodyard

Green Bay Packers

Darnell Savage, S

The 2019 first-round pick is better suited to play in the slot or near the line of scrimmage as a strong safety. Instead, the Packers often used him as the deep safety, where he seemed less comfortable and was plagued by missed tackles and coverages. If that's where the Packers have him pegged again, then perhaps it would be better for both sides to move on. The challenge is that his $7.9 million salary is guaranteed because it's the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

Irv Smith Jr., TE

The Vikings had high hopes for Smith last season even after he missed all of 2021 because of a left knee injury. But he couldn't stay healthy, missing most of training camp after having thumb surgery and then nine regular-season games because of a high ankle sprain. Those injuries were a big part of why the Vikings acquired tight end T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline, and while Smith returned to the field as a backup in time for the playoffs, the position is clearly in Hockenson's hands. -- Kevin Seifert


Atlanta Falcons

Marcus Mariota, QB

Of anyone on this list, this might be the most obvious. Mariota was the Falcons starting quarterback last season for 13 games before being benched for rookie Desmond Ridder. He did not reclaim his starting job and left the team to take care of a lingering knee issue. If Mariota wants a future in the NFL, it shouldn't be in Atlanta. Don't be surprised if he's released at some point before the fifth day of the new league year, when a $3 million roster bonus would kick in. Update: Mariota was cut on Tuesday.-- Michael Rothstein

Carolina Panthers

Shaq Thompson, LB

He's coming off a career-high 135 tackles, but with a $24.46 million salary cap hit, a switch to a base 3-4 scheme and his loyalty to 2022 interim coach Steve Wilks, moving on from the 25th pick of the 2015 draft might make the most sense. That it would save the team $13.16 million in cap space. The Panthers likely could save the same with a restructure if Thompson is agreeable, but he'll be 29 in April, and the long-term extension it would take to keep him would be risky for a team building around young players. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Michael Thomas, WR

The Saints and Thomas worked to restructure his contract to give both sides flexibility this offseason, and that could certainly signal a parting of ways. If Thomas does leave New Orleans, it would be a fresh start after three frustrating seasons of injuries dating to the 2020 season opener. Thomas will be 30 in March and has time to prove he can get back to his 2019 form when he broke records and was named the Offensive Player of the Year. -- Katherine Terrell

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB

The Bucs have every reason to want to keep Murphy-Bunting. He's one of their most versatile cornerbacks, playing both outside and inside. But he was narrowly beaten out for the starting job last year by Jamel Dean, who is also set to become an unrestricted free agent, and the Bucs are $55 million over the salary cap. So if they have to choose one, it's natural to think they'd go with Dean. This is one of those moves you really hate to make, and their room would certainly take a hit, but Murphy-Bunting could flourish as a starter elsewhere. -- Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

Greg Dortch, WR

There aren't many options under contract on the Cardinals' roster because more than 30 of last year's players are scheduled to be free agents. But Dortch might be the best choice because he could be squeezed out of playing time depending on how new offensive coordinator Drew Petzing designs his scheme. Dortch was valuable to the Cardinals last season, and there's no other reason a change of scenery would be beneficial. But if the restricted free agent is looking to build on his 2022 season (52 catches, 467 yards), it might not happen in Arizona. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams

Baker Mayfield, QB

It's not that coach Sean McVay and the Rams weren't huge fans of Mayfield's for the five weeks he spent in Los Angeles at the end of the 2022 season, but it doesn't make sense to pay him the salary he would likely require to remain in Los Angeles as a backup. The Rams are a projected $14 million over the salary cap, and although there's no doubt GM Les Snead and the front office will be creative to make the cap space needed, the Rams have other areas of need that are a higher priority than backup quarterback. -- Sarah Barshop

San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

This would have happened last year had Garoppolo not had right shoulder surgery, but there's no doubt it's finally time for the Niners and Garoppolo to go their separate ways. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, can't be tagged and will be one of the most accomplished quarterbacks on the market, which means his price will probably go beyond what the 49ers would want to pay even if they did want to keep him. Meanwhile, the Niners have seen too many promising seasons slip away because of quarterback injuries and can't hitch their wagon to someone who has struggled to stay on the field. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

L.J. Collier, DE

Collier hasn't panned out since the Seahawks drafted him No. 29 overall in 2019. He has three sacks in four seasons, struggled with injuries as a rookie in 2019 and again in 2022 and was a healthy scratch several times in 2021. Collier's shining moment in Seattle was a goal-line tackle to save a 2020 win over the Patriots, but he hasn't made nearly enough plays to justify a second contract with the Seahawks. -- Brady Henderson

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