Day 3 of NFL free agency didn’t include many high-profile signings, but it did bring the news that Aaron Rodgers is committed to playing for the New York Jets in 2023. Rodgers’ appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” dominated Wednesday’s news cycle, but other teams made impactful moves, too.
Let’s run through the winners from Wednesday’s action and see who benefitted from Day 3 of the free agent period. We’re breaking down all of the NFL free agency news all offseason, so continue to check back daily for the latest rumors and transactions.
Additionally, if you want to see how we felt about all of Tuesday’s moves, make sure to check out our Day 2 free agent winners.
NFL Free Agency Winners
Aaron Rodgers Intends To Play for the Jets
The Jets already knew Rodgers was committed to continuing his career in New York, but the rest of the world found out on Wednesday. Rodgers said today that he was strongly leaning toward retirement before entering his February “darkness retreat” but later decided to keep playing.
The eventual Rodgers trade will mark one of the most significant transactions in Jets history and should make Gang Green an instant Super Bowl contender.
New York’s defense ranked fourth in scoring in 2022 and will retain most of its core pieces, while Rodgers will get to work with reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, his friend and Packers teammate Allen Lazard, and running back Breece Hall, among other intriguing offensive playmakers.
When will the trade be completed? That’s still up in the air, although Pro Football Network’s Trey Wingo reported that Rodgers is scheduled to travel to New York next week.
The Jets are the clear winners of Wednesday’s action, as it’s hard to top replacing Zach Wilson with a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Sure, New York might have lost a little bit of leverage now that Rodgers has made his intentions public, but the Packers are just as motivated to get a deal done and move forward with Jordan Love under center.
Commanders Shore Up QB Depth Chart by Adding Jacoby Brissett
The Commanders grabbed the best quarterback remaining on the market — non-Lamar Jackson division — by signing Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.
Brissett, 30, posted the best season of his career in 2022 while making 11 starts for the Browns. He finished third in completion percentage over expectation, eighth in QBR, and 10th in expected points added per dropback. He played much better than Deshaun Watson did with the same supporting cast.
Brissett won’t have that same kind of offensive support in Washington — the Browns’ offensive line is among the best in football, and there’s no Nick Chubb on the Commanders’ roster. But if he is forced to start, Brissett would benefit from Washington’s defense, which ranked ninth in DVOA last season, 14 spots ahead of Cleveland.
Landing with the Commanders is a win for Brissett, as Washington was one of the few teams left that 1) had an unsettled quarterback situation and 2) won’t have a top-five pick breathing down his neck.
But Brissett’s addition isn’t necessarily a loss for Sam Howell, Washington’s 2022 fifth-round pick whom head coach Ron Rivera said will head into training camp as the club’s top quarterback. Brissett will push Howell, but the second-year QB will have a better chance of winning a starting job against Brissett than he would have against a veteran trade acquisition or a first-round rookie.
Raiders’ Jakobi Meyers Deal Looks Even Better in Hindsight
The Raiders rearranged their offensive skill-position players on Tuesday, signing free agent wide receiver Jakobi Meyers while trading tight end Darren Waller to the Giants for a late third-round pick.
I thought Las Vegas might have sold low on Waller, who has battled injuries in recent seasons but offers tantalizing upside. However, the Meyers signing made all the sense in the world, especially since it reunited the 26-year-old with fellow former Patriots Josh McDaniels and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Meyers’ three-year, $33 million contract looks even better now. Since that deal was agreed to, the Patriots replaced Meyers by signing JuJu Smith-Schuster to a three-year, $25.5 million pact that contains more guaranteed money than Meyers’ accord ($16 million vs. $10.5 million). Meanwhile, the Jets signed Lazard to a four-year pact with the same average value as Meyers.
Meyers has posted better yards per route run numbers than Smith-Schuster and Lazard in each of the last three years. And while Smith-Schuster and Lazard benefitted from catching passes from Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers, Meyers managed better production while working with Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, and late-career Cam Newton.
As Meyers tweeted in reaction to New England signing Smith-Schuster: “Cold world lol.”
Tony Pollard Is the Cowboys’ 1A Running Back
The Cowboys officially moved on from stalwart running back Ezekiel Elliott on Wednesday, designating the veteran as a post-June 1 release.
And just like that, Tony Pollard became Dallas’ primary running back.
Pollard, whom the Cowboys franchise-tagged last week, is more than capable of serving as an every-down back. When Zeke was injured in Weeks 8 and 9 last season, Pollard started, posted 100+ rushing yards in each game, and scored four total touchdowns.
Explosive as a rusher and a receiver, Pollard finished 12th among running backs in scrimmage yards despite ranking just 21st in touches. And while he got to play behind an excellent Cowboys offensive line, he also created his own yardage by ranking first in yards after contact per rush attempt.
Dallas will likely add another runner to the mix and could even consider using a first-round pick on an RB. Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said earlier this month that it “depends on what part first round,” suggesting that Dallas’ pick at No. 26 could be a suitable place to find an RB. Still, this is Pollard’s show now.
Darius Slay Now Available for Cornerback-Needy Teams
The top of the cornerback market has surpassed $20 million annually, but the price tag to acquire or sign free agent CBs has been depressed this offseason.
The Dolphins were able to land Jalen Ramsey from the Rams for a third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. On Tuesday, the Cowboys picked up Stephon Gilmore from the Colts in exchange for just a fifth-rounder.
Sure, money factored into those trade costs, and Gilmore is 33 years old. But even unrestricted free agent corners — with no draft pick price attached — didn’t receive as much as many had projected.
Jamel Dean garnered just $13 million annually on a new deal with the Buccaneers, while James Bradberry — a second-team All-Pro in 2022 — received only $38 million over three years to re-sign with the Eagles.
Darius Slay, whom the Eagles released on Wednesday, is now far and away the best available corner on the free agent market, but it remains to be seen how much he can earn at 32 years old. If the market conditions continue as they are, teams in need of secondary help could land a top-tier cover corner at a fraction of the price.