The 2023 NFL free agency period has been underwhelming to this point. Outside of speculation around Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers, and a few standout additions, we haven’t seen a lot of deals that move the needle significantly. We’ll take a look at the major actors of the day who took the biggest losses — just as important as figuring out who won free agency.
Two teams make our list today, along with two positional groups. There haven’t been many “bad” deals, but there have been missed opportunities or signs of a bad process. Let’s dive into the Day 4 free agency losers.
Additionally, if you want to see how we felt about all of Wednesday’s moves, make sure to check out our Day 3 free agent losers.
NFL Free Agency Losers
Dalton Schultz and the Tight End Market
The tight end market has taken an absolute beating thus far, notching only two fairly notable deals. Despite two-plus receiving threats in Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki being available for any team to bolster their offense, there’s been little traction for either to find a new home. It doesn’t help either player can seemingly go back to their former teams.
The Cowboys don’t seem interested in bringing Schultz back, as NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported the team hasn’t even made him an offer. He’s drawn interest from his former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore who is now with the Chargers, but that’s been it.
MORE: NFL Free Agency Day 4’s Grades
Gesicki played on the franchise tag in 2022 but was an utter bust. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel took responsibility for Gesicki producing 362 yards on 32 receptions, saying, “I can do a better job of making him have opportunities.” Consider this to be an opportunity missed.
The two biggest tight end deals have gone to Hayden Hurst and Robert Tonyan. Hurst signed a three-year, $21.75 million pact with the Panthers. Tonyan only received one year to be the Bears’ second tight end behind Cole Kmet.
The Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts continued to show support to former second-round pick Parris Campbell despite a string of horribly unfortunate injuries limiting his availability for three years. General manager Chris Ballard said he “still believe[d] in” Campbell prior to his breakout 2022 season. But when push came to shove this free agency, Campbell joined the New York Giants on a one-year, $6.7 million deal.
The Colts also watched the Giants re-sign Darius Slayton. Allowing Campbell to leave after he produced 623 yards and three scores as a 25-year-old is one thing, but the Colts missed on a replacement. There are only so many speedy playmakers on the market, and Slayton was likely the most affordable quality receiver they could’ve added.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Old Habits
The Pittsburgh Steelers paid the price for their penchant for chasing certain names over guys who have played well recently. They released linebacker Myles Jack after another disappointing season from the veteran, saving $8 million in cap space. That’s a good decision, but their mindset that led to the failed project is already showing again.
Pittsburgh is reportedly interested in bringing back former edge rusher Bud Dupree if “he’s healthy,” according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. Like Jack, Dupree hasn’t been useful in years. His career effectively ended the moment he tore his ACL in his final season in Pittsburgh before the Titans foolishly signed him to a massive $82.5 million deal in 2021.
The Steelers have to stop chasing over-the-hill veterans and spending so much on the league’s highest-paid defense. They can’t shortcut their way to the playoffs without more impactful talent.
The Veteran Linebacker Market
Jack wasn’t the only loser from the linebacker pool on Thursday. Former Seahawks and Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner is still on the market and has seemingly drawn little interest after he pushed for his release from LA. Wagner isn’t bad at all, but he showed his age in coverage finally in 2022.
MORE: NFL Free Agency Day 4’s Winners
More linebackers have been stuck waiting for the phone to ring. Denzel Perryman, Zach Cunningham, Drue Tranquill, Devin Bush, and Anthony Walker are quality players who can start tomorrow for a number of teams. However, the position is seeing a bigger chasm between the great players and stopgaps.
They may be waiting quite some time longer as the 2023 NFL Draft rapidly approaches.