2023 NFL free agency Day 3 winners, losers: Jets get new QB in Aaron Rodgers, Bengals steal LT from rival

Happy new year to everyone. All of the violations we saw this week had a chance to become official on Wednesday as the new NFL season began. Wednesday was a very dramatic day in general. Baker Mayfield found his new NFL home with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Dallas Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott, Darius Slay was reportedly released but actually wasn’t released by the Philadelphia Eagles, and of course Aaron Rodgers revealed his intentions for the 2023 season.

That’s right, the Green Bay Packers legend announced The Pat McAfee Show that he plans to be traded to the New York Jets. Now, the two teams just have to find compensation. While it’s not “official” yet, the Jets were clearly victorious. Who else won and lost on Wednesday? Let’s take a look.

From Monday: Day 1 winners and losers

From Tuesday: Day 2 winners and losers

Winner: Jets

For the first time in a long time, the Jets seem to have some consistency at the quarterback position. Rodgers, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, is leaving the Packers to play for the Jets in his 19th NFL season. Rodgers went 8-9 last year, but heading into the 2022 campaign, he won 13 games in three straight seasons and won NFL MVP in both 2020 and 2021. Remember when people slammed the Jets for hiring Nathaniel Hackett earlier this year season? Well, this was clearly a calculated game.

“There’s a lot of reasons why the Jets are attractive, but there’s one coach that means as much to me as any coach I’ve ever had, and he happens to be the coordinator there,” Rodgers said Wednesday.

The Jets have always been an interesting landing spot. New York has two talented running backs, a solid receiving corps led by Garrett Wilson, and then an elite defense led by Sauce Gardner. If the Jets had a solid quarterback, they would have made the playoffs last year. Now, we have to ask ourselves if New York is the best team in the AFC East.

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The Ravens of course placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson last week, but I’d say this Wednesday was even stranger. For one, the Ravens tendered a low RFA to Tyler Huntley, per The Athletic. That offer means any team can sign Huntley to an offer sheet, but Baltimore has a chance to match. If he signs with another team, the Ravens get nothing in return. Why wouldn’t you bid the Pro Bowler higher? Isn’t Hadley a quarterback other teams should be interested in? We are about to find out his market this offseason.

Well, that was an interesting decision coming from the Ravens, but it paled in comparison to what ESPN reported on Wednesday afternoon. According to Jeremy Fowler, Baltimore was looking inside Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett, formerly both signal callers, were picked up in free agency. Why is Baltimore looking for borderline starting quarterbacks? That doesn’t look like due diligence. Are they getting ready to not match a potential Jackson offer sheet? Additionally, Wednesday made it official for Jackson to talk to other teams. Let’s see what happens.

Winner: Packers

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How could the Packers be victorious over losing a franchise legend? Well, it’s because that’s what they wanted to happen. We’ve seen reports over the past few weeks indicating this, but Rodgers said it out loud on Wednesday.

“The Packers would like to move on,” Rodgers said. “They told me that in so many words. They were saying the right thing publicly, they were going to move on. … I still have that fire and I want to play.”

Still, the Packers are winners. Green Bay stands to save money with this move. (For a detailed analysis of this, see Joel Corry’s piece). In addition to saving money, the Packers will receive compensation for moving Rodgers. Now that this whole story is out there, I’d be a little more stingy with the negotiations. The Jets can’t let this slip now. Give me that extra option.

Plus, this is the official start of the Jordan Love era, and that’s exciting.

Loser: Zeke

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It’s the end of an era. Ezekiel Elliott was released after signing a six-year, $90 million extension in 2019. According to multiple reports, the move will be considered a cut after June 1st. The Cowboys will see $10.9 million in cap relief and be left with $5.82 million in dead money on this year’s cap. Elliott was owed $64.76 million for the remainder of his contract, but there was no guaranteed salary in his deal.

This was actually a bit of a surprising move. I know it sounds crazy, but Elliott was reportedly open to taking a pay cut and Jerry Jones said less than TWO WEEKS ago that he wanted Zack on the roster and believed the team could find a way financially to keep Elliott and Tony Pollard. 2023. That didn’t happen. Zeke must have been open to a breakup because Jones’ statement says it was a mutual decision.

Elliott is sure to have suitors, but who will feed him the ball like the Cowboys did? Last year he ranked 10th in rushing despite missing two games!

Among the 22 NFL players to record 200 rushes, Elliott ranked last or tied for last in yards per rush (3.8), 10-yard rush percentage (7.4%) and tackles avoided (32). Pollard on the other hand ranked first in the NFL in yards per touch (5.9). It will be strange to see Elliott in a different outfit. While this was the right decision for the Cowboys, it’s a sad day for their fans — and a sad day for Zeke, too.

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Not only did the Kansas City Chiefs not want to pay their perennial Pro Bowl left tackle, they insulted him by paying a RIGHT tackle to take his place. This clearly upset Brown, who agreed to a four-year, $64.09 million deal with the Chiefs’ biggest postseason rival in the Bengals. The deal reportedly includes over $31 million in signing bonuses, the largest ever given to an offensive player. NFL Media also reports 67.87% of the $64.09 million is fully guaranteed.

Didn’t Kansas City know how important playing left tackle was to Brown? His father literally taught him as a child that the right tackle was the underclassman. Well, now he’s going to block the Chiefs for Joe Barrow.

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When the Washington Governors were interviewing candidates for the open offensive coordinator position earlier this season, they said Sam Howell was QB1, according to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports NFL Insider. When head coach Ron Rivera was asked about it at the NFL Combine, Rivera dismissed it saying the second-year signal caller enters the offseason as the QB1 and should earn the job. Wednesday the Governors brought to his competition: Jacoby Brissett.

The former Brown was a solid starter for the suspended Deshaun Watson last season. He posted a career-high 88.9 passer rating while also completing 64 percent of his throws for 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Brissett is 18-30 in his career as a starter, but is considered one of the best backups in the league. It is very good competition for young Howell.

If you want my opinion, I think Howell ultimately wins the job, and I think the fan base is very intrigued by him after his performance in the preseason and his one start against the Cowboys. However, he should win the gig.

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