NFL

The winners and losers of 2024 NFL Free Agency so far

Mar 22, 2024, 8:30 AM | Updated: 9:36 am

Aaron Rodgers #8 of the New York Jets looks on from the sideline prior to an NFL football game agai...

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 11: Aaron Rodgers #8 of the New York Jets looks on from the sideline prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

It’s been over a week since the 2024 NFL free agency officially opened for business.

And since Wednesday, March 13th, we’ve seen a slew of players move to different teams around the country, both in signing new deals and being traded. And while there’s still plenty of time left to add more players, now seems appropriate to check-in before the draft season comes into full effect.

Here’s a list of some of the winners and losers of the 2024 NFL free agency thus far.

NFL Free Agency Winners:

New York Jets

Call me crazy but I’m buying that 41-year-old Aaron Rodgers can bounce back from an Achilles tear and make this a competitive race in the AFC East. That notion was only solidified by whom New York brought to keep him upright.

By adding veteran offensive lineman Tyron Smith, Morgan Moses and John Simpson, the Jets have put quality protection around Rodgers entering a do-or-die year. They also added starting-caliber firepower at wide receiver, with Mike Williams coming on to stretch defenses vertically.

That should allow more space for third-year stud Garrett Wilson to cook, especially on third downs. 2024 could be a breakout year for him with Rodgers back under center.

They did lose a little bit on defense, including edge Bryce Huff. But the second-best unit in 2023 should be able to overcome that, especially with a strong draft in April.

The biggest win is just Rodgers being healthy (at the moment).

If the former two-time MVP can stay on the field, New York will have its’ best chance at winning the division in years. And if he gets hurt, veteran QB Tyrod Taylor can slide in decently.

Anything is better than Zach Wilson and what Robert Saleh rolled out at QB last season right?

That’s the key to turning the Jets back into a contender next season. Let’s see if 41-year-old Rodgers can do it.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Some organizations fail to ever have sustained success. Others find a way to be effective despite the odds. Pittsburgh is the latter.

Mike Tomlin & Co. somehow managed to make a bad QB situation into an encouraging one without using a draft pick.

Signing grizzled Russell Wilson for the veteran minimum was a shrewd move. The former Pro-Bowler departed Denver with a grudge for how it ended. In turn, that should ignite whatever competitive spirit still resides in the 35-year-old.

And to help keep him on edge, why not add a former first-round pick at the same position in Justin Fields?

Pittsburgh fleeced Chicago for the former 11th-overall pick, giving them a Day 3 selection. The Steelers got Fields, a 25-year-old playmaker looking to secure a new long-term deal and an NFL franchise.

He struggled to find his groove in The Windy City, especially with inconsistency around him on the field. Now in a more stable structure, Tomlin should get the best out of Fields, which will hopefully get the best out of Wilson for a year.

Win-Win scenario.

They also added quality defensive additions like Patrick Queen and Donte Jackson.

They’ll need a strong draft to make a run, but so far, Pittsburgh is back up.

Chicago Bears

Chicago, I know this might sound like empty words right now, but listen up: It’s time to get excited. Bears football could be back in 2024.

GM Ryan Poles wants to be good as soon as expected No.1 overall pick Caleb Williams steps foot in Chicago. To do so, he added excellent weapons on offense, including Pro-Bowl WR Keenan Allen. He, alongside D.J. Moore and Te Cole Kmet, should allow Williams enough options to thrive from the jump.

The offensive line is still a work in progress, but a group that is encouraging at least.

Chicago’s defense retains a majority of the key players, with long-term deals going to Jaylon Johnson and Montez Sweat. Former All-Pro S Kevin Byard joins Matt Eberflus’s defense.

That should be enough to maintain the resilient, violent unit that helped win games in 2023 for years to come.

The real key is the offense though, and if Caleb Williams is truly the one. If he gets off to a hot start, the Bears could be a sneaky play for the NFC North.

It all depends on Caleb (and a strong draft to protect him).

Atlanta Falcons

Yes, the Kirk Cousins’ contract was a lot of money. Yes, he’s 36 in August. Yes, he’s coming off a torn Achilles.

Put all that into consideration: Atlanta still came out as a winner in NFL free agency because they (potentially) got their Top-10 QB.

Cousins has been floating around good to elite for quite some time. Many have him situated in the good-enough-to-win-you-a-playoff-game category. And that might be true to an extent, the Falcons realized that the missing piece for them was at gunslinger.

And at the very least, Cousins can sling it.

The veteran QB has thrown for almost 40,000 yards and 270 touchdowns in his 12-year career. He’s made the Pro Bowl four times, and likely would have made it last season if not the Week 8 injury.

Point being: Cousins is the best QB Arthur Blank has had since MVP Matt Ryan.

To complement their air-raid QB, Atlanta got explosive weapons in Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore to stretch the field. Standout Drake London could really blossom with some added space in the middle of the field. And if Kyle Pitts gets going, look out.

Their defense needs a bit of juice, but the draft could be their elixir to a balanced roster.

Atlanta sees a chance to take control of the NFC South. But first, they have to compete in it, and Tampa Bay and New Orleans are still hanging around.

Honorable Mentions: Texans, Commanders, Eagles, Lions

NFL Free Agency Losers:

Miami Dolphins

Hyperbole to describe the Dolphins right now would be that the sky is falling. I’m not there yet. But, the ground is shaking absolutely.

This offseason has not been kind to the AFC contenders, losing an assortment of talent on both sides of the football. The biggest positional losses happened in the trenches, the one area where you can’t lose the foundation.

Not only did the defense lose starters, but defensive guru Vic Fangio has departed the franchise for Philly.

On top of that, you have a decision to make on QB Tua Tagoviloa.

The Pro Bowl QB has a mega contract extension on the horizon, one that some around the league seem to be more reluctant in handing him despite some success. Tagoviloa has struggled to make things happen outside of the pocket, only operating to a tee when his pocket is clean.

And now half of his offensive line is gone, not great.

And finally, the Tyreek Hill situation.

Hill has been in the news this offseason, and not for good reasons. The speedster just turned 30 and struggled to stay healthy down the stretch last season.

Anything is possible, but all the arrows are pointing down for the Dolphins to repeat success in 2024. They have made some good additions on defense, so it’s possible Mike McDaniel gets the most out of everyone.

However, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. All it takes is one or two matches of drama to ignite the franchise in flames.

Carolina Panthers

This one is fairly simple.

Carolina ends up on this list for the way they handled the Brian Burns situation. If reports are true, the Panthers turned down multiple firsts for the player a year ago, only to not pay him, and then trade him for 50 cents on the dollar to the Giants.

Insert face-palm emoji here.

This debacle only adds to the list of poorly executed decisions by Carolina.

They can’t add top-end talent in the draft as well, because their No.1 overall pick is now Chicago’s after the Bryce Young deal. And so far, they picked the wrong QB.

Yikes.

The laughing stock of the NFL has a new name: The Carolina Panthers.

Dallas Cowboys

Lack of firepower from Jerry World, are the Jones family scared to get cap happy while Dak is under center?

Let’s first preface that Dallas will be fine in 2024. Still retaining a majority of their top-end talent, the Cowboys can win the NFC East no doubt.

But Jerry Jones didn’t make it much easier this free-agent window.

Jones and the board only added one player during NFL free agency, LB Eric Kendricks. They lost more than gained, especially on the offensive line. No real weapons were added for QB Dak Prescott as well.

Dallas pretty much stayed the exact same. But why?

Could it be because this is the final year of Mike McCarthy’s deal? Or, is there less faith in Prescott to be the man long-term?

Actions speak louder than words, and Dallas’ lack of activity on the market speaks volumes for their 2024 fate.

Los Angeles Chargers

In Jim Harbaugh, we trust right? Well so far, he hasn’t gotten a vote of confidence from Charger fans.

The savvy coach had choices to make with the team up against the salary cap, and he chose to cut at the heartstrings of LA. First, they cut WR Mike Williams. Then, Harbaugh traded franchise face Keenan Allen to the Bears for a fourth-rounder.

On top of all that, he sided with the aging defensive line, giving Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa restructured deals to stay long-term. Quality pass rushers are hard to find, even if they don’t play every game.

There’s just one problem: Who is Justin Herbert going to throw to next season?

The best wideout on the roster is Quentin Johnston or Josh Palmer, take your pick because both have their drawbacks. LA also lost RB Austin Ekeler, replacing him with Gus Edwards.

Not really an upgrade for a younger gunslinger.

The Chargers still hold the No.5 pick this year, and are most likely taking a top-tier wideout. I think. If they don’t, oh boy, is Harbaugh going to be questioned all next season.

When you hire Jim Harbaugh to run your franchise, you live and die by his ways. Let’s see how this plays out in April.

Dishonorable Mentions: Buffalo, Denver, Browns, Patriots

Key offseason dates for the San Francisco 49ers

  • March 24-27 – Annual league meeting in Orlando
  • April 25-27 – 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit

Thank you for reading SactownSports.com. Follow us on Twitter and Google News, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

Newsletter

NFL

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers works out during training camp at SAP Performance Facili...

Amiliano Fragoso

San Francisco 49ers release 2024 Training Camp dates

The 49ers announced their 2024 Training Camp open practice schedule this week, spanning from July 25th to August 7th.

14 hours ago

Tashaun Gipson Sr. #31 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates an interception during the third quart...

Amiliano Fragoso

Former 49ers S Tashaun Gipson accepts six-game PED suspension, vows to make NFL return

Former 49ers S Tashaun Gipson shed light on his six-game suspension, taking full responsibility for taking a banned substance unknowingly.

2 days ago

Tashaun Gipson Sr. #31 of the San Francisco 49ers lines up against the Philadelphia Eagles during t...

Amiliano Fragoso

NFL suspends former 49ers S Tashaun Gipson Sr. for six games

Reports Tuesday say former 49ers safety Tashaun Gipson is suspended six games after violating the performance-enhancing substances policy.

10 days ago

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 18: Chandler Jones #55 of the Las Vegas Raiders reacts during the thir...

Field Level Media

Ex-Raider Chandler Jones pleads no contest, may avoid jail time

Former Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones may not face jail time after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge.

17 days ago

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divi...

Amiliano Fragoso

3 Trade Scenarios for Brandon Aiyuk IF 49ers decided to part ways

The 49ers and Brandon Aiyuk haven't been able to work out a new deal. What if they did trade him? Here are three possible destinations.

18 days ago

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 11: Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers heads to the locker room ...

Amiliano Fragoso

Adam Schefter: 49ers were ‘never serious’ about trading Brandon Aiyuk this offseason

The 49ers have long wanted Brandon Aiyuk to remain in Red & Gold long-term, with Adam Schefter stating that outright on The Pat McAfee Show.

20 days ago

The winners and losers of 2024 NFL Free Agency so far