The NFL has reached the talent acquisition portion of its calendar. General managers across the league have difficult decisions to make in the roster building process. Who is expendable or, in some cases, too expensive in free agency and how does a team go about replacing that player?
Here are five examples of how some teams could do just that through the 2023 NFL Draft, as we break down draft prospects who could replace the biggest names lost in free agency:
Derek Carr, QB (Saints)
Raiders replacement: Anthony Richardson, Florida
Carr was shown the door by the Raiders franchise that selected him in the second round nine years ago. After meeting with multiple teams, the free agent chose to sign in New Orleans.
If Las Vegas stays put at No. 7 overall, they could be left with the scraps at the quarterback position. The signing of free agent Jimmy Garoppolo gives the franchise some flexibility so it can afford to be more selective. It would not surprise me if any of the perceived top four quarterbacks were taken No. 1 overall by Carolina. Based on grades alone, it is most likely that either Kentucky's Will Levis or Florida's Anthony Richardson are the last quarterback standing.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB (Bears)
Bills replacement: Jack Campbell, Iowa
From an athletic profile standpoint, Edmunds is one of a kind at the linebacker position. He tested off the charts at the 2018 NFL Combine as far as speed and quickness were concerned. After playing five seasons with the Bills, those athletic qualities led to Edmunds receiving a lucrative contract elsewhere.
Pick Six Newsletter
Crafted By The Best NFL Experts
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Buffalo now needs a bigger, physical play style next to Matt Milano. Iowa's Jack Campbell is someone who could deliver. Edmunds and Campbell are nearly the same size. It is surprising how little was said about Campbell's stellar NFL Combine performance. His on-field performance did not necessarily match the athletic testing but, if it had, he would not be available on Day 2.
Javon Hargrave, DL (49ers)
Eagles replacement: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
It was a bit of a surprise to see Philadelphia allow Hargrave to leave. One would have thought that the franchise would prioritize the defensive line rather than the retention of both starting cornerbacks. The Eagles were equipped to absorb the loss of Hargrave with Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox and Milton Williams on the roster. However, it would not be a surprise if the team invested early draft compensation into the position.
As time has passed, the idea of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter being available at No. 10 overall, or at least in range for the team to make a move, has grown more likely. Carter's on-field ability would be an ideal replacement for the highest paid defender on the free agency market.
Jakobi Meyers, WR (Raiders)
Patriots replacement: Jordan Addison, USC
New England has JuJu Smith-Schuster and Devante Parker but it is not a wide receiver room that creates opportunities for itself. The Patriots have been active looking for upgrades at the position and that should tell fans all they need to know about how confident they are going into the season with this group. While Meyers spent nearly 70% of his snaps in the slot last season, Smith-Schuster spent just 42.6% of his snaps in the slot; the lowest mark in his career. Bill Belichick is probably looking for a player who can line up wide or in the slot.
If the Patriots do not fill that need via trade or free agency, then the idea of using a first-round pick on the position should not be ruled out. Addison has that potential to play inside out. If the franchise has eyes elsewhere at No. 14 overall, then Oklahoma's Marvin Mims and Tennessee's Cedric Tillman could be options in Day 2 or possibly into Day 3.
Miles Sanders, RB (Panthers)
Eagles replacement: Bijan Robinson, Texas
Sanders signed with Carolina in free agency as Philadelphia's priorities were elsewhere. Although the Eagles signed Rashaad Penny in free agency, they cannot necessarily expect Penny to be available for every game. During his time with Seattle, he missed nearly as many games as he was available.
Drafting a running back in the first round is not generally Howie Roseman's modus operandi, but the the cake has been baked and now they just need some flashy decoration on top. Robinson is a three-down back who could help the NFC East franchise put away games. Despite a need at wide receiver, few expected Philadelphia to trade up for a slim-framed DeVonta Smith either. The Eagles could trade back a bit from No. 10 overall and take Robinson, but that would cost them a top tier defender like Carter. For both to happen, the team would probably have to trade up from No. 30 overall.
The 2023 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.