Which NFL players benefited the most from this offseason?

    The draft is in the books, giving NFL teams a good idea of how their rosters will look going into training camp. While some free-agent moves should still take place, players’ roles are coming into focus. Teams’ offseason moves improved several players’ situations. Here are the players who benefited most from offseason events.


    Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

    This Yardbarker 2020s staple is based around holdovers whose situations improved, but it is impossible to ignore the upgrade Barkley made by signing a three-year, $37.75 million Eagles deal. Trapped on limited Giants teams with bad offensive lines for six seasons, Barkley has joined an Eagles squad with one of the best O-lines and one that oozes skill-position talent. Rather than defenses knowing Barkley is his team’s only true threat, this situation gives the veteran a chance to blend in alongside A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. The only question: will the Eagles finally incorporate passes to running backs? That has not been a Jalen Hurts-era strength.


    Rashod Bateman

    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    A strange CBA wrinkle made Bateman ineligible due to a short stay on the reserve/did not report list in 2023 for the fifth-year option. But Bateman, despite not showing too much promise during his first three seasons, signed a two-year, $12.87M extension. The Ravens also separated from Odell Beckham Jr., giving the 2021 first-round pick another chance. Bateman, who shook off his season-ending foot injury to play 16 games last year, looks set to play a bigger role on the 2024 Ravens. 


    Ryan Bates

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    The Bills matched a four-year, $17 million restricted free agency offer sheet from the Bears in 2022. By 2023, Bates was entrenched as a backup. After a trade for a fifth-round pick, the Bears have the contract they designed on the payroll. Bates has a path to winning the Chicago center job, even as Rams 2023 starter Coleman Shelton is set to vie for it as well. Going from undrafted free agent to 15-game 2022 starter to 17-game 2023 backup, Bates has seen his value yo-yo as a pro. Being the player to snap to Caleb Williams on an intriguing Bears team could spring him forward once again.


    K.J. Britt

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    As Devin White vastly overvalued his worth last year by asking for a top-market linebacker contract and then delivering more inconsistency on the field, Britt steadily cut into the former No. 5 overall pick’s playing time. A 2021 fifth-round pick, Britt made his first four career starts last season. While White recaptured his job alongside Lavonte David late in the regular season, the Buccaneers let him walk (to the Eagles) in free agency. No more doubt should exist about David’s wingman. Going into a contract year, Britt has a chance to secure a nice payday with a quality season in Todd Bowles’ defense.


    Tyler Conklin

    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Just about everything went Conklin’s way this offseason. After overtaking C.J. Uzomah as the Jets’ top tight end, Conklin saw the team release its other veteran tight end and pass on drafting impact prospect Brock Bowers in the first round. The team most closely linked to the Georgia tight end during the draft run-up, the Jets instead went with tackle Olu Fashanu. The Jets have not added any tight ends of note this offseason, and with Aaron Rodgers in place to take over from the again-uninspiring Zach Wilson, the team’s blueprint looks to feature Conklin as the starting tight end. 


    Arnold Ebiketie

    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    The decision that will define the Terry Fontenot GM regime — which has provided a compelling quarterback plot dating back to the Deshaun Watson near-miss — left the Falcons’ years-long edge-rushing need unfilled. The Falcons followed their Michael Penix Jr. call without an early-round OLB addition; this came after the team did not re-sign Bud Dupree in free agency. A 2022 second-round pick, Ebiketie joins veteran Lorenzo Carter as Atlanta’s current options outside. After a six-sack season, the third-year rusher will be counted on after working as a part-timer last season. 


    David Edwards

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    The Bills’ run of cap casualties included five-year starting center Mitch Morse. Following Gabe Davis to the Jaguars, Morse being cut creates an opening at center along an O-line that otherwise will return four 2023 starters. Edwards is poised to step in. This is not a career backup receiving a shot; Edwards was a starter for the Super Bowl LVI-winning Rams. The former fifth-round pick started 45 games as a Ram, performing well on the whole. After a concussion-marred contract year, Edwards signed a low-cost deal and operated as a Bills backup. Buffalo re-signed the veteran and looks set to deploy the career-long guard at center.


    Alex Forsyth

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    Another crucial center update here. With upper-crust deals at three spots on the offensive line and right guard Quinn Meinerz a candidate for a top-market extension, the Broncos let four-year center starter Lloyd Cushenberry walk. Late-round picks comprise Denver’s replacement candidates, and while Forsyth redshirted as a rookie (zero games played), the team tipped its hand in the upcoming competition a bit. The Broncos made Forsyth a key part of their Bo Nix research project, with the Oregon alum’s input helping the team zero in on its next QB. Here is betting Forsyth fends off Luke Wattenberg and veteran Sam Mustipher and is slated to snap to Nix once again.


    Jordan Howden

    Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

    Perpetually tens of millions over the cap going into offseasons, the Saints moved on from underwhelming free agency pickup Marcus Maye. The ex-Jets starter encountered injuries and a suspension in New Orleans. Maye’s absences last year placed Howden — a fifth-round pick — alongside Tyrann Mathieu. That looks likely to be a full-time arrangement this season. Part of a run of Minnesota safeties to be drafted during the 2020s (from Antoine Winfield Jr. to Tyler Nubin), Howden held his own in part-time duty last season. The Saints did not draft a safety nor sign a veteran. Barring a late addition, Howden will get the call.


    Daniel Jones

    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Ahead of what felt like a fork-in-the-road draft, the Giants did exhaustive work on this year’s quarterback class. They also offered their 2025 first-round pick to the Patriots in a package to move up for Drake Maye. New England declining the offer led the Giants to pass on J.J. McCarthy and go with a wideout (Malik Nabers) at No. 6. While Jones probably should not get comfortable, the draft’s outcome shifted the maligned starter from a player set to be replaced into one given by far the best receiver talent of his New York tenure. This looks like another “prove it” year for Jones, but he once again has a clear path to sticking as Big Blue’s starter.


    Jack Jones

    Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

    Had the Raiders taken the conventional route and conducted a true coaching search, Jones may not be on solid ground. However, the team elevated Antonio Pierce to the full-time role. Few benefit more than Jones, who was at Arizona State during Pierce’s time at the Pac-12 program. Pierce also played the lead role in the Raiders claiming Jones via waivers. A Patriots release who has run into off-field trouble in college and the pros, Jones is now locked in as a Raiders starting cornerback. Amik Robertson’s free agency departure only further entrenches Jones, who has a full-on second chance with Pierce, who is now the full-time leader in Las Vegas.


    Drake London and Kyle Pitts

    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    The Falcons may have executed a curious strategy in the first round by drafting Michael Penix Jr. six weeks after guaranteeing Kirk Cousins $100 million. This undercut Atlanta’s top avenue to upgrade its roster around Cousins, but for 2024, two of the team’s recent first-round picks will undeniably benefit. Saddled with Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder for the past two seasons, London and Pitts are now tied to a proven passer. Fantasy GMs will take notice, as Pitts’ last season with a capable QB (2021, with Matt Ryan) produced the second 1,000-yard season by a rookie tight end in NFL history. Cousins will be peppering London with catchable targets as well.


    Marvin Mims

    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    The Broncos finally cut the cord on Jerry Jeudy, a trade candidate for over a year. Sean Payton will need to see his first draft pick as team honcho receives starter-level burn. Mims flashed as a sporadically used rookie, averaging 17.1 yards per catch and coming down with a few snazzy grabs. But the team did not trust the Oklahoma standout just yet, stashing him behind Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. While Sutton’s time in trade rumors persists, Jeudy’s exit opens the door for Mims to be a full-timer alongside Bo Nix. The Broncos will need the All-Pro return man to take a big step forward on offense.


    Gardner Minshew

    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Minshew only commanded a one-year, $3.5 million deal in 2023, following Shane Steichen from Philadelphia to Indianapolis. Anthony Richardson’s injury probably helped Colts wide receivers, as the rookie entered the NFL as a raw passer, and definitely aided Minshew’s value. After a competent season, Minshew generated a market. The Raiders gave the mustachioed QB a two-year, $25 million deal. After six QBs went in the draft’s first 12 picks, the Raiders were left without a chair when the music stopped. Las Vegas also gave Minshew a weapon at No. 13 (tight end Brock Bowers). Minshew is not a bridge starter; he is who the Raiders must rely on.


    Josh Palmer

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Keenan Allen and Mike Williams spent seven seasons together. That tops Charlie Joiner-Wes Chandler and Vincent Jackson-Malcom Floyd in Chargers receiver annals. The Bolts also passed on Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze, as rumors suggested they would. The Joe Alt pick brought good news for Palmer, who heads into a contract year as the most established Chargers receiver. The team did add Ladd McConkey in Round 2 and signed deep-threat nomad DJ Chark, but Palmer — a regular starter fill-in during Allen or Williams injury spells — profiles as a player who will be needed in Jim Harbaugh’s debut.


    Sean Rhyan


    Already paying Elgton Jenkins like a top-level guard, the Packers did not compete for right guard Jon Runyan Jr.’s services in free agency. Green Bay let the three-year starter walk (to the Giants), leaving Rhyan as the likely successor. A 2022 third-round pick out of UCLA, Rhyan has not made a start yet. A two-year grooming program should lead to that changing, as the Packers appear set to keep costs low around Jenkins and Jordan Love on offense. Runyan landed a three-year, $30 million Giants deal. 


    Khalil Shakir

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    When the tide turned during the Chiefs-Bills divisional-round matchup, Josh Allen could not count on Stefon Diggs. The wideout who helped the QB go from tools-heavy prospect to superstar slogged through an unproductive second half last season, culminating with a brutal drop on a well-placed deep ball against Kansas City. Allen trusted Shakir in that game, and the 2022 fifth-rounder scored in both Bills playoff contests — after amassing a quiet 611 regular-season yards. With Diggs and Davis now gone, the Bills tabbed Keon Coleman to open Round 2. But Buffalo will still need Shakir, who appears poised to take on a bigger role as a trusted slot presence. 


    Trenton Simpson

    Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

    The Ravens set forth a clear path to Roquan Smith needing another running mate weeks after acquiring the ex-Bears standout. Baltimore gave Smith the most lucrative off-ball linebacker contract. The team then chose Simpson in Round 3 and passed on Patrick Queen’s fifth-year option. Queen proceeded to make the Pro Bowl and enhance his market, leaving the Ravens with a clear decision. A third-round pick out of Clemson, Simpson is all but certain to take over as Baltimore’s Queen successor alongside Smith. 


    Peter Skoronski

    Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

    No situational changes are expected for Skoronski, but his developmental arc could transform thanks to the Titans’ coaching overhaul. Brian Callahan being hired led to the longtime Bengals offensive coordinator bringing in his father, Bill, to head up Tennessee’s O-line. One of the game’s premier O-line coaches, Bill Callahan represents an important piece of the Titans’ equation. He will be developing both Skoronski — who moved from college tackle to NFL guard — and recent first-rounder JC Latham. Both blockers are in great hands.


    Drue Tranquill

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    Tranquill put together a productive contract year with the 2022 Chargers, notching 146 tackles and five sacks. IDP fantasy GMs’ elation did not correlate with his market; Tranquill accepted a one-year, $3 million Chiefs deal. With the Nick Bolton-Willie Gay tandem still in place last season, Tranquill was a part-timer. But he filled in well for both amid injuries. That led to the Chiefs prioritizing his free agency over Gay’s. With Gay now a Saint, Tranquill — after signing a three-year, $19M deal to stay in Kansas City — will be a full-time ILB alongside Bolton. The versatile defender will be a key role player during the Chiefs’ threepeat quest.


    Jaylen Watson

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    The Chiefs do not value cornerbacks. Since 2018, they have avoided paying Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller, Charvarius Ward and now L’Jarius Sneed. Two trades and three free agency defections have made the Chiefs’ M.O. at this position clear. CBs needing to seek their money elsewhere — as Trent McDuffie’s agent has certainly observed — leads to the Chiefs’ assembly line continuing with rookie-contract cogs. Watson is up next. A 2022 seventh-round find, Watson will see his snap rate spike from the 43% 2023 place. Sneed’s exit for Tennessee will give Watson the first crack at being the starter opposite McDuffie.


    Zamir White

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    A historic running back carousel spun on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. That day did not send a starter to the Raiders, who lost Josh Jacobs to the Packers. While 2023 Vikings first-stringer Alexander Mattison ended up signing, Jacobs’ two-year backup is on track to take over. White impressed while Jacobs missed the final four games due to injury, totaling 145- and 112-yard rushing performances in that span. The former fourth-round pick represents a low-cost solution for the Raiders, who are in a transition year after no QB draft choice arrived in Round 1. 


    Jameson Williams


    The Lions have not received what they sought from 2022’s No. 12 overall pick. ACL rehab drained Williams’ rookie season, and a gambling suspension delayed his 2023 start. The speedy Alabama alum has been more gadget player than dependable target in Detroit, but the Lions made Josh Reynolds a low-ball offer — ahead of a Broncos free agency departure — in March. With no early-round wideout coming in, the runway is clear for Williams to become Amon-Ra St. Brown’s top sidekick. Williams becoming a steady field-stretching option would unlock another gear for the Lions.


    Sam Williams

    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Dan Quinn made familiarity almost a prerequisite in free agency, bringing in the likes of Bobby Wagner, Tyler Biadasz and Cowboys defensive ends Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler. The older Dallas D-ends departing leaves Williams as the team’s top off-the-bench option behind Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. With the latter now 32, the Cowboys will need more from Williams. A second-round pick in 2022, Williams has run into some off-field trouble. But the Ole Miss product does have 8.5 sacks in spot duty through two seasons. Williams’ playing time will also be determined by how far along second-rounder Marshawn Kneeland is.


    Bryce Young

    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Ranking ahead of only Zach Wilson in QBR last season, Young delivered a concerning rookie-year showing. Size concerns appear valid, and the Panthers’ David Tepper-driven push for the 2021 Heisman winner over C.J. Stroud could be a catastrophic mistake. But the Panthers also gave Young next to nothing beyond Adam Thielen for weaponry. They also saw both starting guards miss most of the season. This year, Carolina paid up for guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis and added Diontae Johnson and first-round wideout Xavier Legette. The Panthers will have a better idea of Young’s potential thanks to these additions.

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