Despite the salary cap issues facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they made sure to make space to keep Jamel Dean.

The 26-year-old cornerback is re-signing with the Bucs for four years and $52million, according to multiple media reports.

Dean, considered among the best cornerbacks available in this year’s free agent class, made 53 total tackles last season with two interceptions.

Tampa Bay selected Dean in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Auburn. He has played 57 games for the Bucs over the last four seasons with seven interceptions and 41 pass breakups.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise after the franchise had appeared focused on cutting costs to get under the salary cap.

In money-saving moves earlier this offseason, the Buccaneers released a number of ageing veterans, including left tackle Donovan Smith, running back Leonard Fournette and tight end Cameron Brate.

Tampa Bay also restructured the contracts of key players like defensive tackle Vita Vea, wide receiver Chris Godwin and center Ryan Jensen.

This offseason will be key for the organization as it transitions to life without legendary quarterback Tom Brady.

The Atlanta Falcons made a splash by bolstering their defensive secondary on the first day of NFL free agency. 

After spending his first five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, safety Jessie Bates III is signing with the Falcons for four years and $64million, according to multiple reports. 

According to NFL Network, the contract will pay Bates $23m in its first year. With an average annual salary of $16m, Bates becomes among the top five highest-paid safeties in the league. 

Bates, who was a second-round draft pick in 2018, was expected to leave Cincinnati after playing under the franchise tag last season. 

The Falcons' defense allowed 3,942 passing yards last season, 25th in the NFL. 

While Bates will immediately be expected to make an impact and provide veteran leadership with the Falcons, the void he leaves in the Bengals' secondary is likely to be filled by 2022 first-round draft pick Daxton Hill. 

Earlier on Monday, the Falcons announced a five-year, $105m contract extension for guard Chris Lindstrom. 

After a 7-10 campaign last year, Atlanta are likely to continue spending in free agency. The Falcons also have the number eight pick in April's draft. 

The San Francisco 49ers have their insurance policy at quarterback, having agreed a one-year deal with Sam Darnold.

San Francisco last season saw their Super Bowl hopes derailed by injuries at the game's most important position, literally running out of healthy players at quarterback in their NFC Championship Game defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles.

That game saw Brock Purdy suffer a torn elbow ligament on the first offensive series for the 49ers. Josh Johnson was then concussed in the second half.

Purdy, the final pick in last year's draft, had previously improbably led the 49ers to the Conference Championship.

He won all five of his starts in the regular season after taking over from an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 to lift them to a 13-4 record and the second seed in the NFC, and he then helped San Francisco to playoff victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

Purdy last week had surgery to repair his torn ligament, giving 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance, whose season-ending ankle injury suffered in Week 2 forced the Niners to turn to Garoppolo, a chance to stake his claim for the starting job during the offseason programme.

Yet with Garoppolo departing in free agency for the Las Vegas Raiders, the 49ers needed an experienced third-stringer, and they have turned to 2018 third overall pick Darnold.

Darnold has failed to live up to his draft slot in spells with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers, though he did go 4-2 as a starter for the latter in 2022.

That relative success came with Steve Wilks serving as interim head coach. Wilks has since replaced new Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans as San Francisco's defensive coordinator.

In 2022, Darnold delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 83.2 per cent of his pass attempts, 13th among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts, according to Stats Perform data.

Those are encouraging numbers, but the 49ers will hope Purdy and Lance can display the durability to ensure Darnold is not asked to replicate that level of accuracy in 2023.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs moved quickly to find their new left tackle on the first day of the NFL's free agent negotiating window.

Having elected not to place the franchise tag on Orlando Brown Jr., the Chiefs agreed a four-year, $80million deal with Jawaan Taylor, according to multiple reports.

Taylor was the right tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars and, with the Chiefs also losing Andrew Wylie in free agency, would be a natural fit to play the same position for Kansas City.

But he will reportedly shift sides and take the spot vacated by Brown for the Super Bowl champions.

A second-round pick of Jacksonville in 2019, Taylor is coming off the best season of his career, one in which he helped the Jags to the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs, where they lost to the Chiefs.

Taylor allowed a pressure rate of 5.8 per cent in 2022, ranking seventh among right tackles with at least 100 pass protection snaps.

He now faces the challenge of replicating that form on the left side. That is no easy feat for any offensive lineman, but playing for Andy Reid and in front of the reigning MVP in Patrick Mahomes, Taylor could not ask for a better situation in which to make the switch.

One of the top free agents at right tackle is off the board.

Mike McGlinchey agreed to a five-year, $87.5million contract with the Denver Broncos on Monday, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

The deal includes over $50m in guaranteed money.

The 28-year-old McGlinchey had spent the last five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and has established himself at being one of the best at his position in the NFL after being selected ninth overall in the 2018 draft.

He started all 16 games at right tackle as a rookie in 2018 and all 20 contests the 49ers played this past season en route to a berth in the NFC championship game.

In 2022, McGlinchey helped bolster an offensive line that allowed the sixth-fewest sacks in the NFL (31) and open up holes for Christian McCaffrey and a ground attack that ranked eighth in the league in average rushing yards (138.8).

He now joins a Broncos team looking to shore up its offensive line after struggling to protect quarterback Russell Wilson in 2022.

Denver surrendered an NFL-worst 63 sacks last season and scuffled in the ground game as well, ranking 21st in average rushing yards (113.8).

Jimmy Garoppolo will join the Las Vegas Raiders as a free agent and reunite with Josh McDaniels.

Garoppolo's move was reported on Monday after the legal tampering period began, with ESPN's Adam Schefter suggesting the quarterback has agreed to a three-year, $67.5million deal, including $34m guaranteed.

He is set to replace Derek Carr, who had already left the Raiders to find a new home with the New Orleans Saints.

Garoppolo leaves the San Francisco 49ers after five and a half seasons, in which time he was part of the team that went to Super Bowl LIV and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

He was hampered by injuries in San Francisco, however, and lost his place as the 49ers' starter ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Trey Lance was named QB1, although Garoppolo returned to the team on a one-year deal to serve as backup.

Lance soon went down injured, but so too did Garoppolo, giving Brock Purdy the opportunity to establish himself at QB.

With Lance and Purdy set to compete for the starting role in 2023, there was never any possibility of Garoppolo again returning to the 49ers.

Instead, he will team up again with McDaniels, who was his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the New England Patriots ahead of joining the Niners.

Garoppolo only made two starts for the Patriots behind Tom Brady, but he is now in line to be the main man in Vegas, where McDaniels is the head coach.

The San Francisco 49ers have added yet more firepower to the NFL's premier defense by agreeing a deal to sign defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.

According to multiple reports, Hargave has come to terms on a four-year, $84million deal that includes $40m guaranteed at signing.

Hargrave was viewed as the top defender on the market after a stellar season with the Philadelphia Eagles in which he helped them reach Super Bowl LVII.

He finished the regular season with a career-high 11 sacks and, according to Stats Perform data, had a pass rush win rate of 43.79 per cent, well above the league average of 29.16 for interior defensive linemen.

Hargrave's addition fills a need for a San Francisco defense that allowed 300.6 yards per game, the fewest in the NFL.

The 49ers have long since won on defense through their depth on the defensive line.

However, though edge rusher Nick Bosa won Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 for an 18.5-sack season, the middle of the D-line was a patchwork operation for much of the year, with former first-round picks Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw both missing time through injury.

Even with both Armstead and Kinlaw available, the interior of the D-line was comfortably second-best in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game defeat to the Eagles, with Philadelphia's offensive line dominating that matchup.

Having lost that contest 31-7 in a game that saw the Niners run out of healthy quarterbacks, San Francisco may now switch focus to the offensive line, having seen starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey depart for the Denver Broncos on a five-year, $87.5m deal.

Jason Kelce still has more he wants to accomplish with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The star center announced on Monday he will return for the 2023 season.

"I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season," Kelce wrote on Twitter.

"After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year.

"Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fuelling me, I ain't f***ing done yet!"

Considered one of the best centers in the NFL, the 35-year-old Kelce has anchored Philadelphia's offensive line since being drafted by the franchise in 2011, starting every game for them since the start of the 2015 season.

A 12-year veteran, Kelce was named to his sixth Pro Bowl this past season while also earning a first-team All-Pro selection for the fifth time.

He won the Super Bowl with Philadelphia during the 2017 season and helped the Eagles reach this past season's Super Bowl, where they lost 38-35 to the Kansas City Chiefs and his brother – star tight end Travis.

The Washington Commanders placed the franchise tag on Daron Payne in late February with the hope they could work out a long-term contract with the defensive tackle.

Less than two weeks later, the two sides have finalised a massive deal.

Payne, 25, agreed to terms with the Commanders on Sunday for a four-year contract worth $90million, with $60m guaranteed.

The deal, which was first reported on Sunday, makes Payne the second-highest paid defensive tackle, trailing only the $95m contract seven-time All-Pro Aaron Donald signed with the Los Angeles Rams last year.

Payne was initially due to make $18.94m in 2023 under the franchise tag he agreed to on February 28.

The 25-year-old Payne has emerged as one of the league’s best defensive tackles and was named to his first Pro Bowl last year after leading Washington with a career-high 11.5 sacks, while also recording 18 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

The 13th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Payne has 26 career sacks, 40 tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries in 81 games over five seasons for Washington.

The next time star cornerback Jalen Ramsey suits up in the NFL it will be for the Miami Dolphins.

The Los Angeles Rams have agreed to trade Ramsey to the Dolphins in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2023 draft, as well as tight end Hunter Long.

The trade was agreed to on Sunday but cannot be made official until the new league year begins on Wednesday.

As part of the deal, Ramsey's salary will be guaranteed at $36.9million over the next two seasons.

The 28-year-old just completed his seventh season in the NFL and is still considered one of the top cornerbacks in the league.

The fifth overall pick of the 2016 draft, Ramsey was named to his sixth Pro Bowl in 2022 as he compiled four interceptions, two sacks, three forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed while playing in all 17 games.

An instrumental part to the Rams' Super Bowl championship in 2021, Ramsey now joins a Dolphins team who went 9-8 to make the playoffs last season but had the sixth-worst passing defense, yielding an average of 234.8 pass yards per game.

In his career, the three-time All-Pro has 19 interceptions, seven forced fumbles and 92 passes defensed.

Although Derek Carr has not known anything but the Raiders in nine seasons as an NFL quarterback, he is ready to embrace a new opportunity with the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints introduced their latest acquisition on Saturday in a news conference that lasted 45 minutes. Carr was joined by coach Dennis Allen, his family and members of the Saints front office.

New Orleans first tried to trade for Carr before the Las Vegas Raiders released him last month. That stuck with Carr as he entertained other offers.

"You're valuing me as a quarterback, me as a human, without even having to say anything," Carr said. "I'd be lying to you if I said I didn’t have a chip on my shoulder with how everything finished.

"It lit a fire in me that I’ve always had. But it just made it hotter and gave me this excitement to where I can’t wait to get to another building and just show what I’m capable of."

The Saints' brass and Allen, who was the Raiders' coach when Carr was drafted in 2014, did not need convincing. The team went all out to persuade Carr it was the best fit for him, and they agreed on a four-year, $150 million contract Monday.

"He was clearly our number one target in terms of what we wanted to do at the quarterback position," Allen said.

"We wanted to be first out there and just make sure that he knew he was the number one option."

One of several Saints players that reached out to Carr was record-setting receiver Michael Thomas, whose contract status and injury-plagued past three seasons have created uncertainty about his future with the club.

Carr sounded eager to work with Thomas, and confident he might get that chance, even though it would virtually require Thomas – the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year - and the Saints to agree by Friday on a more salary cap-friendly contract.

"He wasn’t even trying to recruit me," Carr said. "He was just like, ‘When are we getting to work, we’re wasting time, time is ticking'."

Carr is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and is the Raiders’ all-time leader in yards passing (35,222) and touchdown passes (217), but the team made the playoffs just twice with him at QB and did not win a postseason game.

The Saints have not made the playoffs since franchise all-time passer Drew Brees retired after the 2020 season. New Orleans went 9-8 in 2021 and 7-10 last season.

Bud Grant, the legendary coach who led the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s, has died at the age of 95, the team announced on Saturday.

"We are absolutely devastated to announce legendary Minnesota Vikings head coach and Hall of Famer Bud Grant has passed away this morning at age 95,” the club posted on social media. "We, like all Vikings and NFL fans, are shocked and saddened by this terrible news."

A 1994 inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Grant was known for his stoic demeanour and steely-eyed stare. The teams he coached were feared for their 'Purple People Eaters' defense.

Grant led the Vikings from 1967-83, and again in 1985, compiling a 158-96-5 record. When he retired, Grant was eighth on the all-time coaching wins list.

Under his guidance, Minnesota played in the Super Bowls following the 1970, 1973, 1974 and 1976 seasons but lost all four. The franchise hasn't been back to a Super Bowl since.

The 1970 season was the last before the AFL-NFL merger. Grant's Vikings won the NFL championship that season, despite losing Super Bowl IV to the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, 23-7.

Born in Superior, Wisconsin, Grant played football, basketball and baseball at the University of Minnesota and was drafted to play in both the NFL and NBA.

Grant played two seasons for the Minneapolis Lakers and won an NBA championship in 1950 before turning his focus to the football field.

He caught 56 passes for 997 yards for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1952 before leaving the NFL for the Canadian Football League, where he joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Grant played four seasons in the CFL before becoming Winnipeg's coach.

Grant coached the Blue Bombers for 10 seasons, winning 102 games and four Grey Cup championships. The team would later build a statue of Grant outside their stadium.

His success in Canada opened an opportunity for Grant to coach the Vikings in 1967, and a storied NFL career was born.

Grant went on to become an icon for the state of Minnesota and a permanent resident, living in the same home he bought when hired by the Vikings in 1967.

Even after he retired from coaching, the Vikings listed Grant as a consultant every year from 1986 to 2023, and he maintained an office at the team facility.

One of the most oft-repeated phrases is that there is no offseason for NFL teams. 

It bears repeating because the league consistently validates it year after year, with the 'offseason' serving as an ever-increasing hive of activity as teams reconfigure their rosters through free agency and the NFL Draft in the hopes of putting together a winner. 

That activity was supposed to kick into high gear for 2023 NFL free agents on March 13 when the 'negotiating period' opened ahead of the new league year.

But the league is already ahead of schedule in that sense, as Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline was one teeming with headlines. 

Quarterbacks Derek Carr, Geno Smith and Daniel Jones were all signed to lucrative contracts, the latter pair remaining with the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants, respectively.

The Giants also franchise-tagged Saquon Barkley and the Baltimore Ravens did the same with 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, though their decision to place the non-exclusive tag on the star quarterback has only increased the doubt about his long-term future.

So much has already been resolved, or not quite resolved in the case of Jackson, yet there are still a plethora of star names at positions on both sides of the ball who will be free to talk to teams on Monday.

The news will likely come thick and fast. With that in mind, let’s look at the key storylines to follow in free agency through the prism of Stats Perform's advanced data.

Brissett and Jimmy G's value

The first major domino in the quarterback market fell on Monday when Carr was signed to a four-year, $150million deal by the New Orleans Saints.

That deal was followed in relatively short order by another, with the Seahawks retaining Smith on a three-year contract worth $105 million, and then Jones receiving $160m over four years from the Giants.

Smith, the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, led all quarterbacks (minimum 200 attempts) in well-thrown rate, delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 87.0 per cent of his passes.

Yet there is evidence to suggest the Saints could have got much more value for their money by looking elsewhere at the game's most important position.

Carr receiving $37.5m annually from the Saints after the Las Vegas Raiders released him appears a somewhat bemusing move from New Orleans, especially after one of the worst statistical seasons of his career.

His well-thrown rate of 78.5 per cent was below the league average of 80.7 and trailed that of two other prominent free-agent quarterbacks – Jimmy Garoppolo (82.3) and Jacoby Brissett (84.1). Brissett's ratio was the best among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts who also averaged at least 9.0 air yards per attempt.

Garoppolo and Brissett could be described as anything from high-end backup to above-average starter, but Carr's deal and the $40m a year Jones got from the Giants after a season in which he posted a well-thrown rate of 84.9 per cent should give their agents leverage in negotiations with suitors.

The advanced data surrounding accuracy suggests the two former New England Patriots may have been better options for the Saints. Their numbers and level of performance from last season should encourage teams interested in QBs like the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and New York Jets (Will Aaron Rodgers leave the Green Bay Packers?), though recent movements may mean neither is as affordable as might have previously been anticipated.

Meyers and Slayton set for paydays

The receiver options in free agency are limited, with most of the intrigue at that spot surrounding a man who did not play last season: Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham missed all of last year as he remained unsigned while recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in Super Bowl LVI. 

Somebody will take a chance on Beckham this offseason given his pedigree, but the more eye-opening paydays may go to two more unheralded names.

Jakobi Meyers and Darius Slayton are each coming off impressive seasons. Meyers ranked 15th in combined open percentage (46.2) across man and zone coverages among wide receivers with at least 100 matchups and got open on 59.0 per cent of his man matchups. Only four wideouts with a minimum of 25 man matchups won a higher percentage.

The Giants were actively shopping Slayton last offseason, but his ability to create separation was a huge factor in their return to the playoffs.

He finished the year with a 69.0 burn percentage, which measures how often a receiver won his matchup with a defender strictly on plays where he was targeted. And his average of 13.5 burn yards per target ranked fifth among wideouts with at least 50 targets.

Given Beckham averaged 10.8 burn yards per target in his last season in the league and will not have played a game in over 18 months by the time the new season rolls around, handing Meyers or Slayton a large deal and backing them to continue their ascension may be a more astute move than betting on OBJ.

Should Schultz reset the market?

Arguably the biggest prize among the pass catchers is tight end Dalton Schultz, who may well reset the market at that position after the Dallas Cowboys elected not to use the franchise tag on him.

Darren Waller of the Raiders is the league's highest-paid tight end, earning an average of $17m per year.

Schultz could surpass that, but there is statistical evidence to suggest teams should be wary of paying him more than the NFL's established elite at the position.

His burn rate of 65.7 per cent was sixth among tight ends with at least 50 targets, trailing Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert and George Kittle. He also was fifth in burn yards per route (2.3) behind Kelce, Andrews, Kittle and Kyle Pitts.

But he only finished with five touchdowns in his 15 games and his burn yards per target average of 9.5 was only just above the average of 9.4.

By paying up for Schultz, a team will be putting their faith in him to eventually rise to the level of Kelce and Kittle. The reality is it will be very tough for him to replicate their all-round impact and cap space may be better spent elsewhere in a year when the draft class at tight end is strong.

Offensive tackle overpays

Speaking of possible overpays, let's talk about the offensive tackle market. Top-tier offensive tackles usually do not make it to the market, but two bonafide starters are set to.

Orlando Brown Jr. could cash in after the Kansas City Chiefs opted not to franchise him in the wake of their Super Bowl victory, while former San Francisco 49ers starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey is also primed for pastures new.

The 49ers do not have the salary cap space to pay McGlinchey the top-of-market money he could receive and that is probably for the best.

His pressure-allowed rate of 8.7 per cent was slightly better than the average of 8.9 for players with a minimum of 100 snaps at right tackle, but he was also credited with giving up nine adjusted sacks (including the playoffs). Only five right tackles gave up more, three of whom played more pass protection snaps than McGlinchey.

McGlinchey provides consistently solid play, but his ceiling is quite low. With Brown, the level of consistency could certainly be called into question.

He allowed a pressure rate of 9.9 per cent (the average for left tackles with a minimum of 100 snaps was 8.9) and was in the bottom half of the league in both pass-block win rate (63.9 per cent) and run-block win rate (63.7 per cent).

Those numbers are an indication of why a Chiefs team who have done an excellent job of quickly developing young players were willing to let Brown test the market a year after trading star receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. And both he and McGlinchey come with 'buyer beware' stickers.

Edge rush bargains available

While the top tackles in the class could be considered fool's gold, there are some potential bargains to be had for those teams looking to add edge rushers in free agency.

Marcus Davenport only managed half a sack in the 2022 season for the Saints, but he was actually one of the better players at his position in terms of generating pressure.

His pressure rate of 23.6 per cent was 10th among edge rushers with at least 100 pass rush snaps.

Sixth on that list was Arden Key, whose decision to sign a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars did not pay off as his sack number dropped from 6.5 in 2021 with the 49ers to 4.5 last season. 

Yet Key's 25.5 per cent pressure rate indicates he can be a very dangerous weapon for defensive coordinators to wield. Still only 26, Key has plenty of room to grow and realise the potential that was obvious during his college career at LSU.

Davenport and Key are not likely to command hugely lucrative contracts. The axiom goes that you can never have too many pass rushers, and adding either of this duo would be a wise move by general managers eyeing extra help on the defensive front.

Who can Philly keep?

Having re-signed edge rusher Brandon Graham to a one-year deal, the Eagles still have 18 players set to enter unrestricted free agency, giving Philadelphia a huge challenge as they try to keep the core of a Super Bowl roster intact.

Among that group are two starters on the much-vaunted offensive line, starting running back Miles Sanders and backup Boston Scott, five defensive linemen (including starting defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave), both starting linebackers and starting safeties, and starting cornerback James Bradberry.

To put it mildly, that is quite the list. And with a little under $4m in cap space to play with, the Eagles are going to have to get creative to retain many of those players.

The question is: Which players should they prioritise?

Future Hall-of-Fame center Jason Kelce could yet retire. If he does not, the Eagles have a difficult decision to make. Kelce's aggregate win rate across pass blocking and run blocking of 83.5 per cent was second among all offensive linemen last season. However, he is 35 and the Eagles drafted his successor, Cam Jurgens, last year.

On the other side of the trenches, it could be very tough for them to keep both Cox and Hargrave, and it is easy to make a case for either one.

Cox had the higher aggregate win rate in pass rushing and run defense. His 40.1 per cent win rate was vastly superior to Hargrave's 34.4 per cent, but the scales tip firmly in Hargave's favour when it comes to the pass rush. Hargrave won 43.8 per cent of his rushes compared to 33.0 for Cox. 

In 2023, the edge goes to players who more consistently impact the passing game. That is Hargrave, but the league-wide recognition of his abilities may make him too expensive to keep.

Further back in the secondary, there are two standout names who should be high on Philadelphia's list of in-house targets to re-sign. 

Bradberry is one after he finished 15th among all starting corners with a combined open percentage-allowed across man and zone coverage of 25.3. 

Safety Marcus Epps may have been unable to prevent Travis Kelce from finding the endzone in the Super Bowl, but he was ninth for all defensive backs by the same metric, posting an open percentage-allowed of 20.2. 

Some of the higher-profile names may depart, but keeping Epps around would be a shrewd and important bit of business.

Dean set to cash in

Bradberry will be one of the top cornerbacks in a free-agent class that has plenty of depth, but Jamel Dean is arguably the top prize at that position.

The 26-year-old Dean was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' best corner in 2022, ranking 10th among corners with a combined open percentage-allowed of 24.3.

In addition, he finished 12th among outside corners with a burn-allowed rate of 44.1 per cent.

Simply put, Dean has already established himself as one of the better young corners in the NFL by doing an excellent job of preventing receivers from creating separation against him.

And with the Buccaneers in a dire salary cap position, he will have the opportunity to cash in with a new team.

With a track record of impressive play on his resume as he enters what should be his prime years, Dean could soon be one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL.

Cincy's safety dance

The Cincinnati Bengals are set to see safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell hit the open market. They will likely only re-sign one after drafting Dax Hill in the first round last year.

Bates was a second-team All-Pro in 2020 and has served as a key cog on the Cincinnati defense, but Bell's greater versatility could make him the choice. 

Bell played 627 snaps as a deep safety last season as the Bengals suffered an agonising AFC championship game loss, but he also played over 100 snaps at both box safety and nickel corner. Additionally, he spent time at outside corner, both linebacker spots and on the edge.

By contrast, Bates played 78.5 per cent of his snaps as a deep safety. The only other position where he played more than 100 snaps was at box safety.

There was nothing to separate the two in terms of performance in zone coverage, which made up the bulk of their coverage snaps. Both Bates and Bell finished the season with a zone open-allowed percentage of 21.6.

However, Bell's multiplicity may carry more value in a league in which being able to disguise coverages is a significant advantage.

Bates' best fit is with a team that plays a lot of single-high safety coverage. Though the Bengals' most common coverage in 2022 was Cover 3, they did also play a large amount of two-high coverages, often leaning on Tampa 2 and Cover 4.

As such, do not be surprised to see the Bengals hang on to Bell and leave Bates to try to find a place he can continue to thrive in a league pivoting away from schemes that suit him best.

It is looking more and more like the Green Bay Packers are ready to move on from franchise icon Aaron Rodgers.

Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy gave an interview on Friday during the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association girls' basketball tournament and revealed the team's feelings about Rodgers’ situation.

When asked if there is any sequence of events this the offseason that ends with Rodgers as the Packers quarterback for a 16th consecutive season, Murphy answered, "Yeah... if things don't work out the way we [the Packers] want them, yeah, we would.

"He is obviously a great player and four-time MVP, but I think it's trying to find what he wants and what we want, and hopefully we can find a win-win situation."

Murphy also confirmed that the team granted the New York Jets permission to talk with Rodgers and would honour a trade request if the four-time MVP quarterback makes one.

It was widely reported that Rodgers met with Jets owner Woody Johnson, coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas at his home in southern California earlier this week.

"We did give permission, but I really can’t get into the details," Murphy said.

Rodgers has said since the end of the season that he's still deciding whether to return to the Packers, request a trade or retire. Rodgers also has noted the possibility the Packers might want to move on and hand the starting quarterback job to 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love.

Murphy said he wanted a resolution on Rodgers' future by the start of free agency on Wednesday.

"It's in everybody’s interest to resolve it sooner rather than later," Murphy said.

Murphy gave a separate interview with Green Bay television station WBAY where he referred to Rodgers’ career in the past tense.

"Very few players play for only one team," Murphy said. "Obviously Brett [Favre] had a great career. Aaron had a great career here. Regardless of what happens, Aaron will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He'll be in our Hall of Fame. We'll bring him back, retire his number. This is just one of the things that we go through as a team. We want to try to achieve something that’s good for both Aaron and us."

Rodgers was named NFL MVP in 2020 and 2021 but had his lowest passer rating as a starter last season and threw 12 interceptions, his highest total since 2008. The Packers went 8-9 and missed the playoffs to end a stretch of three straight NFC North titles.

The Carolina Panthers have agreed a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears to put them in position to take a leading quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

It had already been reported the Bears would be open to offers for the number one pick.

And ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Friday an agreement had been reached with the Panthers.

In return, the Bears are set to receive two first-round picks – number nine this year and a first-round selection next year – along with this year's 61st pick, a further second-round pick in 2025 and wide receiver DJ Moore.

The Bears look to already have their QB of the future in Justin Fields but will now have the opportunity to build around him.

Meanwhile, the Panthers will likely look at either Bryce Young of Alabama or C.J. Stroud of Ohio State.

Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker each had opportunities as the Panthers' starter in 2022, yet none of the trio impressed.

Whoever Carolina take with the first pick will head into their rookie season without the team's top target from last year as Moore instead links up with Fields.

Moore led the team in receptions (63), receiving yards (888) and receiving touchdowns (seven). No Bears receiver topped any of those marks.

Those seven TDs were a career high, although Moore had topped 1,100 receiving yards in each of the previous three seasons.

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