With the bulk of NFL free agency spending in the books, I want to take a step back and look at the teams that were left with vacancies to fill in the months to come. We understandably spend March focusing on the players who sign deals (or who hint at the possibility of a trade for weeks on end with no conclusion), but we often don't look closer at what's left behind by the departures of those players.
Let's examine each position, pick a team that has lost a key player (or players) without fully replacing them and identify what their most likely path to plugging those holes looks like over the next few months. I'll be using each team's history and the various options available to them to guide me.
Most teams like to have their quarterback plans locked in before the new league year begins, let alone by the end of March. Looking around the league, nearly every team either has a starter in place or a clear path to their next starter in April's draft. There's one conspicuous exception to that list and there's an eminently reasonable solution still on the market. Let's start there:
Jump to a team with a hole:
Cardinals | Cowboys
Eagles | Packers
Rams | Ravens | Titans
Quarterback: Baltimore Ravens
Out: Lamar Jackson
Jackson's future with the organization is subject to all kinds of possibilities, many of which I covered in my piece on him earlier this month. Jackson has requested a trade, but the most likely scenario would see him return to the Ravens. At the moment, despite being stuck with the franchise tag, he isn't a member of the organization until he either signs the tag or inks a long-term deal. If he doesn't do either of those things and doesn't find an offer sheet on the market to his liking, he wouldn't be eligible to play in 2023.
Baltimore's first player up would be restricted free agent Tyler Huntley, who is likely to return to the organization after being assigned a $2.6 million tender for next season. Despite his unlikely trip to the Pro Bowl last season, he averaged just 5.8 yards per attempt and posted a 49.5 QBR over the past two seasons. (Jackson is at 57.9 over that same stretch.) Huntley has gone 3-5 as a starter since 2021, but the Ravens scored just five touchdowns in his five starts last season. If Jackson is not going to be around, they can't rely on Huntley as the starter.