The NFL's offseason game of musical chairs is mostly settled, with league activity about to slow down for a few weeks before 2023 training camps ramp up in late July.
As with most offseasons these days, plenty of high-profile quarterbacks found new orchestras to conduct, with Aaron Rodgers' trade to the Jets headlining this year's movement. While this offseason wasn't as seismic as last year in terms of big-name wide receiver movement, the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., D.J. Moore and Brandin Cooks all found new homes.
These changes offer new combos to dissect. Some will explode, like the early returns on the Tua Tagovailoa-Tyreek Hill relationship and the Jalen Hurts-A.J. Brown duo. Others will peter out -- that Matt Ryan-Michael Pittman Jr. connection didn't last long.
As we wait to see which quarterback DeAndre Hopkins will join, let's break down the top nine new veteran QB-WR pairings for the 2023 NFL season.
Rodgers joined the Jets to prove he still boasts MVP skills. Take Gang Green to the promised land, and he'll become immortalized in New York. For the 39-year-old quarterback to accomplish that, he'll need to feed Wilson plenty.
There are more familiar faces to Rodgers on this Jets roster in Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, but no one is close to Wilson's overall talent. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year owns a go-to skill set and run-after-the-catch acumen that will mesh perfectly with Rodgers. Wilson's 22 missed tackles forced after a reception finished second in the NFL last season, per Pro Football Focus. With Rodgers' pinpoint accuracy, Wilson should be in position to make defenders whiff even more and gobble up more YAC in Year 2.
By his standards, Rodgers is coming off a down campaign, generating 3,695 passing yards -- falling short of 4,000 in a healthy season for the first time since 2015 -- while posting 26 TDs against 12 INTs. QB-starved Jets fans would love to watch even an average Rodgers season, but a franchise-defining one could be in the cards.
Hall of Famer Joe Namath holds the Jets' record for passing yards in a season with 4,007 in 1967. Rodgers has generated nine campaigns with 4,008-plus yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick set the Jets' single-season record for TD passes with 31 in 2015. Rodgers has hit or passed that mark seven times.
Last season, it took time for Rodgers to build chemistry with the Packers' young receiving corps. The hope is, in his new digs, the four-time MVP will hit the ground running with the young Wilson. If that happens, Rodgers-Wilson could quickly become one of the best pitch-and-catch combos in the entire league.
Jackson's contract questions are in the past. Now the former NFL MVP is gearing up for a new offense with plenty of new toys.
While Rashod Bateman is on track to return healthy, the Ravens' offseason saw them draft Zay Flowers in the first round and add Nelson Agholor in free agency. However, the shiniest addition is three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr.
The big caveat is OBJ's health, considering he missed the entire 2022 season following a second torn ACL. By all accounts, he should be ready to ride at the start of this coming season, giving Jackson a potential field-tilting target the 2022 Ravens sorely lacked. We haven't seen the explosive OBJ from early in his career, back when he was a 1,000-yard maven. But during his run with the Rams in 2021, he proved he still has juice. In Beckham's last 12 games after joining Los Angeles in Week 10 of the 2021 campaign, he scored seven receiving TDs (including the playoffs).
Even if he can't recapture his early-career magic, Beckham still provides Baltimore with a proven threat. Last season, the Ravens' injury-riddled receiving corps was led by Demarcus Robinson with 48 catches and 458 receiving yards. Devin Duvernay paced Baltimore wideouts with three touchdown catches.
The additions at receiver should immediately boost Jackson's passing ability. Still, nothing will help the Ravens' air game more than the change brought by Todd Monken's new offense, which promises to be more pass-heavy than anything Jackson has previously run in Baltimore. Since 2019, when Monken's predecessor, Greg Roman, was promoted to offensive coordinator, the Ravens have ranked in the bottom two in pass attempts per game, passing yards per game and completions per game.
The expectation is that a new scheme and fresh weaponry will ignite Jackson's passing attack. The key will be both the QB and OBJ staying healthy in 2023.
Lawrence took a huge step forward in his first season under Doug Pederson, displaying the dynamic passing ability that made the Clemson product a no-brainer No. 1 overall pick in 2021. Now the 23-year-old is looking to take the next step on the path to superstardom. The addition of Ridley -- whom Jacksonville aquired via trade last November, during his season-long suspension for betting on NFL games -- should help Lawrence traverse the trail.
When Ridley last played a full season back in 2020, he posted a sparkling 90/1,374/9 receiving line as one of the best route-runners in the league. A field-stretcher with clean hands and a knack for beating defenders one-on-one, Ridley is precisely what the doctor ordered for Lawrence and the Jags' offense.
Last season in Duval, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram combined to put up solid numbers, but adding Ridley should take that group to new heights. Lawrence's abilities to distribute to the open target, anticipate windows and thread the needle pair perfectly with Ridley's skill set.
The big question with the 28-year-old Ridley: How much rust will he need to knock off after missing more than 22 months of on-field action? If he's still the player we saw cook defenses on an injured foot three seasons ago, the ceiling is the roof for the Jaguars' offense.
Michael Thomas' status might be a bigger narrative heading into the 2023 season, with questions about whether the record-setting wideout can finally stay healthy. But there is no question in my mind that Olave can be the star of New Orleans' offense.
As a rookie, the Ohio State product put up 1,042 yards and four TDs on a middling passing offense -- the Jets and their QB turnstile posted more passing yards than the Saints last season. Now, Olave is a prime candidate to make a leap in Year 2. He owns the route running to beat even the best corners, the speed to pressure deep and the reliable hands of a top-shelf wideout. He's the complete package.
Now import Derek Carr.
Yes, the former Raiders QB has his warts -- don't we all -- but he's a clear upgrade on Andy Dalton. In four of the past five seasons, Carr has passed for 4,000-plus yards. (His two-game benching to close 2022 was likely the reason he didn't make it 5-for-5.) The 32-year-old has proven he can run an offense and put up numbers in the right situation.
Carr's tendency to look for deep shots plays well with the Saints' targets. Olave led all players with 14.2 air yards per target last season, per Next Gen Stats (min 100 targets). The pairing should be in for a cavalcade of field-stretching connections in 2023. Toss in second-year speedster Rashid Shaheed and Thomas -- again, if healthy -- and New Orleans' offense could be cooking with gas.
In his second season, Fields still didn't have much help. Darnell Mooney was banged up and suffocated by defenses. The Chase Claypool trade provided zero juice. Tight end Cole Kmet led the Bears with 544 yards receiving. Woof.
But thanks to Chicago's trade of the No. 1 overall pick, Fields now has a bona fide go-to target.
Even after a robust payday last offseason, Moore remains an underrated playmaker nationally. He owns the ability to make contested catches and the power and afterburners to gain chunk yards after the catch. Moore put up three 1,000-yard seasons in a mostly dysfunctional Panthers offense. He's a legit No. 1 threat defenses must account for on every play.
Moore's ability to win off the line of scrimmage will immediately boost Fields. Last season, the Bears quarterback routinely had to wait awhile for his receivers to come open -- and yes, sometimes he took too long to process. Moore provides a target that'll be available from hut.
Fields proved last season he's an electric playmaker with his legs. He also showed brief flashes that he could get there with his arm. Now the Bears need him to be more consistent in that latter area.
With better offensive line play and surrounding talent, Fields is in a much better position to succeed in Year 3. Now it's on the young QB to make the leap.
Garoppolo's current health status shrouds the duo's potential in this moment. On paper, however, the two mesh well.
Garoppolo thrives over the middle and gets the ball out quickly, and he can use Adams' otherworldly ability to win off the line of scrimmage to generate chunk yardage. Playing in Josh McDaniels' system should fit the quarterback like a glove, and his ability to complete passes under pressure will be key behind a questionable offensive line. According to Next Gen Stats, Jimmy G's 118.3 passer rating when under pressure in 2022 was the highest mark for a single season in the NGS era (since 2016).
In his first season in Vegas, Adams was everything we expected. Earning first-team All-Pro honors for the third straight year, Adams racked up 1,516 yards and 14 TDs with a career-high average of 15.2 yards per catch while playing with close friend Derek Carr. You'd expect the YPC to dip a tad with Garoppolo tossing Davante the pigskin, but there is zero question Adams remains squarely among the cream of the crop at his position.
Adams' offseason comments about Jimmy G add questions about how their relationship might need to evolve in order to maximize their talents, but the superstar receiver is a playmaker who can elevate any passer. Of course, if Garoppolo doesn't return healthy to open the season, Vegas and Adams are in for a long year.
Cooks' speed brings a needed field-stretching element that was missing from Dallas' passing attack. Despite getting up in age, with his 30th birthday on tap in September, Cooks generates separation with the quickness to burn DBs deep and the toughness to get off press coverage. His ability to play on the outside gives Dallas more options to move Lamb around the formation (particularly into the slot, where he thrives).
Last season, with Michael Gallup still making his way back from injury, Dak Prescott lacked a viable second option, forcing him to target Lamb on seemingly every key play. The addition of Cooks provides immediate relief. Cooks' deep speed should also open up intermediate and underneath routes where Lamb can see less compressed windows in 2023.
Despite playing with lesser QBs during the past two years in Houston, Cooks proved he can still create separation. Now he joins Prescott in Dallas. The clear upgrade portends a bounce-back campaign for the veteran receiver.
He won't be the go-to target in Dallas' passing attack -- that's still Lamb -- but Cooks' deep acumen will help open up the field and provide plenty of opportunities for splash plays that were lacking last year.
I expect Mayfield to win the starting gig over greenhorn Kyle Trask in training camp. The former No. 1 overall pick remains a gunslinger who can still throw a deep ball when his head isn't spinning under pressure.
Meanwhile, despite a frustrating 2022, when he never seemed totally in synch with Tom Brady, Evans still put up his ninth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Turning 30 later this summer, Evans remains one of the most reliable playmakers in the NFL.
Evans' ability to stretch the field should match up well with Mayfield's pretty deep ball, particularly against man coverage. Evans has led the NFL in touchdowns (24) and tied for most catches on go routes since 2018 (58), per Next Gen Stats. Last season, he finished with 27 targets (tied for fourth), 12 receptions (fifth), 367 yards (fourth) and five TDs (tied for second) on 199 go-routes (second).
There are big questions heading into the 2023 campaign, as new coordinator Dave Canales takes over the offense and Mayfield aims to clearly win the job out of camp. But with Evans and fellow stud receiver Chris Godwin, if Baker does indeed earn the gig, the QB will have the best wideout duo he's played with since Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry each eclipsed 1,000 yards in Cleveland in 2019.
The Patriots swapped Jakobi Meyers out for JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency this offseason, ensuring Jones still has an intermediate and over-the-middle target.
In 16 regular-season games with Kanas City last season, Smith-Schuster generated 78 catches for 933 yards and three touchdowns, leading all Chiefs wideouts in the first two categories. He added 10 catches for 89 yards in K.C.'s Super Bowl run. He brings a reliable target to Foxborough, one who plays tough and is a willing blocker.
It's debatable whether JuJu will be an upgrade on Meyer's production in New England, but he represents a much-needed weapon for a Pats passing offense that lacks a go-to target. Smith-Schuster's ability to generate yards after the catch is something this attack was hurting for. The wideout earned +141 yards after the catch over expected in 2022, per NGS, eighth-most in the NFL. Adding extra yards will make life easier for Jones and the rest of the offense this season.
Jones enters a pivotal third season after struggling with consistency in last year's moribund aerial attack. Importing Bill O'Brien to call the offense should immediately boost the 24-year-old's chances of bouncing back. Putting the QB in favorable positions and not relying on an overabundance of quick screens, which frustrated Jones last season, would be a good place to start.
Early offseason signs of the Jones-JuJu relationship have gotten positive reviews from Bill Belichick. If the first-round quarterback is to cement his status as the future under center in New England, he'll need to show growth in 2023. Jones' chances of succeeding would be much greater if the Patriots were also to add free-agent receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is scheduled to visit New England this week.