The NFL offseason has arrived. Bally Sports keeps you up to date on all of the major developments involving franchise tags (Feb. 21 to March 7), free agency (which begins March 15) and the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri).

More NFL offseason: Mock Draft Consensus 2.0

Monday, Feb. 27

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Dec 24, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders cut Carson Wentz

On the same day safety Bobby McCain was let go to save $2.32 million in salary cap space, the Commanders also released quarterback Carson Wentz to clear an additional $26.2 million.

Washington acquired the 2016 No. 2 overall pick from the Colts last year with hopes of reviving his career, but Wentz threw nearly as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns (11) in eight games. He struggled during the team’s 2-4 start before a broken finger sidelined him and brought on backup Taylor Heinicke, who then led the team to five victories in six games.

However, the QB carousel continued for head coach Ron Rivera, who benched Heinicke and turned to Wentz in Week 17 to keep the Commanders’ playoff hopes alive. After Wentz threw three interceptions in a home loss to Cleveland that eliminated Washington, Rivera concluded the season by allowing rookie Sam Howell to start in his NFL debut.

Rivera said earlier this month that Howell would be “more than likely” the Week 1 starter, but that was before the Commanders lured Eric Bieniemy from champion Kansas City to become their new offensive coordinator. Finding the right quarterback to operate in Bieniemy’s offense remains Washington’s biggest offseason decision. The problem is that the Commanders would be one of several teams searching for a QB if Howell isn’t their man.

Could they convince free agent Derek Carr to come to D.C.? Would they be so lucky to have Florida’s Anthony Richardson fall to them at the 16th pick? Such speculation is part of an intriguing offseason. Stay tuned.

Thursday, Feb. 23

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Dec 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (45 celebrates after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Raiders 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Rams to release Bobby Wagner

Eventually, the Rams were going to face the harsh reality of their controversial roster-building philosophy that prioritized star talent over draft picks. The bold strategy succeeded in accomplishing the franchise’s primary goal — winning Super Bowl LVI in their home stadium — but an injury-plagued 2022 season sent the Rams toward a shocking downward spiral and a 5-12 record.

An offseason of introspection and salary-cap consequences awaited the team’s braintrust. The first painful decision was made when the Rams reportedly agreed to part ways with All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Last offseason, Wagner was cut by Seattle and signed a five-year, $65 million contract with the NFC West rival Rams as their latest big-money bet on big-name players. The 32-year-old showed no signs of slowing down in his one and only season in Los Angeles, recording 140 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions. He immediately becomes one of the top players in this year’s free-agent class.

The decision to cut ties was mutual, as the Rams need to clear cap space and Wagner, a six-time All-Pro selection, hopes to make one last championship run. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey showed his appreciation for Wagner on Twitter, tweeting “It was a real dream come true to play on the same defense as you.” Coincidentally, Ramsey’s future remains in doubt with the Rams, who could further address their cap situation by releasing or trading the six-time Pro Bowler.

Monday, Feb. 20

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Is Daniel Jones worth $45 million a year?

Report: Daniel Jones seeking as much as $45 million a year

As the NFL universe waits for Aaron Rodgers to come out of the dark and share his future plans, another quarterback stole the league’s spotlight when a report revealed that Daniel Jones could seek as much as $45 million a year from the Giants. The exorbitant price tag purportedly set by Jones’ new representation (he switched from CAA to Athletes First) received quite the reaction (and derision) the day before the start of the NFL’s franchise tag period.

Jones is looking to capitalize on a breakout 2022 season, one in which he thrived under NFL Coach of the Year Brian Daboll and led the Giants to their first playoff appearance since the 2016 campaign. The team declined Jones’ fifth-year option last year after the 2019 first-round pick (sixth overall) stumbled through three inconsistent seasons, the last two during the disastrous tenure of coach Joe Judge. All signs point to the Giants applying the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jones, a stopgap measure that would pay him $32.4 million in 2023.

Tuesday, Feb. 14

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Sep 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) watches a replay after the Raiders were defeated 29-23 by the Arizona Cardinals in overtime at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders release Derek Carr

On Valentine’s Day, the Raiders made the breakup official. They finally split with Derek Carr, opting to say goodbye to their longtime starting quarterback after failing to find a trade partner to recoup a draft asset for the four-time Pro Bowler.

The Raiders braintrust signaled its intention to move on from Carr early last month when it decided to bench the 31-year-old for the last two games of a disappointing season and keep him injury-free in hopes of pulling off a trade. The urgency was due to the boat load of guaranteed money headed Carr’s way — $32.9 million base salary in 2023 and $7.5 million in 2024 — if he wasn’t cut by Feb. 15. Complicating matters was the no-trade clause in Carr’s contract.

While the team failed to make a deal and receive some compensation for Carr, it managed to free up $29 million in salary-cap space. How much of that cash goes to its next quarterback remains to be seen. While oddsmakers speculate Aaron Rodgers landing in Las Vegas, the Raiders — if they’re truly interested in making a playoff push next season — must find a veteran QB who already knows Josh McDaniels’ system (Jimmy Garoppolo?). Otherwise, they’re better off finding a new franchise quarterback in the draft, where they currently hold the No. 7 overall pick but need to move up to have a chance at selecting Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud or Will Levis.

There was plenty of blame to go around for Las Vegas finishing 6-11 and missing the playoffs — after making an inspired run to the postseason the year before — but most of it was placed at the feet (and arm) of Carr, who never found a comfort level during McDaniels’ first season as Raiders head coach. Carr’s Raiders legacy is a combination of sustained production (franchise-record 35,222 passing yards and 217 passing TDs) and unsatisfying results (63-79 record with just two playoff trips in nine seasons). Truth is, the front office’s inability to build a contending team around Carr is just as culpable, if not more.

Carr should have no shortage of suitors in free agency. The Saints (who met with Carr last week), Jets, Panthers, Colts, Buccaneers and Commanders all could be in the mix. Don’t be surprised if Carr chooses a team with a stout defense. Only once during his Raiders tenure did he play on a team with a defensive unit that ranked in the top 15.

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