The San Francisco 49ers headline the NFC West as the team to beat. The Los Angeles Rams enter as the second overall favorites while the Seattle Seahawks are the third-best bet as per the sports betting markets. The Arizona Cardinals bring up the rear, tipped as the quintessential longshots to win the NFC West.
In this column, we look at the free agency comings and goings this offseason and their impact on the NFL odds
NFL Odds – To Win NFC West
- San Francisco 49ers -165
- Los Angeles Rams +275
- Seattle Seahawks + 500
- Arizona Cardinals +1800
San Francisco 49ers – 165
- Key acquisitions: QB Sam Darnold (Panthers), DT Javon Hargrave (Eagles), DE Clelin Ferrell (Raiders), CB Isaiah Oliver (Falcons), DE Austin Bryant (Lions), G John Feliciano (Giants), DB Myles Hartsfield (Panthers)
- Key re-signings: DL Kevin Givens, S Tashaun Gipson Sr., LS Taybor Pepper, C Jake Brendel, TE Ross Dwelley, DT T.Y. McGill, LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
- Key losses: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders), S Jimmie Ward (Texans), DL Hassan Ridgeway (Texans), CB Emmanuel Moseley (Lions), DL Maurice Hurst (Browns), G Daniel Brunskill,(Titans) LB Azeez Al Shaair (Titans)
The San Francisco 49ers finally parted ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, setting the stage for a new era with young guns Trey Lance and Brock Purdy. The decision was a long time coming, but the Niners may yet rue moving on from Jimmy G under these circumstances. Lance and Purdy have limited experience between them in the NFL, Moreover, both have already suffered significant season-ending injuries. It is a wonder that the bookmakers are quite as confident as they are to install the Niners as the runaway favorites across multiple NFL betting markets.
So far, signing quarterback Sam Darnold is the only attempt that San Francisco has made to address the imbalance in the quarterback room. Whether it’s enough is debatable. Darnold’s level of experience is questionable behind a 21-35 combined record with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers spanning five seasons.
Given last season’s quarterback carousel, one can’t rule out Darnold getting a start in 2023 for various reasons, and if that isn’t a worry, what is?
Instead of releasing, the #Panthers are trading K Zane Gonzalez to the #49ers.
(Conditional 2025 late-round compensation)
He joins Steve Wilks, Christian McCaffrey, Sam Darnold and Myles Hartsfield in SF.
— The Riot Report (@RRiotReport) March 24, 2023
As far as the defense is concerned, it’s business as usual with the revolving door spinning on account of the comings and goings on that side of the ball. The Niners saw defensive coordinator DeMarco Ryan leave for Houston to take the Texans job, inspiring safety Jimmie Ward and defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway to follow him. Cornerback b signed with the Detroit Lions and guard Daniel Brunskill and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair were lured to Tennessee.
Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave was added to address a need on an otherwise stoic defense. Hargrave should be a great complement to Nick Bosa and Anik Armstead. Edge Clelin Ferrell, cornerback Isaiah Oliver and defensive end Austin Bryant are some of the new faces that will be working with Steve Wilks.
Los Angeles Rams +275
- Key acquisitions: TE Hunter Long (Dolphins, via trade),
- Key re-signings: G Coleman Shelton
- Key losses: QB Baker Mayfield, LS Matt Orzech (Packers), K Matt Gay (Colts), LB Bobby Wagner, CB Jalen Ramsey (Dolphins, via trade)
Sean McVay and the Rams are doing a bit of a spring clean, bidding adieu to a string of players that they simply can’t afford to extend or keep and trading those they can for some desperately needed draft capital and cap space.
Sometimes the best deals are the ones you make close to home. Signing guard Coleman Shelton is an important move to bolster the O-line and ensure quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to have protection. Speaking of quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield’s sojourn in Los Angeles has come to an end. The former No. 1 pick went 2-2 with the Rams in four starts at the end of last season. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he has at least a shot to be the starter.
The Rams managed to rework offensive tackle Joe Noteboom’s contract to free up some cap space as per NFL news insiders. They acquired tight end Hunter Long from the Dolphins in a trade for cornerback Jalen Ramsey and a third-round pick.
Coleman puttin’ pen to paper! ✍ pic.twitter.com/ZgZWhRgZBC
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) March 17, 2023
Seattle Seahawks +500
- Key acquisitions: DL Dre’Mont Jones (Broncos), DL Jarran Reed (Packers), OL Evan Brown (Lions), S Julian Love (Giants), LB Devin Bush (Steelers)
- Key re-signings: QB Geno Smith, QB Drew Lock
- Key losses: LB Cody Barton (Commanders), RB Rashaad Penny (Eagles), RB Travis Homer (Bears), DL Quinton Jefferson (release),DL Shelby Harris (release)
Pete Carroll’s Seahawks punched above their weight class and defied the NFL betting odds to finish second in the NFC West and clinch a wild card spot in the playoffs last season. Although they went one-and-done, it wasn’t about that at all. For the Seahawks, it was about challenging perceptions, revival, giving fans some of the best talking points and proving to be just a good old-fashioned, feel-good story.
Quarterback Geno Smith was a long forgotten man, but the backup signal caller enjoyed a renaissance in Seattle that few would have predicted. Not surprisingly, he’s chosen to stay in Seattle and re-signed with them. Drew Lock, who came over in the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade with the Denver Broncos, also re-signed. Thus, ensuring there is continuity in the quarterback room.
The Seahawks lost running back Rashaad Penny to the Eagles and running back Travis Homer to the Bears. But they’re loaded in draft capital that they might use toward shoring up the run game and other positions on the offense.
One of the key areas of concern was the defense, which was inconsistent and exceptionally porous all too often. Defensive lineman and ex-Brpnco Dre’Mont Jones represents their biggest free agency addition to date. Safety Julian Love from the New York Giants, defensive tackle Jarran Reed, ex-Steelers linebacker Devin Bush and center Evan Brown will address other key areas.
Arizona Cardinals +1800
- Key acquisitions: LB Kyzir White (Eagles), DT L.J. Collier, LB Josh Woods WR Zach Pascal (Eagles), OL Hjalte Froholdt (Browns)
- Key re-signings: OL Kelvin Beachum, G Will Hernandez, K Matt Prater, RB Corey Clement. CB Antonio Hamilton, DT Josh Ledbetter, QB David Blough, LB Ezekiel Turner, K Matt Pratt, WR Greg Dortch
- Key losses: DE J.J. Watt (retirement), G Cody Ford (Bengals), DE Zach Allen (Broncos), CB Byron Murphy (Vikings)
New general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon are keeping their cards close to their chests. But in lieu of Arizona’s disappointing run that brought about wholesale changes, bookmakers are left in the dark. It’s impossible to know what to expect from the Cardinals in the coming season and that has earned them somewhat dubious odds at the sportsbook exchange.
They’ve mainly prioritized the defense thus far and for good reason with J.J. Watt headed into retirement and Zach Allen going to Denver via free agency. They’ve also lost cornerback Bryon Murphy to the Minnesota Vikings and guard Cody Ford to the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the meantime, the Cardinals have re-signed cornerback Antonio Hamilton, defensive tackle Josh Ledbetter and linebacker Ezekiel Turner. The new additions include lineback Kyzir White, defensive tackle L.J. Collier and linebacker Josh Woods. They’ve also signed ex-Browns offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt.
The offensive moves have been the fewest, with wide receiver Zach Pascal joining Arizona via free agency. The all-important question is what happens to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is a free agent and could explore his options elsewhere.
Thank You, Zach 👏
Your dance moves will never be forgotten 🕺 pic.twitter.com/GJV6HJ7xoh
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) March 16, 2023