The AFC East is front of mind for many NFL fans this week, for a few reasons. On one hand, the Bills are still the outright favorite to win the Super Bowl this year (+350) and are slated to win the conference, but the Chiefs are also coming strong out of the West to make a case for the No. 1 seed. For the rest of the teams in the division, uncertainty has kept fans’ eyes on them as backup quarterbacks like Mike White shine (especially in contract to high draft pick Zach Wilson’s tumble) and Tua Tagovailoa enters protocol again. What’s more, the Patriots and Jets are both just barely in the AFC playoff race, with two games remaining on the regular season schedule.
Let’s jump ahead and take a look at the 2023 free agency class for each team, and how much cap space the AFC East will have to work with:
Note: All salary cap numbers used are according to Spotrac and are subject to change after publication.
What to know: The Bills are facing a projected deficit for next year’s cap space right now and will need to make important decisions on Devin Singletary, Jordan Poyer and Tremaine Edmunds, all of whom lead in at least one stat category for the team (rushing yards, interceptions and tackles, respectively) this season.
2022 cap space status: $1,643,262
2023 cap space status: $-3,575,101
2023 free agents: Jordan Poyer, S; Rodger Saffold, RG; Jordan Phillips, DL; Case Keenum, QB; Tremaine Edmunds, LB; Tyler Matakevich, LB; Jamison Crowder, WR; David Quessenberry, RG; Sam Martin, P; Taiwan Jones, RB; Bobby Hart, RT; Greg Van Roten, RG; Shaq Lawson, DL; Ike Boettger, RG; A.J. Klein, LB; Xavier Rhodes, CB; Jake Kumerow, WR; Dean Marlowe, S; Justin Murray, LT; Devin Singletary, RB; Tyrel Dodson, LB; Cameron Lewis, CB; Dane Jackson, CB; Jaquan Johnson, S; Tommy Sweeney, TE; Eli Ankou, DL
What to know: Given the recent news that quarterback Tagovailoa is back in concussion protocol with no set timeline for a return, the Dolphins are in a tough spot to make decisions. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater is set to become a free agent this offseason, as is one of Miami’s main receiving targets, tight end Mike Gesicki. Will the Dolphins try to come close to last year’s free agency success, when they gained Tyreek Hill, while already facing a projected negative cap space for next year?
2022 cap space status: $3,732,146
2023 cap space status: $-6,786,096
2023 free agents: Mike Gesicki, TE; Teddy Bridgewater, QB; Eric Rowe, S; Melvin Ingram, DL; Nik Needham, CB; Eric Fisher, LT; Duke Riley, LB; Elandon Roberts, LB; Adam Shaheen, TE; Trey Flowers, DL; Raheem Mostert, RB; Clayton Fejedelem, S; Greg Little, LT; Sam Eguavoen, LB; John Jenkins, DL; Thomas Morstead, P; Trent Sherfield, WR; Brandon Shell, RT; Justin Bethel, CB; Jeff Wilson, RB; Justin Zimmer, DL; River Cracraft, WR; Michael Deiter, C; Salvon Ahmed, RB; Elijah Campbell, CB; John Lovett, FB; Andrew Van Ginkel, DL; Myles Gaskin, RB; Porter Gustin, DL
New England Patriots
What to know: Unlike the Dolphins and Bills, the Patriots look like they will have a lot to work with next year, ranking in the top four for projected 2023 cap space. The team will likely prioritize re-signing leading wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, veteran safety Devin McCourty and key cornerback Jonathan Jones.
2022 cap space status: $1,716,003
2023 cap space status: $54,031,597
2023 free agents: Nelson Agholor, WR; Devin McCourty, S; Jonathan Jones, CB; Jakobi Meyers, WR; Isaiah Wynn, LT; Matt Slater, WR; Cody Davis, S; Jabrill Peppers, S; Marcus Cannon, RT; Joejuan Williams, CB; Carl Davis, DL; Daniel Ekuale, DL; Michael Palardy, P; Raekwon McMillan, LB; Joe Cardona, LS; James Ferentz, C; Conor McDermott, RG; Damien Harris, RB; Yodny Cajuste, LT; Myles Bryant, CB; Kristian Wilkerson, WR; Mack Wilson, LB; Quinn Nordin, K; LaBryan Ray, DL
New York Jets
What to know: Following the Jets’ loss to the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football, it was reported that New York is expected to move on from Wilson in the offseason. This could create huge implications for quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Mike White (the starter for Week 17), both of whom are entering free agency in 2023.