ATLANTA, GEORGIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jessie Bates III #3 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after making an interception during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 10, 2023 in
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The Most Impactful NFL Free Agents of the 2023 Season

Each spring, NFL teams and fanbases alike hail their new multi-million dollar free agent acquisitions as the savior who will turn the franchise's trajectory around, or perhaps put them over the top.

However, the reality is that few signings wind up working out that way, at least initially.

For every David Montgomery, there's a Miles Sanders. Every Gardner Minshew a Derek Carr.

However, there are times that general managers strike gold and find the perfect fit to fill a need and enhance their team's postseason aspirations.

Here's a look at the top-10 free agent acquisitions of the 2023 season, who are making the most significant impact on their new teams:

1) Gardner Minshew, QB, Indianapolis Colts

In all likelihood, the Colts signed Minshew to serve as the eventual veteran backup to both help mentor an incoming rookie quarterback, ultimately Anthony Richardson, because of his familiarity with head coach Shane Steichen's scheme. But, after Richardson was lost for the season, Minshew has played the Colts into the throes of the AFC South race.

Mineshew has been a steadying force on the Colts' offense, while getting the most out of wide receivers Michael Pittman and Josh Downs thanks in large part to Steichen's innovative play-calling and top-notch execution. The Colts have now won four straight, as Minshew has completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 2,284 yards with 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions.

2) David Montgomery, RB, Detroit Lions

The moment the Lions chose Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 pick, conventional wisdom suggested he would vault to the top of the depth chart and his explosiveness would immediately make him a focal point of Detroit's offense. The problem is, no one told David Montgomery.

While the Lions' ground game has morphed into a running back by committee in recent weeks, Montgomery has been Detroit's bellcow for much of the 2023 campaign. So far this season, Montgomery has rushed for 704 yards with 10 touchdowns, while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The former Bears running back has quickly become indispensable to the Lions' success on offense.

3) Javon Hargrave, DL, San Francisco 49ers

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 12: Javon Hargrave #98 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on November 12, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida.

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San Francisco's defensive line is an embarrassment of riches, which makes it little surprise that this is the unit powering one of the league's hottest teams. Even before acquiring Chase Young at the trade deadline, the 49ers boasted one of the most disruptive front-sevens in football, which Hargrave playing a major role.

After proving instrumental in the Eagles' run to the Super Bowl in 2022, Hargrave picked up where he left off in the 2023 campaign, after signing with the San Francisco 49ers. Hargrave has already posted 39 total tackles with 6.0 sacks, with a fighter's chance at matching his career-high 11.5 sacks that he posted in 2022. In addition to his own productivity, Hargrave's presence has created opportunities in the pass-rush for the 49ers' stellar linebacker corps, as well.

4) Jessie Bates, S, Atlanta Falcons

Jessie Bates has become the exact veteran presence that the Falcons hoped they were signing over the offseason, and believe they can continue building around on that side of the ball.

Bates has already intercepted five passes this season, including logging a pick in two consecutive games, as a driving force in a pair of Falcons victories. Beyond playing like a true ballhawk at safety, Bates has produce more than 10 tackles in four of his 12 starts, so far. The Falcons sit atop the NFC South, and Bates' timely big plays have been a critical reason why.

5) Bobby Okereke, LB, New York Giants

The Giants' defense continues to be a work in progress, but Bobby Okereke isn't just a veteran building block, but is playing like a keystone to New York's future. Okereke might be the best player on the Giants' roster.

Despite battling through some nagging injuries, Okereke has played every single defensive snap for the Giants, through 13 weeks, and hasn't just made his share of plays but emerged as one of New York's most respected leaders. Okereke has already produced 113 total tackles with four forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions. It has been a woefully disappointing season for the Giants, after making a return to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade in 2022, but Okereke has been a bright spot.

6) Jakobi Meyers, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 26: Jakobi Meyers #16 of the Las Vegas Raiders runs with the ball during the first quarter of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on November 26, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The only Raiders wide receiver with more receiving yards than Jakobi Meyers is Davante Adams, but it's Meyers who leads the team with eight touchdowns.

Despite wildly inconsistent quarterback play, Meyers has caught 52 of his 76 targets for 591 yards with six touchdowns, as one of Vegas' most productive offensive weapons. Meyers only has three drops this season, as Raiders quarterbacks have posted a 95.9 passer rating while targeting him. If nothing else, Meyers is a reliable second-option at receiver, with upside to be even more productive for the Raiders, moving forward.

7) Dalvin Tomlinson, DL, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland signed Tomlinsin on hopes of solidifying the run-defense against ground-and-pound opponents like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North, and so far the former Giant and Viking has exceeded those expectations.

Tomlinson has done a nice job of providing a interior pass rush, producing three sacks and 33 total tackles, just a half-sack shy from tying his career-best. The Browns' chances of making the postseason, with Joe Flacco behind center, largely hinge on the defense holding serve the rest of the way. Tomlinson is a big piece of that happening.

8) Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Seattle Seahawks

As the games have gotten more meaningful down the stretch, Dre'Mont Jones is making a significantly more meaningful impact on the Seahawks' defense.

Aided in part by the bombastic arrival of Leonard Williams, via a trade with the New York Giants, over the past four games Jones has produced nine total tackles, with a half sack. Jones seems to have found a home along the interior of the Seattle's defensive line, especially in the aftermath of Uchenna Nwosu suffering a season-ending injury.

9) Baker Mayfield, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 3: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on December 3, 2023 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Tampa Bay entered this season with no viable long-term solution at quarterback, and while keeping the Buccaneers in the AFC South conversation, Mayfield has at least presented general manager Jason Licht with the option of committing to him beyond 2023.

Mayfield has built a strong chemistry with electrifying star wide receiver Mike Evans, and his persona seems to have ignited the Buccaneers' offense. Mayfield's 2,790 yards with 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions might be middle of the road, but he's quarterbacked a team that has been dragging a defense besieged by injuries for months along to a 5-7 start, in striking distance of the division lead.

10) Kyzir White, LB, Arizona Cardinals

Jonathan Gannon brought Kyzir White with him to Arizona, to serve as the quarterback of the defense, from their familiarity together in Philadelphia.

White has been one of the Cardinals' most steady defenders, logging 90-total tackles with an interception that came at a critical time in Arizona's upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Playing in the first season of a two-year deal, White has the potential to play his way into a long-term deal if he keeps his pace through the close of this season and into 2024.

Honorable Mentions

Sheldon Rankins, DL, Houston Texans

Sheldon Rankins is one of the defensive players the Texans signed as a tone-setter in DeMeco Ryans' culture, and he's more than delivered. Rankins has hit his stride in Ryans' scheme, producing 21 solo tackles with one sack.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Houston Texans

Dalton Schultz has quickly developed into both a security blanket for electrifying rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, and a prolific red-zone weapon. Schultz has caught 40 passes for 455 yards with five touchdowns, and could see his role expanded after slot receiver Tank Dell was lost for the season.

A'Shawn Robinson, DL, New York Giants

Robinson has become a brick wall against the run, and a space-eater along the interior of the Giants' defense. Posting 36 total tackles and three tackles for loss, in 12 games, Robinson has been as steady as they come.

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