Quarterbacks influence contenders more than perhaps any other position, so it's no surprise most of the NFL's biggest storylines going into 2023 have to do with what's going on under center: the Jets are betting on a relocation revival for Aaron Rodgers, the Saints are doing the same with Derek Carr, and then you've got teams like the Bengals, Bills, Chiefs and Eagles just hoping for more of the same from their star signal-callers.
But what about the keys to the season beyond the QB spot? Here, we've identified 14 different non-QBs under the most pressure to deliver in 2023:
Patriots OC Bill O'Brien
Mac Jones was relatively promising as a rookie, but he fell off a cliff for much of 2022, working under the inexplicable "offensive" pairing of Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. With decent but unspectacular personnel, O'Brien will be tasked with rejuvenating -- or replacing -- the young QB as New England tries to restore relevance in the AFC East.
The Cowboys bid Moore farewell in an apparent effort to balance out the offense and lean back into the ground, and now the frequent head coaching candidate could be key to unlocking Justin Herbert as a more consistent downfield thrower. Brandon Staley needs big-game results more than most, so there's a lot riding on Herbert's leap from really good to playoff-level great.
Bears WR D.J. Moore
Acquired in Chicago's trade out of the No. 1 overall draft pick, Moore can't just be competent in Chicago; fair or not, he's being introduced as a game-changer for QB Justin Fields. Locked in for $20 million per year through 2025, his reliability as Fields' new No. 1 target could go a long way toward determining the trajectory of the entire franchise.
On one hand, Jacksonville got by with Christian Kirk and Zay Jones leading Trevor Lawrence's receiving corps a year ago. On the other, the Jags are now considered legit playoff contenders, and Ridley is already despite playing just five games the last two years. On a contract year, he's got plenty to prove as a one-time all-star.
Even on a one-year deal, $15M is not cheap for a guy who's started 20 games the last three years, missing extensive time with knee injuries. Beckham is easily the most accomplished member of a remade WR corps, but his availability could be crucial to Lamar Jackson's growth as a passer inside a new offensive system. The Ravens better hope rookie Zay Flowers is ready, too.
Pick Six Newsletter
Crafted By The Best NFL Experts
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Justin Jefferson is so good that Minnesota might still win games relying solely on he and T.J. Hockenson in the passing game. But we've seen before, on the rare occasions Jefferson is overmatched, Kirk Cousins and Co. go downhill in a hurry. Addison may be a rookie, but he'll be asked to fill Adam Thielen's shoes immediately, working alongside K.J. Osborn out wide.
When he's been healthy, he's been one of the game's best. But availability has been an issue, and he remains the NFL's highest-paid tight end at $17M per year. Offloaded by the Raiders, Waller is the biggest name in New York's restocked pass-catching group, meaning everyone in that building expects -- needs -- him to help Daniel Jones keep growing as the QB.
Chiefs OT Jawaan Taylor
With Andy Reid on the sidelines and Patrick Mahomes under center, odds are Kansas City will be OK even if roadblocks present themselves. But only Eagles star Lane Johnson is due to make more at right tackle after Taylor netted a mega deal in free agency. At $20M per year, he'd better be sterling, or else fans might wish the Chiefs just paid to retain Orlando Brown on the other side.
Bengals OT Orlando Brown Jr.
Speaking of Chiefs tackles, Brown left K.C. for another title contender, and while the Bengals may have gotten him on a relative discount at $16M per year, he's still got a very important job: keeping Joe Burrow upright while commanding much more than incumbent left tackle Jonah Williams. Removed from the confines of Reid's offense, can he live up to his deal?
Jaguars OT Cam Robinson
If there's one underrated red flag on an otherwise ascending Jaguars team, it's the trenches. Robinson holds everything together as Trevor Lawrence's bodyguard, but he'll be sidelined four games due to suspension. After that, he'd better be on his A-game to help offset whatever occurs in the meantime. He's due $17.6M per year -- more than all but six left tackles in the game.
He's been a regular on Miami's front since arriving in 2020, but as the projected starting right tackle, he's a glaring question mark, having yet to play a full season as a full-timer there. Coming off ankle surgery, he's also got maybe the most important job on the team: protecting Tua Tagovailoa's blind side -- all the more important after Tua's own injury scares of late.
Everyone knows his name thanks to his dominant college days and first-round entry, but Young has been a near-non-factor for two years, mostly due to injuries. Now, with 2024 free agency looming, he's in danger of becoming the odd man out on an otherwise stingy defensive front, with Ron Rivera and Co. already paying big bucks to teammates Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen.
Vikings OLB Marcus Davenport
After five tantalizing but ultimately frustrating years in New Orleans, the pass rusher settled for a one-year, prove-it deal in free agency. And now he might be the only proven pass rusher set to headline Brian Flores' new defensive scheme, with Za'Darius Smith shipped out and Danielle Hunter toying with his own exit.
Seattle spent big to upgrade its defense this offseason, adding up front (Dre'Mont Jones, Jarran Reed), in the middle (Bobby Wagner) and on the back end (Devon Witherspoon). If only their high-profile safety -- Adams makes $17.5M per year, more than all but two others at his position -- can stay on the field after playing just one game in 2022, and no more than 12 from 2020-2021.