After years of the same old product, EA Sports finally decided to spice up a key component of franchise mode. Free agency has gone through a complete overhaul in what hope’s to provide a much more fun, challenging and in-depth experience to the offseason.
There are a few changes to know right off the bat before going into a deep dive. Teams are only allowed to offer contracts to five free agents during each of the early stages of the offseason. As the offseason progresses, the cap will be lifted and teams are free to sign as many players as needed. You also can no longer see how strong your opponent’s offers are and will only be limited to seeing how many offers each player has. There is no way to determine who has the better deal in place until the player makes a final decision.
There are now brand new features added to players as well, many are depicted in the photo of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. All players have three motivations and some also will feature player tags. Motivations are determining factors in free agency, while player tags define specific types of athletes, which will help CPU teams make more realistic decisions. The last point of emphasis is the new contract structures.
Let’s dive in.
Free agency is no longer a war of who has the most cap space. Each player will have three motivations that affect a player’s free-agency decision. There are one or two top priority motivations that are very important to the player. The sidebar signifies the importance of the motivation and they are always ranked from top to bottom. If a team does not fit the motivation, it will cost substantially more money to obtain his services. In some cases, where none of the motivations align, there might not be enough money in the world to bring in said player.
Here are all 12 motivations in Madden 23:
Super Bowl Chase
Players with this motivation prefer to sign with a team that has a chance to compete for a Super Bowl. Each team is placed into different brackets of contention, the stronger the overall roster, the better odds a team has to sign players with this motivation.
Players with this motivation prefer to sign with a team that has a history of winning championships. The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Packers can be considered front-runners for these players in Year 1 of franchise mode.
Head Coach Historic Record
Players with this motivation prefer to sign with a team that has a coach with a winning record. This one of self-explanatory but adds to the franchise mode experience, especially players that tend to play for seasons on end.
Close To Home
Players with this motivation prefer to sign with a team that is close to where they grew up. Again, self explanatory but adds to the difficulty of signing players. Even if you are the reigning Super Bowl champs with a great head coach and storied franchise, you can’t make a West Coast kid want to play on the East Coast.
Warm Weather State
Players with this motivation prefer to play in cities that have good weather. Same premise as close to home, except this one can at least be controlled beforehand. Something to consider when choosing a team, especially online against real opponents.
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams where they are a scheme fit. This motivation has been around for a while in some capacity but did not move the needle like it can now.
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams that are located in big markets. This one was made for players like Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, whose TikTok brand is as important to him as his stats.
No Income Tax
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams located in states with no income tax. Teams from Florida, Nevada, Texas and Washington have an advantage with this motivation. This is one of the most realistic additions in the game.
Top Of The Depth Chart
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams where they can be at the top of the depth chart. Again, another aspect of the free agent period that will not only make it challenging to make a super team but adds realism to the game.
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams that give them the biggest contract. There will still be players headed to the highest bidder.
Mentor At Position
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams that have a mentor at their position. A mentor is a player tag that will be explained a little further down. The idea of this kind of motivation is to add value to someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick, who can’t be defined by a mid-70s rating.
Brian Hoyer teaching Mac Jones the ropes with the Patriots last season is an example of how the game adds value to an otherwise well-below-average player. This trait is mostly for quarterbacks, but not limited to signal callers.
Team Has Franchise QB
Players with this motivation prefer to play for teams that have a franchise quarterback. This trait is mostly for wide receivers, but can be placed on any player with a win-first mentality.
Player tags are traits that define certain players. Not every player will have a tag and they are used to put players in molds as opposed to simply having overalls. The player tags also signify information to the CPU to increase realism. For example, a team will not draft a first-round quarterback if they have a “franchise QB” or “QB of the future.”
Here are the nine player tags in Madden 23:
The best quarterbacks in the league will receive this tag. Teams with quarterbacks like Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes will no longer spend high draft capital or sign quarterbacks in free agency other than to add depth to the roster unless the quarterback reaches a certain age.
If a player wins an end-of-season award like MVP, offensive rookie of the year, or best receiver they will get this tag. The tag will increase the number of teams interested in the player during free agency.
Day 1 Starter
Day 1 Starters will be placed above similarly rated players in the depth chart. This player tag is designed so that young players will get a shot to start over aging veterans. In other words, a 75 overall player with this tag will get the start over a 77 overall on the decline. Depth charts are no longer simply decided by overall.
QB Of The Future
Quarterbacks with this tag are given similar priority as Day 1 Starters but also hold similar value as Franchise QBs in the sense that they will not be replaced. A team might pair this tag with a mentor or bridge player.
Players with this tag either are on or will be added to the trade block when the time comes.
As mentioned before, think Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Hoyer. These players aid young players with XP boosts in weekly training and can convince young players to sign with your team.
This player will be given a boost in the depth chart in a similar fashion as the Day 1 Starters but will also receive XP boosts in weekly training.
If starting, teams will look to draft their replacement. Future starters will be placed ahead of this player on the depth chart.
This is the same as a bridge player just at the Quarterback position. It’s odd that they even specified the two, but they made multiple distinctions between QBs and other positions.
The last piece of free agency is the four new contract structures added to the game, to streamline the process and aid beginners. It’s also important to note that custom contracts still exist and these new contracts are more of a baseline/additional option for players.
Team Friendly Contract
These contracts are considered to be low-ball offers that will likely only be accepted if every motivation aligns with what the team has to offer.
Neutral offers are the average or fair offers given to a player, similar to the offers that they would show as fair in previous games. More of a baseline than a number the player will automatically accept. Once again, motivations will have to be in line to accept this deal.
These deals are a slight overpay but could be warranted to secure players with some motivation misalignment. They are more likely to sign these deals, as expected.
Very Player-Friendly Contract
Massive overpays in order to secure what would hopefully be a marquee free agent or upcoming free agent. This contract will be needed for players who’s motivations don’t align at all with a team, and it still might not be enough.