let me update this for anyone reading in the future. there is a reason why they say dont change more than one thing at all.
it turns out the “freeness” was all from moving the rod ends to the outer holes on the spindles. i tried different caster/camber settings, and doing the same “crank the steering wheel all the way and push” test. it still rolled relatively free, even with max caster, and STILL with the inside wheel not lifting.