As we approach the NFL preseason, rosters are taking show after a flurry of offseason moves. Here's a look at how each team's offseason has looked to this point.
The addition of future Hall of Fame defensive end J.J. Watt to a D-Line that already had Chandler Jones, who missed most of last season due to injury, could create a ferocious pass rush for the Cardinals in 2021. Even more impactful could be the addition of former Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson at a minimal cost. The wideout room also got deeper with A.J. Green and rookie Rondale Moore added to help Kyler Murray. First-round pick Zaven Collins should help the linebackers, but the cornerbacks remain a concern after the team replaced Patrick Peterson with Malcolm Butler.
Atlanta had some significant limitations due to cap issues created by the former regime, and the team was mostly stagnant in free agency. That's a big problem for a defense that struggled last season. The excitement of the first-round pick Kyle Pitts was offset by trading long-time star Julio Jones, a move indicative of a team in a rebuild. The team did make due by adding running back Mike Davis and utilityman Cordarrelle Patterson, who do give new head coach Arthur Smith more options to go along with surly veteran Matt Ryan and budding wideout Calvin Ridley.
The Ravens continue their quest for another championship, as indicated by the additions of proven veterans like guard Kevin Zeitler, right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and defensive end Justin Houston. The team further addressed Lamar Jackson's receivers by selecting Rashod Bateman in the first round of the draft. It's still a question if the roster is actually better after losing tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and pass rusher Matt Judon.
The Bills are giving it another go after reaching the AFC Championship Game last year, returning most of their rising roster. They did switch out John Brown for fellow wideout vet Emmanuel Sanders, and the team still has some concerns at cornerback behind star Tre'Davoius White. It was smart of the Bills to bring back linebacker Matt Milano, and also address the long-term pass rush with first-rounder Gregory Rousseau. Ultimately, the team's success could come down to the newly extended Josh Allen repeating his breakout campaign from 2020.
The Panthers took a risk by entrusting quarterback to Sam Darnold, who never made progress with the Jets. Losing flashy wideout Curtis Samuel in free agency will hurt, but the team is high on second-round pick Terrace Marshall. Some questions on the left side of the offensive line are a concern, and the defense could also be a work in progress with some new faces like Denzel Perryman, Haason Reddick, and first-round cornerback Jaycee Horn.
Chicago didn't do much in free agency and saw some turnover in the secondary that will likely be a negative after losing Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine. The good news was that the team was able to bring back star wide receiver Allen Robinson for at least one more season, and made fans happy when they drafted quarterback Justin Fields. He could have a tall task whenever he jumps Andy Dalton on the depth chart, with an offense that could start rookies at both tackle spots.
The offensive line was rightfully high on Cincinnati's priority list after Joe Burrow's season-ending injury in 2020, as the team signing Riley Reiff and Quinton Spain to shore up the right side of the line. The team also gave Trey Hendrickson big money to replace Carl Lawson on the defensive line and remade their cornerbacks for the second consecutive offseason by signing Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie. The most controversial move of the offseason was drafting wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase over left tackle Penei Sewell, but the Bengals did draft three linemen later in the draft. The success of these moves will determine head coach Zac Taylor's future.
Cleveland made a big jump last year and put the finishing touches on what could be a Super Bowl contender in the offseason. Most of the moves were on defense, albeit very impactful like the additions of Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Walker, John Johnson, and Troy Hill. The Browns also drafted cornerback Greg Newsome and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, for good measure. Cleveland has enough talent to avoid the follow-up regression that many teams experience.
Better health should do a lot of good for a highly talented Cowboys offense that lost Dak Prescott and significant offensive line contributors for a large portion of 2020. The defense was the big question going into the offseason, and the addition of coordinator Dan Quinn should be helpful. Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn't have the cap space to make many other high-impact moves, but the signing of safety Malik Hooker along with four draftees in the first three rounds on defense, led by linebacker Micah Parsons, give the team much-needed new blood.
After a year of struggles at quarterback, it wasn't a surprise to see Denver give Drew Lock competition with Teddy Bridgewater in town. He has some very exciting weapons with the return of Courtland Sutton from injury, along with second-round pick Javonte Williams joining Melvin Gordon in the backfield. However, the offensive line still has questions after left tackle Garett Bolles. The defense was already set to get Von Miller back from injury and totally revamped the secondary for the better with Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Kareem Jackson, and first-round pick Patrick Surtain II.
Detroit's roster was a mess at the end of last year, and it's undoubtedly worse now. Trading Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff is a clear downgrade, and the team lost wideouts, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, replacing them with Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. The team didn't do enough to help the worst defense in the league, either, with incremental additions like Michael Brockers and Corn Elder. The one bright spot was dominant offensive tackle Penei Sewell falling into their lap in the draft, making for a line that will create plenty of holes for D'Andre Swift.
The drama surrounding Aaron Rodgers overshadowed Green Bay's entire offseason, but all was right in the end. The team was able to retain playmaker Aaron Jones, and even brought back old friend Randall Cobb. First-round corner Eric Stokes addresses a major need at cornerback, as well. The biggest concern is now the offensive line after losing center Corey Linsley, forcing a shuffling of the deck in front of Rodgers.
Bill O'Brien left the Texans in shambles in what looks like a long year ahead. Faces of the franchise J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson expressed their desire to get out early in the year. Watt is now in Arizona, and Watson isn't expected to take the field for the team even if his legal troubles are resolved. Tyrod Taylor will lead a bevy of new weapons that include Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and Anthony Miller, while the defense still has some major holes that new acquisitions like Shaq Lawson, Maliek Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Desmond King are unlikely to be able to fix.
Indy's biggest move of the offseason was the acquisition of Carson Wentz, and his reputation as an injury-prone player is already showing after early August foot surgery that could sideline him in September. The offensive line also has major injury issues with All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson and new left tackle Eric Fisher questionable for Week 1. The defense is asking a lot of first-round pick Kwity Paye at defensive end after letting veteran Justin Houston walk, but GM Chris Ballard has built a strong foundation on that side of the ball, led by DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard.
The bold hire of college legend Urban Meyer was followed up with a busy offseason that included the additions of prime free agents Marvin Jones, Shaquill Griffin, and Rayshawn Jenkins. Of course, the team's offseason will ultimately be judged by the strength of the draft, led by first overall pick Trevor Lawrence now under center. The team made him more comfortable by selecting Clemson teammate Travis Etienne late in the first round and filling needs on the offensive line and defense.
Two years ago after falling short in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs front office addressed a glaring weakness by remaking their defense. This offseason the team took a similar approach, fixing an offensive line that looked to be in shambles during their Super Bowl loss. The result is potentially five new starters, including the accomplished Joe Thuney and Orlando Brown Jr. on the left side. The team also made a key under-the-radar addition in defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who has wreaked havoc for Seattle in recent seasons. With all of their stars still intact, led by Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs enter the season as Super Bowl favorites again.
What's the plan in Vegas? The Raiders curiously spent big money on backup running back Kenyan Drake, significantly downgraded their offensive line by trading Trent Brown and Rodney Hudson, and overdrafted tackle replacement Alex Leatherwood in the first round. On the bright side, the team did get a potential steal with John Brown to replace Nelson Agholor, and Yannick Ngakoue adds much-needed pass rush ability. It still remains to be seen if the Raiders actually improved the roster, however.
The Chargers did a terrific job improving their offensive line with the additions of Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler, along with first-round pick Rashawn Slater. Unfortunately, they were unable to retain tight end Hunter Henry, but veteran Jared Cook is a good consolation prize. The team is hoping the defense is better just with the return of a healthy Derwin James, but adding linebacker depth and second-round corner Asante Samuel Jr. also won't hurt. The Chargers might not be ready to challenge Kansas City in the AFC West, but Justin Herbert and company are moving in the right direction.
With the stagnant player of Jared Goff over the last two seasons, the Rams made a bold move by acquiring Matthew Stafford. Stafford never won a playoff game with the Lions, but there's no question he has more upside. The interior of the offensive line does look like a concern entering the year, as is the running back depth after losing starter Cam Akers to a season-ending injury. Retaining pass rusher Leonard Floyd to help Aaron Donald was key, but the team will need their homegrown players to fill some voids, particularly in the secondary after losing Troy Hill and John Johnson.
The Dolphins had their second consecutive busy offseason, though the moves weren't nearly as earth-shattering as last year. The additions of Will Fuller, Matt Skura, and Bernardrick McKinney should have immediate impacts, and the team also did a good job addressing defensive back depth. Ultimately, the offseason will be judged on the team's decision to let Ryan Fitzpatrick walk, unequivocally handing over the quarterback reins to second-year lefty Tua Tagovailoa. He did gain some help in the draft with Jaylen Waddle and Hunter Long, joining what looks like a formidable set of weapons.
The Vikings addressed some glaring needs after a disappointing 2020 season, with major changes on the offensive line, defensive line, and secondary. First-round pick Christian Darrisaw will be an immediate help at left tackle, which the defensive line looks much better with the return of Danielle Hunter from injury and additions of interior beef in Dalvin Tomlinson and Sheldon Richardson. The X-factor will be the changes in secondary. Minnesota has had some very bad luck with recent draft picks, and is hoping veterans Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, and Xavier Woods can right the ship.
The Patriots saved up for this offseason, and Bill Belichick and company went on a spending spree. The team remade their offense with tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, wideouts Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and right tackle Trent Brown. The defense also saw huge additions, including Matt Judon, Davon Godchaux, Kyle Van Noy, and Jalen Mills. The most impactful change will likely be the drafting of Mac Jones, who could beat out Cam Newton for the starting quarterback job. It could take some time for this group of new faces to mesh, but the talent is clearly upgraded.
The retirement of Drew Brees was the big headliner for the Saints offseason, but the team took other big nicks by losing Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, Alex Anzalone, and Janoris Jenkins in free agency. With the added absence of Michael Thomas (ankle) at the beginning of the year, it could be a rebuilding year. The team did try to stop the bleeding by selecting defensive players Payton Turner and Pete Werner in the draft, but they didn't have much money to work with. New Orleans still has to figure out who will start at quarterback in Week 1 between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.
The Giants made some bold moves in the offseason, led by the signing of potential No. 1 wideout Kenny Golladay. They complemented that signing by signing Kyle Rudolph and selecting Kadarius Toney in the first round of the draft, giving Daniel Jones everything he needs to succeed in his third season. Extending Leonard Williams was key for the defense, and they gave him some help with Ryan Anderson and Danny Shelton. The secondary also got better with the singing of Adoree' Jackson. The biggest concern as the team progresses through camp is the offensive line depth, as Shane Lemieux suffered an injury, followed by the surprise retirements of Joe Looney and Zach Fulton.
Major changes were needed after the Adam Gase debacle in New York, and the team wasted no time. The addition of former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as head coach looks like a home run hire, and the team surrounding rookie Zach Wilson with some help. That help includes Corey Davis, right tackle Morgan Moses, and draft picks Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, and Michael Carter. The team also added some much-needed talent to the draft, including Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, Jarrad Davis, and Lamarcus Joyner, with middle linebacker C.J. Mosley also returning from his 2020 opt-out and injury. It could be a while before New York is competitive again, but there's no debate they went in the right direction this offseason.
Philly took a big risk by moving on from Carson Wentz in favor of second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, but their offseason was otherwise mostly quiet. The addition of Kerryon Johnson adds running back depth, and first-round pick DeVonta Smith could be the player the team has been missing for the last several years at wide receiver. The defense made yet another effort to fix the secondary by adding Steven Nelson and Anthony Harris to offset losing Jalen Mills, while veterans Ryan Kerrigan and Eric Wilson have the potential to be nice finds as role players. The return of a health offensive could be the biggest difference-maker for Philadelphia in 2021, but it remains to be seen if Hurts has the ability to make the offense hum.
Despite Ben Roethlisberger's struggles late last season, the team had almost no choice but to bring their long-time franchise player for one more go. They also brought back JuJu Smith-Schuster, and the drafting of first-round running back Najee Harris indicates that the offense could be more balanced. The bigger concern is the offensive line, with the team employing four new starters. The line had aged quickly, but it's not clear if the new blood is an improvement. Pittsburgh also lost some key talent on defense, including Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, and went to the bargain bin to replace them with the likes of Melvin Ingram and Cameron Sutton. Steelers fans have reason to be uneasy about 2021 until they see the new talent perform.
The 49ers lost some key role players on defense, including Dee Ford, Kerry Hyder, and Richard Sherman, but there's a strong argument to be made that the talent is better this year after signing Samson Ebukam and veteran depth at safety. Veteran center Alex Mack should help the 49ers remain one of the best offensive lines in the league, with the team also going big to extend Trent Williams. The investment to trade up to No. 3 overall in the draft to select Trey Lance was a bold risk, but the training camp reports have been great.
Russell Wilson all but demanded offensive line help early in the offseason, and the team appeased him by acquiring Gabe Jackson. They also made a nice, under-the-radar addition with tight end Gerald Everett from the rival Rams. Keeping Carlos Dunlap around while signing Kerry Hyder to replace Jarran Reed was very important, but replacing corner Shaquill Griffin with Akhello Witherspoon is likely a downgrade.
There aren't many new faces in Tampa Bay after their Super Bowl campaign, but the fact that they were able to retain all 22 starters is nothing short of remarkable. That included some creative work to keep Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Shaquil Barrett, and Ndamukong Suh by the front office. The addition of third-down back Giovani Bernard could add another dimension to an offense that really progressed nicely down the stretch, and the team is already raving about first-round pass rusher Joe Tryon.
The offseason losses were mounting in Tennessee on offense, with coordinator Arthur Smith, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith gone. The front office was finally able to turn the tide with the blockbuster acquisition of Julio Jones. The team hopes last year's defensive regression will be curbed with Bud Dupree, Janoris Jenkins, and first-round pick Caleb Farley replacing big names like Jadeveon Clowney, Malcolm Butler, and Adoree' Jackson.
Washington quickly developed an elite defense last year, but the offense still had work to do. The team made an astute move by adding Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback as a band-aid, and also improved the wide receiver room with Curtis Samuels, Adam Humphries, and third-round pick Dyami Brown. The offensive line is also continuing to progress, adding Charles Leno and Ereck Flowers. The defense still wasn't quiet, adding cornerback William Jackson for big money and selecting linebacker Jamin Davis in the first round. Washington enters the year as a slight favorite in the innocuous NFC East division again.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.