The NFL recently announced its for the 2023 season, starting the countdown for the kickoff of another race to the Lombardi Trophy. All 32 teams still have OTAs and training camp to sort through position battles, but for the most part, we've got a good sense of how clubs have changed -- for better or worse -- since the end of last season. Some look like locks to contend. Others are true wild cards.
With that in mind, here's one thing we learned about every team this offseason:
The new regime is committed to a slow build. New coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort may have had no choice but to embrace quarterback Kyler Murray's restrictively large contract, but in doing so, they've all but postponed hopes of true competition until 2024, what with Murray coming off a serious injury and an aging and/or battered supporting cast. Gannon's defense is also mostly devoid of building blocks.
Arthur Smith will win the old-fashioned way, or die trying. Entering year three, the coach might be getting progressively further from a sustained answer at QB, and rather than prioritize downfield weapons for Desmond Ridder, this team piled up at running back (Bijan Robinson) and tight end (Jonnu Smith), seemingly doubling down on the ground game. There could be a lot riding on their restocked "D," now headlined by safety Jessie Bates III.
They believe in Lamar Jackson (enough). After months of failed contract negotiations and a public disconnect that included the star QB airing a trade request, the Ravens turned around and extended the former MVP on a $260 million deal that reset the market. But they can get out of the deal fairly easily after just two seasons, and there's a reason they permitted Jackson to speak with other teams in free agency; few are more talented, but questions remain about his durability and late-year passing.
They remain among the class of the AFC. Compared to years past, the Bills were relatively quiet. But their added insurance at running back (Damien Harris, Latavius Murray), tight end (Dalton Kincaid) and guard (O'Cyrus Torrence) is a plus, highlighting how well-suited they remain at premium starting spots, from QB (Josh Allen) to WR (Stefon Diggs) to the front seven, where Von Miller should be motivated to return alongside Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones.
They've finally reset the program the right way. When Matt Rhule took over in 2020, he preached patience and then proceeded to gamble on Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and a well-worn Cam Newton at QB. Now, a proven NFL tutor in Frank Reich is at the helm, alongside steady, if unspectacular, veterans (i.e. Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, Hayden Hurst) to support No. 1 pick Bryce Young, who's got .
It's now up to Justin Fields to prove he belongs. The QB was MVP-caliber as a rusher in 2022, but now he's got a competent array of weapons, with D.J. Moore entering as WR1 and D'Onta Foreman and Robert Tonyan beefing up the red-zone unit. This still isn't a world-beater of a roster, but if Matt Eberflus' "D" also takes a step forward after some shuffling at every level, all eyes will be on Fields growing as a decision-maker through the air.
No one should hesitate to keep them in the Super Bowl mix. It's pretty simple: Joe Burrow is the QB, he's still got one of the game's top receiving corps, and while the defense is perhaps a bit more dependent on youth, swapping in rookie Myles Murphy as a No. 3 pass-rusher and fellow freshman DJ Turner II at corner, the team is also better at left tackle, where ex-Chiefs starter Orlando Brown Jr. is protecting Burrow's blind side.
They're prepared to pivot to a pass-heavier script. Not only because the clock is ticking on their polarizing Deshaun Watson investment to pay dividends, but because of their personnel swaps: Kareem Hunt is out as Nick Chubb's relief in the backfield, and two notable names -- ex-Jets prospect Elijah Moore and third-round pick Cedric Tillman Jr. -- have been added to a WR corps headlined by Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
They're squarely in win-now mode. It's not exactly a departure from the norm under Jerry Jones' watch, but their biggest offseason moves -- tagging RB Tony Pollard, trading for WR Brandin Cooks and CB Stephon Gilmore -- profile as short-term rentals. Time will tell if the upgrades are as enough to elevate QB Dak Prescott and coach Mike McCarthy, who've seen two straight promising seasons end with untimely hiccups.
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Sean Payton is ready to turn the clock back. The longtime Saints coach wasted no time seizing control of a team that appeared to go wayward under QB Russell Wilson's influence in 2022, declaring himself captain and then prioritizing the trenches (OG Ben Powers, OT Mike McGlinchey, DE Zach Allen) in free agency. If he has his way, Wilson will probably be back in the kind of run-first, play-action system that helped make him an MVP type in Seattle.
They don't believe their 2022 finish was a mirage. And, as an extension, they were telling the truth about QB Jared Goff, who's mostly justified management's repeated endorsements. After teasing a playoff mentality last year, Detroit was aggressive, if occasionally unorthodox, about adding talent to RB (Jahmyr Gibbs), TE (Sam LaPorta) and, most importantly, a growing secondary (CB Cameron Sutton, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, S Brian Branch). Suddenly, a postseason run is the expectation.
Green Bay Packers
They're fully ready for the Jordan Love era. No matter how out of sorts Aaron Rodgers may have looked in 2022, you simply don't move on from a future Hall of Famer at QB if you're not And that's exactly what they did, unofficially nudging A-Rod to start fresh elsewhere rather than prolong the franchise's needed tilt into the future. Love's arm looked plenty alive during brief action last year; trading Rodgers to the Jets now .
They're finally ready to build something. Or at least you'd hope. Both David Culley and Lovie Smith were oddly short-sighted head coaching hires, but DeMeco Ryans, 38, is full of youthful energy. Not only that, but GM Nick Caserio at least balanced out another year of curiously middling free-agent spending by securing foundational pieces at premium spots for his latest coach; QB C.J. Stroud and pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. are instantly faces of the team.
They've quit the short-term QB fix. For now, at least. After a string of veteran additions ranging from solid (Philip Rivers) to mercurial (Carson Wentz) to disastrous (Matt Ryan), they've made their first homegrown play with Anthony Richardson, whose raw athleticism should be in decent hands with ex-Eagles coordinator Shane Steichen running the show. The question is whether they've got enough everywhere else to stay relevant.
Weapons are no longer a concern, but the offensive line might be. Trevor Lawrence is an ascending star QB, and now he's got Calvin Ridley joining a cast that includes Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Travis Etienne Jr. Coupled with Doug Pederson's leadership and a feisty defensive front, they should be playoff material. But left tackle Cam Robinson is facing a suspension and right tackle Jawaan Taylor is gone, so the trenches are more questionable than you'd like.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is wide receiver-proof. They never fretted about letting JuJu Smith-Schuster walk in free agency, just as they never blinked when trading All-Pro Tyreek Hill the year prior. Yes, Travis Kelce is essentially a WR playing TE, but the fact they preferred to spend money up front, swapping in Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor for Orlando Brown Jr. at tackle, shows they (rightfully) trust their QB to elevate everyone else.
Las Vegas Raiders
They're stuck in neutral. And seemingly lack a coherent long-term vision. Exiling Derek Carr seemed like a natural precursor to a full-on rebuild, but instead, Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler basically rebuilt the Patriots of old, making mostly lateral moves at QB (Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo), pass-catcher (Darren Waller to Jakobi Meyers) and elsewhere. Rookies like DE Tyree Wilson add promise, but they're still a curious assembly on the whole.
Los Angeles Chargers
There's a lot riding on Kellen Moore. The new offensive coordinator was ushered out of Dallas for apparently preferring a pass-happy attack to a strong ground game, which bodes well for those hoping QB Justin Herbert further showcases his laser arm. But the Chargers otherwise stayed quiet, so if Moore doesn't help Herbert and holdovers like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, etc. make an actual run, coach Brandon Staley's seat could get even hotter.
Los Angeles Rams
Their time in the sun is over. After years of casting away future assets in the name of giving Sean McVay an annual all-star squad, GM Les Snead reversed course by shedding pricey defensive pieces, namely CB Jalen Ramsey. Maybe Matthew Stafford can still feed Cooper Kupp, and surely Aaron Donald can still draw double teams, but no one knows how the aging QB will hold up, and the complementary talent isn't what it used to be.
They're putting all their chips on Tua Tagovailoa's health. The young QB started 2022 with a bang, but despite multiple concussions that even prompted retirement consideration, Miami all but refused to add proven insurance for Tagovailoa, settling for ex-Jets backup Mike White as its Plan B. Everywhere else, of course, they're playoff-ready, from an ultra-speedy WR corps to a healthier "D" now under Vic Fangio's direction.
They're in a holding pattern. It's a weird middle ground between contending and resetting after a 13-4 debut under Kevin O'Connell. GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah cut ties with expensive fan favorites like Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks, then opted for low-risk bets like Byron Murphy and Marcus Davenport, signaling an eye on the future. Most notably, QB Kirk Cousins is entering a contract year with no known succession plan in place.
New England Patriots
They're growing impatient with the offense. Bill Belichick can coach a "D" with his eyes closed, and after infusing rookies Christian Gonzalez and Keion White, that unit should remain firm. But between Matt Patricia's exit, Bill O'Brien's return, Belichick's rumored discontent with QB Mac Jones and veteran shuffling at WR, where JuJu Smith-Schuster is now onboard, the clock is ticking on offensive results in a post-Tom Brady world.
New Orleans Saints
They're content paying for wild-card contention. Rather than embrace a true rebuild, which they haven't done since the earliest days of Sean Payton, the Saints paid top dollar to make Derek Carr their new QB. He's a likable, gutsy leader with some decent weapons and defensive support, but he's also proven over nine years to be more serviceable than special, and besides, they don't have the depth to promise a real return to title contention.
New York Giants
They believe in Daniel Jones. Like the Ravens with Lamar Jackson, the G-Men aren't without flexibility to move off the QB in a year or two, but giving him $40M per year -- and then prioritizing additional protection and weapons -- after a one-year revival under Brian Daboll is proof they liked what they saw of . Now, can his new toys (i.e. Darren Waller, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt) stay healthy to contribute?
New York Jets
They're eyeing a Super Bowl ring in the next two years. Call it the Tom Brady-Buccaneers play 2.0, trading for Aaron Rodgers. Brady, remember, looked a bit slower as his historic Patriots career came to a close, but Tampa Bay did everything for him and got a Lombardi as a result. Maybe A-Rod isn't in MVP form anymore, going on 40, but Gang Green's Zach Wilson shows they're all in on a deep playoff run.from first-rounder
They probably still have the NFL's best roster. GM Howie Roseman may have been a bit too friendly to past performance when he retained a whole over-30 quartet from the Super Bowl defense (Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, James Bradberry). But besides locking up star QB Jalen Hurts and getting both cheaper and more explosive at RB with D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny, he used the draft to stockpile help for an already-elite front four.
Kenny Pickett suddenly has the tools to succeed. After debuting behind a shoddy line in 2022, the second-year QB quietly has an , with Isaac Seumalo joining the trenches and Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Allen Robinson and TE Pat Freiermuth headlining an underrated skill group. Aided by Mike Tomlin's perpetually resilient defense, Pickett could solidify himself as a fan favorite, even if his numbers aren't always pretty.
San Francisco 49ers
They're perfectly content with another QB controversy. A year after surprisingly inviting Jimmy Garoppolo back into the fold as Trey Lance's backup, only for Lance to go down early, the 49ers are openly flaunting improbable rookie standout Brock Purdy as their "proven" leader, while maintaining hope for Lance to redeem himself after injuries and allowing newcomer Sam Darnold to vie for starting reps. It's all another piece of evidence that this team's true engine is Kyle Shanahan's ground game and defense.
It's Geno Smith's squad for at least another year. A 2022 breakout like Daniel Jones, Smith simultaneously got a big raise and took a team-friendly deal by re-upping with Seattle in free agency. Instead of also adding an heir apparent, however, the Seahawks proceeded to beef up his help on both sides of the ball: RB Zach Charbonnet, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, OL Evan Brown, DL Dre'Mont Jones and CB Devon Witherspoon should have the team ready to compete regardless of how long Smith sticks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They're ready to take their lumps. The Bucs are paying the price for their years of Tom Brady catering, "welcoming" Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask as post-Brady QB options. The rest of the lineup is actually pretty legit -- far more balanced than, say, another buyer-turned-seller in the Rams, with intriguing additions along the lines -- but without a sustainable signal-caller, it's not as easy to count on them staying atop the NFC South.
The clock is ticking on their biggest names. Namely QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Derrick Henry, the two biggest reasons for their initial rise under Mike Vrabel. Both are quality but aging, expensive veterans, and new GM Ran Carthon clearly has eyes on a new chapter, moving up to take QB Will Levis No. 33 overall. With a so-so roster still devoid of much receiving talent, it might be a matter of time until trade rumors resurface.
Ron Rivera is betting it all on Sam Howell. Or at least it feels that way. Jacoby Brissett is in place as a backup and potential spot starter, but he's long since proven he's better suited coming off the bench. Rivera, meanwhile, has some assets -- a true WR1 in Terry McLaurin, an enviable defensive front -- but has been somewhat aimlessly searching for a long-term QB dating back to his last years in Carolina. Six years removed from a winning season, he's somehow content asking Howell, a 2022 fifth-rounder with a single NFL start under his belt, to overtake the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants.