The NFL offseason will soon be a thing of the past with teams preparing for training camp come mid summer. How the past two months have gone will define the 2019 season for many teams.
In Cleveland, the long downtrodden Browns are about to make a name for themselves. Remaining in the division, the Baltimore Ravens had one heck of an offseason.
Over in the NFC, newish Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst shook up the roster in a big way. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers added a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball.
These are among the 10 NFL teams that have improved the most this offseason.
New England Patriots
The defending champs might have been a bit quiet in free agency. Even then, adding the likes of Michael Bennett and Bruce Ellington is sure to help. Where Bill Belichick and Co. did damage was during the NFL Draft. Adding wide receiver N’Keal Harry, running back Damien Harris and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste was huge for this team. Specifically, Harry figures to be a potential 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie. That helps make up for the loss of Rob Gronkowski to retirement.
Green Bay Packers
Led by young general manager Brian Gutekunst, the Packers remained active in free free agency. The team added young pass rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith on team-friendly deals. Each represents a marked upgrade over Clay Matthews. The acquisition of top-end safety Adrian Amos will also help what was a weak Packers pass defense. Not to be outdone, Gutekunst and Co. added two potential immediate impact performers in the draft in the form of tight end Jace Sternberger and pass rusher Rashan Gary.
Even after adding Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas in free agency, the Ravens knew they needed more weapons for young quarterback Lamar Jackson on offense. That’s where wide receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin came in during the 2019 NFL Draft. Not to be outdone, first-year general manager Eric DeCosta added running back Justice Hill in the fourth round. This trio is only going to help Jackson improve under center in his first full season as Baltimore’s starter.
San Francisco 49ers
Free agency had already been kind to these 49ers with the additions of Pro Bowl defenders Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jason Verrett. San Francisco also doubled down at running back with former 1,000-yard man Tevin Coleman rejoining Kyle Shanahan. But the draft really brought this team to a new level. Consensus No. 1 overall prospect Nick Bosa joins the above-mentioned Ford and Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner to form an elite front four. On offense, the 49ers added elite play-making wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd to the mix.
The addition of Odell Beckham Jr. made these Browns early winners in free agency. Being able to acquire him for a mere first and third-round pick was an absolute steal. No matter what we think of running back Kareem Hunt’s off-field issues, he’s still one of the most-talented backs in the game. And without a first-round pick, Cleveland was able to add top-end cornerback Greedy Williams with that should be considered the steal of the draft. These Browns are certainly going places. That’s for sure.
Trading for former Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard might have been one of the steals of the NFL offseason. He now joins the recently drafted Miles Sanders to form a potentially elite backfield combination. Add in the acquisition of DeSean Jackson at wide receiver, and the often-injured Carson Wentz has no excuse heading into the 2019 season. Sure the Michael Bennett trade hurt Philadephia, but its signing of Malik Jackson mitigates that.
New York Jets
The addition of Le’Veon Bell by itself made these Jets one of the most improved teams in the NFL. Even after sitting out last season, the All-Pro performer is going to be an absolute godsend for young quarterback Sam Darnold. Picking up sure-handed slot receiver Jamison Crowder should also be a boon for Darnold. Crowder caught nearly 70 percent of his passes in his first three NFL seasons. Defensively, New York did great to pick up linebacker C.J. Mosley in free agency and stud defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at the top of the 2019 NFL Draft.
It’s now rather clear that former Patriots, head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, are looking to remake these Lions into that mold. It started with the additions of former Patriots stars, Danny Amendola and Trey Flowers. From there, Detroit added an elite-level tight end in the form of T.J. Hockenson in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft. These three additions will go a long way in helping Detroit becoming relevant once again this coming season.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard received some push back for being relatively inactive early in free agency. The team’s biggest get was signing wide receiver Devin Funchess to an above-market deal. With that said, Indy hit the second wave hard after signing Pro Bowl pass rusher Justin Houston. As we saw last year, it’s the draft that helped these Colts improve big time. That included three potential immediate impact performers in the second round. This group is headlined by cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and talented receiver Parris Campbell.
Los Angeles Rams
Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, the Rams were bound to lose some key contributors in free agency. The departures of guard Rodger Saffold and LaMarcus Joyner hurt. That’s where GM Les Snead comes into play. He added an upgrade over Joyner in the form of Eric Weddle while picking up former Pro Bowl pass rusher Clay Matthews. These veterans will help out on defense. Offensively, Los Angeles was able to pick up two solid offensive linemen in the draft — Bobby Evans and David Edwards. It also added stud young back Darrell Henderson.