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Thursday, April 25, 2019

10 NFL teams that have improved the most this offseason

Odell Beckham

The 2019 NFL offseason has been a wild one featuring major shakeups across the board and some blockbuster trades few could have seen coming. As such, the landscape has changed across the league and new teams suddenly find themselves in positions of power.

But which teams have made the greatest strides? Which teams have positioned themselves for a run at the playoffs? And which teams appear poised to take it all the way to the Super Bowl?

Here’s a look at which 10 teams have improved the most this offseason (so far).

10. Jacksonville Jaguars

Despite a miserable year in 2018, the Jaguars feel like they’re a team close to breaking out. However, one of their downfalls has been less-than-stellar production at the quarterback position, which was immediately shored up when they signed former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to take control under center. That alone propels Jacksonville forward, but the little pieces may add up as well. Geoff Swaim gives Foles a big tight end target over the middle and Alex McGough provides a little depth at the quarterback position. There are still some key losses they’ll need to replace, but quarterback was very clearly the big fix Jacksonville needed.

9. New England Patriots

Considering New England has lost Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, Malcom Brown, Cordarrelle Patterson, Eric Rowe and Dwayne Allen this offseason, you may find yourself wondering how they’ve improved. Well, it’s simple… they’re the Patriots. They have this remarkable ability to plug and play, while also bringing in quality talent at a low cost. Such was the case when they acquired defensive lineman Michael Bennett from the Philadelphia Eagles. They also added Patriots-like fits with running back Brandon Bolden, tight end Matt LaCosse, defensive lineman Mike Pennel, wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris, cornerback Terrence Brooks and others. They also re-signed cornerback Jason McCourty, which was an important move. Oh yeah, and they will be loading up on compensatory picks in the future.

8. Tennessee Titans

Compared to the noise made by several other teams on this list, the Titans have flown quietly under-the-radar in free agency. However, the moves they have made could have quite an impact in 2019. The trade to acquire quarterback Ryan Tannehill should not be overlooked as it provides Tennessee solid insurance at one of the most important positions in football. Meanwhile, adding Adam Humphries not only gives the Titans a potential 1,000-yard receiver, but it should also help open things up for Corey Davis on the other side. The team also shored up a weakness at guard by adding Rodger Saffold and re-signing Kevin Pamphile, but the big moves came on defense. Tennessee added a quality pass rusher in Cameron Wake and re-signed big-hitting safety in Kenny Vaccaro, who tends to be a tad underrated.

7. Detroit Lions

At first glance, the Lions appeared to focus on surrounding Matthew Stafford with offensive talent to begin free agency, adding running backs Kerwynn Williams and Mark Thompson, wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon Reilly, tight end Jesse James, and offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, but their biggest strides came on the defensive side of the ball. Detroit changed their defensive landscape with the additions of pass rusher Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman, and safety Andrew Adams, who has showed a steady improvement in recent years. There are still some in-house decisions to be made for Detroit, but if they’re able to bring back their key role players, they’ll find themselves in a good position entering the 2019 season.

6. Washington Redskins

Under Daniel Snyder, the Redskins are frequently champions of the offseason, and 2019 will be no different. Their first truly big splash came when they signed safety Landon Collins to a mega-deal, giving them a big-time talent in their secondary. They were also able to lure veteran cornerback and former Collins teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of retirement. On the offensive side of the ball, they made a smart decision in re-signing running back Adrian Peterson, while also acquiring quarterback Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos. Keenum could very well start for the Redskins in 2019, but if nothing else, will provide quality depth and experience.

5. Green Bay Packers

The Packers have a few needs on the offensive side of the ball that will likely be addressed in the 2019 NFL Draft, but with Aaron Rodgers under center, that’s rarely a concern anyway. The addition of guard Billy Turner was a solid one, but there’s more to be done there. However, where Green Bay really needed help was on the defensive side of the ball, which is exactly how they approached free agency. In addition to adding linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, the Packers also signed free safety Adrian Amos. If the Packers can find themselves one more big-time defensive playmaker, they’ll really be in business.

4. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers feel like a team on the brink of success, and believing they are just a few pieces away, general manager John Lynch came out firing. San Francisco signed a potential starting running back in Tevin Coleman early and then added wide receiver Jordan Matthews as an extra weapon for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, it’s on the defensive side of the ball where the 49ers made the biggest impact, acquiring pass rusher Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs and adding linebacker Kwon Alexander to complement him. They also signed linebacker David Mayo and cornerback Jason Verrett for good measure.

3. New York Jets

It’s been an odd offseason for the Jets, who started by hiring Adam Gase as their new head coach before adding Dowell Loggains and the infamous Gregg Williams as their offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively. They then started aggressively in free agency only to find themselves rebuffed by linebacker Anthony Barr. But that didn’t discourage Gang Green who pressed forward by signing Le’Veon Bell, the best running back available, as well as receivers Jamison Crowder, Joshua Bellamy and Stacy Coley. Additionally, the Jets acquired starting offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders, and signed C.J. Mosley to anchor their defense. Add in kicker Chandler Catanzaro, defensive end Charles Tapper, and cornerback Brian Poole, and it’s been a busy offseason for New York.

2. Oakland Raiders

Not only did the Raiders acquire Antonio Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they also went out and signed Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson, giving them one of the best wide receiver corps in the NFL. Offensive lineman Trent Brown was added to help protect Derek Carr, while Johnathan Hankins was re-signed on the defensive side of the ball. He is joined by former Giants defensive end Josh Mauro, who is projected to start, and safety Lamarcus Joyner. There’s still some work to be done, but Oakland is off to a solid start.

1. Cleveland Browns

The Browns began the offseason by naming Freddie Kitchens as their head coach and then hiring Todd Monken and Steve Wilks as their offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively. But that was just the tip if the iceberg. At the onset of free agency, Cleveland made an AFC-altering trade with the New York Giants, acquiring linebacker Olivier Vernon and superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. They also took a chance and signed running back Kareem Hunt, who will be suspended the first eight games of the regular season, while adding defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to shore up things in the trenches. Things are shaping up nicely for the Browns, who are considered by many to be an AFC North favorite.



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