2024 NFL offseason power rankings countdown and season preview

Our Frank Schwab counts down his NFL power rankings, grades each team's offseason, solicits fantasy football advice and previews what the 2024 season might have in store for each team.

We'll reach our No. 1 team on July 31, one day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason when the Chicago Bears face the Houston Texans.

You can dive deeper with Schwab by clicking on the team's name.

Carolina Panthers  

The Panthers hired a new head coach, Dave Canales, coming off a very good season as Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator. He did wonders for Baker Mayfield's career, which had to catch the Panthers' interest. Carolina spent $153 million on guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis, traded for receiver Diontae Johnson and drafted receiver Xavier Legette, running back Jonathon Brooks and tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders. Those were the first steps in helping QB Bryce Young reach his potential.

It's not like the dark cloud is gone. Team owner David Tepper is still around, bothering bar owners who take a shot at him, ready to make the Panthers U-turn all their plans when he gets impatient with losing again. Young has a long way to go and he might never come close to Stroud as a player or to paying off what the Panthers gave up in that trade. The roster still has massive holes on both sides of the ball.

New England Patriots 

The Patriots drafted North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, who along with head coach Jerod Mayo will lead the Patriots into a brand new era. The fact that multiple teams, including the Giants and Vikings, were very excited to trade up for that third overall pick should tell the Patriots that staying put and drafting Maye was the right thing to do. The Patriots need to restock the roster, but you don't turn down a potential franchise quarterback. New England's rebuild gets a lot easier if Maye is a hit.

Maye had plenty of buzz. He was the QB1 in this draft class for Yahoo Sports' Nate Tice. He has the entire package of skills to succeed, as long as his aggressive nature doesn't become a big problem with turnovers. One issue is the Patriots still didn't do much to improve the offense around him. They tried to get free-agent receiver Calvin Ridley, and while team owner Robert Kraft said Ridley chose the Tennessee Titans because his girlfriend wanted to be in the South, Kraft's comment that "Part of it might be the quarterback situation as well" was probably more accurate. The Patriots aren't a destination yet. That will take time. The first step has to be Maye becoming the type of QB other players want to join forces with.

Denver Broncos

Rookie Bo Nix isn't guaranteed to start Week 1, but he'll start soon. The problem is there isn't much around him. Patrick Surtain II is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, the offensive line isn't terrible, receiver Courtland Sutton scored 10 touchdowns last season and ... well, that's about it. It's not a team that is equipped to win soon, even if the QB6 in this draft class is a hit right away. That's what happens when you pay a heavy price for Russell Wilson and Sean Payton in trades. The Broncos somehow went 8-9 last season because Payton is still an excellent head coach but it's going to be a challenge this season, next season and maybe 2026 as well.

None of this should have been a surprise. When Payton came aboard, everyone knew that a total teardown as the team suffered through the consequences of cutting Wilson was likely. One of these days, there will be something for Broncos fans to cheer about other than dusty memories of Peyton Manning and that 2015 team.

Washington Commanders

Grabbing a coach who was in demand, a GM everyone wanted and a quarterback who practically everyone ranked second in the draft class is a good offseason. That's the type of nucleus that can turn around a franchise very fast.

The problem with using the Texans as an example of a quick turnaround is they hit an unprecedented amount of green lights. They hired a great head coach in DeMeco Ryans who probably would not have looked their way if he was drafted by another team way back when. They didn't have the first pick of the draft but C.J. Stroud fell to them at No. 2 and ended up being perhaps the greatest rookie quarterback in NFL history. Many young players broke out at the same time. It's hard to replicate all of that.

New York Giants 

It's hard to move on from quarterbacks, but the Giants could have done so with Daniel Jones without any complaint if they didn't make the playoffs two seasons ago. That playoff appearance and win probably cost them $92 million in guaranteed money to Jones.

It might have also caused them to put off an honest assessment of the roster and how close they were to being contenders. With a clearer head they might not have made moves like trading a third-round draft pick, 100th overall, to the Las Vegas Raiders for 30-year-old tight end Darren Waller. He had 552 yards, one touchdown and then retired this offseason. When regression hit a little too hard and the Giants struggled to a 6-11 season, all of 2023 looked like a massive waste.

Tennessee Titans

Even though former head coach Mike Vrabel did some good things in Tennessee, the new era won't have much resemblance to the old one.

The Titans hired Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to replace Vrabel. Callahan didn't call plays for the Bengals but has a good reputation as a sharp offensive mind. With former NFL linebacker Vrabel in charge the Titans relied on defense, running the ball with Derrick Henry and a low volume play-action passing game. Callahan's Titans will be way more pass-heavy, with much of it coming out of the shotgun formation.

The quarterback position won't be entirely new because Titans fans got a look at Will Levis late last season. There were high points, such a four-touchdown masterpiece in his debut against the Atlanta Falcons and a startling comeback against the Miami Dolphins. There were also games in which Levis looked like the wild, undisciplined player that got a lot of hype before the NFL Draft but fell to the second round. The ups and downs weren't anything unusual for a rookie, but Levis comes into the season having to prove himself to a new coaching staff.

Las Vegas Raiders

The best the Raiders can do this season is make sure whoever emerges as the long-term quarterback is put in a good situation when he arrives. Tight end Brock Bowers should be a foundational piece. Davante Adams is still in his prime and in Las Vegas, though the Raiders could trade their superstar receiver at some point. The defensive line should be very good with $110 million free-agent addition Christian Wilkins from the Miami Dolphins. And head coach Antonio Pierce could be a great fit for years.

The Raiders remain in a weird place. They're transitioning to a new era with momentum, but a massive part of the rebuilding effort is still unsettled. They spent on Wilkins like they're a contender but that might not happen for a while. If nothing else, at least Raiders fans aren't suffering through the Josh McDaniels era anymore.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were the rare four-win team with some great wins. They beat the Dallas Cowboys early in the season. They won at the Steelers and Eagles, a couple of road victories against playoff teams. Arizona had four wins overall but more quality wins than some teams in the playoffs. The Cardinals might have been better but Kyler Murray missed the first half of the season as he recovered from a torn ACL. The season was far from a success but the Cardinals should have felt confident about some of the things they saw in Gannon's first season.

The best news might end up being that none of those wins cost the Cardinals a shot at Marvin Harrison Jr. The Cardinals fell to the fourth overall pick, but they got lucky the first three teams in the draft all needed a quarterback. That allowed the Cardinals, who are already paying Murray big money, to pick arguably the best player in the draft regardless of position. Harrison was a dominant force at Ohio State and one of the best college receivers in many years. He's the rare receiver who could end up defining a franchise for a decade.

New Orleans Saints

The way for the Saints to become something more than average is likely through Derek Carr. He wasn't awful last season. In true Saints fashion, he finished 19th of 38 qualified quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus' grades, right in the middle. Average generally won't cut it for a $150 million quarterback in a new city. Perhaps the change in offensive coordinators from Pete Carmichael, who had been the Saints' coordinator since 2009, to Klint Kubiak will give new life to the offense. That better happen, because the Saints have started the restructuring game with Carr's contract. They saved $23 million on the cap in a restructure with Carr to solve a big salary cap problem. That pushed money into the future and might make it tougher to cut Carr if he doesn't play well this season.

Something needs to happen. It has seemed for a while like the Saints need to tear things down but can't bring themselves to do it. The hope that it will all suddenly click and they'll take a big step is belied by the fact that the Saints had the oldest roster in the NFL last season (via ESPN's Bill Barnwell). What the Saints have been the past couple seasons is probably what they'll be again this season. They're unlikely to be good enough to be a contender and probably won't be bad enough to be forced into a big change. They're just stuck.

Los Angeles Chargers

At every stop, Jim Harbaugh has won. He had a 29-6 record at the University of San Diego, took a Stanford program that was 1-11 before he was hired and ended up going 12-1 with an Orange Bowl win in 2010, led the San Francisco 49ers to a seven-win improvement his first season there and nearly won a Super Bowl the next season, then eventually turned Michigan into a 15-0 national champion. Four head coaching stops, and four success stories.

The Chargers are hoping to get relevance and wins, in whatever order. Harbaugh should bring both.

The roster starts with quarterback Justin Herbert, an exciting talent who hasn't helped the Chargers to much team success. Because of salary cap issues, the Chargers had to part ways with top receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Running back Austin Ekeler left in free agency. They were able to retain Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack when the veteran pass rushers took pay cuts, but the roster probably isn't as good as it was last season when the Chargers went 5-12.

Minnesota Vikings

It had to be scary for the Minnesota Vikings to break up with Kirk Cousins.

There was comfort in having Cousins. Minnesota always knew that they'd have solid, steady quarterback play. That was reassuring even if the Vikings had to realize that reaching a Super Bowl with Cousins was never going to happen. They had more losing seasons (three) in the six-year Cousins era than playoff appearances (two). That wasn't all Cousins' fault, and even if he wasn't taking the Vikings where they wanted to go, he was safe. That's why Minnesota kept reworking his contract.

While those weeks before the NFL Draft must have been nervous for the Vikings, it all turned out OK. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was a player who seemed to go way up and down in mock drafts, but he eventually fell to No. 10 and the Vikings made a low-cost move to trade up one spot to draft him. And while we have no idea if McCarthy will ever be as good as Cousins, you'd have to say the Vikings are in a better place now.

Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll defined the Seahawks for more than a decade. It will be jarring to see someone else leading them.

Mike Macdonald will have a hard time replacing Carroll, but he was an exciting hire. He had two very good seasons running the Baltimore Ravens' defense and players rave about his football mind. At age 36, Macdonald has a youthful energy (Carroll is 72, though energy was never a problem for him). Carroll was great, but perhaps it was just time for a change. Macdonald seems like a worthy successor.

If Macdonald gets the Seahawks back to the playoffs in his first season, it's probably because Geno Smith played more like he did in 2022 than last season. Smith was a revelation in 2022, a 32-year-old journeyman without much NFL success who led the league in completion percentage and threw for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns. He got a three-year, $75 million contract from Seattle and then came back to earth a bit in 2023. The Seahawks brought him back for another season but he'll have to play much better to last into 2025.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield went from that one-year deal last year — to put it in perspective, Sam Darnold got a one-year, $10 million contract this offseason and Jacoby Brissett signed for $8 million over one year — to a three-year, $100 million contract with $50 million guaranteed.

Mayfield and the Buccaneers had a pretty good season, and it was out of nowhere.

The Buccaneers were expected to struggle as they transitioned from the Brady era and had Brady's dead cap hit to contend with, but they went 9-8, won the NFC South and then beat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 in the wild-card round. Mayfield threw for 4,044 yards and 30 touchdowns. He probably deserved more votes for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award that went to Joe Flacco, but nobody seems to know the criteria for that award. It was all a fun surprise for the Buccaneers, who came closer to eliminating the Detroit Lions from the playoffs than you remember. The Buccaneers and Lions were tied going into the fourth quarter of a divisional round game before Detroit pulled away. That speaks to how well Tampa Bay was playing by the end of last season.

It's just hard to know how much of that is repeatable. And the Buccaneers can't depend on the NFC South being terrible forever.

Jacksonville Jaguars

If you criticize Trevor Lawrence, prepare to argue your case. There are many Lawrence guardians on social media who will perk up when the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback's up-and-down NFL journey is mentioned.

But has Lawrence performed like a $55 million-per-year quarterback to this point? Even his biggest defenders would have to pause before answering.

Had Lawrence not suffered a high ankle sprain against the Bengals, perhaps the Jaguars wouldn't have lost five of their last six games. Maybe they would have won the AFC South and some of the hype for C.J. Stroud would be redirected to Lawrence, who helped Jacksonville to the 2022 AFC South title. There might not have been such sticker shock on that contract extension.

There are ways to talk yourself into Lawrence being everything he was expected to be coming out of Clemson. The Jaguars seem convinced. Now's the time for Lawrence to show he's worth the money.

Atlanta Falcons

All first-round picks in the NFL Draft are somewhat memorable. Some make you sit up in your chair a bit, but only a few are guaranteed to be talked about for years.

The moment the Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick of the NFL Draft, it became a talking point for the next decade or more. Good or bad.

No team's offseason was discussed more than the Falcons. They started it by changing coaches, firing the overwhelmed Arthur Smith and giving Raheem Morris a second chance. Then they made one of the rare big quarterback additions in free agency, signing Kirk Cousins to a $180 million deal. That led to weeks of excitement, reimagining the Falcons with a staff that understood it needs to use its best players on offense, with a quarterback that can get them the ball. If the offseason would have ended there, it would have been nothing but good vibes for the Falcons.

To be fair, the Penix pick could end up a win. Think about how everyone questioned the Green Bay Packers' Jordan Love pick for three years. Do you think the Packers look smart now? Of course. But the Penix pick was also different than the Packers picking Love, or most "quarterback in waiting" first-round picks we've seen over the years.

Hey, at least the Falcons gave us something to talk about this offseason.

Indianapolis Colts

Quarterback Anthony Richardson played 173 snaps as a rookie for the Indianapolis Colts, a little more than 15% of their offensive plays last season.

And that was enough to get the Colts excited for the future. Maybe Richardson will get exposed playing a full season — playing more than four games without suffering a major injury will be positive news in itself — but what he did in his short time on the field was electrifying. Richardson had 577 yards passing, three touchdowns, one interception, 136 rushing yards and four touchdowns in what amounts to about two and a half games worth of action. Richardson was knocked out early in three of his four games due to injury, and that's a big concern, but his entire package of skills was on full display as a rookie.

It's funny though. The reason Richardson was a divisive prospect was he had just 13 starts in college, a remarkably low number for a top-five pick. Relatively speaking, there wasn't enough tape to know what Richardson really was as a player. But the highlights and physical skills were so marvelous, it was easy to dream about his amazing ceiling. And now that's Richardson's NFL narrative too.

Chicago Bears

It's not outrageous to wonder if we'll look back at the Bears-Panthers trade, which helped Chicago land the No. 1 overall pick and Caleb Williams, in a few years and compare it to the Herschel Walker trade, which is famous for helping to start the Cowboys' dynasty.

Unlike some other quarterbacks who go No. 1 overall, Williams lands in a good situation. The Bears finished last season on the upswing. They stole D.J. Moore in that Panthers trade, then traded for Keenan Allen and drafted Rome Odunze ninth overall. The Bears went from one of the worst receiver rooms in the NFL to potentially the best in two offseasons. The line, due in part to drafting 2023 top-10 pick Darnell Wright, is improving though there is still some work to do. The running game will be helped by free agent addition D'Andre Swift. This isn't David Carr getting sacked 76 times as a rookie or Bryce Young flailing around on a terrible 2023 Panthers team. Williams might not thrive as a rookie because playing quarterback in the NFL is really hard, but he's not set up to fail like other rookie QBs.

It's easy to take that finish last season for the Bears and dream about how much better it will be with Williams, Allen, Odunze, Swift and others. Maybe the defense won't match the offense, Matt Eberflus isn't as good as he was in the second half last season, Williams isn't a huge hit right away or anything else that can derail a season for a team that lost 10 games a year ago. But there is a different energy about the Bears, particularly at quarterback, than there has been in a long time.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin's streak of non-losing seasons simply won't die.

Being in the middle means there are no easy solutions at quarterback. They tried Kenny Pickett, the 20th overall draft pick in a weak 2022 quarterback class, and he is gone two years later. Their solutions this offseason were creative — they signed Russell Wilson to a one-year, $1.2 million deal as the Denver Broncos pick up the other $37.8 million of his salary, and Pittsburgh also traded a sixth-round pick for Justin Fields — but it's hard to buy either quarterback as a permanent solution. Steelers fans want more than sneaking into the playoffs and then getting blown out, as they've done two of the past three seasons. It's hard to see a higher ceiling than that with the current roster.

The Steelers will look familiar this season, even with the change at quarterback. Tomlin will get the most out of his team. The defense, led by T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, should be excellent again. The offense, suddenly short on receivers after trading Diontae Johnson, will run it a lot with hopefully average quarterback play from Wilson or perhaps Fields at some point. The Steelers will find ways to win close games and be in the playoff hunt into December. That's not bad, but it's not exciting anymore either.

Tomlin has some quirky catchphrases, and one that has endured is "The standard is the standard." After multiple seasons of being nowhere near Super Bowl contention and a lot of long-term questions at quarterback, Steelers fans have to be wondering what the standard is anymore.

Los Angeles Rams

There's a new challenge for a seemingly recharged Sean McVay, and it's replacing one of the greatest players in NFL history. Not many defensive players define a championship era for a franchise, but defensive tackle Aaron Donald was special. He has an argument as the best defensive player in NFL history. He retired after 10 NFL seasons. It's impossible to replace him, but it's probably best to not completely discount the Rams again.

Like McVay, Matthew Stafford looks rejuvenated coming off an excellent season at age 35. Kyren Williams scored 12 touchdowns as a true workhorse back, and rookie running back Blake Corum could mix in this season and be productive. Puka Nacua had an unbelievable 105 catches for 1,486 yards, both of which are NFL rookie records, then followed that up with a rookie playoff record 181 yards in the Rams' loss to the Detroit Lions. Cooper Kupp dealt with injuries but is still capable of big games. A young defense was better than expected, though coordinator Raheem Morris left to be the Atlanta Falcons' new head coach. The Rams promoted linebackers coach Chris Shula to defensive coordinator, a job Shula has never held in the NFL.

The Rams made the playoffs and lost a close 24-23 wild-card game at the Lions, who are one of the favorites to win this season's Super Bowl. That was a disappointing finish, but it didn't stop McVay's exuberance. A little more than a year ago, it seemed like a good bet that McVay was going to step away. The Rams don't need to worry about their coach anymore. That makes the future plenty bright, even with Donald calling it a career.

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