NFL offseason power rankings countdown and 2024 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.

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Amy Monks)

(Amy Monks)

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.


(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

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.


(Grant Thomas/Yahoo Sports)

(Grant Thomas/Yahoo Sports)

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.



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