The 2020 NFL offseason has been a wild one. Tom Brady left the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Arizona Cardinals won one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory and the Carolina Panthers kicked out almost every player the fans cared about.
While we can all agree there have been some clear losers in free agency, identifying “winners” is somewhat subjective. We don’t necessarily know how certain players are going to fit in with different teams, we don’t know which contracts will end up being bargains or if a team overpaid for someone.
Let’s take a shot at identifying five teams that have improved the most over the past couple of weeks — starting with the obvious one.
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals may have gone 5-10-1 last season, but they appear to have a franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray and a decent coach in Kliff Kingsbury. They now have one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, thanks to what can only be described as a mental lapse by Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien. DeAndre Hopkins was shipped to the Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick and what was basically a swap of fourth-round picks. Johnson’s contract was burdensome for the Cardinals as well, so the fact that they rid themselves of that while picking up a true No. 1 wideout is absolutely incredible. The Cardinals also retained several offensive linemen and signed linebackers Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell. They have some more work to do on defense, but the Cardinals could surprise some people this season. The Hopkins trade alone makes them a winner this offseason no matter how the draft goes.
The Dolphins entered the offseason with more money than any other team, and they haven’t been shy when it comes to spending it. They have made several big moves, including making Byron Jones the . They also made some underrated signings such as Ted Karras, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah and Kyle Van Noy. While I probably wouldn’t pay Ereck Flowers , he proved he’s a starting guard while with the Washington Redskins last season. Miami has room to overpay for certain players if it truly feels they are worth it. Depending on what the Dolphins do at the quarterback position, they could experience a quick turnaround in 2020.
Most people are going to remember the Bills’ 2019 campaign as the one where they choked in the AFC wild-card game, but that’s not fair. They improved in every way, had one of the best defenses in the NFL and went 10-6. They appear to be a team on the upswing, and they have already taken advantage of the offseason early on. The Bills traded for former Minnesota Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs — which gives quarterback Josh Allen a true No. 1 wideout for the first time in his career. The Bills’ defense also got better, as they made additions such as Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler and Mario Addison to the defensive front. This roster really doesn’t have any glaring holes, and they should be the favorite to win the AFC East with Brady now out of the division.
The Saints are all-in when it comes to 2020. They felt like they had the team to go all the way last year before they were upset at home by the Vikings — just the latest of the many postseason woes Saints fans have experienced recently. They got Drew Brees back for another go and in Emmanuel Sanders. With the San Francisco 49ers, the 33-year-old experienced somewhat of a rebirth. In 10 regular-season games, Sanders caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns. Sanders helped bolster the 49ers’ offense, as San Francisco made it all the way to Super Bowl LIV, where they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-20. The addition of Sanders should take some pressure off Michael Thomas, who broke Marvin Harrison’s record for the most receptions in a single season in 2019. Brees orchestrated the seventh-best passing offense in the NFL last year, and this unit should take another step forward with this addition. On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints may have lost Vonn Bell, but they gained Malcolm Jenkins and re-signed D.J. Swearinger. That gives New Orleans two experienced and talented safeties who are capable of captaining a defense. The Saints got better this offseason — not that they needed to. Now it just comes down to executing in the postseason.
Notable additions: CB Chris Harris, OT Bryan Bulaga, DT Linval Joseph, LB Nick Vigil, RG Trai Turner (trade)
Notable losses: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, FB Derek Watt, S Adrian Phillips, LB Thomas Davis, WR Travis Benjamin
After a disappointing 5-11 campaign, the Chargers made the decision to move on from quarterback Philip Rivers. While that will be the headline this offseason, the Chargers have actually made some important moves that could put them in contention in 2020. They re-signed dual-threat running back Austin Ekeler, let Melvin Gordon walk, franchise tagged Hunter Henry and made some important defensive additions such as Linval Joseph and Chris Harris Jr. The Chargers’ 2019 campaign was derailed due to injuries, so you should expect them to improve in 2020. Like everyone else, I do wonder if Anthony Lynn truly wants to roll with Tyrod Taylor under center next season, but either way, this defense will be able to support whoever is playing quarterback for the Chargers next year.