Projecting Every NFL Team's Starting Lineup for 2020May 8, 2020
Projecting Every NFL Team's Starting Lineup for 2020
With the NFL draft and the bulk of free agency behind us, there are a lot of new-look teams across the league.
Some teams spent the offseason overhauling their entire roster. Some spent it looking for serious upgrades on one side of the ball, while others tried to simply tweak a few things to take their team to the next level. Regardless of activity level, most of the major changes have already happened.
That means we can start looking at what each team will look like on the field next season. Most teams use 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) on offense more often than not, so that is what we will use for most teams.
On defense, teams are moving more toward their sub-packages across the board, but the goal is still to get the best 11 on the field, and that was taken into account when projecting their starting lineup. Unless there is clearly better personnel in their nickel package, we went with their base front.
With preseason position battles, suspensions and injuries factored in, here's what the projected lineups across the league look like at this point of the offseason.
Offense: QB Kyler Murray, RB Kenyan Drake, WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Christian Kirk, TE Maxx Williams, LT D.J. Humphries, LG Justin Pugh, C Mason Cole, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Marcus Gilbert
Defense: DE Zach Allen, DE Jordan Phillips, DT Corey Peters, LB Chandler Jones, LB Devon Kennard, LB Isaiah Simmons, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Byron Murphy Jr., S Jalen Thompson, S Budda Baker
The Cardinals had a high-profile offseason heading into Year 2 of the Kliff Kingsbury era. Besides having the sweetest draft setup of all the head coaches in the NFL, Kingsbury and Co. also got an elite wide receiver for quarterback Kyler Murray in DeAndre Hopkins and added one of the top defensive talents in the draft in Clemson's Isaiah Simmons.
A key position to watch in the preseason will be the right tackle spot. D.J. Humphries was re-signed to man the left side, but the right side will likely come down to veteran Marcus Gilbert, third-round pick Josh Jones or Justin Murray. Jones was thought to be a first-round selection by many ahead of the draft but fell to the Cards on Day 2. Gilbert missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. Justin Murray should also compete for the spot after holding it down in Gilbert's absence last season.
The defense received the most attention in the offseason. Jordan Phillips, Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell were the highlights of the defensive signings that will join Simmons as new faces along the defensive front. They should help bolster a unit that was 23rd in defensive DVOA last season.
Offense: QB Matt Ryan, RB Todd Gurley, WR Julio Jones, WR Calvin Ridley, WR Russell Gage, TE Hayden Hurst, LT Jake Matthews, LG James Carpenter, C Alex Mack, RG Chris Lindstrom, RT Kaleb McGary
Defense: DT Grady Jarrett, DT Marlon Davidson, DE Dante Fowler, DE Takkarist McKinley, LB Deion Jones, LB Foyesade Oluokun, CB A.J. Terrell, CB Isaiah Oliver, S Keanu Neal, S Ricardo Allen, S Damontae Kazee
The Falcons were fortunate to bring back nine of their 11 projected starters from last year's team, which finished 11th in scoring offense. The continuity should help since they'll be a step ahead of other teams who may need time to build chemistry in a hectic and uncertain offseason. Hayden Hurst will replace Austin Hooper at tight end, and Atlanta will hope Todd Gurley can have a bounce-back season returning to Georgia.
The defense will see some fresh faces. Keanu Neal figures to come back from the Achilles injury that sidelined him for all but three games last season. Marlon Davidson and A.J. Terrell are two rookies who have a great shot at winning spots in the starting lineup. Foyesade Oluokun will be counted on to make the move from special teams to a more full-time spot in the linebacking corps.
The infusion of new talent and the return of Neal will be a key storyline to watch. The Falcons allowed a 96.9 passer rating to opposing offenses last season while generating just 28 sacks on the season, making them a bottom-10 passing defense in 2019.
Offense: QB Lamar Jackson, RB Mark Ingram II, WR Marquise Brown, WR Miles Boykin, WR Willie Snead IV, TE Mark Andrews, LT Ronnie Stanley, LG Bradley Bozeman, C Patrick Mekari, RG D.J. Fluker, RT Orlando Brown Jr.
Defense: DE Derek Wolfe, DT Brandon Williams, DE Calais Campbell, LB Matthew Judon, LB Jaylon Ferguson, LB Patrick Queen, LB L.J. Fort, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters, S Earl Thomas, S Chuck Clark
Coming off a dominant regular season, the Ravens got creative to improve the defense that will be charged with supporting Lamar Jackson and the offense. They got Calais Campbell via trade, and when their initial deal with Michael Brockers fell through, they pivoted to signing Derek Wolfe. They also went defense early in the draft with Patrick Queen in the first round.
Queen should be a Day 1 starter for the Ravens. The other inside linebacker spot could also go to a rookie since third-round pick Malik Harrison will likely battle with veteran L.J. Fort. He was a rotational player last season but could have the early leg up on Harrison given his experience in the system. Campbell and Wolfe help make a position group that was a liability last season viable moving forward.
The intrigue on the other side of the ball comes on the offensive line. The skills positions are nearly identical to last season with the exception of J.K. Dobbins joining an already talented running back rotation. Starting center Matt Skura tore his ACL, MCL and PCL in November, but Patrick Mekari played well in his stead, so the preseason competition between the two will be one to watch. Moving over to right guard, the team brought in the road-grading D.J. Fluker, a former tackle who will compete with Ben Powers to take over for the retired Marshal Yanda.
Offense: QB Josh Allen, RB Devin Singletary, WR Stefon Diggs, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, TE Dawson Knox, LT Dion Dawkins, LG Quinton Spain, C Mitch Morse, RG Jon Feliciano, RT Cody Ford
Defense: DT Star Lotulelei, DT Ed Oliver, DE Mario Addison, DE Jerry Hughes, LB Tremaine Edmunds, LB Matt Milano, LB A.J. Klein, CB Tre'Davious White, CB Levi Wallace, S Jordan Poyer, S Micah Hyde
The Bills got to the playoffs for the second time in three years after 17 consecutive seasons without a playoff berth. Now the focus shifts to winning a playoff game for the first time since 1995. They were aggressive in making moves to achieve that, trading their 2020 first-rounder for Stefon Diggs while investing in defensive depth in free agency.
On offense, Diggs figures to take over as the No. 1 receiver and help John Brown repeat his success as a 1,000-yard receiver last season. The entire offensive line that started in 2019 comes back for 2020, and the man to watch up front will be Cody Ford, as he could be primed to make a big jump. He gave up seven sacks as a rookie, according to Pro Football Focus, but can be expected to show big improvement with a year of experience under his belt.
On the other side, most of the changes occurred on the defensive line. Shaq Lawson is gone, but Mario Addison was brought in to replace him. The Bills also added valuable depth in Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson. A.J. Klein was signed and should get the nod as the third linebacker in their base 4-3 look, although he'll come off the field for nickelback Taron Johnson quite a bit. The corner spot opposite of Tre'Davious White is also one to watch. If Josh Norman can return to form, he'll take the spot from Levi Wallace. For now, Wallace was better last season.
Offense: QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Christian McCaffrey, WR D.J. Moore, WR Robby Anderson, WR Curtis Samuel, TE Ian Thomas, LT Russell Okung, LG John Miller, C Matt Paradis, RG Michael Schofield III, RT Taylor Moton
Defense: DL Kawann Short, DL Derrick Brown, ED Stephen Weatherly, ED Brian Burns, LB Shaq Thompson, LB Tahir Whitehead, LB Jermaine Carter, CB Donte Jackson, CB Troy Pride Jr., S Juston Burris, S Tre Boston
Matt Rhule will be coaching a Carolina Panthers team that looks much different than Ron Rivera's 2019 squad. The Panthers made big moves on both sides of the ball, most notably signing Teddy Bridgewater to play quarterback and allowing Cam Newton to find work elsewhere. The defense has begun a massive rebuild as well: All seven of the team's draft picks were used on that side of the ball.
In addition to Bridgewater, the Panthers signed Robby Anderson to give him a deep threat to work with alongside D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. They also secured Christian McCaffrey long-term and acquired Russell Okung by trading away Trai Turner. They'll be rolling out new starters at both guard spots. After trading Turner and losing Greg Van Roten, in free agency they signed John Miller and Michael Schofield III. Dennis Daley will have a shot at taking one of those spots, but he struggled while playing multiple positions in his rookie season.
New defensive coordinator Phil Snow has been vague about what kind of defense he'll employ. The buzzword he has used is "multiple". That description fits what he did at Baylor, as the Bears were a 4-3 team at times during his stint in Waco and employed a three-man front last season. The result will likely be heavy rotations at a lot of spots. For instance, rookie safety Jeremy Chinn isn't in the projected starting lineup, but his ability to play in the box and in coverage could see him coming in early and often as they look to get their 11 best on the field.
Offense: QB Nick Foles, RB David Montgomery, WR Allen Robinson, WR Ted Ginn Jr., WR Anthony Miller, TE Jimmy Graham, LT Charles Leno, LG James Daniels, C Cody Whitehair, RG Germain Ifedi, RT Bobby Massie
Defense: DE Akiem Hicks, DT Eddie Goldman, DE Bilal Nichols, LB Khalil Mack, LB Robert Quinn, LB Danny Trevathan, LB Roquan Smith, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Jaylon Johnson, S Tashaun Gipson, S Eddie Jackson
Once again, the Bears have assembled a top-10 defensive unit. Anchored by Khalil Mack, there is a lot to love about what the Bears have on defense. The key to their success in 2020, however, will be what the offense is able to do with the opportunities the defense creates.
The answer to that question will revolve a lot around the quarterback play they can get out of Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles. General manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy have said there will be an "open competition" for the starting role after the Bears traded a fourth-round pick for Foles this offseason.
The club decided not to pick up Trubisky's fifth-year option, further proving it really is sticking to the idea of open competition. The Bears had a lot of options to bring in at quarterback, and the fact they traded for Foles shows they truly like him. Elsewhere on the offense, Ted Ginn Jr. and Jimmy Graham will be new targets for whoever is throwing the ball. Their best days are behind them, but they do add some experience to their respective positions.
The defense figures to be better than the unit that finished eighth in defensive DVOA in 2019. Danny Trevathan and Akiem Hicks will be coming back from injuries. The team also drafted Jaylon Johnson to start opposite of Kyle Fuller at corner and signed Robert Quinn to form one of the most dangerous pass-rushing combos in the league with Mack.
Offense: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR A.J. Green, WR Tyler Boyd, WR Tee Higgins, TE C.J. Uzomah, LT Jonah Williams, LG Michael Jordan, C Trey Hopkins, RG Xavier Su'a-Filo, RT Fred Johnson
Defense: DT D.J. Reader, DT Geno Atkins, DE Carlos Dunlap, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Germaine Pratt, LB Josh Bynes, CB Trae Waynes, CB William Jackson III, CB Mackensie Alexander, S Vonn Bell, S Jessie Bates III
The Bengals earned the No. 1 selection in the draft for a reason. There are a lot of areas in need of improvement on their roster, but there's also a lot of reason for optimism. The Bengals were active in free agency and drafted several rookies who—whether they crack the starting lineup or not—will be called upon to play a role. The crown jewel of all of those picks is obviously Joe Burrow, who will be the team's starting quarterback from Day 1 after Andy Dalton's release.
They'll break in multiple new faces on offense. Tee Higgins figures to battle with John Ross for the other outside receiver position, while A.J. Green returns from injury to take back his position. Tyler Boyd is a maestro in the slot, which leaves the position open to the rookie from Clemson or the oft-injured speedster. Jonah Williams missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury, so it's as though they have another rookie in the lineup. Xavier Su'a-Filo could join him as a newcomer on the offensive line, and Fred Johnson may finally give the team an option at right tackle outside of the highly penalized Bobby Hart.
Defensively, the Bengals enjoyed a facelift as well. Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Vonn Bell all figure to be new defensive starters in the secondary. D.J. Reader was the headliner of the free-agent class and forms one of the best dynamic duos of interior defenders in the league. How quickly everything comes together will be the question that drives the Bengals season, but there's no denying they got better.
Offense: QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Hooper, TE David Njoku, LT Jedrick Wills, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Wyatt Teller, RT Jack Conklin
Defense: DT Sheldon Richardson, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DE Myles Garrett, DE Olivier Vernon, LB Mack Wilson, LB Sione Takitaki, LB B.J. Goodson, CB Denzel Ward, CB Greedy Williams, S Grant Delpit, S Karl Joseph
This is a make-or-break year for the Browns. After an offseason of hype in 2019, they went 6-10 in Freddie Kitchens' one season as head coach. With Kevin Stefanski taking the helm, Mayfield entering his third season and plenty of offseason moves to once again bolster the roster, they have a lot to prove this season. After adding Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin to the offensive line, there is no reason the Browns shouldn't have an effective offense.
The unit figures to be one of the few in the NFL that isn't regularly in 11 personnel. The Minnesota Vikings were one of the only teams that didn't use the personnel grouping as their primary offense under Stefanski, per Sharp Football Stats.
Judging by their offseason moves, it looks like he'll favor 12 or 21 personnel over 11 in Cleveland. The Browns added tight end Austin Hooper in free agency and traded for fullback Andy Janovich. Then they drafted another tight end in Harrison Bryant. They didn't address the receiver position outside of bringing back Rashard Higgins, meaning they'll likely be playing a fullback or second tight end more often than a third receiver.
Defensively, the back seven is where most of the changes will occur. Myles Garrett comes back from his lengthy suspension to join the same starting defensive line, but the linebacking corps will be the biggest mystery. After losing Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert in free agency, Mack Wilson is the lone returning starter. They signed B.J. Goodson to help with the rotation, although his limitations in coverage will mean more playing time for Andrew Sendejo, who figures to be the third safety. Jacob Phillips is another rookie who might push for playing time given the Browns spent a third-round pick on the LSU linebacker.
Offense: QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Gallup, WR CeeDee Lamb, TE Blake Jarwin, LT Tyron Smith, LG Connor Williams, C Joe Looney, RG Zack Martin, RT La'el Collins
Defense: DT Dontari Poe, DT Gerald McCoy, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Tyrone Crawford, LB Leighton Vander Esch, LB Jaylon Smith, LB Sean Lee, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Trevon Diggs, S Xavier Woods, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Call it luck or call it poor game management, but the Dallas Cowboys were one of the most underachieving teams relative to their talent last season. Football Outsiders' metrics gave them 11.2 estimated wins, but the team finished with an 8-8 record. With Mike McCarthy taking over for Jason Garrett, the Cowboys will hope that the talented roster they will bring into 2020 can help them reach their potential.
The offense will look a lot like it did last season. Dak Prescott is back for at least one more season while the two sides work on a long-term deal. Amari Cooper was locked up to a five-year, $100 million contract, and now he'll be joined by CeeDee Lamb. The explosive rookie from Oklahoma wasn't expected to last to the Cowboys at No. 17 in the first round, but he did, making the Cowboys one of the biggest winners on Day 1. They'll have one of the best receiving trios in the league if he lives up to his potential.
The question on the offensive line will be who replaces longtime center Travis Frederick, who was a surprise retirement this offseason. Joe Looney played well as his replacement in 2018, so he is probably the favorite to take the position, but 2019 third-round pick Connor McGovern (not to be confused with the one who signed with the Jets this offseason) and 2020 fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz figure to compete for the role too.
The real area of concern for the Cowboys is on the defensive side of the ball, where they were forced to deal with the losses of Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Jeff Heath and Maliek Collins. They made a number of prudent signings in free agency that should offset the loss of production, including Gerald McCoy and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
The real challenge will be replacing Jones, though. Trevon Diggs will fight for a starting spot with Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis and fellow rookie Reggie Robinson II. The Cowboys actually got deeper at the position while losing the elite talent at the top, so it will be intriguing to see how the hierarchy shakes out.
Offense: QB Drew Lock, RB Melvin Gordon, WR Courtland Sutton, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR KJ Hamler, TE Noah Fant, LT Garett Bolles, LG Dalton Risner, C Lloyd Cushenberry III, RG Graham Glasgow, RT Ja'Wuan James
Defense: DE Jurrell Casey, DE Shelby Harris, DT Mike Purcell, LB Von Miller, LB Bradley Chubb, LB Alexander Johnson, LB Todd Davis, CB A.J. Bouye, CB Bryce Callahan, S Kareem Jackson, S Justin Simmons
Once the Broncos switched to Drew Lock at quarterback, they finished the 2019 season with four wins in five games, sparking optimism and setting up Lock as the unquestioned quarterback of the future. The Broncos didn't bring in any competition for the second-year passer and instead used the draft and free agency to build the offense around him.
Those moves include heavy investment in the receiving corps. Both Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler should be expected to start from Day 1, with Jeudy playing on the outside and Hamler picking up slot duties. Free-agent signing Melvin Gordon should be the starter at running back, although he will work in a rotation with Phillip Lindsay. Lloyd Cushenberry III and Patrick Morris will battle to start at center, while general manager John Elway has said Garett Bolles will need to stave off Elijah Wilkinson to retain his position as the team's left tackle.
Defensively, the starting lineup will be impacted by two trades. Both Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye were cap casualties who were traded for Day 3 picks, and both will step in right away and play important roles on the line and in the secondary, respectively. Alexander Johnson had some success in his first year as a starter, and Todd Davis saw 85.1 percent of the snaps last season, so they are the linebackers by default since the team didn't do much to upgrade the position.
Offense: QB Matthew Stafford, RB D'Andre Swift, WR Kenny Golladay, WR Marvin Jones, WR Danny Amendola, TE T.J. Hockenson, LT Taylor Decker, LG Joe Dahl, C Frank Ragnow, RG Jonah Jackson, RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Defense: DE Da'Shawn Hand, DT Danny Shelton, DE Romeo Okwara, DE Trey Flowers, LB Jamie Collins, LB Jarrad Davis, LB Christian Jones, CB Desmond Trufant, CB Jeffrey Okudah, S Duron Harmon, S Tracy Walker
The Lions spent the offseason crafting this team more in Matt Patricia's image. The free-agent spending spree included three former New England Patriots while also building in the trenches. They were one of the splashier teams in the draft as well, utilizing the third overall pick to replace Darius Slay and taking D'Andre Swift early in the second.
The high draft pick would be an indication Swift will win the starting job over incumbent Kerryon Johnson, or at least split the carries evenly. Johnson missed half the season in 2019 and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry when he was in the lineup. The receiving corps remains the same, but T.J. Hockenson should be a bigger factor in his second season.
Keeping Matthew Stafford healthy will be crucial, and the Lions signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to make that happen. He was never a full-time starter in Philadelphia but still started 20 games in four seasons with the Eagles. Mid-round picks Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg will have the opportunity to start on the offensive line. Right guard is the spot to watch.
Defensively, the Lions did little to immediately address their lack of pass rush. Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers figure to be the edge-rushers once again, but Jamie Collins can help as a blitzing backer. He set a career-high with seven sacks last season with the Patriots. After the free-agent bust that was Mike Daniels last season, the Lions are hoping Danny Shelton will come from New England and anchor the Lions defense at nose tackle. The loss of Darius Slay hurts, but bringing on Desmond Trufant and drafting Okudah might actually give them better play at the position than in 2019 overall.
Green Bay Packers
Offense: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones, WR Davante Adams, WR Allen Lazard, WR Devin Funchess, TE Jace Sternberger, LT David Bakhtiari, LG Elgton Jenkins, C Corey Linsley, RG Billy Turner, RT Rick Wagner
Defense: DE Dean Lowry, DT Kenny Clark, DE Tyler Lancaster, LB Preston Smith, LB Za'Darius Smith, LB Christian Kirksey, LB Oren Burks, CB Jaire Alexander, CB Kevin King, S Darnell Savage, S Adrian Amos
The Packers are clearly a team in transition whether they should be or not. They outperformed their estimated win total by three last season and were only 10th in total DVOA despite a 13-3 finish and subsequent appearance in the NFC Championship Game.
Management had a bold offseason in which they didn't address the needs of the current roster and instead started a new one. Rather than surrounding 36-year-old Aaron Rodgers with more weapons, they drafted his replacement in quarterback Jordan Love and failed to add a wide receiver in an exceptionally deep class.
Perhaps the most telling thing about their draft is that there are no projected rookie starters on either side of the ball. The closest one is probably Josiah Deguara. He could break into the starting lineup if the Packers favor their 12 personnel and want to use Deguara as the "Move" tight end. He's more of an H-back who could fit in that role. Outside of the draft class, Rick Wagner will be called upon to replace Bryan Bulaga at right tackle, and Devin Funchess will likely get the opportunity to start as the team's third receiver. Jace Sternberger will need to prove he can outproduce veteran Marcedes Lewis to take over the starting tight end position.
Defensively, the Packers bring back much of the unit that was 15th in defensive DVOA in 2019. If healthy, Christian Kirksey headlines the new additions after Blake Martinez's departure in free agency. They'll largely be counting on improvement from their young players already on the roster, like Rashan Gary and Montravius Adams, to take a step forward in 2020.
Offense: QB Deshaun Watson, RB David Johnson, WR Will Fuller, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Randall Cobb, TE Darren Fells, LT Laremy Tunsil, LG Max Scharping, C Nick Martin, RG Zach Fulton, RT Tytus Howard
Defense: DE J.J. Watt, DT Ross Blacklock, DE Tim Jernigan, LB Whitney Mercilus, LB Brennan Scarlett, LB Zach Cunningham, LB Benardrick McKinney, CB Gareon Conley, CB Bradley Roby, S Justin Reid, S Eric Murray
Bill O'Brien the GM continues to make life more interesting for Bill O'Brien the head coach. As one of the few men with a dual role in the NFL, he made some moves that could be best classified as head-scratchers for the Texans this offseason. The biggest, of course, was his trade to send DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona while bringing back David Johnson and a second-round pick.
The subsequent moves after the trade significantly shape what Watson has to work with in 2020. Will Fuller will be joined by Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb with Kenny Stills still in the mix as Watson's top targets. It's arguably a deeper group than last season, even if it doesn't have the ultra-high production of Hopkins. The concern is durability. Cobb, Cooks and Fuller have missed a combined 24 games over the last two seasons.
Right guard is a spot that's likely to see competition in the preseason. Fulton has made 28 starts for the Texans over the last two seasons but carried a PFF grade of just 52.2 in 2019. The Texans didn't draft any competition, but Senio Kelemete started 14 games in 2018 and comes back from a season spent on IR after wrist surgery.
The defense wasn't in the spotlight nearly as much but does welcome a few newcomers. Ross Blacklock was taken with the draft pick acquired in the Hopkins deal and will be heavily used in the defensive line rotation if he isn't an outright starter. He has the build and skill set to play anywhere from nose to 5-technique. Eric Murray and Jaylen Watkins were signed to provide new blood at safety after the Texans allowed the eighth-highest opponent passer rating.
Offense: QB Philip Rivers, RB Marlon Mack, WR T.Y. Hilton, WR Michael Pittman Jr., WR Parris Campbell, TE Jack Doyle, LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Quenton Nelson, C Ryan Kelly, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Braden Smith
Defense: DT DeForest Buckner, DT Grover Stewart, DE Justin Houston, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, LB Darius Leonard, LB Anthony Walker, LB Bobby Okereke, CB Rock-Ya Sin, CB Xavier Rhodes, S Khari Willis, S Malik Hooker
The Colts made one of the splashier moves in free agency when they brought in Philip Rivers on a one-year deal, reuniting him with former offensive coordinator Frank Reich. They were also active in finding him additional weapons in the draft, taking Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor in the second round.
The offense figures to be electric if it can stay healthy. Rivers is a lot more aggressive than Jacoby Brissett was at quarterback last season, meaning they may have more turnovers in 2020. But his arm could also unlock the potential of a fairly deep receiving corps that includes T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell. Replacing Devin Funchess with another big-bodied receiver in Pittman Jr. is an exciting upgrade as well.
The running back rotation stands out. Taylor was one of the most productive running backs in college football history and should form an explosive one-two punch with Marlon Mack. The offensive line is a strength too, as they were one of the best units last season and bring everyone back after re-signing Castonzo to a two-year deal.
The defense will once again be anchored by the linebacker position, where Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker and Bobby Okereke are locks to get the starting nod. The defensive line rotation is deep, and the team has plenty of options and room for growth. Justin Houston carried the unit in 2019 with 11 sacks, but the addition of DeForest Buckner should help. The Colts have versatile options in Tyquan Lewis, Denico Autry, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu who could play different roles and see a jump in production in 2020.
The most glaring weakness is in the secondary. Rock-Ya Sin will be counted on to step up after 13 starts in his rookie season, but the options after that are some unexciting veterans. Xavier Rhodes was signed in free agency and joins T.J. Carrie and Kenny Moore II as two other options to start opposite Sin.
Offense: QB Gardner Minshew, RB Leonard Fournette, WR D.J. Chark, WR Chris Conley, WR Laviska Shenault, TE Tyler Eifert, LT Cam Robinson, LG Andrew Norwell, C Brandon Linder, RG A.J. Cann, RT Jawaan Taylor
Defense: DT Abry Jones, DT Taven Bryan, DE Yannick Ngakoue, DE Josh Allen, LB Joe Schobert, LB Cassius Marsh, LB Myles Jack, CB D.J. Hayden, CB CJ Henderson, S Ronnie Harrison, S Jarrod Wilson
The Jaguars made two things clear this offseason: They are prepared for a complete rebuilding process, and they're comfortable with Gardner Minshew as their starting quarterback for at least 2021. All offseason, the Jags were mentioned as a landing spot for quarterbacks in both free agency and the draft, but they did nothing that would indicate they don't believe in the 2019 sixth-round pick who threw for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
The rebuilding process was most evident on defense. The Jags traded Calais Campbell for a fifth-round pick and A.J. Bouye for a fourth. The starting lineup doesn't have a single player over the age of 30. While the team was willing to deal a few veterans, they are still doing what they can to keep Yannick Ngakoue despite his desire to play elsewhere. They likely drafted his replacement in K'Lavon Chaisson, who will at least see reps as a pass-rush specialist this season. The team spent six of its eight first picks in the draft on the defensive side of the ball.
The offense didn't receive as much of a shift in personnel but will still look a little different. D.J. Chark established himself as the unquestioned WR1 last season, and Chris Conley was a fine deep threat. Dede Westbrook served as the consistent underneath receiver but could be the most likely to lose reps to second-round pick Laviska Shenault. The Colorado product has first-round talent when he's healthy and is a YAC star.
The team was unable to find a trade partner for Leonard Fournette, so he is likely to be taking handoffs one more year. Tyler Eifert comes in as one of few veteran free-agent signings and will be TE1 if he's healthy. The offensive line is all back, so the top five most-used linemen are projected to be the starters here, though it wasn't pretty for them last season. They were PFF's 26th-ranked unit, but they are young and could see big improvement due to experience.
Kansas City Chiefs
Offense: QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, WR Tyreek Hill, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Mecole Hardman, TE Travis Kelce, LT Eric Fisher, LG Martinas Rankin, C Austin Reiter, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitchell Schwartz
Defense: DT Chris Jones, DT Derrick Nadi, DE Frank Clark, DE Alex Okafor, LB Anthony Hitchens, LB Damien Wilson, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Charvarius Ward, CB Rashad Fenton, S Juan Thornhill, S Tyrann Mathieu
It's no surprise that the Super Bowl champions will have the kind of roster that can legitimately defend the title. They didn't lose much on either side of the ball, and most importantly, they were able to retain key free agents such as Chris Jones, who will play at least one more season with the team under the franchise tag, and Sammy Watkins, who will return on a one-year deal.
The biggest addition to the offense is first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They didn't take him at No. 32 to let him sit, and he'll be heavily involved in the offense even if he can't beat out Damien Williams for the starting job right away. The only real thing to sort out in the preseason will be the guard spots. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif played the most in 2019. Martinas Rankin was a starter before a Week 10 knee injury cut his season short, but it would not be surprising to see Andrew Wylie back in the lineup after taking over for Rankin last season.
Defensively, cornerback is the position to keep an eye on. Bashaud Breeland was facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy before he was arrested on multiple misdemeanor charges. Breeland's potential absence leaves a big hole for the Chiefs on defense. They didn't meaningfully address the cornerback position in the draft, and Kendall Fuller left in free agency, so they'll likely be forced to rely on Alex Brown or Antonio Hamilton stepping up.
Elsewhere, the defensive line is mostly intact from last season. The linebacking corps got a potential upgrade in the ultra-athletic Willie Gay Jr., who will likely get a lot of run early and could take a starting spot before the season is over.
Las Vegas Raiders
Offense: QB Derek Carr, RB Josh Jacobs, WR Tyrell Williams, WR Henry Ruggs III, WR Hunter Renfrow, TE Darren Waller, LT Kolton Miller, LG Richie Incognito, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Trent Brown
Defense: DT Maliek Collins, DT Johnathan Hankins, DE Clelin Ferrell, DE Maxx Crosby, LB Cory Littleton, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Trayvon Mullen, CB Damon Arnette, CB Lamarcus Joyner, S Johnathan Abram, S Damarious Randall
After finishing 7-9 last season, the Raiders will be looking to put together a winning record for the first time in Jon Gruden's second stint as head coach. After finishing with one of the league's worst defenses in 2019, they went to work in free agency and the draft. Expectations will be high in 2020 with the move to Las Vegas and those offseason additions.
On offense, Marcus Mariota gives them a high-end backup and/or competition for Derek Carr to prove he's the franchise quarterback. The receiving corps is largely the same, with Henry Ruggs III coming in to presumably take over WR1 duties sooner rather than later. Las Vegas spent back-to-back third-round picks on receivers Lynn Bowden Jr. and Bryan Edwards, so both could see significant roles.
The offensive line mostly remains the same, which isn't a bad thing. Kolton Miller made huge strides in Year 2 and could be in for an even bigger season in Year 3.
The best thing the Raiders did was sign both Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, which takes linebacker from a major liability to perhaps the defense's biggest strength. Damon Arnette wasn't universally thought of as a first-rounder, but the Raiders' lack of depth and his draft position will likely mean he's the Day 1 starter. Damarious Randall and Maliek Collins are both free-agent signings that should bolster the defense at their respective positions.
Los Angeles Chargers
Offense: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen, WR Mike Williams, WR Joe Reed, TE Hunter Henry, LT Sam Tevi, LG Dan Feeney, C Mike Pouncey, RG Trai Turner, RT Bryan Bulaga
Defense: DT Linval Joseph, DT Justin Jones, DE Joey Bosa, DE Melvin Ingram, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Kenneth Murray, CB Desmond King, CB Chris Harris, CB Casey Hayward, S Derwin James, S Rayshawn Jenkins
The Chargers are one of the most interesting teams in 2020. They will transition out of the Philip Rivers era with an offense stocked with weapons and a defense that boasts a lot of talent. They drafted their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert, but Tyrod Taylor is presumably the transition signal-caller until Herbert is ready to take over the helm.
Taylor will have plenty of options to throw the ball to. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are a fine tandem, and Hunter Henry is a reliable target when he's healthy. Who will be the team's other outside receiver is an intriguing position battle to keep an eye on. Andre Patton would have the early advantage given his experience from last season, but he only saw 17 targets in five starts and caught six of them, so it isn't as though he has the job locked up. Instead, fifth-round pick Joe Reed could be a surprisingly early starter. Sam Tevi vs. Trey Pipkins will be a worthwhile battle to keep an eye on at tackle. Pipkins was a third-round pick in 2019, and if either plays well, it could accelerate Herbert's timetable to take over at quarterback given their impact on protection. Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner give the Chargers a reliable pair of vets.
The Chargers finished 21st in defensive DVOA this season, but it would be surprising for them to finish that low again in 2020. The addition of Chris Harris Jr.—who was PFF's top-rated slot cornerback in 2018—with versatile defensive backs Derwin James and Casey Hayward Jr. gives Gus Bradley lots of flexibility in terms of personnel and coverages. The Chargers traded back into the first round to select Kenneth Murray, giving them another talented young player in the front seven.
Los Angeles Rams
Offense: QB Jared Goff, RB Darell Henderson Jr., WR Cooper Kupp, WR Robert Woods, WR Josh Reynolds, TE Tyler Higbee, LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Austin Corbett, C Brian Allen, RG Austin Blythe, RT Rob Havenstein
Defense: DE Michael Brockers, DT A'Shawn Robinson, DE Aaron Donald, LB Leonard Floyd, LB Terrell Lewis, LB Travin Howard, LB Micah Kiser, CB Jalen Ramsey, CB Troy Hill, S John Johnson III, S Taylor Rapp
The Los Angeles Rams went from NFC Champions to 9-7 in the blink of an eye in 2019. While a tight cap situation and limited draft capital kept them from making big moves, there were some under-the-radar developments that should at least keep the team competitive in 2020.
The team cut ties with Todd Gurley. The two-time All-Pro back struggled to produce behind surprisingly poor offensive line play. Rookie Cam Akers will provide some of the explosiveness and versatility left in Gurley's absence. Brandin Cooks was traded to the Texans, but the production of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds doesn't make that a concern. The development of the offense will all come down to the offensive line, which largely looks the same as the unit that finished 31st in PFF's offensive line rankings. The position battles on the interior will be interesting, as they have six players who made at least six starts last season who could compete for those spots.
The defense will feel the loss of Corey Littleton, as there are very few proven commodities at linebacker. Neither of the projected starters has made an NFL start to this point, but neither Troy Reeder nor Kenny Young has done anything to take the job from either of them. The biggest question is what happens with the pass rush, though. The Rams were fourth in sacks last season, but Dante Fowler Jr., Clay Matthews and their combined 19.5 sacks are gone. They'll need to hope Leonard Floyd is worth his contract and Terrell Lewis' transition to the NFL is a quick one.
Offense: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Jordan Howard, WR DeVante Parker, WR Preston Williams, WR Albert Wilson, TE Mike Gesicki, LT Austin Jackson, LG Ereck Flowers, C Ted Karras, RG Robert Hunt, RT Jesse Davis
Defense: DE Christian Wilkins, DT Davon Godchaux, LB Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Shaq Lawson, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Jerome Baker, CB Xavien Howard, CB Byron Jones, CB Noah Igbinoghene, S Bobby McCain, S Eric Rowe
After a year of tanking for Tua and trading proven commodities to load up on draft picks in 2020, the Dolphins had their franchise-defining offseason. They ended up making 11 draft picks to go with a high-impact free-agent class. In all, these projections include 10 starters on both sides of the ball who were either signed or drafted this offseason.
On offense, the Dolphins got their man in Tua Tagovailoa, but they aren't ready to wheel him out there just yet. Playing him in front of that offensive line would be negligent. Ted Karras is a solid free-agent signing and Ereck Flowers wasn't a total train wreck at guard, but Robert Hunt and Jesse Davis are expected to compete for the right tackle position with the other a candidate to kick inside to guard. Austin Jackson can't be worse than Julie'n Davenport but will have growing pains as a rookie. Jordan Howard and Matt Breida were both added to give the Dolphins a renovated rushing attack. The receivers will remain largely the same. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have his work cut out for him while the offensive line figures itself out.
The defense was the primary focus of free agency, and Brian Flores went to work on building a Patriots-esque one. The personnel on this team could run a 3-4 odd front, 4-3 or nickel as its primary alignment and have the right guys for the job. Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson are two veterans with traditional 4-3 defensive end builds with the power to play some 5-technique if called upon in a 3-4. Kyle Van Noy can play off-ball or line up on the edge and get after the passer. Whatever they decide to do up front, the splashiest signing was Byron Jones. He'll team up with Xavien Howard to form one of the best cornerback duos in the league. The first-round selection of Noah Igbinoghene would indicate the Dolphins plan on heavy usage of nickel personnel.
Offense: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook, WR Adam Thielen, WR Justin Jefferson, TE Kyle Rudolph, TE Irv Smith Jr., LT Riley Reiff, LG Pat Elflein, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Dru Samia, RT Brian O'Neill
Defense: DT Michael Pierce, DT Shamar Stephen, DE Danielle Hunter, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, LB Eric Kendricks, LB Eric Wilson, LB Anthony Barr, CB Mike Hughes, CB Jeff Gladney, S Anthony Harris, S Harrison Smith
Fresh off a 10-6 season, the Vikings had to manage a difficult cap situation to find ways to improve the team. Kirk Cousins' massive contract extension freed up $10 million in cap space. Trading Stefon Diggs to Buffalo saved another $5.5 million against the cap. The team still lost three of its top cornerbacks, presumably Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph.
Kevin Stefanski's preference for 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) isn't likely to go away with Gary Kubiak taking over the role of offensive coordinator. Diggs' exit leaves the Vikings relying on first-round pick Justin Jefferson to pick up the slack in the receiver room. Irv Smith Jr.'s development as the second tight end could help alleviate the need for Bisi Johnson to step up as the third receiver. Second-round pick Ezra Cleveland's development will be something to keep an eye on when camp gets started. If the team feels confident he can play left tackle right away, it will allow Riley Reiff to kick inside and take Pat Elflein's spot after he struggled last season.
The defense has to replace Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes, and they went heavy at the position in the draft. Jeff Gladney is likely the only one to crack the starting lineup out of the gate, but Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand will likely have opportunities as well. Ifeadi Odenigbo could be the breakout star of this defense. He'll take over for Griffen after racking up seven sacks and 18 pressures in a rotational role in 2019.
New England Patriots
Offense: QB Jarrett Stidham, RB Sony Michel, WR Julian Edelman, WR Mohamed Sanu, WR N'Keal Harry, TE Matt LaCosse, LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
Defense: DE Lawrence Guy, DT Beau Allen, DT Adam Butler, DE Chase Winovich, LB John Simon, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, CB Jason McCourty, CB Stephon Gilmore, S Devin McCourty, S Patrick Chung
The New England Patriots are one of the most fascinating teams in 2020, as they begin life after Tom Brady. All signs point to the organization believing in Jarrett Stidham as its quarterback moving forward. While that might inspire talk of the team tanking for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields this season, that just doesn't seem like a very Bill Belichick thing to do. The more likely scenario is that the Pats understand they went 12-4 last season on the back of a dominant defense and one of Brady's worst seasons and believe Stidham is actually good. After all, they've been the ones seeing him in practice.
If the Patriots are going to rely on the defense continuing to carry the day, they'll need some young talent to have an immediate impact. The unit lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Duron Harmon in the offseason and largely turned to the draft to fill those holes. Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings were the team's first three picks, and while they may not crack the starting lineup, all three will likely play a role.
Stidham will be left with mostly the same offense Brady commanded in 2019. They'll be looking for N'Keal Harry to deliver on more of his potential in his second season. Running back James White was the team's second-most productive receiver after Julian Edelman. Bringing back Joe Thuney on the franchise tag ensures the offensive line will remain mostly the same. Essentially, the team really is tanking or counting on Belichick to work his magic and find a way to make this offense work without Brady.
New Orleans Saints
Offense: QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Tre'Quan Smith, TE Jared Cook, LT Terron Armstead, LG Andrus Peat, C Cesar Ruiz, RG Larry Warford, RT Ryan Ramczyk
Defense: DT Malcom Brown, DT Sheldon Rankins, DE Cameron Jordan, DE Marcus Davenport, LB Demario Davis, LB Kiko Alonso, LB Alex Anzalone, CB Marshon Lattimore, CB Janoris Jenkins, S Malcolm Jenkins, S Marcus Williams
It's another season of Super Bowl or bust for the Saints. After multiple playoff disappointments in a row, Drew Brees is coming back with another loaded offense and a defense capable of playing at a playoff-caliber level. They'll be good enough to get into the postseason. Whether they can break the streak of losing heartbreaking playoff games is the question.
On offense, the big addition is Emmanuel Sanders who opted to leave San Francisco in free agency to join up with Michael Thomas. Sanders is among the most talented No. 2 receivers Brees has had in his time in New Orleans. Kamara has been the de facto No. 2 since emerging as a pass-catching back. The intrigue for them comes on the offensive line. Cesar Ruiz was drafted to be a starter, and Larry Warford is entering a contract year with Erik McCoy lurking as an option at both guard and center.
Linebacker is a position of interest on defense. The Saints moved up in the third round to take Zack Baun, but he was primarily used as a pass-rusher at Wisconsin. His learning curve as an off-ball backer in a 4-3 scheme will determine whether he can crack the starting lineup or if the team will need to rely on Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso, both of who were rarely on the field last season due to injury. Malcolm Jenkins' return to the franchise should be a welcomed development. The Saints now have depth at the position, as C.J. Gardner-Johnson showed potential last season.
New York Giants
Offense: QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Golden Tate, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Darius Slayton, TE Evan Engram, LT Nate Solder, LG Kevin Zeitler, C Spencer Pulley, RG Will Hernandez, RT Andrew Thomas
Defense: DE Dexter Lawrence, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE Leonard Williams, LB Kyler Fackrell, LB Lorenzo Carter, LB Blake Martinez, LB David Mayo, CB DeAndre Baker, CB James Bradberry, S Jabrill Peppers, S Xavier McKinney
Joe Judge is yet another Bill Belichick disciple to get a head coaching gig in the NFL. The Giants turned to the Patriots special teams coordinator to become the next head coach, and while that may raise eyebrows on the surface, being a successful head coach comes down to leadership, and the jury is still out on whether Judge possesses that trait. General manager David Gettleman went to work this offseason trying to patch the many holes on a roster that went 4-12 in 2019.
On offense, that meant addressing the offensive line with the No. 4 pick in the draft. Andrew Thomas played left and right tackle at Georgia. He could go back to the right side for his rookie season while Nate Solder plays out the final year of his contract on the left. Then, Thomas could end up on the left side while third-round pick Matt Peart takes over on the right side. Jones will have a lot of continuity with his weapons moving forward. The Giants didn't add much to the skill positions that will shake things up in 2020.
The defense, on the other hand, saw an influx of talent in both free agency and the draft. Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez come over from Green Bay and should be starters in the front seven. James Bradberry was the team's biggest free-agent signing and Xavier McKinney is the most exciting draft pick outside of Thomas. They will need to continue to develop depth and Markus Golden could still be brought back, but there is reason to believe the Giants will be better than the team that gave up 5.7 yards per play in 2019.
New York Jets
Offense: QB Sam Darnold, RB Le'Veon Bell, WR Breshad Perriman, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Denzel Mims, TE Ryan Griffin, LT Mekhi Becton, LG Alex Lewis, C Connor McGovern, RG Greg Van Roten, RT George Fant
Defense: DE Quinnen Williams, DT Steve McLendon, DE Henry Anderson, LB Jabari Zuniga, LB Jordan Jenkins, LB C.J. Mosley, LB Avery Williamson, CB Pierre Desir, CB Blessuan Austin, S Jamal Adams, S Marcus Maye
Sam Darnold went 7-6 as the starter in New York in his second season at the helm. Now, with the AFC East as wide open as it's been in a long time, the Jets will look to get their first winning season since 2015.
They'll do so with a new-look offensive line. The Jets didn't make any big splashes in free agency but at least brought in new faces. George Fant never caught on as a consistent starter in Seattle but showed enough promise as their swing tackle and blocking tight end that he'll get a shot this season. Alex Lewis may be the only returning starter on the offensive line. Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten were both free-agent signings, and Mekhi Becton will be an immediate starter after going No. 11 overall in the draft. Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims are also new in the receiving corps. Perriman brings speed, while Mims is a big-bodied, athletic receiver with the tools to become an early contributor.
On defense, Jordan Jenkins is a consistent pass-rusher, but the Jets will be hoping third-round pick Jabari Zuniga provides early dividends. Safety Jamal Adams was second on the team in sacks with 6.5 last season, and no other linebacker or lineman had more than five. The Jets didn't really address the need in free agency and will need the ultra-athletic Zuniga to provide a spark. Pierre Desir will be the most important defensive signing they made in the offseason. He'll need to be the team's No. 1 corner.
Offense: QB Carson Wentz, RB Miles Sanders, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Zach Ertz, TE Dallas Goedert, LT Andre Dillard, LG Isaac Seumalo, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson
Defense: DT Fletcher Cox, DT Javon Hargrave, DE Brandon Graham, DE Derek Barnett, LB Nathan Gerry, LB Jatavis Brown, LB Davion Taylor, CB Darius Slay, CB Avonte Maddox, S Rodney McLeod, S Jalen Mills
The Eagles limped into the playoffs with the worst injury luck of anyone in the field. Carson Wentz went down as well as pretty much any offensive weapons they had, resulting in the postseason looking a lot like the third quarter of a preseason game and Josh McCown completing passes to Greg Ward. Philly should once again be in contention for a playoff spot with a revamped receiving corps and some tweaks to the defense.
One benefit that came from all the injuries on offense was the emergence of Dallas Goedert. The Eagles ran more 12 personnel (54 percent of the time on first and second downs) than anyone in the league and Goedert thrived in his second season. With the cupboard restocked at receiver, they may balance out the personnel groupings a bit more. They'll want to get first-round pick Jalen Reagor on the field more, but we'll see plenty of Ertz and Goedert again. Reagor was the headliner of a movement to get more speed on the field for Wentz to target. They also drafted John Hightower and traded for Marquise Goodwin. They currently have 14 receivers on the roster and shouldn't get caught off-guard by injuries again.
The defense will welcome new faces at all three levels. Javon Hargrave was the main attraction of the free-agent class. He's more than just a run-stuffing nose. He can push the pocket some too and makes a great pairing with Fletcher Cox. Davion Taylor (third-round pick) and Jatavis Brown (free agency) are new additions that could crack the starting lineup. Brown was a good under-the-radar pickup, as he had 97 tackles for the Chargers in 2018 before sitting most of 2019. The Eagles' trade to acquire Slay was their most aggressive move of the offseason. They needed help at the position, and he should bring that. It also allowed the team to move Jalen Mills to safety.
Offense: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR James Washington, WR Diontae Johnson, TE Eric Ebron, LT Alejandro Villanueva, LG Stefen Wisniewski, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David DeCastro, RT Matt Feiler
Defense: DE Stephon Tuitt, DT Dan McCullers, DE Cameron Heyward, LB Bud Dupree, LB T.J. Watt, LB Devin Bush, LB Vince Williams, CB Joe Haden, CB Steven Nelson, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Terrell Edmunds
Ben Roethlisberger missed all but two games of the 2019 season with an elbow injury. The results weren't good on offense. The Steelers finished an uncharacteristic 8-8 on the strength of a defense that racked up 38 takeaways. With Roethlisberger back, they'll hope to challenge the Ravens in the AFC North after Lamar Jackson and Co. ran away with the division.
The selection of Chase Claypool will apply some pressure in the receiver room. JuJu Smith-Schuster is in the final year of his contract. Diontae Johnson and James Washington flashed potential last season but aren't unassailable by any means. Eric Ebron gives the team an athletic upgrade at the tight end position. James Conner had a down year in 2019, so Benny Snell Jr. and fourth-round pick Anthony McFarland Jr. could be in for roles in the rushing game.
The defense will look mostly the same. Replacing Javon Hargrave at nose tackle will be the toughest obstacle. Dan McCullers has the job by default, but he's been relegated to a reserve role his entire career. Chris Wormley will provide needed depth along the front, and seventh-round pick Carlos Davis has the size (6'2", 320 pounds) to compete at nose tackle. Mark Barron is gone at linebacker. The team will likely count on Vince Williams, who started eight games to fill the role alongside Devin Bush. The secondary remains the same and should give one of the best 2019 defenses in the league some continuity.
San Francisco 49ers
Offense: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Raheem Mostert, FB Kyle Juszczyk, WR Deebo Samuel, WR Brandon Aiyuk, TE George Kittle, LT Trent Williams, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Weston Richburg, RG Daniel Brunskill, RT Mike McGlinchey
Defense: DT Javon Kinlaw, DT D.J. Jones, DE Nick Bosa, DE Arik Armstead, LB Kwon Alexander, LB Fred Warner, LB Dre Greenlaw, CB Richard Sherman, CB Emmanuel Moseley, S Jimmie Ward, S Jaquiski Tartt
Kyle Shanahan and the Niners broke out in 2019 after a miserable season in 2018. This year will be their opportunity to prove they are a contender in the long term, and they come well-equipped to do it. Many of the names are the same, and they've made good moves to address the positions where they aren't.
Emmanuel Sanders' departure and Joe Staley's retirement were the biggest events of the offseason on offense. The Niners responded by trading up in the first round to take Brandon Aiyuk. With no Day 2 picks, that was a big investment, so it should be expected he'll play a big role right away. Staley's retirement left a massive gap at left tackle until the Niners pulled the trigger on a Trent Williams trade to bring the seven-time Pro Bowler in. Williams sat out all of last season due to a contract dispute with the Redskins but will keep this O-line humming provided he comes back in shape and healthy.
The defense will also look mostly the same, as the consistency is a tribute to the terrific job the front office has done building this team. The 49ers essentially chose Arik Armstead over DeForest Buckner on the defensive line. Those are the kinds of hard decisions the good teams have to make, as it would have been expensive to keep both. By trading Buckner for a first-round pick, they were able to add Javon Kinlaw, who should step into that role right away. Bringing back Jimmie Ward ensures the secondary will look exactly like it did during last season's run to the Super Bowl. Expect the Niners to be in the mix once again, as they have one of the most intact rosters.
Offense: QB Russell Wilson, RB Chris Carson, WR Tyler Lockett, WR DK Metcalf, WR Phillip Dorsett, TE Greg Olsen, LT Duane Brown, LG Mike Iupati, C B.J. Finney, RG Damien Lewis, RT Brandon Shell
Defense: DT Jarran Reed, DT Poona Ford, DE Bruce Irvin, DE Darrell Taylor, LB Jordyn Brooks, LB Bobby Wagner, LB K.J. Wright, CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Quinton Dunbar, S Quandre Diggs, S Bradley McDougald
For eight consecutive years, the Seahawks have finished second or better in the NFC West. With the improvements of the Cardinals and the rise of the Niners, the Seahawks are going to need Russell Wilson to continue playing at an elite level to keep the streak going. He's one of the primary reasons they are one of the NFL's most consistent teams, and he'll have a lot of new faces on offense to get together in 2020.
The changes on the offense start up front where everyone but Duane Brown doesn't have great job security. If these projections hold, the Seahawks would have three starters who are new to the team in Finney, Lewis and Shell. Free agents Phillip Dorsett and Greg Olsen are two new targets as well. Fortunately, the Seahawks should get Chris Carson back from a hip injury. He was having a career year before the injury and will be a steady force for a spot they had to scramble to fill when he was out.
The front seven will look a little different for the Seahawks too. Even with Jadeveon Clowney in the lineup, they had one of the worst pass rushes in the league. That's why they brought Bruce Irvin back and drafted Darrell Taylor in the second round. Both will be called upon to make an impact early, especially if the team doesn't end up signing Clowney, who remains a free agent. If Jordyn Brooks plays up to his first-round billing, the Seahawks should have a great linebacker group, as he'll join longtime starters Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Offense: QB Tom Brady, RB Ronald Jones II, WR Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE O.J. Howard, LT Donovan Smith, LG Ali Marpet, C Ryan Jensen, RG Alex Cappa, RT Tristan Wirfs
Defense: DE Ndamukong Suh, DT Vita Vea, DE Williams Gholston, LB Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Shaquil Barrett, LB Lavonte David, LB Devin White, CB Carlton Davis, CB Jamel Dean, S Jordan Whitehead, S Antoine Winfield
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a real threat in the NFC, but it isn't just because they signed Tom Brady. The defense was nasty last season as it went from 32nd in the league to third in weighted defensive DVOA. That was while Jameis Winston and the offense were throwing 30 interceptions and putting them in a bad position. Now they have Brady. Worst-case scenario with him is that he isn't anything like the old TB12 and he's the best game-manager in football. Even if he can't unlock the vast potential of the offense, he's not throwing 30 picks.
If he's anywhere close to form, the Bucs will have a dangerous offense. Given all the new pieces, there are bound to be growing pains, but by the end of the season they could have one of the best offenses. As long as O.J. Howard remains on the roster and Rob Gronkowski shows he's still an asset, the Bucs are a good candidate to run more two-tight end sets than the three-receiver sets most teams use as their base. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are the best receiving tandem in the league, but the Bucs didn't do much to address Breshad Perriman's departure. Third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn will rotate with Ronald Jones II at running back.
The same defense that made a huge leap in 2020 is pretty much back with a few exceptions. Antoine Winfield should be an immediate starter as a second-round pick with versatility to play all over the field. They lost Beau Allen and Carl Nassib to free agency, but JPP can replace Nassib's production as a pass-rusher, and there's still time for the Bucs to sign someone to take Allen's snaps on the interior.
Offense: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry, WR A.J. Brown, WR Corey Davis, WR Adam Humphries, TE Jonnu Smith, LT Taylor Lewan, LG Rodger Saffold, C Ben Jones, RG Nate Davis, RT Dennis Kelly
Defense: DE Jeffery Simmons, DT DaQuan Jones, DE Jack Crawford, LB Vic Beasley Jr., LB Harold Landry III, LB Jayon Brown, LB Rashaan Evans, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Adoree' Jackson, S Kenny Vaccaro, S Kevin Byard
The Titans finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the league after Ryan Tannehill took over for Marcus Mariota as the starter, using a wave of momentum to make an AFC Championship Game run. That success was driven by Tannehill playing the best football of his career, Derrick Henry getting better as the season went on and A.J. Brown becoming one of the league's best deep threats. Their offseason moves point on them banking on those things continuing to hold.
The offensive line was a strength in 2019, but Jack Conklin left for Cleveland, so swing tackle Dennis Kelly or first-round pick Isaiah Wilson will need to step in to play across from Taylor Lewan. Outside of that position battle, this offense is mostly set. Third-round pick Darrynton Evans will fight for reps as the back who spells Henry.
There's a little more change on the defensive side of the ball. Vic Beasley Jr. will have the opportunity to resurrect his career in Tennessee. The 2015 first-round pick will be replacing Cameron Wake and playing opposite Harold Landry III on a team that will need him to produce as a pass-rusher. Jack Crawford is another transplant from Atlanta. He had six sacks in 2018 and could take over Jurrell Casey's old role if he can return to that form. Kristian Fulton was one of the biggest steals in the draft when he slid to the second round. He might not crack the starting lineup with Jackson and Butler on the roster, but he will be playing meaningful snaps early.
Offense: QB Dwayne Haskins, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Terry McLaurin, WR Steven Sims Jr., WR Kelvin Harmon, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, LT Cornelius Lucas III, LG Wes Schweitzer, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Defense: DT Daron Payne, DT Jonathan Allen, DE Montez Sweat, DE Chase Young, LB Thomas Davis Sr., LB Jon Bostic, LB Reuben Foster, CB Fabian Moreau, CB Kendall Fuller, S Landon Collins, S Sean Davis
Ron Rivera jumps right back into a head coaching gig as he will attempt to rebuild the Redskins. His first year could get a little ugly. The team drafted Chase Young and has reason to be excited about pairing him with Montez Sweat on the edges, but this rebuild looks like more of a long-term project instead of a quick fix.
Dwayne Haskins may or may not be the quarterback of the future, but the Skins are committed to finding out in 2020. Of course, he'll be trying to prove himself behind an unproven offensive line. Fourth-round pick Saahdiq Charles could challenge Cornelius Lucas III for the left tackle spot to protect Haskins' blindside. Getting Brandon Scherff back was important. He's the only lineman coming back that could definitively be described as "good." The rest are either unproven or haven't produced recently. Derrius Guice's return from a knee injury will be a key storyline. If this line can provide some running lanes, he'll show his electric talent if he stays healthy.
Rivera wasn't afraid to spend some money to make the defense better. Kendall Fuller largely played in the slot with Kansas City, but the Redskins didn't pay him $40 million over four years just to play that role so he'll be a big part of the secondary. Thomas Davis Sr. is on his last legs, but he'll bring leadership and familiarity with Rivera's philosophies on the field. Sean Davis was an underrated free-agency signing. He was a starter in Pittsburgh for two seasons before injuries took away his 2019 season. This defense won't be dominant by any stretch, but it should offer enough hope to keep Rivera's vision afloat in his first year.