National Football League
NFL's 5 least improved teams of the offseason: Cowboys or Bills more disappointing?
National Football League

NFL's 5 least improved teams of the offseason: Cowboys or Bills more disappointing?

Updated May. 9, 2024 6:10 p.m. ET

Now is the season for optimism, but let's try not to fall for blind optimism.

Every team in the NFL has had a chance to spend in free agency and add a new draft class of contributors. But not all plans are created equal. As we sit here ahead of OTAs and minicamps, it's fair to wonder if every team has positioned itself as well as possible.

If we don't want to call them "losers," that's fine. No one can predict a season in May, and NFL teams still have all summer to seek out improvements before the season kicks off.

But here are five NFL teams that — right now, anyway — appear to have had underwhelming or outright confusing offseasons.


5. Las Vegas Raiders

I like what the big picture looks like in Las Vegas.

In the first year of the Tom Telesco/Antonio Pierce regime, the Raiders don't look like they're trying to force it. Most of their offseason activity has been focused on upgrading the floor of this team. Splashing cash for Christian Wilkins should give them one of the league's best pass rushes. Brock Bowers and Jackson Powers-Johnson should be Day 1 starters on offense. Cheap signings like Andrus Peat and Michael Gallup should provide veteran depth.

It all sounds pretty good, right up until you remember they'll be quarterbacked by either Gardner Minshew or Aidan O'Connell. With all due respect to those guys, it's arguably the weakest quarterback room in the NFL, along with their division rival Denver Broncos.

It all sounds good for a team that knows it's a year or two away. My only concern is that there are some key members of the Raiders who don't have that time to lose. Davante Adams turns 32 this season. Maxx Crosby and Wilkins turn 27 and 29, respectively, in the coming months. Vegas has All-Pro talent that would probably rather not take a back seat.

That's what makes their choices this offseason interesting. The Raiders were out on Kirk Cousins, who would've made them an instant contender. They also opted to stand pat at pick No. 13, and both Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix were picked in front of them.

Maybe these decisions will age like fine wine. The Raiders will have a ton of cap space in 2025 and plenty of opportunity to find their quarterback of the future. But here in the present, their quiet offseason makes it tough for them to stand out in a loaded AFC.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags' placement here is less about their actual team. I didn't mind that they opted not to spend that much on Calvin Ridley, especially after they landed Brian Thomas Jr. in the draft to go along with Gabe Davis and Christian Kirk. They finally got Josh Allen extended, and D-line addition Arik Armstead is a perennially underrated contributor.

The problem is that the Jags' offseason doesn't feel good enough in a suddenly ferocious AFC South. This time last year, Jacksonville was the runaway favorite to win the division, and they even had a shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs as recently as November 2023.

Here in 2024, the competition looks steeper. Houston has loaded up around C.J. Stroud, and Tennessee spent a small country's GDP on providing Will Levis with a supporting cast. The Indianapolis Colts were a win away from the playoffs with Minshew under center, and now they're getting Anthony Richardson back from injury.

The Jags look like a perfectly solid team heading into the season, but that's a far cry from being the undisputed class of their division. What a difference a year makes.

3. Baltimore Ravens

Try not to yell at me, Ravens fans. Lamar Jackson is still one of the best players in football, and the Ravens are still a contender. But when you're the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, there's nowhere to go but down. More importantly, the Ravens lost some key pieces from last year's juggernaut.

Let's start with the obvious. Mike Macdonald was one of the best coordinators in the NFL during his stint in Baltimore, and now he's the head coach in Seattle. True, the Ravens did maintain some continuity by promoting Zach Orr to the defensive coordinator job from within their own staff, but it's still fair to expect some variance. Fortunately for Orr, he'll get to work with star defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, who re-signed with the Ravens. But this fearsome Ravens defense lost a few big pieces like Patrick Queen, Jadeveon Clowney and Geno Stone.

Even more concerning is the state of the Ravens' offensive line, which lost three starters during free agency. How well they replace them will determine a lot about Jackson's season — not to mention Derrick Henry's

It's fair to point out that May is a bit early to judge the Ravens. This team loves to make summer signings, so we'll see what's in store. But right now, I'm not sure if they've kept pace with the lofty standard they set in 2023.

2. Dallas Cowboys

This joke has been beaten into the ground, but we can safely say the Cowboys have done the opposite of going "all-in," as Jerry Jones infamously predicted back in January. Consider this: Not only are the Cowboys dead last in money spent this offseason, at roughly $20.7 million — but that figure also falls a full $46 million short of the next-worst New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys did not make a good-faith effort to improve the roster that fell woefully flat in the playoffs.

Throw in the uncertainty surrounding Dak Prescott's contract extension, and the angst permeating the Cowboys' fan base makes a ton of sense.

All of that said, it's fair to point out that the situation isn't exactly dire. The Cowboys return eight All-Pros from last year's roster. Prescott is in the prime of his career, and CeeDee Lamb might be the best receiver in football.

This team still has legitimate playoff aspirations. It's just hard to make the case they'll improve on last year's result — and isn't that supposed to be the goal?

1. Buffalo Bills

The Bills were bound to be here once they traded away Stefon Diggs after two years' worth of offseason drama. Diggs joining a young contender in Houston is bound to put a spotlight on Buffalo.

Truth be told, there are more reasons for concern than just Diggs' departure. Gabe Davis is gone, too. As is center Mitch Morse — both players off to Jacksonville. Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and Tre'Davious White were all released. Leonard Floyd left in free agency. Matt Milano is coming off a major injury.

The blunt reality is that the Bills have moved on from a lot of the guys that sparked their transformation into one of the league's elite. They'll be asking rookies like Keon Coleman and Cole Bishop to carry things forward.

Fortunately, they still have one of the best quarterbacks alive tying it all together. The Bills are contenders as long as Josh Allen is healthy and capable of scoring 44 touchdowns in a season. But there's no denying the road through the AFC looks tougher for them than it has in several years.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports and hosts the NFL on FOX podcast. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team's official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing "Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion" about the quarterback's time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.

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