The NFL offseason has kicked off, which means quarterback carousels, big money signing and blockbuster trades. With many teams looking to make a name for themselves, this is the first window of opportunity for them to shape their 2024 destiny. Here are three teams that set themselves apart from the pack so far.

Philadelphia Eagles

Entering the 2023 NFL season, the Eagles appeared to be locked to once again make it out of the NFC and feature in back-to-back Super Bowls. But after a blazing 10-1 start to the season, a crushing loss to the San Francisco 49ers made the team implode, winning only one more game the rest of the season before getting bounced out of the playoffs in the Wildcard Round. 

Their once-promising season would end in despair, disappointment and frustration. All of the signs were pointing to a slippery slope falloff to the team once destined to put an end to the Chief’s dynasty. Captains Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox would hang up their cleats marking the end of two Hall of Fame careers. And worst of all, it seemed that the league had finally figured them out.

Luckily enough for the Eagles, general manager Howie Roseman has been in this position before. After winning Super Bowl LII in 2017, the team never seemed able to recapture the magic that led them there. But mere four years later, they found themselves back at the pinnacle of the league, one stop away from glory. But after all that transpired in 2023, pressure on the Birds was at an all-time high and Roseman needed to cook up a masterclass, which he delivered.

Prior to Week 12, the Eagles’ offense was averaging 28.2 points per game. Their scoring output dropped to 18.9 points per game the rest of the season. That was unprecedented and frankly unacceptable with the players they roster. They needed a change. Their bruising style of play fell flat and teams caught onto their one-dimensional offense by stuffing the run and forcing them to play from behind. Enter Kellen Moore, who made a name for himself in his years as the offensive coordinator for division-rivals Dallas Cowboys. Down in Dallas, Moore orchestrated the Cowboys’ offense making them one of the most prolific in the league. He left to join Justin Herbert and the Chargers in 2023, but after they decided to clean the house, Moore finds himself in the “City of Brotherly Love” looking to resurrect Jalen Hurts and the rest of the offense. 

Eagles vs Commanders — courtesy of flickr

But it didn’t stop there on offense. If that side of the ball wasn’t already stacked enough with the likes of Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles went out and signed two-time Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley to a three-year deal worth up to nearly $48 million, a deal that sent shockwaves around the entire league. We all know who Barkley is and what he can bring to the table. When healthy, Barkley is one of the most dynamic runners in the entire league. His combination of speed, agility and brute strength is reminiscent of Adrian Peterson. Last season, DeAndre Swift put up a career-best 1049 yards rushing, which was fourth best in the NFL. Now imagine what a player with twice his talent in Barkley can do this upcoming season. 

Furthermore, the Eagles inked standout offensive linemen Landon Dickerson and Jordan Mailata to hefty multiyear contract extensions, making sure they retain a monster offensive line unit that has dominated the trenches up front. Smart, budget-friendly deals in pass-catchers Parris Campbell, Devante Parker and Albert Okwuegbunam round out their moves on offense. Howie Roseman turned this crumbling, stagnated Eagles offense to perhaps the most talented unit the league has ever seen.

The defense needed a massive retooling as well. Well-respected and renowned defensive coordinator Vic Fangio takes over that same role in Philadelphia after spending a year in South Beach. With more than 40 years of NFL coaching, he’s developed a “Fangio Tree” of coaches and he brings a versatile defensive style that incorporates many different schemes and packages. Fangio’s longevity and reputation speak for itself. 

Unlike the offense, the Eagles’ defense is an aging unit. It was extremely evident that they were wearing out as the season progressed. Edge rusher Bryce Huff and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson were signed to massive three-year contracts, both combined to be worth over $64 million. Huff is coming off a breakout season where he recorded a career-high 10 sacks for the New York Jets and was one of the most sought-after players at his position. At only 25 years old, Huff is just scratching the surface of his potential and adds some youth to their defensive core. Gardner-Johnson is a familiar face for Eagles fans as he was part of the 2022 team that faced the Chiefs in Super Bowl LII. During that season, he led the NFL with six interceptions to go along with 67 total tackles. Gardner-Johnson has struggled with injuries since then, but he looks to bring some much-needed juice to a defense that ranked second-last in forced turnovers in 2023. 

Jalen Hurts — courtesy of flickr

An under-the-radar, yet potentially genius deal Roseman cooked up was signing linebacker Devin White to a one-year $7.5 million deal. Since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2019, White has been extremely productive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recording over 120 tackles in three straight seasons (2020-2022) and registering 23 career sacks. It is surprising that the former All-Pro was signed for such a bargain, especially since he’s still only 26 years old.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Under head coach Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to experience a losing season. Reminder: Tomlin has been there for seventeen seasons now — it’s a testament to the culture they have built throughout the years. However, it’s been almost a decade since the Steelers have been serious contenders. They have been seemingly trapped in purgatory, always competitive, but just never good enough to compete for anything significant. Pittsburgh won three straight games to end their season, but once again it would amount to nothing as they would lose in a blowout to the Buffalo Bills. 

So what’s the problem? Two words: the offense. 

Since Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, the Steelers have constantly found themselves in a rotation of Mason Rudolph, Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Pickett, who the team drafted with 20th-overall in 2021, was supposed to be “next-up.” But injuries, inconsistencies and a lack of production signaled that he was anything but the answer. It didn’t help that offensive coordinator Matt Canada was fired midway through the season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Steelers ranked 28th in points per game (17.9), 28th in yards per game (310.1), and 30th in yards per play (4.8) with Canada calling the shots on offense. 

In the offseason, former Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was hired as offensive coordinator. Despite being lackluster in his time at Atlanta, Smith was phenomenal in his lone season as offensive coordinator. He was the mind behind a Tennessee Titans offense that ranked top-10 in the league and made it all the way to the AFC Championship game. The run-game should be revitalized under Smith, who now has talented backs in Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris at his disposal. 

With the void at offensive coordinator now filled, the Steelers turned their head to focus on solving the quarterback problem. By all means, Pickett hasn’t been terrible. He’s shown flashes, but six touchdowns in twelve starts just isn’t gonna cut it, especially for a playoff team like the Steelers. All offseason, rumors swirled that the Steelers were looking to bring in competition for Pickett, perhaps through a veteran. Names like Jacoby Brissett, Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill (who played under Smith in 2019) popped up. But when news broke that Russell Wilson had been released by the Denver Broncos, no team was faster than Pittsburgh to swoop in and sign the former Super Bowl champion. 

Wilson was signed to a league-minimum one-year deal worth only $1.2 million. Wilson’s time in Denver was disastrous, but in many ways he bounced back in 2023, throwing for 26 touchdowns in 15 starts. He’s a massive upgrade for the Steelers, and if he’s able to play anything close to the way he did during his Seattle years, this could be the best signing of the entire offseason. Signed for only one year, the Steelers are very well aware that Wilson could very much be a rental and not the long-term answer they need. Hey, maybe it’s Kenny Pickett? Nope. He would get shipped out to Philadelphia for a late-round pick, days after the Wilson signing. Instead, the Steelers would go out and acquire Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Like Wilson, Fields’ tenure with his former team was filled with highs-and-lows. His talent is undeniable, showing signs of becoming one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league. But with the Bears bound to draft USC superstar Caleb Williams first-overall this year, his time with them was up. The former 11th-overall pick was traded for nothing but a 2025 5th-round pick, and now he finds himself in a situation very much favorable for him (and for the Steelers).

Now that their weaknesses were addressed, why not make a splash signing to bolster their strengths on the defensive side of the ball. Pittsburgh would go on and win the Patrick Queen sweepstakes, signing the former Raven to a three-year $41 million deal. Queen had a career-year in 2023, tallying a career-best 133 total tackles and earning All-Pro honors. To say the least, Queen is a complete linebacker — able to do it all, he excels in coverage, disruptive in stopping the run and one of the best at generating pressure on the quarterback (ranking 6th-best in pressure rate among all linebackers per NFL Next Gen Stats). He joins a defensive unit headlined by names such as Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick and former Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. 

Signings of veteran players such as Van Jefferson, Cordarelle Patterson and Quez Watkins add much-needed depth for the Pittsburgh offense. They also re-signed special teams standout and locker room leader Miles Killebrew to a two-year deal after he was named to an All-Pro team. It’s hard to argue and undermine what the Steelers did during the offseason. They turned their weaknesses into potential strengths by adding elite talent to both sides to the ball. A team now with a healthy mix of veterans and youth on their roster, the Steelers have a chance to make a deep postseason run in 2024.

Houston Texans

In 2023, the Houston Texans took the league by storm. A massive turnaround saw the team’s win total go from only three all the way to ten, and they even appeared in the AFC Divisional game where they would eventually fall to Lamar Jackson’s Ravens. Their rise was unforeseen. Led by newly-hired head coach (and former Houston team captain) Demeco Ryans, the team played a beautiful brand built on stifling defense and a high-powered offense. Of course, a large part of their rise was thanks to a phenomenal draft where they would take home both the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year in quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. The Texans were a team with an improbable rise and zero expectations that seized their opportunity. 

Inevitably the Texans would lose a couple of key players to big money deals, but they made sure to retain a couple of key names who were vital to their success in 2024. Perhaps the most important piece they were able to secure was offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, who was highly sought after to fill one of the league’s head coaching vacancies. Slowik, who followed Demeco Ryans from San Francisco, orchestrated the 7th-ranked passing offense (and 11th best in total yards) that allowed their offense to blossom with a rookie quarterback in C.J. Stroud at the helm. Slowik’s commitment to the Texans for this upcoming season is as important as anybody’s. 

The Texans weren’t afraid to make a splash to kick off free agency, signing 4-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter to a massive nearly fully-guaranteed two-year deal worth $49 million. Hunter was brought in to replace Jonathan Greenard (who led the teams in sacks in 2023), and to many, this was a massive upgrade. Coming off a career-high sixteen sacks and twenty-three tackles for loss, the ex-Viking now pairs up with Will Anderson Jr. to form one of the most feared pass rush tandems in the league. The Texans also signed linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who rose to prominence under Ryans in San Francisco. He, too, was added to fill a major void in the team after Blake Cashman, the team leader in tackles a season ago (106), departed. 

An element that the Texans lacked, despite all of their success, in 2023 was the element of the run game. They remedy that by trading for Cincinnati Bengals star running back Joe Mixon. Mixon was battling rumors of an impending release, so Texans general manager Nick Caserio saw an opportunity to buy-low on the one-time Pro Bowl back, giving up only a 7th-round pick in the deal. Since entering the league, Mixon has topped 1200 scrimmage yards in five of his seven seasons. Mixon’s versatility from the running back spot will add a much-needed dimension to a young Texans offense.

But if that wasn’t already enough, the Texans landed wide receiver Stefon Diggs in a blockbuster deal with the Buffalo Bills. Early in the offseason, the Texans traded away their first-round pick to Minnesota in exchange for two second-round picks (one in 2025) and a sixth-round pick. All eyes were on Minnesota as talks around the league speculated that they were going to use their newly-acquired first-rounder to vault up into the top ten in hopes of drafting one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class. However, it was Houston that capitalized first on that deal, using the Vikings’ second-round pick to acquire Stefon Diggs. A major “chess not checkers” for the team, as many already thought Houston was loaded on offense. Diggs’ resumé speaks for itself: two-time All Pro, 4-time Pro Bowler, former NFL leader in both yards and receptions (2020). Diggs now headlines a deep receiving corps that already features Tank Dell, Nico Collins, Noah Brown and Dalton Schultz. 

All the pieces of the puzzle are in place for the Texans to continue their unprecedented rise. They surrounded their face-of-the-franchise C.J. Stroud with elite playmakers and retained the brain behind the entire operation, Bobby Slowik. Their stout defense has seemingly gotten better and well-rounded through depth signings such as Jeff Okudah, Denico Autry and Myles Bryant. Something special is brewing in south Texas, and if things play out the way they could, expect a Bengals-esque 2022 Super Bowl run.