The first wave of the NFL offseason saw tons of AFC teams load up while most NFC teams stayed quiet. Maybe that’s what steered Tom Brady away from retirement life. With Brady at the helm, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford both will continue to battle in the NFC. After that, the list of quarterbacks drops off significantly throughout the rest of the conference. Let’s break down the NFC as the NFL Draft approaches.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Following a brief 40-day retirement party for Tom Brady that lasted shorter than the MLB lockout, Tampa Bay went back to work to surround Brady with a Super Bowl-caliber team. They brought back key free agents Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis, and Chris Godwin. Along with acquiring Shaq Mason and Russell Gage to bolster the rest of the offense. Bruce Arians’ retirement now gives Brady, even more, say within the offense.
2. Los Angeles Rams
It seemed certain that the Rams would lose free agents following their Super Bowl win in February. Losing Von Miller, Darius Willams, and Sebastian Joseph-Day wasn’t ideal and hurts the defense. But they signed linebacker Bobby Wagner and receiver Allen Robinson. Matthew Stafford will still have tons of targets even if Odell Beckham Jr doesn’t re-sign. In a weak NFC, the Rams are well-positioned to defend their title.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Even though the keys to the car haven’t been officially handed to Trey Lance, he seems to be in the driver’s seat whether or not the 49ers are able to trade Jimmy Garopollo. Anytime an offense has Deebo Samuel, Elijah Mitchell, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle they will be set up for success. Adding former Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward will help their secondary and the 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL giving them a chance to win the NFC.
4. Green Bay Packers
Returning Aaron Rodgers was the best-case scenario for Packer hopefuls this offseason. They were able to resign him but other than him the roster has begun to fall apart. Green Bay traded Davante Adams to the Raiders and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with the Chiefs. They were able to retain Preston Smith, De’Vondre Campbell, and Rasul Douglas but lost Za’Darius Smith walk. Regardless, having the reigning back-to-back MVP at the helm of your team gives you a chance to play for the Lombardi.
5. Arizona Cardinals
After a disastrous end to the regular season that carried into the playoffs, Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray will need to go back to the drawing board with questions to answer. Arizona was able to come to terms with James Conner and Zach Ertz but lost Christian Kirk to Jacksonville. They also lost defensive pieces Chandler Jones and Jordan Hicks to make room for Zaven Collins. If Kyler Murray is able to stay healthy, the Cardinals should put up a fight in a loaded NFC West division. However, back-to-back late-season malfunctions provide some worry in the desert.
6. Dallas Cowboys
The Salary Cap finally caught up to the Cowboys this offseason as the extensions for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott kicked in. They also had to trade Amari Cooper for a bag of chips and lost Randy Gregory, La’el Collins, Cedric Wilson, and Connor Willams in free agency. Causing Dallas to go from one of the most talented rosters in the NFC to the middle of the pack. Bringing back Michael Gallup was huge and CeeDee Lamb will have an opportunity to thrive as a No. 1 receiver.
7. Minnesota Vikings
New head coach Kevin O’Connell will have the opportunity to revamp the underachieving offensive in his first year at the helm of the Vikings. Headlined by young stars Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook will help out veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins. Bringing in Za’Darius Smith from their division rival will provide EDGE support on the defense, but they will need to be much better as a unit in 2022.
8. Philadelphia Eagles
After trading the No. 16 and No. 19 pick in the draft to the New Orleans Saints the Eagles are now set for the future. They still have two first-round picks in this year’s draft as well as two next year if the Jalen Hurts experiment fails in Philadelphia. The addition of Hasson Reddick bolsters the defensive line into an elite unit and they boast one of the most effective run games in the league.
9. Washington Commanders
Carson Wentz will now take a jab at manning the Commanders’ offense that is running through quarterbacks left and right. Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas are solid weapons on offense but they still could use another option. The defense will look to get back to their 2020 tendencies but a lot will be riding on Wentz this season in Washington.
10. New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton is no longer the coach of the New Orleans Saints and Jameis Winston is still their quarterback. Trading with the Eagles to obtain two first-round draft picks means they like the talent in the upcoming draft. I wouldn’t be surprised if they select a quarterback on day 1 or 2. The return of Michael Thomas will help the offense but it remains to be seen if he has a full season in him.
11. New York Giants
New York seems to have found their coach of the future in Brain Daboll, but they still will roll out Daniel Jones behind a below-average offensive line. Kenny Golladay has yet to pan out in the blue and white but theirs still time. Having the No. 5 and No. 7 picks in the draft helps but they need players ready to contribute right away.
12. Seattle Seahawks
The Russell Wilson era is officially over in Seattle and now a rebuild will begin in the rainy city. Seattle boasts talent but with Drew Lock at quarterback, it will be tough to contend. Don’t expect too much from the Seahawks this season.
13. Detroit Lions
Signing D.J. Chark to a 1-year deal seems like a win for the Lions this offseason. He will join Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson, and Josh Reynolds in catching passes from Jared Goff. Who will be protected by a great offensive line that will once again allow D’Andre Swift to showcase his talents to the world. Dan Campbell’s second season will be under a microscope as they will be featured on Hard Knocks.
14. Chicago Bears
It’s never a good sign when you trade your best defensive player for little to nothing but whenever Khalil Mack had problems staying on the field maybe it was for the best? Justin Fields will look to have an effective sophomore year in the NFL. This team has many question marks surrounding them.
15. Carolina Panthers
After losing out on the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes the Panthers now have to look elsewhere to find their leader for the future. They have promising young weapons on offense but banking on Sam Darnold to take you to the playoffs is not a great position to be in.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Marcus Mariota heads into a dumpster fire in Atlanta. They lack pass-catching weapons outside of Kyle Pitts within the offense. Mariota will have to play behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Head down to Mercedes-Benz Stadium if you want to see the worst roster in the NFL.