Five NFL teams that have improved the most this offseason
By James Simpson - @JS_Football
Last Updated: 24/07/19 11:00am
Training camps will be in full swing this week.
The Hall of Fame game and the start of the preseason is only seven days away, and in just six weeks, the season begins with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers.
Through free agency, the 2019 NFL Draft, and plenty of cuts and trades, much has changed since the New England Patriots triumphed over the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII in February.
Which teams have improved the most over the summer? We take a look at five franchises who have made positive moves…
Cleveland Browns (2018 record: 7-8-1)
The turnaround began last season, when head coach Hue Jackson was fired midseason. The Browns had a 5-3 record in the second half of the year, and finished with their best record since 2007.
This offseason, they turned it up a notch and with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr, might have turned themselves into contenders. Olivier Vernon, also acquired in that trade with the Giants, joins incoming free agent Sheldon Richardson to improve the defensive line.
General manager John Dorsey also took a chance on released Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who is suspended for the first eight games of the season but will return bolster an already stacked offense.
In 2018 No 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield's second year as starter, Cleveland have their eyes on the postseason.
New York Jets (4-12)
It is generally a fair prediction to expect a quarterback to take a huge leap from year one to year two, and Jets' 'face of the franchise' Sam Darnold will certainly be aided by the addition of star free agent prize Le'Veon Bell.
The former Steeler, who sat out the 2019 season in order to sign a long-term contract - that the Jets were willing to offer - is one of the greatest running backs in the game and with his prowess as a receiver, gives Darnold a safety blanket and the offense a new look.
Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker CJ Mosley will immediately step in and set the tone for the defense after signing from Baltimore, and third overall pick Quinnen Williams could ultimately be the most talented player to come from the 2019 Draft.
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
After shipping out Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper last year on their way to a 4-12 finish, there was only really room for improvement this season - but the Raiders certainly have a new-look roster.
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Antonio Brown is the big-name addition, and will offer the play-making ability the team lacked without Cooper. Trent Brown started all 16 games at left tackle for the Super Bowl champion Patriots last season and comes in to man the right side on the richest offensive lineman contract in the league.
Meanwhile, three first-round picks - Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram - alongside veterans like Tyrell Williams, Lamarcus Joyner and Vontaze Burfict, will change the complexion of the starting lineup in Oakland.
San Francisco 49ers (4-12)
For the 49ers, it starts with the returns of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. After a scintillating spell as starter at the end of the 2017 season (5-0 record), 'Jimmy G' tore his ACL in Week Three of last season.
Garroppolo's return changes the dynamic of the offense, and so do the additions of Tevin Coleman in the backfield, and rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd at wideout.
Dante Pettis is set for a second-year jump, and considering they still managed a top-half offense last season, the 49ers could make a huge leap in 2019.
Oh, and let's not forget the game-changing defensive additions of Dee Ford (trade), Kwon Alexander (free agency) and Nick Bosa (NFL Draft).
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
The Bills went on a bit of a spending spree in free agency, adding playmakers around young QB Josh Allen by signing Cole Beasley, John Brown, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon.
Buffalo shored up the interior of the offensive line with veterans (Spencer Long, Mitch Morse, Quinton Spain) and drafted an immediate starter with their second-round pick Cody Ford. In the NFL Draft, they were thrilled defensive tackle Ed Oliver fell to the ninth pick.
It was a disappointing setback in 2018 after reaching the postseason in 2017 for the first time since 1999, but Buffalo might not be far away from making the playoffs once again.