Best 2024 NFL offseason decision by every AFC team

2X8DE5E Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Bo Nix takes part in drills during an organized training activity at the NFL football team's training headquarters Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

• The Denver Broncos were smart to cut ties with Russell Wilson: A combined $85 million in dead cap is an ugly figure, but the Broncos rightfully moved on from the underperforming veteran.

• The Chargers hit a home run by hiring Jim Harbaugh: Offseason player additions included, Los Angeles couldn't have made a better move to improve their team.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to prepare for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes


As we reflect on the NFL team building we’ve seen over the past few months, we're identifying the “best” move from every team in the NFL. We start with all 16 AFC teams. Click here for the NFC version.


JUMP TO A TEAM:

BLT | BUF | CIN | CLE | DEN | HOU | IND | JAX
KC | LVR | LACMIA | NENYJPITTEN


BALTIMORE RAVENS: RE-SIGNING JUSTIN MADUBUIKE

The Derrick Henry signing got more publicity, as it should, with Henry and Lamar Jackson set to strike fear into defensive coordinators everywhere. However, retaining Justin Madubuike was Baltimore's biggest offseason move.

The Ravens' secondary is budding and anchored by linebacker Roquan Smith in the middle, but they Madubuike’s pass-rushing abilities are vital to the defense's overall efficacy. He is coming off career bests in PFF pass-rush grade (79.6) and run-defense grade (66.9). His consistency is what helps him be such a force, as he recorded at least half a sack in 11 straight games last year.


BUFFALO BILLS: RESTRUCTURING VON MILLER'S CONTRACT

It was a tough offseason for the Bills, as they turned the page and moved on from several core veterans who made up their winning window over the past few years. But they are still a team that intends to compete for the division, and they can now field a better roster due to the restructuring of Von Miller’s contract.

Miller finished with career-low PFF grades across the board in 2023, and while he could have held firm on the big contract number he was owed for 2024, Buffalo was able to restructure his deal to save about $9 million in cap space for signings and re-signings to remain as competitive as possible.


CINCINNATI BENGALS: DRAFTING AMARIUS MIMS

The Bengals weren’t the same team in 2023, with Joe Burrow either hurt or only partially healthy for most of the season. Burrow will be back after recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist, and Cincinnati was proactive by prioritizing more pass protection in front of him.

Offensive tackle Amarius Mims went to the Bengals with their first-round choice, and the team signed free agent Trent Brown to potentially start at right tackle this year in the short term. Mims is the long-term answer, though, and we know that Burrow behind a good offensive line produces a Super Bowl ceiling.

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CLEVELAND BROWNS: RE-SIGNING ZA’DARIUS SMITH

Re-signing Za’Darius Smith felt like one of the more underappreciated moves of the offseason. Smith, who is 31 years old, earned a PFF pass-rush grade above 80.0 for the fourth consecutive season in which he has played at least 500 snaps.

Myles Garrett gets most of the spotlight along Cleveland's defensive line, but Smith filled the role opposite him as an effective pass-rusher in his own right in 2023, securing 60 pressures. This was an excellent signing by the Browns.


DENVER BRONCOS: OUT WITH RUSSELL WILSON, IN WITH BO NIX

Yes, taking on a combined dead cap hit of $85 million to have one player not play for your franchise was the Broncos' “best” move.

Denver bit the bullet in cutting ties with the underperforming Russell Wilson and then tried to make the most of things by securing a first-round rookie quarterback on a cost-controlled salary with a fifth-year option. The Broncos made other solid moves this offseason, but the best was simply moving on from Wilson.


HOUSTON TEXANS: BRINGING IN STEFON DIGGS AND DANIELLE HUNTER

There are plenty of “best” moves to choose from for the Texans. The biggest ones — we may be cheating with multiple — were the additions of pass-rusher Danielle Hunter and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Hunter finished 2023 with double-digit sacks for the fifth time in seven years, including years where he missed time. His pass-rush win rate was above 14.0% for the third season in a row. He is a fantastic complement to Will Anderson Jr. on the other side. As for Diggs, 2023 marked a low point in PFF receiving grade by his standards, but it was still a healthy 79.0. He now leads one of the deepest receiver rooms in the league.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: DRAFTING PASS-RUSHER LAIATU LATU

Although the Colts finished 2023 as a top-five team in volume of sacks (51), they ranked 23rd in total pressures (279) and 23rd in pressure percentage (31.9%). Enter UCLA pass-rusher Laiatu Latu, a top-five finisher in the FBS in sacks, total pressures and pass-rush win percentage over the past two years.

The Colts impressively recognized their need for pass-rushing talent despite the high sack total, and that should pay dividends in 2024.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: RE-SIGNING TREVOR LAWRENCE

The Mitch Morse signing was an option here, but the biggest move was the Jaguars giving Trevor Lawrence his contract extension before Dak Prescott, Jordan Love and Tua Tagovailoa inked new deals.

Lawrence’s $275 million deal comes despite the team going without much postseason success since he was drafted. The extension was always going to get done, though, as Lawrence has improved each year and led the Jaguars to two consecutive winning seasons.

The Jaguars did the right thing by getting his contract in before the price went up.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: RE-SIGNING CHRIS JONES

This was the obvious choice. The Chiefs are going for a three-peat. They can’t do so without Chris Jones, who is now the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league with over $100 million guaranteed on his deal. Few teams have the luxury of going all-in for a title, let alone their third in a row.


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: REJUVENATING THE DEFENSE

This header may be cheating the exercise. The Raiders went all-in on defense this offseason, knowing that a franchise quarterback would likely be out of their reach at Pick No. 13 in the 2024 NFL Draft.

They established a direction of team building and stuck to the plan after hiring defensive-minded head coach Antonio Pierce. It began with spending a ton of money on Christian Wilkins to get Maxx Crosby some help on the defensive line, and while the team didn’t go defense with its first-round pick, the emphasis on beefing up that unit was still there. The Raiders are in rebuilding mode, and they’re rebuilding through the defense first.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: HIRING JIM HARBAUGH

This was the slam-dunk move of the offseason for the Chargers and, honestly, one of the best moves any team made.

Harbaugh has won everywhere he has been. He excelled at Stanford, with the 49ers and then at Michigan. He knows football, he knows football players and there are few I’d rather have as a head coach for an NFL team.


MIAMI DOLPHINS: EXTENDING JAYLEN WADDLE

The Dolphins fielded an incredible offense in 2023, ranking in the top three in PFF offensive grade, rushing grade, passing grade and receiving grade.

Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is a big piece of that pie, and the Dolphins rewarded him with a three-year $84.75 million contract extension. It made Waddle a top-five receiver by average annual value at the time, but Miami got the deal in before Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase could sign their next contracts. This extension should age beautifully.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: DRAFTING DRAKE MAYE

The Patriots likely had a king’s ransom of trade packages to choose from to move down from the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. They did the right thing by standing pat with their selection, however, and taking their quarterback of the future in Drake Maye.

Yes, the roster isn’t good enough around the rookie to truly compete, but if a quarterback-needy team believes a prospect can be a franchise quarterback, you draft them — end of story.


NEW YORK JETS: BRINGING IN TYRON SMITH AND MORGAN MOSES

The Jets' offensive tackles collectively earned a 54.6 PFF grade in 2023. Though it felt like a wasted season with quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined, the offensive line likely would not have been good enough to take New York on a deep playoff run even with Rodgers.

This offseason, the Jets acquired Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses, both immediate starters and upgrades for 2024.

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS: SIGNING RUSSELL WILSON

The Steelers getting a former All-Pro and Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Wilson for $1.2 million in 2024 after the Broncos took on a dead cap hit of $85 million to have him not play is just good business by Pittsburgh. Wilson might not be what he once was, but he should still give Pittsburgh a decent ceiling at the position.


TENNESSEE TITANS: HIRING BILL CAHALLAHN AS OFFENSIVE LINE COACH

The Titans fired head coach Mike Vrabel at the end of the 2023 season and went on to hire Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan as his replacement. The true X-factor, though, is that Callahan’s dad, long-time NFL coach Bill Callahan, also joined the staff.

The elder Callahan has coached for 25 years in the NFL. He joined his son’s coaching staff after four seasons as the offensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns, where he helped build, develop and sustain one of the top offensive lines in the league. The Titans' offensive line ranked 22nd in PFF overall grade (63.6) last season and placed 27th in team pass-blocking grade (54.6).

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