NFL power rankings: Steelers, Lions, Packers punch up after NFL free agency; Cowboys, Jets, Broncos fade

NFL free agency in 2024 moved at an unprecedented rapid pace, as teams were more aggressive than ever in signing (or re-signing) key players or making key trades. Once again, some teams got better while some got worse from all the moves or a lack thereof.

Although there’s still the big annual personnel acquisition process of the NFL draft coming in late April, it’s important to check in with how every team stacks up against each other now with key updates well after Super Bowl 58.

SN breaks down the current state of the NFL with its second power rankings for 2024.

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NFL power rankings 2024: Post-free agency edition

Patrick Mahomes, Mecole Hardman

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1. Kansas City Chiefs (previous early 2024 ranking: 2)

The Chiefs locked up Chris Jones and are still contemplating whether they need franchise-tagged L’Jarius Sneed to go for a third consecutive Super Bowl. They did give Patrick Mahomes more key help in adding speedy field-stretcher Marquise Brown.

2. San Francisco 49ers (1)

The 49ers have been calculated with the moves, as they went cheaper to replenish their potential on the defensive line and secondary, two issues that kept them just short of winning the Super Bowl. So far, they’ve kept their key offensive pieces intact around Brock Purdy, too, with no Brandon Aiyuk trade.

3. Baltimore Ravens (3)

The Ravens knew they would be taking some losses based on wanting to save under the salary cap. They took care of the biggest needs early by re-signing defensive tackle Justin Madubuike and then cleaning up their power running game with Derrick Henry.

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4. Detroit Lions (5)

The Lions didn’t lose any strengths with their losses and were smart again with GM Brad Holmes getting off to a methodical start to addressing weaknesses. They added four more key defensive pieces to better support Aidan Hutchinson both up front and in the secondary.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (4)

The Bengals kept and also rebooted their help for Joe Burrow, as his coming back healthy is the most important offseason storyline for them. They also went to work restoring some playmaking at safety and compensated for their one key loss in the front seven with Sheldon Rankins.

Howie Roseman, Saquon Barkley

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6. Philadelphia Eagles (8)

The Eagles added Saquon Barkley to their loaded, balanced, and often explosive offense, but they are close to their ceiling there already. Remixing the defense for Vic Fangio was the more critical plan, and they added Bryce Huff, Devin White, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson to get better vs. the pass ahead of drafting a top outside corner.

7. Houston Texans (9)

The Texans maintained and grew their offensive weaponry for C.J. Stroud’s second season. They also went to work well on the defensive front seven for DeMeco Ryans. Houston must be considered a strong AFC title contender now.

8. Buffalo Bills (6)

The Bills knew the cap hits were coming for the defense. They made some limited tweaks on both sides to help mitigate the losses, but they’ll need to do most of their offensive work for Josh Allen in the draft.

9. Green Bay Packers (11)

The Packers upgraded their backfield with young Josh Jacobs as the new workhorse, and they also spent well for a much-needed higher-impact safety in Xavier McKinney. They’re positioned to push up in Jordan Love’s second season starting.

10. Dallas Cowboys (7)

The Cowboys were cap-strapped and saw a lot of key offensive and offensive pieces go elsewhere, including several to former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and the Commanders.

11. Miami Dolphins (10)

The Dolphins did their best to survive a difficult cap situation, and they can feel good about keeping the offense mostly intact. They also were a bit fortunate to save and recover well defensively despite taking plenty of front-seven hits and needing to cut Xavien Howard.

Justin Fields

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12. Pittsburgh Steelers (23)

The Steelers blew up their QB room with the new 1-2 mobile punch of Russell Wilson and Justin Fields for an Arthur Smith offense calling for an athletic, big-armed passer. They also made a rare defensive splurge for former Ravens rival Patrick Queen. They should work on the offensive line in the draft as the next stage.

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13. Atlanta Falcons (18)

The Falcons also shot up thanks to their quarterback move for Kirk Cousins, albeit at a much higher price than the Steelers paid overall for Wilson and Fields. Cousins should come back healthy to pick up his elite passing in a familiar offense, putting Raheem Morris and Zac Robinson on the radar for leading a quick turnaround.

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14. Los Angeles Rams (15)

The Rams continued to upgrade their offensive line and also addressed their secondary well with Karmen Curl. They also were expecting a potential Aaron Donald retirement and are in the process of turning the page well from Morris to Chris Shula at DC.

15. New York Jets (12)

The Jets were rather quiet in trying to boost things around Aaron Rodgers until they took a flier on Tyron Smith for tackle. They also took a few more defensive hits than what they were able to get.

Josh Palmer, Justin Herbert, Quentin Johnston

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16. Los Angeles Chargers (13)

The Chargers’ offensive transition to be run-heavy and more efficient with Justin Herbert is in full swing under Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman. They wisely chose to preserve defense (Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa) over offense (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams).

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (19)

The Buccaneers did the most important piece of business in keeping Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans intact as the key connection of their offense. They also knew where they needed to rebuild the defense after keeping Antoine Winfield Jf. and Lavonte David.

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (14)

The Jaguars retained Josh Allen via the franchise tag but didn’t bring back Calvin Ridley. They also saw some big defensive change behind Allen, and there’s some question as to whether they really boosted the offense.

19. Cleveland Browns (16)

The Browns had an OK offseason highlighted mostly by trading for Jerry Jeudy and getting two potential top backups for Deshaun Watson in both Tyler Huntley and Jameis Winston. Their biggest coup was keeping most of the key defensive front pieces intact around Myles Garrett for Jim Schwartz.

20. Chicago Bears (17)

The Bears are moving forward without Fields and with No. 1 overall draft pick Caleb Williams as their rookie franchise QB. They made some questionable additions overall but they did keep top in-house free-agent Jaylon Johnson for Matt Eberflus’ defense.

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21. Indianapolis Colts (20)

The Colts had a rather reserved offseason in just making a few depth-related and defensive tweaks under GM Chris Ballard, who will save his big moves with Anthony Richardson in mind for the draft.

22. Seattle Seahawks (24)

The Seahawks tried to get better defensively everywhere behind re-signed Leonard Williams for new coach MIke Macdonald with some considerable spending to reboot at linebacker and safety. Now the key is getting more from Geno Smith in the new offense.

23. Minnesota Vikings (21)

The Vikings moved on from Kirk Cousins, but it freed them to make plenty of defensive improvements under Brian Flores. Now Kevin O’Connell will be locked into a dynamic young passer under a rookie first-round contract and hope he can take advantage of great weapons, including a soon-to-be locked-up Justin Jefferson.

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24. Arizona Cardinals (22)

Kyler Murray saw a handful of changes around him as GM Monti Ossenfort is still about making the team younger and more diverse for Jonathan Gannon. They should be focused on dominating the draft, with two first-rounders among 11 total picks.

25. New Orleans Saints (25)

The Saints’ biggest task was working on their current veteran contracts to become more cap compliant. They added very little but like the Cardinals, the draft results will define the offseason.

Calvin Ridley 03122024

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26. Tennessee Titans (32)

The Titans invested plenty to boost Will Levis big-time in Year 2 for their more pass-oriented offense under Brian Callahan and Nick Holz. Tony Pollard, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Calvin Ridley led the way with those moves.

27. Washington Commanders (29)

The Commanders, opposite of the Titans, went to work on their defense for Dan Quinn, stealing from the Cowboys and other teams while they decided not to spend too big on incumbents. Now they’ll sit and wait for the QB of choice at No. 2 overall in the draft.

28. Las Vegas Raiders (26)

The Raiders will hope they can draft a coveted QB later in the first round after rolling with Gardner Minshew as the new veteran bridge. They should be at least thrilled they landed Christian Wilkins as a supporting defensive game-changer for Maxx Crosby.

29. New York Giants (28)

The Giants were among the teams who tried to stay away from expensive re-signings and instead found good values at running back, guard, and in the secondary. They did make one questionable splurge, hoping Brian Burns will be worth it opposite Kayvon Thibodeaux.

30. Carolina Panthers (30)

The Panthers got Diontae Johnson in their mission to improve the offense around Bryce Young for quarterback-whispering coach Dave Canales. They are also looking at more wide receiver upgrades after spending too much on the interior offensive line and losing plenty on defense.

31. New England Patriots (31)

The Patriots were bound to take some hits in free agency, but they still kept saving defense first with Jerod Mayo replacing Bill Belichick. They still have a ton of work to do offensively beyond drafting their new franchise QB at No. 3 overall.

32. Denver Broncos (27)

The Broncos said goodbye to Russell Wilson, but the bad investment will still haunt them in form of his dead money. They also chose not to add a veteran bridge instead of Jarrett Stidham ahead of the draft and couldn’t keep Justin Simmons or Josey Jewell for the defense.

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