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2024 NFL offseason: Seven teams that significantly helped their quarterbacks -- and a few that didn't

Let's start with the obvious: Identifying and cultivating a franchise quarterback -- and then putting as many high-quality pieces around him as possible -- is the surest way for an NFL team to position itself for at least a dream of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. It's no guarantee, of course. Injuries to the likes of Joe Burrow and Aaron Rodgers derailed their respective teams last season. But you'd rather have those guys, and the teams assembled around them, than not right now.

Each year around this time, we look at the teams that did right by their quarterbacks, as well as the ones that have left their respective signal-callers languishing, and maybe a few we're not quite sure about. This is not so much about paying those quarterbacks -- although that can be a part of it -- but rather making their lives easier by putting key pieces around them. It's an inexact science, to be sure. Last year, for instance, I had the Bengals and Jets among those that showed their quarterbacks the most love. I also put the Patriots with Mac Jones in the "Withholding judgment" category and questioned whether the Texans had done enough to help C.J. Stroud in his rookie season. Still, I'm back at it again -- providing a rough assessment of the landscape as it looks in June, with nearly two months to go until training camps start.

Showing the love

Yes, their offensive line is being rebuilt after losing both starting guards and their starting right tackle, but the Ravens drafted two O-linemen and have a proven track record of developing young players. Why is Lamar Jackson really smiling this summer? Because Derrick Henry can be the bulldozer at the goal line, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken said he wants the prolific running back to be the closer. For the past five seasons, Jackson has been the Ravens鈥 leading rusher. In that time, Baltimore led the league in rushing three times, including in 2023. The Ravens fielded a top-five scoring offense last season, and Henry should allow them to bleed the clock and shorten games, a boon for a team with championship aspirations. 

Obviously, the Bears did a lot for Caleb Williams by drafting him first overall. They didn鈥檛 stop -- or start -- there. While Williams was still at USC, Chicago began to build a true team around the game's most important position, improving the defense with a trade and new contract for Montez Sweat. Over the past couple years, Ryan Poles and Co. have assembled a superb wide receiver room, with DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and ninth overall pick Rome Odunze. They also signed Pro Bowl running back D鈥橝ndre Swift in March. All rookie quarterbacks struggle -- at least to some degree -- and expectations/pressure will be high for the 2024 Bears. But when it comes to this class of rookie quarterbacks, Williams is landing in the best possible spot. 

Jared Goff got a big contract, and so did right tackle Penei Sewell and receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, keeping Detroit's core together for the foreseeable future. But the best thing the Lions did for Goff was holding onto offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who entered the offseason as the hottest head-coaching candidate on the market. He interviewed with five other franchises, but opted to stay, giving a team that has already had high-level offensive success (second in passing, third in total offense, fifth in rushing and points per game in 2023) rare continuity. 

New York has been in this spot for the previous two seasons, which is the greatest testament to the idea that sometimes things just don鈥檛 work out, no matter how hard a team tries. Still, the Jets have undoubtedly helped Aaron Rodgers as he returns from the Achilles tear that torpedoed 2023. They signed receiver Mike Williams and drafted YAC-specialist Malachi Corley. And they addressed their most obvious weakness by overhauling the offensive line, signing a likely future Hall of Famer in left tackle Tyron Smith, drafting tackle Olu Fashanu in the first round, and also adding tackle Morgan Moses and guard John Simpson. That鈥檚 at least three new starters on the line. Bonus: Running back Breece Hall is not coming off a major injury this offseason, meaning he should avoid a slow start. 

Jalen Hurts got Saquon Barkley. Patrick Mahomes got the fastest player in the draft, receiver Xavier Worthy. And Kyler Murray got Marvin Harrison Jr

Love him or hate him?

On the plus side, Atlanta gave Kirk Cousins a contract that includes $100 million in guaranteed money. Seeing an investment like that, you have to assume the Falcons believe Cousins is the quarterback who can win them the Super Bowl. But the franchise stunned the NFL -- to say nothing of Cousins -- by using its first-round draft pick on quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Cousins is clearly the starter, and you can鈥檛 blame the Falcons for wanting to do some quarterback-succession planning after they were left without one post-Matt Ryan. Still, not using that first-round pick on a player who could help Atlanta win right now does Cousins no favors, nor does creating early questions about how long a leash the veteran's contract gives him if he should struggle. 

They openly flirted with the quarterbacks in the draft, and it has been well documented that they tried to wrest the third overall pick from New England in a presumed attempt to select Drake Maye. You can鈥檛 signal your doubts about your current quarterback more clearly than that. Losing Saquon Barkley also does Daniel Jones no favors. But Jones鈥 life got a whole lot better very quickly during the first round of the draft. When the Patriots decided not to trade their pick and drafted Maye themselves, the Giants pivoted. New York didn鈥檛 value any of the remaining quarterbacks highly enough to take them early in the first round, so the G-Men stayed at the sixth overall spot and gave Jones a better receiver (Malik Nabers) than anyone he's previously played with. Jones still knows the Giants were prepared to move on from him -- and still can easily do so after the 2024 season -- but Nabers gives him the best chance to resurrect the Giants鈥 offense and salvage his own job. 

It's not you, it's us

This team is in a bit of a transition -- and with the departures of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, among others, the receiver room is nearly unrecognizable. Only one wideout who has caught a pass from Josh Allen -- Khalil Shakir -- remains. Rookie WR Keon Coleman will almost certainly start immediately; it鈥檚 not a mistake that Bills brass have talked about the second-round pick's ability to play above the rim and make big gains in support of Allen. Is that enough? Buffalo figures to lean on its tight ends, too, but with so many familiar faces gone, including on defense, this feels like a season in which the Bills are setting themselves up for the future. That鈥檚 a good thing overall, and Allen makes Buffalo a contender no matter how unfamiliar the receivers are to him, but it might not make Allen鈥檚 life any easier immediately. 

The lack of a contract extension for Dak Prescott is the obvious headline. Not helping Prescott鈥檚 bank account is one thing, but the Cowboys have had a quiet offseason altogether. It鈥檚 hard to point to something they鈥檝e done that will immediately help Prescott get Dallas deeper into the playoffs. The offensive line is in a bit of a rebuild, CeeDee Lamb is also in a contract waiting game, and Prescott appears, at least at the moment, headed to playing on the final year of his deal and going into 2025 as an unrestricted free agent. Dak has all the leverage -- that part is very good for him -- but for a team that claims it's 鈥渁ll in,鈥 Dallas has been curiously inactive, which puts even more of a burden on Prescott. 

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