The 2023 NFL season is officially on the books. The league announced its on Thursday, starting the countdown for the kickoff of another race to the Lombardi Trophy. All 32 teams still have OTAs and training camp to sort through position battles, but for the most part, we’ve got a good sense of how clubs have changed — for better or worse — since the end of last season. Some look like locks to contend. Others are true wild cards.
With that in mind, here’s one thing we learned about every team this offseason:
The new regime is committed to a slow build. New coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort may have had no choice but to embrace quarterback Kyler Murray’s restrictively large contract, but in doing so, they’ve all but postponed hopes of true competition until 2024, what with Murray coming off a serious injury and an aging and/or battered supporting cast. Gannon’s defense is also mostly devoid of building blocks.
Arthur Smith will win the old-fashioned way, or die trying. Entering year three, the coach might be getting progressively further from a sustained answer at QB, and rather than prioritize downfield weapons for Desmond Ridder, this team piled up at running back (Bijan Robinson) and tight end (Jonnu Smith), seemingly doubling down on the ground game. There could be a lot riding on their restocked “D,” now headlined by safety Jessie Bates III.
They believe in Lamar Jackson (enough). After months of failed contract negotiations and a public disconnect that included the star QB airing a trade request, the Ravens turned around and extended the former MVP on a $260 million deal that reset the market. But they can get out of the deal fairly easily after just two seasons, and there’s a reason they permitted Jackson to speak with other teams in free agency; few are more talented, but questions remain about his durability and late-year passing.
They remain among the class of the AFC. Compared to years past, the Bills were relatively quiet. But their added insurance at running back (Damien Harris, Latavius Murray), tight end (Dalton Kincaid) and guard (O’Cyrus Torrence) is a plus, highlighting how well-suited they remain at premium starting spots, from QB (Josh Allen) to WR (Stefon Diggs) to the front seven, where Von Miller should be motivated to return alongside Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones.
They’ve finally reset the program the right…