1. Los Angeles Rams
They punched their ticket and hoisted the Lombardi trophy at their own stadium. Now they’re poised to do it again.
2. San Francisco 49ers
A talented roster will now have Trey Lance taking charge at quarterback.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Extensions were given to head coach Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray. Now they need to get some playoffs victories.
4. Seattle Seahawks
The rebuild is commencing and time will tell if head coach Pete Carroll and company will see it through.
Head Coach: Sean McVay
Key Position: Offensive Line
This position group will be put to the test with the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth in the offseason. Joe Noteboom is his replacement and performed well last season before an injury ended his year. David Edwards, Brian Allen and Rob Havenstein are the three returning starters and should be looked to as the leadership group of the o-line. The wild card is Logan Bruss and if the Wisconsin draftee can step in immediately to claim a starting spot.
Key Acquisitions: CB Troy Hill (Cleveland Browns), WR Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears), LB Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks)
Key Rookies: G Logan Bruss, RB Kyren Williams
Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan
Key Position: Quarterback
That time has come for Trey Lance to step into the spotlight and show why he was selected third overall in the 2021 draft. He has plenty of options to pick from with WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk atop the receiving unit. George Kittle is still an elite tight end and can throw a few blocks downfield for Lance’s quarterback runs. The ability to run with the ball is the dynamic that Lance has over Jimmy Garoppolo, who returns as the backup QB. This is at a crucial point in the 49ers plans. They are built to win right now and Lance could be that final piece that gets them there.
Key Acquisitions: LB Oren Burks (Green Bay Packers), DE Kerry Hyder Jr. (Seattle Seahawks), WR Ray-Ray McCloud (Pittsburgh Steelers), S George Odum (Indianapolis Colts), DL Hassan Ridgeway (Philadelphia Eagles), CB Charvarius Ward (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Rookies: DE Drake Jackson, RB Ty Davis-Price, WR Danny Gray, G Spencer Burford
Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury
Key Position: Defense
Losing DE Chandler Jones in free agency is going to hurt a lot. DE J.J. Watt isn’t getting any younger and LB Markus Golden will see a lot less one on one matchups without Jones playing on the opposite side of the line. Will the two rookie linebackers Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders step up to fill the void? Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons are the two middle linebackers who can blitz on occasion, but they must be utilized in coverage to adhere to their skillset. Look for more opportunities for safety Budda Baker to get after the quarterback this season.
Key Acquisitions: WR Marquise Brown (Baltimore Ravens), OL Will Hernandez (NY Giants), CB Trayvon Mullen (Las Vegas Raiders), LB Nick Vigil (Minnesota Vikings), RB Darrel Williams (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Rookies: TE Trey McBride, LB Cameron Thomas, LB Myjai Sanders
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Key Position: Everything
The rebuild is in full swing as they traded away QB Russell Wilson and released LB Bobby Wagner in the offseason. QB Geno Smith won the job in camp, but there is still the thought that QB Drew Lock will play a substantial portion of the season to show what he has. WRs Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are still around and will provide the firepower on offense. As will their new tight end Noah Fant who was apart of the Wilson trade. The offensive line is being revamped and it frankly should have happened many years ago. The defense has a solid safety tandem leading the way in Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs. Getting DL Shelby Harris in the Wilson trade was a savvy move along with the assortment of picks and Fant.
Key Acquisitions: OL Austin Blythe (Kansas City Chiefs), CB Artie Burns (Chicago Bears), CB Justin Coleman (Miami Dolphins), TE Noah Fant (Denver Broncos), DL Shelby Harris (Denver Broncos), DL Quinton Jefferson (Las Vegas Raiders), QB Drew Lock (Denver Broncos), LB Uchenna Nwosu (LA Chargers)
Key Rookies: T Charles Cross, DE/LB Boye Mafe, RB Kenneth Walker, OL Abraham Lucas, CB Coby Bryant