26. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans made one of the best head coaching hires of the 2023 circuit when they brought in DeMeco Ryans from the San Francisco 49ers. There were reports early on in the process that Ryans was actually going to turn down the Texans, but he ended up not only taking interviews but actually getting the gig in the end.
Ryans and the Texans were one of the biggest winners of the 2023 NFL Draft when they used the second overall pick on Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud before trading up to the third overall pick to select the top non-quarterback in the class, Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr.
It was a great offseason for the Texans, who have steadily been rebuilding over the last three years. This is a team that I think could make some noise if Stroud’s development is a bit accelerated.
25. Chicago Bears
Justin Fields showed some progress last year for the Chicago Bears, who had a whale of an offseason. As expected.
The Bears went into the 2023 offseason armed with the no. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft as well as over $100 million in total salary cap space. They spent big in free agency but also traded the top pick in the draft to the Carolina Panthers for a package that included wide receiver DJ Moore.
The acquisition of Moore gives Justin Fields a legitimate go-to weapon in the passing game, which should benefit all of the other options the Bears previously had. Most of them better suited as secondary options.
The real test for whether this team can improve upon having the league’s worst record last year will be how improved the defense can be. The Bears spent big on the linebacker position, bringing in Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards to solidify that unit.