Every NFL season, several teams that stunk the previous year emerge and contend. Just look at the 2019 49ers (4-12 in 2018), the 2018 Chicago Bears (5-11 in 2017), and the 2017 Los Angeles Rams (4-12 in 2016). We could go on and on.
Here are five teams that could make similar jumps in 2020 if they can nail the offseason.
The roster is a talentless joke right now, but Miami still won five games under Brian Flores in 2019. Now, the Dolphins lead the NFL with more than $93 million in salary-cap space, and they own six of the first 70 picks in the draft. They should improve immensely right across the board in March and April, and could sneak up on a vulnerable division that may no longer contain Tom Brady in 2020.
They underachieved in significant fashion with just six wins in 2019, but the Browns arguably have too much talent to do that again. They’re already good enough on paper to win double-digit games, but there’s work they can do in the next six months in order to get there. That starts with fixing the offensive line, but it will also be about improving the atmosphere under a new regime. The Freddie Kitchens era was a disaster.
Los Angeles Chargers
Coming off a losing season, they have the No. 6 overall pick and a void at the quarterback position, but this is a great year to hold a top-10 selection and be on the quarterback market. If the Bolts draft the right guy (Justin Herbert?) and/or sign the right quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater?), they have the talent elsewhere to excel in 2020.
Add Chase Young to that stacked defense, or give the offense Tua Tagovailoa to compete with Dwayne Haskins, and you never know what the Redskins could do in the always-wide-open NFC East. They have so many strong defenders, the offense can rebound in a major way if they make up with left tackle Trent Williams, and they have more than $60 million to spend in free agency. The Redskins could jump from 3-13 to the playoff picture in 2020.
They have the key pieces in place, and now it’s just about growth. They have nearly $40 million to spend on upgrading quarterback Kyler Murray’s supporting cast, and they also have the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. Arizona made significant progress on both sides of the ball in the second half of coach Kliff Kingsbury’s inaugural season, and now they have the ability to work toward a potential wild-card-caliber campaign in 2020.