May 28, 2024

Just as there exist both contenders and pretenders among victorious teams, within the NFL’s sub-.500 realm, there are varying degrees of potential among struggling teams. This article identifies four teams with losing records whose futures seem particularly promising.

1. **Chicago Bears (3-7):**
The Chicago Bears, despite uncertainties about Justin Fields as their franchise quarterback and GM Ryan Poles leading the rebuild, possess significant flexibility for a swift return to prominence. Trading the 2023 NFL Draft’s first pick to the Carolina Panthers has granted them valuable assets, including star wideout D.J. Moore. With 14 picks over the next two drafts, including two top-five projected first-rounders in 2024, the Bears can reshape their roster. The decision to select a signal-caller depends on Fields’ performance, but there’s potential for a complete reset. The Bears might also strengthen the supporting cast with a receiver or tackle using their second first-rounder. Poles’ demonstrated commitment to defense, along with ample cap space for 2024, positions the Bears for further improvements, provided future decisions avoid past missteps.

2. **Arizona Cardinals (2-8):**
The Arizona Cardinals, possessing two 2024 first-round picks from a trade with Houston, have a quarterback worth building around in Kyler Murray. Depending on the draft’s outcome, the Cardinals can approach their rebuild in various ways, including trading a first-round pick for significant returns or prioritizing the best available players to address team-wide needs. Despite defensive deficiencies, the Cardinals’ offensive potential could be bolstered by drafting players like Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. and re-signing Marquise Brown. Coach Jonathan Gannon’s defensive schemes show promise, and with strategic player additions, the Cardinals can aspire to improve upon their current defensive ranking.

3. **Washington Commanders (4-6):**
The Washington Commanders, now free from former owner Dan Snyder’s influence, approach the offseason with genuine optimism. Despite being some time away from NFC East contention, Washington has a solid foundation, including the league leader in passing yards, Sam Howell. With the third-highest projected cap for 2024, Washington can address immediate concerns like the offensive line and the 32nd-ranked scoring defense. Trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young for draft capital provides additional flexibility. With Howell on a rookie deal through 2025, Washington has the financial means to make impactful moves in free agency or via trade, allowing the new ownership to leave a mark on the franchise.

4. **Atlanta Falcons (4-6):**
The Atlanta Falcons, despite a challenging season and coaching issues, boast a roster loaded with talent. A change in coaching leadership may be necessary for the team to reach its potential, and addressing the quarterback position is a priority. Whether through free agency (considering options like Kirk Cousins or Josh Dobbs) or the draft (with candidates like Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix), the Falcons can find a solution. With a supporting cast of talented players, a rookie quarterback’s transition to the NFL could be eased. Atlanta’s defense, only a few pieces away from being formidable, would also benefit from an enhanced offensive dynamic.

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