There are layers upon layers to an NFL offseason.
From coaching and front-office hires, moves in free agency, trades and the NFL Draft, teams have countless avenues to improve year-to-year. How a team builds its roster in the offseason can't truly be judged until after they play 16 games the next year.
With that said, Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel from 1960-1988, took a stab at ranking the seven teams who, in his view, had the best offseason over the past several months. Brandt, a two-time Super Bowl champion as an executive who now works as an NFL media senior analyst, chose a former division rival to anchor the top spot on his list.
1.) New York Giants
"The addition of experienced head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman automatically helped this team. Then, the Giants acquired some much-needed assistance for quarterback Eli Manning and their anemic running game by signing left tackle Nate Solder and drafting running back Saquon Barkley and guard Will Hernandez. Trade acquisition Alec Ogletree, meanwhile, is probably the Giants' best starting linebacker since Antonio Pierce nine years ago. Furthermore, Shurmur and Gettleman have apparently been able to press the right buttons with Odell Beckham and Eli Apple, as both reported for the team's offseason conditioning program."
Five of Brandt's seven clubs are in the NFC. Here is the full list:
1.) New York Giants
2.) Cleveland Browns
3.) Minnesota Vikings
4.) Los Angeles Rams
5.) Chicago Bears
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7.) Baltimore Ravens
The Rams and Vikings are the only two teams Brandt ranked who made the playoffs last season. The other five clubs all missed out on the tournament, meaning a strong offseason could result in a quick turnaround.
The Giants are certainly hoping that's the case. After an 11-5 season in 2016 that resulted in the team's first postseason appearance in five years, Big Blue went 3-13 a year ago, which brought on a series of wholesale changes. After four years as the Carolina Panthers' general manager, Gettleman was hired for the same position, returning to East Rutherford where he was a personnel executive with the Giants for 15 seasons. Shurmur was hired soon after as the 18th head coach in franchise history. From the free agent signing of Solder to the acquisition of Ogletree via trade to the selection of Barkley with the No. 2 pick in the draft, Gettleman and Shurmur went to work reshaping the roster for 2018.
The Giants would surely like to see Brandt's outlook on the team come to fruition.