July 16, 2024

As recently as last offseason, the thought of the AFC South being one of the league’s most competitive divisions would’ve been laughable. A year later, it’s not up for debate. For the bulk of the 2023 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts were fighting tooth-and-nail for the AFC South playoff seed. Up until the very end, the Colts and Jaguars were in the running. Ultimately, it was the Texans who came out on top.

This offseason is crucial for all four teams in an attempt to climb the rankings and compete in the division. After the first wave of free agency, how do the AFC South teams compare?

The Texans’ offense emerged as a force to be reckoned with under C.J. Stroud in 2023. With offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik returning and relatively young talent on the offensive side of the ball, the Texans can expect to pick up where they left off.

The DeMeco Ryans-led team has focused on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason. In an effort to improve the pass rush, the Texans acquired four-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter on a two-year, $49 million deal. Hunter joins the lineup alongside Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. After recording 16 sacks in 2023, Hunter will be held to high expectations in Houston.

Along with Hunter, the Texans have acquired defensive end Denico Autry and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair

Jacksonville Jaguars

The top priority for the Jaguars this offseason was retaining standout linebacker, Josh Allen. Trent Baalke and Co. were able to do so by placing Allen on the franchise tag for a one-year, $24 million deal. After that, the attention swiftly shifted to Calvin Ridley, as the Jaguars attempted to retain the wideout despite significant interest from other franchises

Eventually, the Tennessee Titans came out on top, offering Ridley a four-year, $92 million deal. The good news is that the Jaguars have brought in Gabe Davis and Devin Duvernay in the meantime to add to their receiving room. The bad news is that the team still lacks a true No. 1 receiver.

Signing center Mitch Morse solved some of the Jaguars’ issues, but the team will still seek offensive line help throughout the draft and the remainder of free agency.

On the defensive side of the ball, Arik Armstead, Darnell Savage, Ronald Darby, and Trevis Gipson have been brought in to bolster the unit.

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