NFL dynasties are rare, and most don't last as long as the New England Patriots' nearly two-decade run of success. However, every franchise should aspire to be a long-term competitor.
Yes, winning a Super Bowl is the goal, and teams like the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles aren't going to trade in their Lombardi Trophies—after the 2015 and 2017 seasons, respectively—for long stretches of playoff appearances. Keeping that Super Bowl window open, though, is what transforms a great team into a potential dynasty.
Naturally, more than one factor goes into long-term success. Having a young upper-tier quarterback is a great foundation, though the right supporting cast is still required. Smart cap management and the maximization of draft capital are also vital.
Some of the teams on this list are already title contenders. Others are trying to push into the conversation. What they have in common are the core roster pieces, established coaching situations, draft ammunition and/or cap space needed to become or remain threats over the next several years.
7. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins' roster isn't perfect. The team is looking at a backfield committee, while the jury is still out on second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, Miami won 10 games last season while just missing the playoffs and appears to have found its long-term head coach in Brian Flores.
A lot will hinge on Tagovailoa's development, but Miami seems to believe in him.
"He's been working. All signs point to—or I would say based on my experience—he's doing everything necessary to make some improvements," Flores told Peter King of NBC Sports. "That's really all we can ask for. My thing is if you put the work in, the results will take care of themselves."
Miami has a defense that ranked sixth in points allowed last season and a bevy of talented young pass-catchers in DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Will Fuller V and rookie Jaylen Waddle. Many key returning contributors—including Tagovailoa, Gesicki, offensive tackle Austin Jackson and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins—are 25 or younger.
The Dolphins are also loaded with capital. They're projected to have the fourth-most cap space in the NFL next offseason, and they own two first-round selections in the 2022 and 2023 drafts.
If Tagovailoa can be a Baker Mayfield-level of high-end game-manager, Miami is set up to be a playoff contender for the foreseeable future.
6. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals don't have the future capital that Miami has—though they are projected to be $19.9 million under the cap. However, the Cardinals have something the Dolphins do not. They have a quarterback who has already proved himself a star in Kyler Murray.
The 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year was better in his second season. He finished 2020 with 3,971 passing yards, 819 rushing yards and 37 combined touchdowns with just 12 interceptions. He was also named to his first Pro Bowl.
While Murray may not be quite as indefensible as Lamar Jackson as a dual threat, he's close. The scary part is that Murray is only 23 years old and still progressing as a signal-caller. He also has three years remaining on his rookie deal (assuming the team picks up his fifth-year option), which leaves Arizona in a favorable cap situation.