NFL Offseason & Free Agency: NFC East

NFC East

Credit: httr4life.com

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting offseason and free agency moves for each NFL team. Obviously, the offseason is not over yet, and there will be more moves made leading up the draft on April 25th, 2019. We have already had quite a bit to digest this offseason with a number of shocking trades and signings. Without further ado, this is all of the action that we have seen in the NFC East:

Philadelphia Eagles

2018 Record: 9-7 lost in Divisional Round vs. Saints

Moves:
Signed CB Ronald Darby to a one year contract
Re-signed DE Brandon Graham to a three-year contract extension
Traded with the Buccaneers for WR Desean Jackson along with a 2020 seventh-round pick, in exchange for a 2019 sixth-round pick (No. 208 overall)
Agree to terms with DT Malik Jackson on a three-year contract
Sign S Andrew Sendejo to a one year deal

The Eagles were able to put together another improbable playoff run in 2018 thanks once again to the miraculous play of QB Nick Foles. Foles is no longer a part of the Eagles, opting to instead sign a massive contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 2019 will see the return of franchise QB Carson Wentz and this year he will have a new deep threat in Desean Jackson.

The Jackson move was smart for the Eagles, he spent six seasons with the Eagles (2008-13) and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He is still considered to be one of the leagues top deep threats and will compliment a WR core that already includes Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. His presence on the field will also help free up some defensive coverage that TE superstar Ertz has to deal with.

In 2017, Wentz was #9 in the NFL on deep ball attempts of over 20 yards, and this is where Jackson thrives. If Wentz can remain healthy in 2019, I think that this duo will put up big numbers.

Other moves like the signing of Sendejo and Graham are depth moves. Sendejo adds to an Eagles defense that was in need of a third safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.

The Eagles have had a somewhat quiet offseason so far, but they have one glaring weakness that they are going to have to deal with sooner rather than later. Philly will be without free-agent RBs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles in 2019. Philly has one of the most talented O-lines in the NFL, but a multidimensional three-down back will be what could put this team back in Superbowl contention talk. There are rumors swirling that Duke Johnson might be the back that would fit perfectly in the Eagles scheme.

The Eagles are 16th overall in remaining salary cap space, with between 15-22 million according to Spotrac.com. I would expect them to make a few more moves before the beginning of next season. The NFC East might be one of the weakest divisions in football next year, and the Eagles will most likely jump on this opportunity.

Dallas Cowboys

2018 record: 10-6 lost in Divisional Round to the Rams

Moves:
Resign WR/RB Tavon Austin
Agree to two year deal with OT Cameron Fleming
Franchise Tag DE Demarcus Lawrence worth roughly 20 million
Sign TE Jason Witten out of retirement
Restructure LB Sean Lee contract to free up cap space

Full disclosure, I am a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Now that that is out of the way, we can discuss the very uneventful offseason the Dallas Cowboys have had. After winning the NFC East last year, the Cowboys have spent their offseason courting a 36-year-old TE out of retirement and using the franchise tag on an already disgruntled star DE.

Even though we are all very grateful that Witten will no longer be in the broadcast booth, I don’t see him being much more effective on this Dallas team. I understand bringing him into mentor and “coach” the young tight end class we currently have and to bring more leadership into the locker room. But, we can all agree that his playing days are long behind him. In his last year playing (2017) his production had dropped significantly, and now he has spent the last year talking about football (wearing suits two sizes too small) instead of playing it.

Resigning WR/RB Tavon Austin was a good move considering there will be a hole to fill now that WR Cole Beasley has signed with the Bills. Austin will help the Cowboys, and with the jet sweep becoming more and more popular around the league, a player like Austin will elevate what the Cowboys offense can do.

There is still going to be a need at the WR position to fill. The Cowboys upgraded with WR Amari Cooper last year, but if they do not sign someone else, Cooper will likely be double covered more often than not. Quarterback Dak Prescott will need more than just Cooper and Elliot if the Cowboys offense wants to be able to move up and down the field.

There is also a strong chance that DE Lawrence will sit out if he isn’t given a long-term deal. If that is the case, the Cowboys defense will be a shell of its 2018 self. Lawrence is the defacto leader of the defense, and his skill set elevates everyone around him. With Sean Lees restructured deal, the Cowboys need to find a way to keep Lawrence happy and on the field.

It was rumored that the Cowboys were aggressively trying to land free agent S Earl Thomas during the offseason. Their chances of landing Thomas were dashed when he decided to sign for big money with the Baltimore Ravens. Recently released S Eric Berry is planning a visit this week.

Cowboys have a little more than the Eagles in cap space available, between 18-24 million. We will see how they choose to use it. The window is closing fast for the Cowboys with star RB Elliot, WR Cooper, and QB Prescott all expected to need big contracts at the end of this upcoming season. If I were owner/GM/head coach puppet master Jerry Jones, I would go all in this year and settle for nothing less than a Superbowl run from this Cowboys team.

Washington Redskins

2018 Record: 7-9

Moves:
Signed a six-year deal with S Landon Collins worth $84 million (with $45 million in guarantees), per Rapoport.
Signed a one year deal with OT Ereck Flowers
Traded with the Broncos for QB Case Keenum, along with a 2020 seventh-round pick, in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick.
RB Adrian Peterson re-signed on a two-year, $8 million deal
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came out of retirement to sign

Is there an NFL team with worse luck than the Washington Redskins? Last year, they spent the first half of the season on top of the NFC East leaderboard. Things were looking great until QB Alex Smith suffered a horrendous leg injury that ended his season. It still wasn’t completely hopeless for Washington, but then on Thanksgiving QB Colt McCoy, who had performing fairly well once replacing Smith, also went down with a leg injury. Things were so bad that the Redskins had to sign QB Mark Sanchez!

Needless to say, the Redskins ultimately lost their playoff position and the NFC East to the Dallas Cowboys. I could go on about some of the other major injured the Redksins has to deal with, but the list would be too long. Instead, let’s look at what is to come for Washington.

They traded for starting QB Case Keenum to replace Alex Smith. Then brought in the most sought after Safety in the NFL with Landon Collins and even landed OT Flowers from the Giants. They have added some good pieces, but unfortunately, they still lack in playmakers.

RB Derrius Guice should be making his return this year after missing all of last season. Guice has a very high ceiling when he is healthy. The combination of Guice and Peterson might actually be a ground attack that teams will have to take seriously.

The Redskins were decimated at the Center position in the offseason, losing 3 of their 5 centers. They will likely look to the draft to replenish this position. WRs Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson are the only two weapons Keenum will have to work with as of now. The Redskins will have to use some of their remaining cap space, 7-15 million, to bring in some more WR help.

New York Giants

2018 Record: 5-11

Moves:
S Antoine Bethea signed a two-year contract
DE Markus Golden signing a one-year contract
S Jabrill Peppers and OG Kevin Zeitler traded by the Browns, along with two 2019 draft picks (Round 1, No. 17 overall; Round 3, No. 95 overall) in exchange for receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon.
WR Golden Tate agreed to a four-year, $37.5 million contract ($23 million fully guaranteed), according to Rapoport.

Not sure where to start with this New York Giants team. Obviously, the biggest move the team has made in this offseason has been the trade they made with the Cleveland Browns. The Giants sent generational talent WR Odell Beckham to Cleveland for two draft picks and S Jabrill Peppers. They then went out and got WR Golden Tate who spent half of last year with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now, most would say that this is the start of a “tanking” season for the Giants. Well, most except for GM Dave Gettleman. Gettleman says he has a plan, one that fans will see in the future when they look long term. This might be true, maybe we are all wrong, and Gettleman is an absolute genius (i doubt it). As for this coming year, 38-year-old QB Eli Manning will remain the starter and will be leading an offense that includes WR Sterling Shepard and RB Saquon Barkley.

This article is not to discuss what I think the Giants will accomplish in 2019 (hint, hint, not very much), but simply to discuss what they have done so far and what they need to do now.

New York will almost certainly let go of cornerback B.W. Webb in free agency, leaving a hole on the right side opposite Janoris Jenkins, who hasn’t been playing at the level that we have come to expect from him. According to Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit, “Coordinator James Bettcher loves to blitz (up the middle or from the slot), and with New York’s lack of edge rushers, he will rely on those tactics in 2019. Aggressive corners are critical for backstopping blitzes”. So without Webb, the Giants are going to need to get themselves an aggressive cornerback.

They are also going to have to think about replacing aging QB Manning sooner rather than later. Gettleman seems to have a large amount of confidence in Eli, recently saying that for the amount of money that his contract is worth this year he is still valuable to the team. Apparently, Eli showed promise at the end of the 2018 season. Unfortunately for Gettleman and Eli, if you look at the QBs stats with star WR Beckham on the field compared to off things might not go so well in 2019.

From 2014-2018 Eli played 59 games with Beckham and had a completion rate of 63.9%, 7.22 yards per average, 1.76 TD per game, 0.81 interceptions per game, 271.6 passing yards per game, 1.86 points scored per dive.

Now look at the same stats but 20 games without Beckham: 60.9% completion rate, 6.48 yards per average, 1.35 TD per game, interception per game, 229.7 passing yards per game, 1.46 points scored per drive.

Eli is significantly worse without Beckham. I have a hard time believing that Tate can have the same impact on this offense as Odell did. Add to all of this mess, but reports are now saying that Gettleman and the Giants are not aggressively scooting any QB in this 2019 draft.

The Giants have between 11-15 million in cap space for this year, and they have a number of positions to fill. They will look to go young in the draft to fill these positions with two first round picks. I look forward to seeing what this team does in the draft. Hopefully, there is another generational WR available (….) 


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