Free Agency has almost finished, and many teams opted to splash the cash in order to make a playoff push in the 2017 season. The NFC East is potentially the most competitive division in football, and there have been many transactions within this division. Below are grades for every team in the East, and there will be grades for some of the biggest signings too.
Washington Redskins – F
The Redskins looked like they were finding stability after years of turmoil, but the Scot McCloughan firing is one of the most disgraceful things I’ve ever seen. Whilst stories of his relapse may be true, you do not help an addict by tarnishing their name in the public eye. I am of the belief that the Redskins have a power struggle at the top of the organisation, and there was clear jealousy towards Scot McCloughan from Bruce Allen, who is a close friend of the ownership. McCloughan had built a relatively good team in his two years as Redskins General Manager, and his combination with talented coach Jay Gruden would have had them competing atop the NFC East for many years. Mike Jones of the Washington Post believes that Scot McCloughan’s drinking was used as an excuse to fire him, which if true, is proof that the Washington Redskins need an overhaul from top to bottom.
Not only did the Redskins get rid of their talented General Manager in the most classless way possible, but multiple key players departed the team in free agency despite an abundance of cap room. DeSean Jackson was the player who stretched the field and made Sean McVay’s offence tick, so his departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is devastating. They also lost Pierre Garcon who was probably their most reliable target, as he re-united with former coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. They replaced him with Terrelle Pryor who has a lot of potential, but I question whether Kirk Cousins is a QB who is good at throwing fade routes, which is where Pryor will get his major advantage.
The Redskins defence was rather pathetic in 2016, and in reality, their moves haven’t improved the team all that much. D.J Swearinger is a player who forms a nice safety tandem with Su’a Cravens and DeAngelo Hall, but the Redskins are still weak up front and didn’t go after a nickel corner. Captain Munnerlyn should have been their top target, but the Redskins didn’t make many moves due to the chaos upstairs. The signings of Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee are relatively uninspiring, and I’m not sure that they are an upgrade on Chris Baker, who is one of the most underrated players in football. Baker wasn’t even offered a contract, which says all you need to know about this organisation.
Philadelphia Eagles- B
On the whole, the Eagles did well with a limited amount of cap room. The decisions to part with Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan were very wise, as neither fit in Jim Schwartz’s attacking 4-3 defence. The Eagles defence was top five in the NFL last year, and this was with poor play from Nolan Carroll, who was allowed to join the Dallas Cowboys in free agency.
The Eagles wide receiving core was arguably the worst unit in the NFL last year, so GM Howie Roseman went big in free agency as he inked Alshon Jeffery to a one-year deal, and Torrey Smith to a three-year deal. The Jeffery signing is brilliant, as he will play harder if he is only on a one-year contract, and he is the elite target that Carson Wentz needed. Smith on the other hand is a highly one dimensional player, but that big-play ability is something that the Eagles seriously lacked in 2016. Doug Pederson will now be able to be a bit more adventurous on offence, as they were a very vanilla team at times last season.
The Eagles signing of Chance Warmack is a signing that went under the radar as he hasn’t really lived up to his original reputation. Warmack was a high draft pick who just needed a change of scenery, and he will be competing for a spot on the Eagles offensive line amongst veterans such as Allen Barbre. The Eagles line is good on the whole, but Warmack could be the final piece that really solidifies the offensive line for the Eagles.
The Eagles still need cornerbacks and a running back, but they have the draft to fix that, and Jim Schwartz might be the best defensive coordinator in the business anyway, so they will be fine on defence next year.
Dallas Cowboys- C
Overall, the Cowboys had a very mixed free agency. They lost a lot of key defensive starters, but part of this was down to the fact that they lacked cap room in the first place. Barry Church, Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain were all favourites of Rod Marinelli, and they also lost Morris Claiborne who was much improved in 2016. The Cowboys defence will always be better than the sum of its parts due to the fact they have a wizard of a coordinator, but this might be the year that their defence is truly awful. You cannot lose that many starters and expect to compete, so this might be a down year for Dallas.
The re-signing of Terrance Williams was a good signing, as he seemed to have a connection with Dak Prescott. Nolan Carroll also seems like more of a Rod Marinelli corner than a Jim Schwartz corner, so this could potentially be a good signing for the Cowboys.
On the defensive line, the additions of Damontre Moore and Stephen Paea are uninspiring signings on the surface, but both could be productive on Rod Marinelli’s defensive line. They are clear downgrades at the present, but they may come good as the season goes on.
They also look set to release Tony Romo, which shows that the organisation is committed to moving forward behind the arm of Dak Prescott, who has genuinely got all-pro potential.
The retirement of Doug Free could be quite devastating for Dallas, as he was a productive right tackle who knew the system on a very team-friendly contract. They may choose to push La’el Collins out to right tackle, but the settling in period may harm Dallas in the early weeks of the season. Ron Leary also departed, but the contract he received from the Broncos might be the biggest overpay of the off-season.
New York Giants- B
The Giants needed another big free agency, and for the most part, they delivered. Jason Pierre-Paul was signed to a mega extension, which was great news after all he has been through in the last 18 months. He is still one of the most destructive pass rushers in football on his day, and he consistently gets into the backfield, he needed to return long-term.
Offensively, the Giants signed DJ Fluker who should improve the interior of their line, especially in run blocking. The Giants also brought back John Jerry, whcih made sense as he was one of the better performers on their terrible offensive line. The Giants quick snap offence means their line isn’t really a priority, but they had to improve on the interior in order to help their running game.
The Giants biggest signing was Brandon Marshall, and he may turn out to be the best bargain of the off-season. Marshall can still play, and his physical frame makes him a nightmare assignment for the best cornerbacks in football. The Giants needed a big sideline receiver, and Marshall should allow things to open up for Odell Beckham, and especially Sterling Shepard.
Many mock drafts had the Giants taking a tight end in the first or second round, but this is probably off the table for now as they addressed the position in free agency by signing Rhett Ellison. Ellison is a decent blocker, but he is mainly a play-action tight end which is a good fit in Ben McAdoo’s offensive system.
The major question mark for the Giants is still Jonathan Hankins, they have given him an offer sheet but he has been trying to tempt other teams to better it, and according to Ian Rapoport, he has so far been unsuccessful in this quest. The Giants are reportedly growing impatient with him, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signed in New York by the end of the week.