How offseason moves have changed NFC East for Commanders, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants

The poor, poor NFC East. No one takes it seriously these days. Gone is the NFC Beast moniker. Aside from the AFC South, it’s probably the worst division in the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys dominated the division last season 6-0 on their way to a 12-5 record. The Philadelphia Eagles were a 9-8 wild-card team under first-year coach Nick Sirianni. The Washington Commanders fell to a record of 7-10, and the New York Giants stinked with a finish of 4-13.

The Giants flushed out their coaching staff and front office, hoping new coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen can do in Meadowlands what they helped build in Buffalo. Washington switched to QB Carson Wentz and hopes the defense returns to form as pass rusher Chase Young returns to health. The Eagles build around QB Jalen Hurts on the offensive and hope to lure more out of the defense. Coach Mike McCarthy is apparently entering a win-or-win third season with the Cowboys, and by win we mean doing more than just getting to the playoffs.

With the first wave of free agency over and the draft fast approaching – the Giants and Eagles each have two first-round picks – NFL Nation reporters Tim McManus (Eagles), Jordan Raanan (Giants), John Keim (Commanders) and Todd Archer (Cowboys ) offers a discussion of where things stand in the division.

Biggest features out of season: Is it cheating to say keep DeMarcus Lawrence? I do not think. If the defensive lineman did not agree to a revised contract, he would likely be cut in June. Instead, he got a deal that includes $ 30 million guaranteed. He is a vital part of the defense because of his overall play, but the Cowboys want to see him increase his number of sacks. It’s been three years since he reached double digits.

Are cowboys better, worse or the same when they get into the draft? Definitely not better or the same, but it’s not clear how much worse they are, even after losing receivers Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, pass-rusher Randy Gregory and guard Connor Williams. The Cowboys did not believe Cooper was a $ 20 million recipient and chose to move on. The group is no better without Cooper, so by extension the offensive is no better. Now, if they add a receiver in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft (April 28-30, ESPN), they might be closer to the same thing. Have they replaced Gregory with the free agent Dante Fowler Jr.? They need offensive help. There are still lots of questions.

Best guess when choosing the first round: Texas A&M Guard Kenyon Green. The decision was between him and Boston College guard Zion Johnson. The Cowboys lost Williams in free agency to the Dolphins and have not added a free agent who could be considered a starter. The offensive line is a position to be added. Green and Johnson have some flexibility, and each will be an instant starter on the left guard.

The Cowboys win the division if … the defense is making a second-year leap under coordinator Dan Quinn, and the offense is regaining the form it had before quarterback Dak Prescott’s calf injury last season. The Cowboys come in as the NFC East favorite, which may not say much, but it should be noted that no team has repeated as division champion since 2004. The Cowboys dominated the division a year ago with an average victory margin of 22.2 points. Although the hole may be closed to some degree, it is not enough for another team to take over the top spot at the moment.



Tim Hasselbeck and Bart Scott have different views on how much of the blame should be placed on Daniel Jones for the Giants’ problems.

Biggest features out of season: Looking around this division, there was not a huge influx of talent. The Giants’ top move was to sign the usable starting guard Mark Glowinski. Normally it would be the third or fourth best addition in a low season, but they had to deal with wage constraints and had to trade cheaply. So Glowinski, who almost lost his starting job last season at the Colts, is the new regime’s biggest addition to date. Sure, the bar is low, but he is at least a proven guard of starting caliber. They needed it.

Fighting is better, worse or the same ones coming into the draft? Gone are defensive backs Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers, tight-end Evan Engram and linebacker Lorenzo Carter. Top cornerback James Bradberry could be next. How is it possible that the Giants are not worse at this point? The plan from the start was that their biggest additions should come from the draft. We now know that will be the case. Two top-10 choices will make them better. Meanwhile, this list is worse than the 4-13 version that started last season, and perhaps the worst it has been in this century.

Best guess on first round selection: Alabama OT Evan Neal and Cincinnati CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. It will be an offensive tackle (someone to play on the right side) at No. 5, provided Neal or NC States Ikem Ekwonu are still available. Working on the premise here that Ekwonu goes first and Neal is available makes it an easy decision for Schoen. Gardner is the cleanest cornerback in the draft. He plays a prize position, fits in with coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s squad arrangements, and it’s probably no coincidence that Schoen reached Cincinnati’s pro day.

The Giants win the division if … all the other teams stop on the season. There really had to be something crazy going on for these giants to win the NFC East. Their list is weak and they are going to be heavily dependent on rookies. Not ideal. In addition, runback Saquon Barkley must play as he did before the injury as a rookie, quarterback Daniel Jones needs a Josh Allen-like jump, and most of Barkley, Jones and receivers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard must remain healthy. . It seems to require a lot.

Biggest features out of season: They made a single move with the signing of edge-rusher Haason Reddick to a $ 45 million three-year deal. He has had 23.5 sacks over the last two years and will level a pass-rushing squad that finished penultimate in the NFL in sacks last season (29). And he wants to make defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s plan more dynamic. Expect more bizarre fronts where Reddick rushes from around the world, including as a stand-up rusher from the strongside linebacker post.

Are the Eagles better, worse or the same when they get into the draft? Better. They added Reddick, linebacker Kyzir White and receiver Zach Pascal, and re-signed defensive end Derek Barnett, safety Anthony Harris, running back Boston Scott, receiver Greg Ward and defensive back Andre Chachere. Only one of their free agents, the defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, has signed under another spot to this point (49ers). The Eagles did a great job of locking key players inside the 2018 draft (TE Dallas Goedert, CB Avonte Maddox, DE Josh Sweat and OT Jordan Mailata) before hitting free agency.

Best guess on first round selection: Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt (15th overall) and LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. (18th overall). The Eagles build from the inside out and should have some gifted defensive linemen to fall to them as No. 15, whether it’s an edge-rusher like Jermaine Johnson II or one of the studs Georgia tackles (Wyatt and Jordan Davis) . They still have holes in safety and corner, and general manager Howie Roseman has been slow to put them in free run. He could see some attractive opportunities in the first round, including Stingley and Washington CB Trent McDuffie.

The Eagles win the division if … the old guard can stand strong for another year. The remaining key pieces from the 2017 team that won the Super Bowl had mixed results last season. Center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson remained relatively healthy and played at a high level. But defensive end Brandon Graham cracked his Achilles early in the season and excellent defensive tackle Fletcher Cox never found his dominant form. For the Hurts to stay upright and for the Eagles to build on their playoff performance from a year ago, they need meaningful contributions from their veterans.



Dan Orlovsky reacts to Carson Wentz being traded from the Colts to the Commanders.

Biggest features out of season: They needed a quarterback, they added a quarterback. Wentz’s value will continue to be discussed. Was he worth the price? Why has he been traded twice in a year? Can he play again as a possible NFL MVP? All fair. But there is no debate that he is an upgrade in Washington, which owns the NFL’s lowest overall QBR over the last four seasons. Wentz provides a strong arm so Washington can use more of the field in the passing game. Taylor Heinicke deserves praise for how he played – he adds value as a backup – but they have long wanted to upgrade the position. Wentz needs to prove he is the long-term solution, but in the short term he should help.

Commanders are better, worse or the same when they get into the draft? A little better because of Wentz. Again, he has a lot to prove, but Washington now has perhaps the second-best quarterback in this division. It means something. If others – especially Young, receiver Curtis Samuel and tight-end Logan Thomas – are healthy after missing most of last season, then it makes them better. Young’s production will be the key to the defense. But losing guard Brandon Scherff, though not surprisingly, hurts the offensive line and they have lost depth along the defensive line. They also need to replace hybrid safety / linebacker Landon Collins, who played their all-important Buffalo nickel role – a package they spent more than half the time last season.

Best guess when choosing the first round: That much depends on whether two quarterbacks are selected in the top 10. If that happens, a few players will drop to No. 11, which Washington would love. Security Kyle Hamilton would be a great choice if that happened. He wanted to help fill their Buffalo nickel role. They could also use one receiver and two could go in the top 10 and leave Chris Olave there at. 11.

Commanders win the division if … Wentz is playing at a solid level and Young, coming off a torn ACL, is returning to the form he showed at the end of his rookie season. They must also hope that Dallas takes a step back and that the Eagles do not rise after a surprising playoff season, armed with good draft capital. Commanders played without a number of players expected to be important parts down last season, so if they are in relatively good health, it increases their chances significantly.

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