We’ve almost seen each of the free agents find new homes, and mostly figured out where each team is at going into the NFL Draft. We’ve got a roundup for each division after almost two full weeks (and most of the big signings in the books), and we’ll be putting them out over the next week or so. According to the NFL’s “Top 101 Free Agents” chart, 83% have found new homes, so we’ve got a solid look at who is going where.
Next up we’ve got the NFC East, which saw the Cowboys resurge back to prominence, the Eagles find their golden boy, and the Giants and Redskins recede a back from where they were before. Now, the race to the top looks wide open for all involved heading into 2017.
I don’t really know what Dallas has been doing all this time. The only free agent they were able to nab is Nolan Carroll, who is a good player, but hardly a gem of this free agent class. And the easy look of subtraction is Tony Romo, who was easily the best backup in football and now off the Cowboys roster. But the pain is the defense, who lost Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, and Brandon Carr out of their secondary, lost Terrell McClain off the line, and two more off the second unit. That’s heavy levels of subtraction off the defense, including five former starters. That’s not good, and the Cowboys need some serious help in the draft for a defense that already wasn’t great.
New York Giants
The Giants decided to attack the offense that was a severe letdown in 2016. They added a huge target for Eli Manning to pair with Odell Beckham in Brandon Marshall. Marshall was great with the Jets, and there’s no reason to think he can’t go out and still get 700-900 yards. They also took a flier on Geno Smith as a backup, and added DJ Fluker to beef up that line. Robbie Gould’s departure hurts, and Coty Sensabaugh was good for them in relief. Still, the biggest question for the Giants in free agency has yet to be answered: whether they can ink Johnathan Hankins, the best DT in the class, before other teams poach him away. Without him, this could be a different result. The Giants are the odds-on favorite, though.
The Eagles saw a flash in their rebuild during the first half of the season that showed they were a borderline playoff team. But lack of depth fizzled them out, and they definitely came out to address that in free agency. They added the best player in free agency in Alshon Jeffery to give Carson Wentz a real target to throw to. Add in Torrey Smith, and one of the worst receiver groups in football a year ago should be a strong poit of the team. They added Chance Warmack to join the guards on the line, and that’s a big get. Chris Long also has something left in the tank at DE, and Nick Foles will be better in a back up role to Wentz. In losses, the Eagles really just lost Bennie Logan, who was solid on the line a year ago, and will command some attention to replace. I like the additions over the subtractions, however.
The Redskins’ biggest news of the offseason was the saga of Kirk Cousins. They reportedly wafted on dealing him out of town, but ultimately decided to franchise tag him again. That future is still up in the air, but at least he’s got one more year in Washington. As for the rest of the roster, we’ve got some changes that will alter the play on the field a good bit. On defense, adding Zach Brown and Chris Carter will beef the linebacker group up, and DJ Swearinger will add to the secondary. Terrell McClain also has some promise on the front as a second unit guy. Still, replacing Chris Baker will be hard. Offense will see the biggest movement, however, with Vernon Davis returning, but the receiving corps looking very different. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both gone, with just Terrelle Pryor coming in to replace them. That’s a slight drop off, and Kirk will need more help going forward for an offense that already dipped last year.