NFC East Free Agency Recap

posted March 19, 2014 in CommRadio, NFL Draft by Tyler Zulli

Through the first few weeks of free agency, negotiations really get under way as new faces find new homes and teams give out lucrative contracts like free candy. The NFC East, however, has seemingly not gotten the memo that you can sign players formerly from others teams. The NFC East, for the most part, have decided to stay within themselves as teams have elected to resign their own talent in order to get better. There hasn’t been too many moves that have been unanticipated in the NFC East, and a majority of the big name free agents that were a part of the four teams remained or flipped to another NFC East team. Let’s take a look at how things have played out for the four teams so far.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are the one exception to the rule in 2014 so far. They’ve allowed multiple players walk in order to save cap space. Not only have they allowed players to walk, but they’ve allowed big name, highly talented players to leave Dallas without a fight. The franchise leader in sacks, Demarcus Ware, was kicked out of Dallas without a second’s hesitation. After not being offered the contract he was looking for, Ware took his talents to an already talented Denver Broncos team. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher was also allowed to walk away. Hatcher stung the Cowboys a bit harder, electing to sign with division rival Washington Redskins. The Cowboys have also decided to cut former leading wide receiver Miles Austin and have yet to resign talented defensive end Anthony Spencer.

The Cowboys have been able to land some of the free agents they coveted, however. To seemingly replace Spencer, the team signed former Bronco and Jaguar Jeremy Mincey adding Super Bowl experience to their roster. Mincey signed with Dallas for two years. The Cowboys have also added former Houston Texan Terrell McClain to add depth to their defensive line. McClain will done the blue and white for the next three seasons. Earlier this season, the team resigned their former pro bowl kicker, Dan Bailey, to a seven-year extension, worth approximately $3.3 million a year. The Cowboys will need to pick up their signing pace if they wish to compete again in 2014.

New York Giants

Giants’ players, unlike their rivals in Dallas, are coming and going like coming and going was going out of style. The Giants have either signed or resigned 13 players in this young free agent season. Since the theme of the NFC East was staying in house, we’ll start with the team’s resignings.

Linebacker Jon Beason, running back Peyton Hillis and kicker Josh Brown are just a few of the players who have decided to continue to call East Rutherford their home for the foreseeable future.  Beason, a three-time pro bowler with Carolina, is expected to do big things in his second season as one of the Giant’s starting outside linebackers. Josh Brown, who also joined the Giants last season, will keep his duties as Giants’ kicker for the 2014 season. Peyton Hillis, who joined the Giants in mid-October after injury and fumbling problems in the Giants backfield, will compete for the starting job with newcomer Rashad Jennings and Andre Brown (if the Giants choose to resign him).

Rashad Jennings headlines a decent free agent class for the Giants this offseason. After stints with the Jaguars and Raiders, Jennings will compete to be the Giants every down back in 2014. The Giants have also added much needed depth on the offensive line, bringing in Geoff Schwartz from Kansas City and J.D. Walton from Washington. They’ve also bolstered their linebacking core, bringing in former Super Bowl champions Jameel McClain O’Brien Schofield. The Giants will have a tough task in the NFC East this season, but the division is fairly close, giving them as good of a chance as any team to take the division crown.

Philadelphia Eagles

For the most part, the 2013 division champions simply stuck to the plan. They locked up their major free agents before they could even hit the open market and then turned their attention to free agency.

There were many rumors floating around the league as to which free agent wide receiver the Eagles would retain in 2014. The team quickly put down any rumors, as they resigned both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. Maclin, coming off an ACL tear, was given a one-year deal in hopes to prove he can still play at a high level. The team also signed starting center Jason Kelce to six year extension, worth nearly $39 million, keeping their offensive line core together. The most underrated in house signing the Eagles made, however, came in the extension of punter Donnie Jones. Jones, who signed a three-year extension, was the most consistent punter the Eagles have seen in years.

The Eagles made a shocking trade with the New Orleans Saints this offseason, shipping away a fifth round pick for do-it-all running back Darren Sproles. Sproles, who will be the pass catching back and return kicks, will be able to shoulder some of the workload in a backfield that saw LeSean McCoy run the ball a league high 314 times.

Once the Eagles locked up their in house talent, they turned their attention to bolstering the defensive side of the ball. Amidst the Jairus Bryd and T.J. Ward talks, the Eagles decided to save cap space and sign former Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins instead. He’ll immediately be an upgrade over now cut safety Patrick Chung. The team also signed former Miami Dolphin cornerback Nolan Carroll to a two-year deal. He’ll compete for a starting corner position in 2014. They also added two special teamers in former Seahawk Chris Maragos and former Texan Bryan Braman. The Eagles will look to continue their ascent of the NFC East and win the division for the second straight season.

Washington Redskins

The 3-13 Redskins have nowhere to go but up in 2014. Free agency is spot to do that.  The Redskins have made some under the radar signings that could pay huge dividends for them in 2014.

First, the signing of Jason Hatcher immediately gives the Redskins a second high caliber name on their defense along side Brian Orakpo, whom they franchised tagged earlier in the week. There’s simply no way they’d have allowed Orakpo to walk for nothing. They’ve retained linebacker Perry Riley, veteran receiver Santana Moss and often-scrutinized cornerback DeAngelo Hall. These three players, while all aging, were still key contributors to the little success the Redskins had in 2013. Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty should be the next two logical players to be resigned by Washington this offseason.

Reaching outside the system, the Redskins touched on some key positions of need this offseason. Again, Hatcher is a huge upgrade over any player that played defensive tackle for the Redskins in 2013. The Skins also added former Super Bowl Champion cornerback Tracy Porter to bolster their secondary. They’ve added wide receiver depth in the form of former Arizona Cardinal Andre Roberts. Depth players such as linebackers Daryl Sharpton and Adam Hayward, tackle Bruce Campbell, and defensive end Clifton Geathers have all been added by the Redskins in their effort to rebuild in 2014. The Redskins will have an uphill battle in 2014, but will, no doubt, improve their win total from 2013.

Tyler Zulli is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To reach him, email