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Cover 3: How the NFC East is shaping up


The crew looks at the state of the NFC East following the start of free agency:

John Schmeelk: It is hard to argue that the Dallas Cowboys didn't take some kind of step back given their losses of Amari Cooper, La'el Collins and Randy Gregory. Those were probably three of their top 10 players last season and will be very difficult to replace. The salary cap is a real thing and the Cowboys showed how difficult it can be to become cap compliant with a talented roster that's making a lot of money.

The Eagles brought back some of their own players in free agency but weren't extremely active otherwise. They have three picks between the 15th and 19th overall selections and will likely find talented players in the draft at those spots. You can expect the Eagles to move around the draft, likely moving down to pick up extra draft capital in future seasons.

The Commanders lost Brandon Scherff in free agency but brought in Andrew Norwell to replace him, which will be a downgrade. They also traded for Carson Wentz, who should be an upgrade at quarterback. Washington is going to have to get their defense playing more like it did in 2020 than it did in 2021 if they want to be a factor in the division.

The Giants as we have written about here, are in a transition period with Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen coming in to build the roster in their image. If Jalen Hurts can continue to progress as a passer, the Eagles could challenge the Cowboys for the division. But right now, the benefit of the doubt still goes to the team with the best quarterback and that's the Dallas Cowboys.

Dan Salomone: The division doesn't matter if the Giants don't take care of their house first. While the Giants were recording double-digit losses in five consecutive seasons, they went 9-21 against their NFC East rivals in that span, including 1-5 this past year. So, as much as you want to talk about the comings and goings in Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington, the Giants' focus should be at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. And it has been. As team president John Mara said in January, they needed to hit the reset button. Three months later, general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll head into the draft with nine picks, including two in the first round, and a handful of new veterans on relatively modest deals due to the cap situation.

"I don't think it's a very high bar to improve over last year, but we've got some draft capital," Mara said Sunday at the NFL Annual Meeting. "I think we've signed some pretty good players so far. I really like the staff that Brian has put together. I do think we'll be a much better team. But I know those words are shallow right now until we actually start playing."

Lance Medow: It's been a relatively quiet free agency period for the NFC East as the main focus for the Cowboys, Eagles and Commanders has been to retain their notable players. Dallas re-signed wide receiver Michael Gallup, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, safeties Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse as well as defensive lineman Carlos Watkins while also giving tight end Dalton Schultz the franchise tag. They added complementary players in former Steelers wideout James Washington and linebacker Dante Fowler, who played for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta. Dallas is trying to maintain continuity after an impressive defensive turnaround in 2021 and on offense, the Cowboys will look to fill the voids left behind by Amari Cooper, who was traded to the Browns and tackle La'el Collins, who joined the Bengals.

The Eagles re-signed defensive lineman Derek Barnett and Fletcher Cox, safety Anthony Harris and running back Boston Scott. Their biggest addition was linebacker Haason Reddick, who spent last season with the Panthers and is a consistent threat to get after the quarterback. The Commanders had a similar approach bringing back running back J.D. McKissic, wide receiver Cam Sims and defensive back Bobby McCain. They bolstered their offensive line by signing former Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell, who will help to make up for the loss of Brandon Scherff, who coincidentally signed with Jacksonville, and acquired quarterback Carson Wentz from the Colts.

Given the Giants are the only team in the division with a new coaching staff, they added more new faces on the offensive line, and brought in several players with ties to new defensive coordinator Don Martindale. That's expected when you implement different schemes from the previous year but as far as the outlook of the division goes, a lot will be dictated by performance of the quarterbacks. Dallas' Dak Prescott is clearly the most experienced and polished, Jalen Hurts is trying to build off his first full season as the Eagles' starter, Carson Wentz has returned to the division but it will be his third offense in as many seasons and along with Daniel Jones, the question surrounding both will be durability and comfort with yet another new scheme. So nothing has drastically changed within the division following the first two waves of free agency – and considering no one has won consecutive NFC East titles since the Eagles claimed four straight crowns from 2001-04 - no one should feel too comfortable.

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2022 offseason.


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