NFC East Free Agency Grades
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Cowboys - A
- QB Dak Prescott, franchise tag
- WR Amari Cooper, 5-years, $100 million, $60 million guaranteed
- CB Anthony Brown, 3-years, $15.5 million
- TE Blake Jarwin, 4-years, $22 million
- LB Sean Lee, 1-year, $4.5 million, $2 million guaranteed
- DT Gerald McCoy, 3-years, $18.3 million, $9 million guaranteed
- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 1-year, $4 million
- CB Byron Jones, signed by the Dolphins
- EDGE Robert Quinn, signed by the Bears
- WR Randall Cobb, signed by the Texans
- DT Maliek Collins, signed by the Raiders
- TE Jason Witten, signed by the Raiders
The jury is still out on Prescott and his future deal. Despite having a breakout year in 2019 in which the 2-time Pro Bowler threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns the Cowboys only finished 8-8 causing them to miss the play-offs. Whilst a lot of the blame has been shifted onto 2019 head coach Jason Garrett who Dallas has now parted ways with, its undeniable that a lot of Dak’s stats were empty calorie stats, portraying him to have played better than he truly did. Out of the eight 0.500 or above teams Prescott played in 2019 he won only two games, whereas against team lower than 0.500 Prescott led his team to six victories out of eight. Hence, it’s understandable to have worries about Dak. However, Dallas reportedly have no issues with Prescotts play, both Jerry and Stephen Jones have expressed a strong desire to re-sign Dak and have strongly reiterated that he will be the future quarterback and face of the Cowboys franchise. It’s simply the money that is causing delay in the negotiations. Numerous figures have been thrown out but neither side has confirmed or denied the rumours circulating about the potential money. Personally, I feel the Cowboys only have one option and that’s to pay Dak whatever he is demanding as their Super Bowl window is now and it will immediately close if Dak does not return.
Extending both Amari Cooper and Blake Jarwins contracts were expected but good moves regardless. Although I believe Cooper was overpaid given his inconsistencies away from home, he remains one of the best wide receivers and route runners in the NFL, so locking him up long term is a good move and if he eliminates his inconsistences it’ll be a great one. I’m a big fan of the Blake Jarwin deal. In 2018 Jarwin showed some real promise and broke into the starting team, at the beginning of the 2019 season Jarwin was named the starting tight end on the depth chart, however, the re-emergence of future hall of famer Jason Witten out of retirement caused Jarwin to lose snaps. Regardless, Jarwin’s potential that he showed in 2018 was evident again in 2019, although he is not a home run hitter, he has big play potential as well as offering Prescott a safety blanket and red zone threat, so at $5.5 million annually I believe Jarwin is a steal.
Although franchise tagging Prescott and extending Cooper and Jarwin were nice moves it was the cheaper deals that the Cowboys truly hit home runs on, bringing in Gerald McCoy and Ha-ha Clinton Dix via free agency and re-signing Sean Lee and Anthony Brown to very favourable deals for Dallas. While 6-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy is by no means the disruptive pass rusher and run stuffer he once was this deal remains a great one. The interior of the Cowboys defensive line lacked a three down lineman and veteran presence, both of which McCoy provides at only $6.1 million annually. In 2019 the Cowboys secondary was a blatant weakness, although Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is by no means an elite safety he is a ball hawk, over his 6 year career he has totalled 16 interceptions which is something the Cowboys will hope he can replicate given their inability to take the ball away in 2019. Re-signing Sean Lee adds depth and a veteran presence in potentially the best linebacker room in the NFL and extending Anthony Brown was a wise move given the loss of Byron Jones.
While the loss of Byron Jones was always going to happen given the Cowboys cap room it does not stop it from leaving a hole in their defense. The Cowboys will be hoping Chidobe Awuzie will step up and become a number one corner and that their depth pieces at corner such as Jordan Lewis and Daryl Worley will help fill the void a certified number one corner leaves. Losing Robert Quinn was somewhat surprising to me. I expected there to be few deals on the table for Quinn despite his big resurgence year in Dallas and that he’d sign a slightly team friendly deal like most Cowboys do to stay in Dallas. However, Chicago tabled a huge 5-year $70 million offer for Quinn which Dallas obviously could not match. In a hope to replace Quinn’s loss the Cowboys signed Aldon Smith who was reinstated into the league in May 2020 and have petitioned for the re-instalment of Randy Gregory who was suspended indefinitely in February 2019.
Redskins - C
- OG Brandon Scherff, franchise tag
- CB Kendall Fuller, 4-years, $40 million, $23.5 million guaranteed
- LB Thomas Davis, 1-year, 3.5 million
- CB Ronald Darby. 1-year, 3 million
- QB Case Keenum, signed by the Browns
- OG Ereck Flowers, signed by the Dolphins
- CB Josh Norman, released
- CB Quinton Dunbar, via trade
Washington didn’t make many moves in free agency. They had no notable losses that effect their roster and their only additions were retaining Brandon Scherff and signing Kendall Fuller in free agency.
The Redskins have made it clear they want to sign 3-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff to a long-term extension. Washington drafted Scherff 5th overall in the 2015 draft, since then they have picked up his fifth-year option and now franchise tagged him, so his extension is well overdue. Scherff’s franchise tag makes him the current highest paid guard in the NFL at $15 million, its likely he will demand similar money in his contract extension and despite battling a couple of injuries the past two seasons he has remained an elite offensive guard and in my
opinion deserves to be paid like it.
Kendall Fuller spent his first two seasons in Washington before being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs where he became a Super Bowl champion before re-signing with the Redskins in free agency. During the first three years of Fullers career he was predominantly used as a slot corner where he thrived, then in 2019 Kansas City used him in a hybrid safety role where he started only four of eleven games. Given he did not break into the Chiefs starting defense in 2019 and has his restrictions, playing almost exclusively in the slot I believe $10 million annually is slightly overpaying but if Fuller is able to evolve into an adequate outside corner as well the deal will be a good one.
Eagles - B+
- DT Javon Hargrave, 3-years, $39 million, $26 million guaranteed
- CB Darius Slay, via trade
- S Jalen Mills, 1-year, $5 million
- S Rodney McLeod, 2-years, $12 million
- OT Jason Peters, free agent
- WR Nelson Agholor, signed by the Raiders
- CB Ronald Darby, signed by the Redskins
- RB Jordan Howard, signed by the Dolphins
- OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, signed by the Lions
- S Malcolm Jenkins, signed by the Saints
Philadelphia had two big holes in their roster last season, their secondary and wide receivers. While they took action in the draft to bolster their wide receiver core it was via free agency that they made move to secure their secondary. In 2019 the Eagles allowed 90.1 rushing yards per game which ranked 3rd best in the NFL, however, they had the 19th best passing yards per game proving that if they secured secondary they could have an elite defense.
Philly’s big move was to acquire Darius Slay from Detroit via trade. Slay is an elite corner in the NFL, he was only on the trade block due to losing “all respect” for head coach Matt Patricia to the extent their relationship was reportedly unsalvageable. Slay also reportedly wanted a new deal which he got in Philadelphia. Slay was 1st team All-Pro in 2017 and has made the Pro Bowl each of the last 3 seasons highlighting his obvious talent, he is also an elite ball hawk with 13 interceptions over the last 3 years. So, although the Eagles made him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL with his huge 3-year $50 million extension, to get an elite number one corner for a 3rd round and 5th round pick is a steal.
The addition of Javon Hargrave to Eagles defensive front makes them one of the leagues deadliest. With Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox already playing at an elite level, the signing of Hargrave allows them to rotate himself and Malik Jackson depending on whether they intend to rush the passer or stop the run. Throughout his 4 years with the Steelers he was never the best run stuffer but proved to be a top pass rusher from the interior. While $13 million annually is a lot of money for someone who isn’t necessarily a great three down defensive tackle the move is understandable as they best way to help a depleted secondary is bring pressures and fast.
Whilst the Eagles allowed Jason Peters and Vaitai to walk neither loss will have a large effect on the offensive line. Whilst Vaitai is being paid like a top starting right tackle in Detroit, he was no more than a rotational piece in Philadelphia. Additionally, the Eagles were prepared for Jason Peters to eventually move on or retire when they moved up to draft Andre Dillard 22nd overall in the 2019 draft. However, the secondary loss of Malcolm Jenkins may be felt all threw the organisation and locker room. Although his play tailed off slightly in 2019, Jenkins is known for his elite mentality and leadership that resounded in the Eagles team whilst he was there. So, to lose a leader of his calibre may leave a hole in the locker room unless someone else steps up.
Giants - C-
- CB James Bradberry, 3-years, $45 million, $32 million guaranteed
- DT Leonard Williams, franchise tag
- LB Blake Martinez, 3-years, $30 million, $19 million guaranteed
- QB Eli Manning, retired
- LB Alec Ogletree, released
Apart from the departure of Giants legend and likely future hall of famer Eli Manning the New York Giants didn’t lose anyone that affects them. Instead they retained and signed three valuable starters.
The Giants began their free agency by placing the franchise tag on interior defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Midway through the 2019 season the Giants traded for Williams, giving up 2020 third-round picks and 2021 fifth-round pick. By tagging Williams it’s likely the Giants mean to extend him and if that’s the case, in my opinion this would be a bad move. Williams has previously expressed that he would hit free agency is the Giants weren’t giving him what he thinks he’s worth along with the fact he views himself as a ‘top-tier interior defensive lineman’. Given this it’s very likely he will demand more than what the Falcons paid Grady Jarrett in 2019, which would likely make him the 3rd or 4th highest paid interior lineman at around $17-$18 million annually. Whilst Williams has by no means been awful throughout his five years in the league, he certainly hasn’t been elite either, he has made one Pro Bowl which was back in 2016 and has totalled 17.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss in five seasons. Hence, in my opinion signing a long-term extension that pays Williams as a top interior lineman would be a mistake.
In my view the addition of Blake Martinez was a great one by the Giants. Whilst Martinez has proven to be unreliable in coverage allowing 80% completions against him over the past two years totalling 107 catches and 980 yards, he makes up for it elsewhere. Over the last three seasons Martinez has averaged 148 tackles and totalled 25 tackles for loss as well as playing in 51 consecutive regular season games proving his ability to stay healthy. In my opinion Martinez was one of the best linebackers available in free agency and the Giants secured him. Even though his deal places him 9th in annual salary I still believes the move is a good one especially since the Giants are operating with a quarterback on a rookie contract.
Making James Bradberry the 4th highest paid cornerback in the NFL at. $14.5 million annually is overpaying for a cornerback who has never shown to be any more than a average number one corner in my view. However, to Bradberry’s credit he has only missed 4 games in his first 4 years and at 6ft 1 and 210 pounds he has the athletic ability and size to be a top corner. Bradberry is also one of the few corners in the NFL who have actually travelled with the opposing’s team’s top receiver. He has the potential to flourish into a top corner given he is only 26 and yet to reach his prime, playing in the NFC South meant Bradberry got the experience of covering Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Julio Jones so covering the NFC East receivers may be an easier task for Bradberry. Even with all this said, unless Bradberry flourishes into a top number one cornerback I believe the Giants overpaid.