NFL

NFC East Free Agency Grades

on

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

We’re through one week of free agency and there have been too many moves to count (that’s why you should check out our Free Agency Diary).

There are still some moves to make, but we’re going to grade the teams on what they’ve done during the first three weeks.

Washington Redskins: C

The Redskins weren’t lauded for many of their moves in free agency last year, but they were one of the most improved teams in football and won the NFC East.

This year has been somewhat similar as VP Bruce Allen has moved past the days of the team’s splashy moves and into more of a plan of retention.

With that said, Washington doesn’t seem considerably better on paper than they did last season.

Washington’s biggest signing was when they locked up outside linebacker Junior Galette, who missed all of last year after coming over from New Orleans.  If Galette is healthy, he’s one of the better pass rushers in football and his off the field issues allowed the Redskins to ink him on a one-year, $1.6 million deal.

We like the low-risk, potentially high reward signing of former San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes, as well as strong safety David Bruton, formerly of the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The team re-signed tight end Logan Paulson to back up Jordan Reed, as well as veteran cornerback Will Blackmon.

The team’s losses were minimal as they allowed Alfred Morris to leave to Dallas via free agency as he was replaced last season by rookie Matt Jones.  They predictably cut ties with Robert Griffin, III, as well as inside linebacker Keenan Robinson and defensive end Frank Kearse.

New York Giants: B+

The New York Giants haven’t made the playoffs since winning Super Bowl XLVI, and it has been an offseason of major changes.  The team fired head coach Tom Coughlin and promoted offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to his mentor’s position.

In free agency, the team started by re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul on a one-year, $10.5 million contract while adding another great pass rusher in Olivier Vernon on a five-year, $85 million deal.  That would have made for a great free agency period, but they didn’t stop there.  New York signed former Jets defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison and added former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins.  Between those four players, the Giants spent nearly $115 million in guaranteed money.

To upgrade their linebacker corps, New York “hot seat” general manager Jerry Reese added former Redskins inside linebacker Keenan Robinson.

To make room for all of the additions, the Giants lost defensive end Robert Ayers in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as cornerback Prince Amukamara to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Certainly adding Vernon is a net upgrade over Ayers, but when Amukamara is healthy, he’s every bit the football player that Jenkins is.

New York had a historically bad defense last year and they have taken major steps to improve it.

Philadelphia Eagles: B

As much change as the Giants experienced this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles may have experienced even more. Gone is head coach/ personnel executive Chip Kelly and now Doug Pederson has the head coaching duties as he was hired after a great season as the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.

The Eagles jettisoned much of the talent that Kelly brought in, but retained quarterback Sam Bradford on a two-year, $36 million deal.  To add some insurance to the oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick, the team brought in Pederson’s protege, backup quarterback Chase Daniel for three years and $21 million.

In major need of a secondary renovation, the team re-signed safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Nolan Carroll, as well as bringing in Rams safety Rodney McLeod and Bills cornerback Ron Brooks.  The team signed guard Brandon Brooks from the Texans, along with former Buffalo linebacker Nigel Bradham and former Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle.

The team traded away running back DeMarco Murray, linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell, as all three players were acquired last offseason under Kelly.

When you have that much turnover, as the team has had over the past two years, it is pretty much understood that a good percentage of the moves will not work out. The departures of Murray, Alonso and Maxwell speak to that.  With the Eagles bringing in so many new players this year, even though they look better on paper, it’s unlikely that they will be a much better team unless they get more out of Bradford at quarterback.

Dallas Cowboys: C+

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t make the usual Jerry Jones type of splash moves this year in free agency, which was somewhat of a surprise considering the team finished in last place in 2015.  Part of that was the lack of salary cap space the team had.

What they did do was add some key, underrated pieces who could work out.  Dallas got better in the backfield with former Redskins running back Alfred Morris, who is trying to resurrect his career behind one of the best offensive lines in football.  They continued to purge their division as they signed defensive tackle Cedric Thornton from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dallas managed to re-sign running back Lance Dunbar, cornerback Morris Claiborne, tight end James Hanna, swing tackle Charles Brown and cornerback Josh Thomas.

Keeping that many of their own free agents was somewhat of a surprise, considering the team was so bad last year, but what wasn’t a huge surprise was their willingness to walk away from defensive end Greg Hardy.  Hardy is a lightning rod for criticism from his domestic violence conviction (then overturn), and he wasn’t a great teammate or player last season.  The door is not completely shut for a Hardy return to Dallas, but if it happens it will be on the Cowboys terms.

AFC East Free Agency Grades

AFC North Free Agency Grades

AFC South Free Agency Grades

AFC West Free Agency Grades


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.