NFC East Free Agency: 2 Best Remaining Fits for Each Team
There is still a lot of value left on the free agent market and many needs to fill for NFC East teams.
The Dallas Cowboys could use a pass-rushing 3-4 lineman like Luis Castillo, while the Washington Redskins would certainly benefit from adding a stellar offensive tackle like Demetrius Bell.
The division's front runners, the New York Giants, have pending questions at linebacker and along the offensive line. Meanwhile, the inconsistent Philadelphia Eagles may still make a move for veteran pass catcher Plaxico Burress.
After what has been a quiet week in free agency for the NFC East, each team should consider the following free agents as ideal fits for their particular schemes.
Dallas Cowboys Defense: Luis Castillo, DE, San Diego Chargers
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The Cowboys would face competition for Castillo from the AFC Champion New England Patriots. However, the Cowboys' need is greater.
The Dallas defense has to find a pass-rushing presence for the defensive line, to share the burden with the great Jay Ratliff and ease the pressure on DeMarcus Ware. Castillo would be a perfect fit, provided he can regain his early career form.
He has extensive 3-4 experience and is expert at splitting the tackle-guard gap to create pressure and get into the backfield. Although his production has dipped during the last few seasons, playing next to Ratliff and Ware would surely revitalise Castillo.
Dallas Cowboys Offense: Steve Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
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The Cowboys need a third receiver to replace Laurent Robinson. Division veteran Steve Smith would be a great choice.
The 26-year-old has played all five of his pro seasons in the NFC East and would provide Tony Romo with a sure-handed underneath target. Smith excels at going across the middle and can provide a regular outlet, particularly on third downs.
Smith endured a lacklustre year in Philadelphia. However, he did show brief glimpses that he has recovered from the devastating ACL injury that wrecked his time with the Giants.
While he lacks the size and explosion that Robinson offered, Smith is the kind of dependable, intermediate weapon Romo would be grateful to have at his disposal.
New York Giants Defense: Jonathan Goff, LB
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The easiest way for the Giants to solve their issue at middle linebacker, is to retain 2010 starter Jonathan Goff. It would not be a decision with only cost and familiarity in its favour.
The 6'2" 241 pounder is an active run stuffer with the size and instincts to man the middle effectively. Goff has plenty of smarts and can easily handle calling the signals for Perry Fewell's multiple schemes.
If he can demonstrate a full recovery from the ACL injury which kept him sidelined all last season, Goff is the logical answer to the Giants' linebacker problems.
New York Giants Offense: Jason Brown, C, St. Louis Rams
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Brown failed to live up to his contract in St. Louis, but he could be a useful, low-key pickup for the G-Men. The Giants need to get younger along the offensive line and the 28-year-old Brown has the size and versatility to be a nice fit.
Brown may have struggled with the Rams, but he was a durable presence on a line otherwise frequently ravaged by injury. The 6'3" 320-pounder lacks agility and range, but offers decent power as a run blocker.
Inserting Brown into the lineup would give the Giants the option of moving David Baas, who was inconsistent at center, out to guard. Alternatively, Brown could slot in at left guard and allow David Diehl to move back outside to tackle.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense: Jim Leonhard, S, New York Jets
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The Eagles need a savvy and tough safety for their wide-9 defensive alignment, and veteran Jim Leonhard fits the bill perfectly.
The 29-year-old is an intelligent player who marshaled Rex Ryan's complex schemes with the New York Jets. Leonhard's ability to read formations and adjust would be a big boost to the Eagles defense.
The 5'8" 188-pounder has had some injury struggles, but when healthy he is an instinctive and productive defensive back. Leonhard can be the experienced quarterback of the secondary Philadelphia needs.
Philadelphia Eagles Offense: Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Jets
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Burress would make an already talented Eagles offense even more prolific. His height and physicality would add a new dimension to Andy Reid's passing game.
His main benefit would be the red-zone threat he would provide. In his comeback year with the Jets, the 34-year-old snared eight touchdown passes and has always been dangerous inside the 20.
Burress would surely relish a return to the NFC East, where he played the best football of his career. The ex-Giants star would expand the playbook for Philadelphia and give the offense attributes which are currently lacking.
Washington Redskins Defense: Gary Guyton, ILB, New England Patriots
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The signing of Gary Guyton is suggested only in the event the Redskins do not agree a new deal with London Fletcher. If not, then Guyton represents a solid alternative for several reasons.
At 6'3" and 245 pounds, the former New England Patriot has the size and 3-4 experience to quickly settle in on the Redskins defense, without adjustment or transition.
The 26-year-old is the right age for the younger roster the Redskins front office has been nudging towards. Guyton is also likely to be a cost-effective signing, a crucial requirement for a team having to cope with a hefty salary-cap penalty from the league.
Washington Redskins Offense: Demetrius Bell, OT, Buffalo Bills
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The Redskins need to add some quality to their often shaky offensive line. Demetrius Bell has the upside to develop into a fine player in Mike Shanahan's blocking schemes.
The 27-year-old plays with above-average technique and is mobile enough to be a factor in space in Washington's zone-based system. Bell has the athleticism to operate effectively at either tackle spot and could supplant the disappointing Jammal Brown on the right side.
Injury issues are the only cause for concern, as Bell started only six games in 2011. However, when healthy, the 6'5" 311-pounder has the skills and attributes to solidify Washington's front five.