Even in the offseason, the NFC East is the NFL’s toughest division. Thus far, we have seen the Washington Redskins break the bank for Albert Haynesworth, the Philadelphia Eagles bolster their offensive line with Stacy Andrews, and the Dallas Cowboys do some patchwork on their defense with Keith Brooking and defensive end Igor Olshansky.
The New York Giants are in a category all by themselves on this one. They acquired outside linebacker Michael Boley, defensive end Chris Canty, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, and defensive back C.C. Brown (and they do add defensive end Osi Umenyiora back to their defense).
The Giants weren’t the big winners because they signed the most players, but rather who they signed. All four newcomers cost in total $75 million, which is at least $25 million less than the Redskins spent on Haynesworth.
The Haynesworth signing was a desperation move on the part of 'Skins owner Daniel Snyder—he typically makes one every offseason—but this one was particularly egregious. He was firm in his understanding that the best team in the division (New York, duh) has at least 10 draft picks this coming April and started off the previous season 11-1 without any of their new weapons.
Dallas has already made its push, bringing in the likes of Terrell Owens, Zach Thomas, and Roy Williams in recent years, all while doling out $60+ million contracts to the likes of Marion Barber (who has not recorded a 1,000 yard rushing season) and Tony Romo. Jerry Jones is now feeling the effects of his salary cap negligence, unable to retain Chris Canty or sign any big-name free agents, knowing that he will soon have to give DeMarcus Ware a $100+ million deal.
Philadelphia failed to follow the golden rule of free agency: Never let a player hit the open market unless you’re prepared to lose him, and alas Brian Dawkins has signed with Denver. Philly was then forced to look to its offensive line, with John Runyan and Tra Thomas now free agents.
By moving quickly and securing more depth on an already-dominant defensive line, the New York Giants have put the rest of the division in a bind. Philadelphia will now be limited as to how many draft picks it can give up to get an elite receiver because the offensive line is so weak at this time and draft support is needed there.
Most of Dallas’ pain is self-inflicted, as is Washington’s. With those teams suffering from somewhat of a recession, the Giants struck while the iron was hot, forcing desperation moves and limiting their opponent’s options.