So far this offseason, Dallas has kept its vital parts together.
Dallas has let the market dictate the value on back-ups and bargain-shopped to fit their budget.
On the coaching side, Dallas kept Jason Garrett and added top offensive line coach Hudson Houck as well as Todd Grantham, Brett Maxie, Dave Campo, and Reggie Herring.
The Cowboys signed Flozell Adams to a long-term deal and franchised Ken Hamlin. The team gave Marion Barber a first and third round qualifying offer, and gave Chris Canty a first round qualifying offer. They also added Zach Thomas.
These moves made for a solid offseason up to this point.
Running back Julius Jones bolting for Seattle also hurt the team.
Coaches Tony Soprano, Paul Pasqualoni, Kacy Rodgers, and Todd Bowles will be missed as well. Pasqualoini was the toughest loss and may be the next guy to become a head coach in this league.
The loss of depth hurts. But with two first round picks next month, the Cowboys should be able to replace and likely upgrade the positions that have suffered to this point.
Dallas will need to have a good draft in order to duplicate the same success next season, as they now have a few holes to fill behind their starters, but so far the team has not lost any vital parts.
Keeping Garrett was a masterful stroke by Jerry Jones, and with even more great minds on their defensive staff, it may perform better in key moments.
The Redskins are the poster child for surprises this offseason.
Breaking from past years, they have not wasted money signing veterans past their prime or players that do not warrant a monster contract. Instead, the Redskins have demonstrated financial restraint and waited for the draft (glad to see someone in D.C. worries about that type of stuff).
Granted, this offseason was not without its headlines. It appears they backed into hiring Jim Zorn as their head coach. That move will be highly scrutinized throughout the year to see whether it is a boom or a bust.
The Skins managed to keep valuable back-ups Rock Cartwright and Todd Collins. Both realized that sometimes the grass is not greener; it’s just different grass.
Dumping Brandon Lloyd was a wise move too. Lloyd’s mouth made comments that his game could not back up.
The Redskins were close to be making a big run with Joe Gibbs, but now they have unproven Jim Zorn in control. I still can’t figure out what happened with Gregg Williams.
Zorn could have the same success that Jason Garrett did calling the plays for Dallas last year, but it’s a huge gamble for Danny Snyder. It is like he’s giving the keys to his new Lexus to a 16-year-old that just got his driver’s license.
It's very surprising that he didn’t go with a more established head coach for a few years and let Zorn prepare to run a team.
Besides the hire of Zorn, the Skins have been quiet this offseason, which is a good thing for Redskins fans.
Moving Greg Blache from defensive line to defensive coordinator should keep continuity on the defense. Now they just need to hold onto their picks and get players that will fit Jim Zorn’s scheme.
With no wild draft picks or crazy free agents moves, and Washington should stay in the playoff hunt.
If you look up the phrase “catching lighting in a bottle” you should find a picture of the 2007 NY Giants.
These Super Bowl Champions were the same team that lost to Green Bay by 22 points, to Dallas by 10 and 11 points, Minnesota by 24 points, Washington by 12 points and to New England on the last game of the season.
With that said, if I wore a hat, it would be off to them, because they made a run in the playoffs when it counted and that’s all that matters.
So far they’ve played free agency like most Super Bowl Champs, expecting a few guys to bolt and replacing them with similar talent but less expense.
First, the team signed Tom Coughlin to a long-term contract. That was vital to show who is boss in New York.
Next, they did not overpay to keep players with limited talent that fit their scheme perfectly. Every Super Bowl team loses guys that other teams fall in love with and usually overpay for (insert Raiders: see Larry Brown and Dominic Rhodes).
Also, it is very fortunate that Steve Spagnuolo decided to stick around at least one more year. Additions of Danny Clark, David Carr, and Sammy Knight should lessen any losses the team might have had, and with draft picks added, the Giants will be fine.
It's hard to be very negative when you end the season the way they did, but they need to make a public show of support of Jeremy Shockey. He may have finally worn out his welcome in New York.
If Shockey is dumped, say to Miami or New Orleans, for a second round pick, that will also show that Eli is the priority. It’s fairly obvious that Manning improved in confidence and decision making once Shockey went down.
Losing both Reggie Torbor and Kawika Mitchell hurts even though they have guys who can step up to replace them because all depth has been lost.
It’s good to be King of the NFL, but to stay around for a while the Giants need another successful draft. They also need to show a stronger consistency all season long as you cannot expect to have a 2007-type playoff run again.
Philadelphia is clearly the most aggressive team in the division this free agency period, with the big signing of Asante Samuel on the first day of free agency.
The real question becomes, will they ever give McNabb the top wide receiver he traditionally begs for every offseason?
Even though he doesn’t ever really act like it, you would have to think Reid will really feel the heat next offseason if they don’t make a legit run towards the playoffs because of the lack of weapons in his offense.
Obviously, the signing of Asante Samuel is huge, but grabbing DE Chris Clemons from the Raiders was a nice move.
Dan Klecko’s signing was an interesting move that will be worth following this season.
Raise your hand if you think the Eagles can win a Super Bowl with Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown as their starting receivers.
Someday Philly will make the necessary move and get the No. 1 receiver for McNabb, and hopefully it will be while he’s still young enough to really benefit and click with the player.
You would have to think this is a make or break season for Andy Reid, who if he continues to be so stubborn about adding a No. 1 WR and getting Westbrook a backfield mate to share the load, Reid will be out as head man.
Philadelphia seems to thrive when everyone counts them out or tells them they can’t do something.
For all those die hard Eagles fans, I just hope that they trade Lito Sheppard for a No. 1 WR (say, Roy Williams from Detroit). They also should add a back to take some carries and keep Westbrook closer to 100 percent near the end of the season.
With that said, Philly will probably keep Sheppard and draft an OT in the first round, a linebacker in the second, and a quarterback in the third.
Well, there you have it, a month before the draft, a look at how the teams in the NFC East are shaping up. Check back soon for an in-depth look at another division and send me an email on your thoughts to Patrick@footballdialogue.com