Roster Change Effects on the NFC East and the Cowboys' Competition.

James WilliamsonSenior Writer IApril 20, 2009

The NFC East is arguably the most vicious division in the history of the National Football League. The same can be argued about the division right now.

In the past two years, every team in this division has been to the playoffs. The Giants won the Super Bowl against the Patriots, the Eagles went to the NFC Championship game last year, and the Giants were the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

However, some activity in free agency has led to the weakening of teams in that division.

The loss of Terrell Owens was the Dallas Cowboys' largest loss. He was the big-play wide receiver who rarely dropped a pass downfield. He did drop some shorter passes that would gain ten or less yards, but he rarely dropped the deep bomb. If he got his hands on it, he caught it.

Other than the loss of defensive end Chris Canty and linebacker Kevin Burnett, the Cowboys have not lost any defensive firepower that it could do without. Safety Roy Williams and defensive tackle Tank Johnson were not the players the Cowboys hoped they would be.

Cornerback Anthony Henry was getting older and was going to cause a cap problem with his contract, so he was traded to Detroit for quarterback Jon Kitna, who will become the new backup since Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger have been cut.

Linebacker Zach Thomas was not doing well with his new role there, so his contract was not renewed.

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The Cowboys have added defensive end Igor Olshansky, linebackers Keith Brooking and Matt Stewart, and safety Gerald Sensabaugh to fill in missing spots.

Luckily, the Cowboys competition has changed as well.

1. The Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have lost free safety Brian Dawkins, a major leader on the defense, to the Denver Broncos along with backup running back Corell Buckhalter. Cornerback Lito Sheppard is now with the Jets and many of their players, particularly the offensive linemen, are getting older and may retire soon.

They did, however, trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a first round draft selection (28th overall) and two late round selections (a fourth rounder for this draft and a sixth for the next draft).

To go along with Peters, the Eagles have signed on right tackle, Stacy Andrews (their guard Shaun’s brother), so these additions are moves to counter their aging offensive line.

2. The Washington Redskins

The Redskins are hard to evaluate because they have gained two controversial players but also have lost some good players and have been reckless with their finances.

Shawn Springs is no longer a starting cornerback with the Redskins anymore. Jason Taylor is also gone along with linebacker Marcus Washington.

They signed All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a seven year contract that could pay up to $115 million with $41 million guaranteed in the first three years.

They also cashed in a pretty paycheck of $54 million to cornerback DeAngelo Hall. He will be spending the next six years with them and has $22 million in guaranteed funds.

Hall is a cornerback who is spotty at times and is hardly worth the deal he has received, especially since Al Davis released him.

If the Raiders are willing to release a guy like this, doesn’t that say something about the player?

Albert Haynesworth is another story. While playing for the Titans, Haynesworth lost his temper, his mind, whatever! He lost something and he took it out on Cowboys center Andre Gurode.  Gurode had lost his helmet, and Haynesworth sent a spiked cleat to the top of it.

This, of course, caused outrage, not only in the hearts of football fans, but in the entire league. Haynesworth was suspended for five games, the longest suspension ever for an on-field incident.

That was a scary thought when he played for the Titans, (a team Dallas faces once every four years), but now Haynesworth is going to be facing the Dallas Cowboys twice a year as a division rival.

Any fan that cares about his player should be very concerned if that behemoth of a man loses his temper. The harm that can be caused has only the sky for its limit.

As a player, Haynesworth is not even close to the money he has been offered. The Redskins were not only foolish for their own franchise, but now other defensive players will be demanding that kind of frivolous money.

The Redskins are trying to increase their defensive strength while running out the clock with star running back Clinton Portis. The strategy has proven to be effective for many teams, so it is not a surprise.

3. The New York Giants

The Giants are not the same team they were last year, and certainly not the same team they were when they won the Super Bowl.

Later this fall, the Giants are going to be a different team all together, ladies and gentlemen, so lets start with the biggest change of all.

Tom Coughlin was the head coach for the Super Bowl, but I sincerely believe that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was the difference maker. His blitz schemes and coaching of the defensive line transformed Tom Brady into a piñata.

Steve Spagnuolo has become the head coach for the St. Louis Rams, so the defense, while talented, will not have the man who called the plays.

The Giants have neither of their two veteran receivers. Amani Toomer is 34-years-old and Plaxico Burress had become a problem in the locker room, especially when he shot himself in the leg by accident.

They are considering acquiring Braylon Edwards from the Browns or using Steve Smith as their No. 1 receiver. The addition of Braylon Edwards is undetermined because he drops as many passes as he catches, but when he catches, he is a nightmare.

Osi Umenyiora will be back from a injury that ended his season last year, and the combination of him and Pro Bowler Justin Tuck as pass rushers is a tandem that no offensive line wants to face.

Derrick Ward, the backup running back, is now in Tampa Bay and, although he was a very good runner to go along with bruiser Brandon Jacobs, Ahman Bradshaw can easily step up.

The one big addition was defensive end Chris Canty from the Dallas Cowboys. Canty was a good player for the Cowboys, but it is doubtful that he will turn into a great player with the Giants since they already have Tuck and Umenyiora at defensive end.

The Giants haven’t really added anyone else, though, which supports the idea that the Giants want to rebuilding through the draft instead of free agency.

Overall Summary

The Giants may or may not make moves, but I think even with Braylon Edwards, the Cowboys are a better team in terms of talent. It is discipline that makes the Giants strong.

Philadelphia is always a problem, but they are beatable. The hope is that the front office does not trade for a big receiver like Chad Ocho Cinco or Anquan Boldin. If they do that, they will become a menace in the NFC East.

The Redskins are in for a disappointment this season. They are decent, but I don’t think their defensive moves will bear a lot of fruit. Haynesworth has never played an entire season and Hall is very questionable.

So when it comes down to term of difficulty, we have:

The Good: Redskins

The Bad: Giants

And the Ugly: Eagles