NFC East: Assessing The Offseason Concerns Of The Cowboys' Division Rivals

It's been a little while since I've taken a look at the landscape of the NFC East – alright, it's been a long while. These are the types of things that happen when the Cowboys lock up the division with two weeks to play, not to mention make a playoff run.

But the offseason is finally starting to settle in for 30 of the league's 32 teams. While the Patriots and Seahawks gear up to play Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, we've already been inundated with questions about the Cowboys' offseason.

You've heard them all and asked them all before. Will Dez Bryant sign a new deal or be franchised? Is DeMarco Murray going to get a new deal in Dallas? What do the Cowboys do with their free agent linebackers? What about Doug Free and Jermey Parnell? What are the draft priorities?

The list goes on. And unfortunately, for the time being, we can really only speculate. Many of these questions won't be answered until we get into the meat of the offseason.

Since we've blanketed the topic from the Cowboys perspective, I wanted to take a look at their three divisional rivals. What big decisions await the Eagles, Giants and Redskins in 2015?

New York Giants

After losing seven in a row at one point, the Giants finished 2014 by winning three of four. Odell Beckham Jr. also took the league by storm as one of the NFL's most exciting rookies.

Those silver linings are nice, but it was a forgettable season in New York. A depleted offensive line struggled to protect Eli Manning – who is under contract for just one more year, mind you – and it failed to generate a viable rushing game.

The skill players – Manning, Rashad Jennings, Beckham, Rueben Randle and potentially Victor Cruz, who is rehabbing a torn patellar tendon – are in position if the Giants can find someone to block for them. It's hard to fault New York for passing on Zack Martin, considering Beckham's rookie production. But it's a good bet that offensive line is an area the Giants may target with their No. 9 overall pick.

Perhaps the most intriguing questions for this team in the offseason center around defense. Arguably their two best defenders, Jason Pierre-Paul and Antrel Rolle, will become free agents in March.

The Giants are currently projected to have about $15 million in cap space, which should give them funds to do a few things. It seems likely they'll lock up Pierre-Paul, which would be huge for a defensive line that needs upgrading. After firing defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Giants coach Tom Coughlin brought back Steve Spagnuolo, who helped build New York's Super Bowl-winning line in 2007.

There are plenty more questions to answer, though. Even if Rolle stays, the Giants need to address their secondary. Walter Thurmond and Prince Amukamara both spent the majority of the season on injured reserve, and there isn't really a quality starter to team with Rolle at safety – again, assuming he stays.

Honestly, it doesn't look like the Giants are too far removed from competing for a playoff spot. But if they're going to do that in 2015, there are several offseason moves they must get right.

[embeddedad0]

Philadelphia Eagles

If the formatting was different, the 10-6 Eagles would have been a playoff team over the 7-8-1 Panthers this year. That amounts to essentially nothing in the results-oriented world of the NFL, but it's at least encouraging for the Eagles that they weren't too far away from the dance.

In another encouraging twist, Philadelphia also has the fewest amount of free agents to worry about. A measly 10 Eagles contracts are set to expire when the league years begins this March. A few of those – like Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen – hardly seem like high priorities, which is devastating news for Dez Bryant and his fans.

There is one big question to consider, though: Jeremy Maclin. After tearing his ACL in training camp in 2013, Maclin signed a one-year, bet-on-me deal with Philly and it undoubtedly paid off. The five-year veteran had the unquestioned best year of his career in 2014, hauling in 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Eagles have addressed their receiving group in the draft recently. They drafted Zach Ertz in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and they followed that up by selecting Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff in 2014. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles don't look like they're going anywhere, either.

After parting ways with DeSean Jackson last spring, though, it seems unwise to let Maclin depart. Philly is likely looking at about $20 million in cap space, so it'll be interesting to see how much they're willing to pay him.

The real issues surrounding the Eagles in 2015 are purely the result of rumor at this point. We started hearing rumors about a month ago that Nick Foles might not be long for Philadelphia, and nothing has happened to quell that, considering we're now talking about St. Louis potentially trading for him.

That's a bit staggering, since Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and two picks, and was named to the Pro Bowl just two seasons ago. It's hard to say with any clarity whether Eagles coach Chip Kelly actually wants to draft Marcus Mariota, his old protégé at Oregon, to be the future of the franchise. If they deal Foles, though, it's hard to believe he'd be comfortable moving forward with Mark Sanchez or Matt Barkley as his starter.

There are other pressing needs on this roster, as well. Philadelphia's secondary was atrocious in 2014, despite the offseason addition of Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles, like the Cowboys, also have some existing contracts they'd like to work on.

All of that will pale in comparison if Philly's quarterback spot is in upheaval, though.

Washington Redskins

Plenty of uncertainty for the team that finished last in the division for a second-straight year. Washington heads toward the draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which is nice. Aside from that, though, I'm not sure how many positives there are to glean.

It's hard to look too far past the quarterback spot. I don't want to spend too many words contributing to the debate, but is Robert Griffin III the right guy going forward? The Redskins would do well to figure that out, because Colt McCoy is a free agent this spring, while Kirk Cousins hasn't exactly inspired confidence in anyone.

The rest of the skill positions leave plenty to feel good about. Washington still has Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and their battery of young tight ends. It might not be the sexiest selection in the world, but an offensive lineman at No. 5 overall in the draft could pay dividends for a line that has Trent Williams at left tackle and not many other reliable pieces.

The Redskins are likely about to lose Brian Orakpo to free agency after franchising him for 2014, but that doesn't look as bad as it sounds. Plagued by persistent injuries, Orakpo has only played in 24 of a possible 49 games over the past three seasons. He collected 10 sacks in 2013, but he missed nine games this year. Washington also probably can't afford to pay premium money to three pass rushers, as Ryan Kerrigan is in line for a big payday either this spring or next, while Jason Hatcher still has three years remaining on $27.5 million deal.

Much like, well, everyone in the division, the Redskins would probably be smart to retool their secondary. Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark are both out of contract, and Duke Ihenacho is a restricted free agent. It's hard to feel great about anyone playing defensive back in Washington right now, except for perhaps Bashaud Breeland, who enjoyed a phenomenal rookie year as a fourth-round pick.

If there's one positive, it's that new defensive coordinator Joe Barry has pledged to maintain the same 3-4 scheme used by Jim Haslett. At the very least, Washington isn't looking at a complete overhaul.

Bottom line: until the Redskins find a tenable quarterback situation, the rest of that will look like cold comfort.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Advertising