While the free agency news has been flying fast and furious about the Dallas Cowboys, they do not exist in a vacuum. Although the past three days have left me a bit dizzy from all the activity around Valley Ranch (and feeling very, very good about what it portends for the future), I though it might be time to go over to the SBN sites for our NFC East rivals and see what was shaking for them in free agency. The New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins are, after all, the most important games the Cowboys face each year.
The first stop on my tour was Big Blue View. We already knew about one free agent signing there, our own beloved, and certainly to be missed like a soft pass hitting his hands, Martellus Bennett. I was anxious to see what other key elements they might have signed to try to mount their defense of the NFL Championship.
Well, turns out, it looks like MartyB may be the big news for them. The only other signing reported to date has been Redskins safety Chris Horton. But the guys at BBV seem pretty happy with the 'Tellus deal.
By the way, I love the Bennett move by the Giants. It is probably true that Bennett has not become the player he was forecast to be, but he has been playing behind Jason Witten in Dallas. The Giants think Bennett can be a weapon in the passing attack, and the fact that GM Jerry Reese got him on a one-year deal means the Giants should get a highly-motivated player.
By the way, even if Bennett disappoints as a receiver, Pro Football Focus points out that the 6-foot-6, 265-pounder is one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the league. His 2011 PFF run-blocking grade of +8.2 was, in fact, best in the NFL among tight ends. That will have to be a plus for the Giants' running game.
Gee. Is it just me, or does that seem oddly familiar?
More rampant sarcasm after the jump.
I followed the link to PFF to see what they had to say about Bennett, and couldn't pass up this.
17:10 New Vikings tight end John Carlson has shown a remarkable degree of self awareness, declaring that he's ‘not Jim Kleinsasser in the run game that's for sure, I'm never going to be Jim Kleinsasser in the run game'. At the other end of the spectrum Martellus Bennett believes he could be the next Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Do you root for the humble guy who knows his limitations, or the ambitious chap who believes he can do it all?
Now, I do have to acknowledge that the Giants are defending champions, and might be justified in feeling they do not have to do much in free agency. But given that they have already released Brandon Jacobs, and they still have free agents like Mario Manningham (seen as almost certain to leave), Rocky Bernard, Chase Blackburn and about half their secondary testing the waters, they might change their approach before all is said and done. At least they still have that thirty-second pick to fall back on. In all seriousness, they are at risk of a bit of a talent drain.
Over at Bleeding Green Nation, things have been much quieter for the Eagles, especially after the wild year they had in 2011. The focus for this year, according to them, has been taking care of their own.
Last offseason the Eagles spent $6 million between Vince Young and Steve Smith, two players who contributed next to nothing last season. Meanwhile, the front office allowed DeSean Jackson to remain criminally underpaid. We don't need yet another rehashing of this story; suffice it to say Jackson wasn't thrilled.
Winning franchises don't do what the 2011 Eagles did in free agency. They do what the 2012 Eagles are doing: take care of your guys; fill a few holes via free agency, and draft well.
One bit of a surprise, at least to me, was a report that the Eagles made an offer to Dan Connor, although it was not competitive. My respect for Dan's football acumen just shot up even higher.
DeSean is promising to be a more mature, focused player this year. While the jury is still way out on how that goes down, it was probably a deal they had to get done, and now the team is not in bad shape with its own free agents. They probably would like to keep Derek Landri, but they certainly do not have as much at risk as the Giants. And the sense of getting burned last season will probably serve as a bit of a brake on them. The only pickup noted so far is OG Mike Gibson, who was released by the Seattle Seahawks.
BGN provides a nice segue to the Washington Redskins with a link to a little tribute to a couple of their free agent signings.
Hard to find 2 more ineffective, near-worthless players in NFC-N than CB C. Griffin and S B. Meriweather. #Redskins signed them both. Wow.— Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn) March 16, 2012
Actually, I went to Hogs Haven with a lot of sympathy in my heart, since the Redskins wound up getting
bent over penalized even more than Dallas by the steel-spined Roger Goodell. Like the Eagles, the 'Skins also had a couple of their own they needed to take care of, and they did so by franchising Fred Davis and re-signing Adam Carriker. And they have tried to make sure that Robert Griffin III has plenty of targets with their acquisition of WRs Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Given what they traded to get the rights to RGIII, they maybe should consider some OL upgrades, but that's just an opinion. They still have several free agents that may be leaving, but I think Davis and Carriker were the big ones for them to worry about, so they seem to be in pretty good shape at this point, depending on how accurate Mr. McGinn was in that tweet.
It is kind of interesting that the two evil, nasty, renegade teams that could not abide by the crystal clear, totally legal and not-anything-like-collusion guidance of the NFL were the more active teams in free agency in the NFC East. With four new players signed to the roster, Washington is still looking to make moves, with the Giants' Aaron Ross reported to be coming for a visit. Might as well cut into the defenses that RGIII will be facing while you are at it. And we are all aware of how Dallas has been doing, having just watched them sign the franchise record number of free agents. It is good to have some quantity coming to the Cowboys, but the quality of the signings is more important, and the way the Dallas haul is being judged is making me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Whether or not the Cowboys racked up a handful of future Pro Bowlers in this group, they've definitely addressed their needs.
That was from the mothership, and it might be wise to get another opinion, of course. OK, how about ESPN's NFC East Blog? Their opinion of how things went for Dallas on Wednesday:
Can't say I disagree. And there may be more to come.