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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
 
NFC East Offseason Forecast
By Matt Horkman

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys

Teams Needs: The Cowboys spent the last four years aggressively upgrading their offensive line. Over the span, they used three first-round picks on offensive lineman. They should adopt a similar approach with the defensive line, as the team needs at least one edge rusher and a couple of inside players to complete a defense that overachieved in 2014.

Free Agency: Rarely does a team have two first-team all-pro players simultaneously heading for free agency, but that’s’ what Jerry Jones is dealing with this off-season. Running back DeMarco Murray and receiver Dez Bryant are both superstars who will command top market value this off-season. Jones is normally among the biggest outside spenders in the game, but he’ll focus his attention this off-season on keeping his own.

Big Picture: The off-season spotlight is on Dallas. That feels like the case every March, given the media’s over the top coverage of Jerry’s World. It’s warranted this year, though, as Jones may have to choose between Bryant and Murray. If forced into that position, Bryant is the obvious choice. Receivers have longer careers than running backs do. Dallas failing to retain Bryant would be the biggest surprise of the off-season.

N.Y. Giants

Team Needs: The defensive line needs an injection of youth, with or without Jason Pierre-Paul. Last year’s sack numbers were better than in 2013, but the offensive line still struggled. Most of the problems were inside, so look for the Giants to eye up a couple of interior players.

Free Agency: The Giants have $17 million in salary cap space. They’d like to use a large chunk of it on Pierre-Pau and possibly safety Antrel Rolle. Center Stefen Wisniewski would be a fine addition to the offensive line.

Big Picture: Did Eli Manning have a good 2014 season? It didn’t feel that way while watching him play, but he threw 30 touchdowns and turned the ball over just 18 times. Those are good numbers. He has enough skill pieces around him (Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, & Andre Williams) to produce a top 10 offense. If the defense rebounds, then the Giants could be back in the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Philadelphia Eagles

Team Needs: The left side of Philadelphia’s offensive line is arguably the best in football, but tackle Jason Peters and guard Evan Mathis are both 33. It’s time to develop replacements. Potential upgrades at outside and inside linebacker are possibilities given the linebacker depth of this year‘s draft class. Finally, the team’s biggest weakness is its secondary. The Eagles finished No. 30 against the pass.

Free Agency: Chip Kelly now oversees Philadelphia’s player personnel department, meaning he has a larger influence on what they do in free agency. Re-signing Jeremy Maclin is a priority, and all signs point toward the Eagles wanting him back. If the Patriots and Darrelle Revis don’t agree to a restructured contract, he’d be a great fit for a team that has to contend with Dez Bryant twice a year.

Big Picture: What is the future of Nick Foles? That’s the million-dollar question right now. Reports indicate the Eagles want to trade up to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft, so that would spell the end of Foles’ tenure. A possible trade involving Foles is a legit possibility, as a result. The Texans and Rams are two teams to watch, especially the latter if Mariota were to suffer a draft day slide.

Washington

Team Needs: An overhaul of the front seven may be on its way. Defensive lineman Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen could be cap casualties. The team is also reportedly ready to move on from linebacker Brian Orakpo, so they’ll need to add an edge rusher to play opposite of Ryan Kerrigan. An upgrade at right tackle would round out the offense.

Free Agency: Washington will have plenty of money, especially if they release the aforementioned players. They say old habits die-hard, so look for them to pursue outside free agents with an edge rusher being at the top of their wish list. Jerry Hughes and Jason Worilds seem like the most realistic options on the market.

Big Picture: This franchise won’t return to its winning ways until coach and quarterback get on the same page. Jay Gruden wasn’t a bad hire given his résumé, but his scheme is a terrible fit for Robert Griffin III. If Washington brass still believes RG3 is the franchise‘s future, they should consider doing what Seattle did with Russell Wilson. Instead of forcing the player into the scheme, build the scheme around the player.

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