With the tampering period underway and free agency officially opening up on March 17th, teams are starting to address their needs to make a run at the Super Bowl next season. While only the Washington Football Team made it to the playoffs last season with a 7-9 record, the three remaining teams are hoping to make up for what was a terrible season for the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants combined for an atrocious 16-31-1, which was easily the worst in the league.
New York Giants (6-10 in 2020)
Cap Space: -$1.4 million
1. Wide Receiver
The Giants have already cut ties with veteran WR Golden Tate, which saved them $6 million in cap ($10 million if they designate him post June 1). The depth chart is now thinner than ever at wideout, leaving only Sterling Sheppard, who has a lengthy concussion history and Darius Slayton as the only notable players. The Giants have the 11th overall pick in their hands heading into the draft and will surely be hoping that one of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle falls to them.
Outside of James Bradberry, the Giants are lacking talent at the CB position. In an offense-heavy draft, the Giants would be making a huge mistake by taking a non-skill position player and will have to rely on free agency or trades to add a decent CB to the roster. Their measly $4.3 million in cap space will definitely be hard to work with.
The Giants have a fairly decent defense, if you don't count their linebackers or cornerbacks. Earlier last week, the Giants placed their franchise tag on Leonard Williams who has been dominant for them since he came over from their in-state rival New York Jets in 2019. Outside of Blake Martinez who signed with the Giants last offseason, the Big Blue have no true No. 1 MLB or LILB. There are multiple options at LB outside of round one including Zaven Collins from Tulsa and Joseph Ossai from Texas.
Washington Football Team (7-9 in 2020, made playoffs)
Cap Space: $37.6 million
Alex Smith’s comeback story was one of the best things that has happened in the sports world in a long time. His return most definitely sparked a struggling team that needed a true leader after losing Kyle Allen to an ankle injury and Dwayne Haskins never really being the guy he was supposed to be coming out of Ohio State. There are no holes in this team's defense that truly need to be addressed, all of their problems stem from the offense not being able to put up points which is obviously needed to win games. There are an abundance of QBs available in this year's draft along with many starting-caliber signal callers that will be great replacements both in free agency and in trade. Washington still has plenty of options, but it will surely be interesting considering they gave Taylor Heinecke who has 77 career passing attempts, a two-year $8.75 million deal at the start of February.
2. Wide Receiver
Terry McLaurin has been one of the most consistent, skilled receivers in the league since entering in 2019. McLaurin has been the team's true No. 1 since being drafted and the team has failed to add an impact player at the position to draw away defenders from double or triple teaming McLaurin on every route. With the 19th pick in the draft, it is very unlikely that a receiver worthy of a first-round selection will fall to them, so the Football Team will have to rely on late-round talent and free agency to add a WR that can take some pressure away from McLaurin and provide whoever ends up at QB with a reliable second or third option.
3. Running Back
I know this pick comes as a surprise considering Washington was able to use multiple backs effectively in their offensive scheme. Antonio Gibson was a true RB1 as a rookie and he will most likely be exactly that going forward. However, there was never a true player who could come in and change pace on the ground whether Gibson was struggling or injured. J.D. McKissic is listed as a running back but was used more as a receiver and a check-down option for Alex Smith. I would be shocked to see a RB taken in the first round of this year's draft, which may be perfect for Washington as they should hope to grab a guard in round one and hope to find a talented, reliable RB2 in a later round.
Dallas Cowboys (6-10 in 2020)
Cap Space: $17.4 million
1. Offensive Tackle
Just a few years back, the Dallas Cowboys had the best offensive line in the league. Built up with perennial All-Pro players like Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Zack Martin. Those four were some of, if not the best at their positions and protected Dak Prescott greatly for three seasons before his season-ending injury on a scramble last year. Smith and Frederick have both struggled in staying healthy over the past few seasons and Frederick even announced his retirement in March of 2020. This offensive line will see a fair amount of new and hopefully younger faces next season.
2. Defensive Back (CB/S)
The Cowboys are set to see four defensive backs in free agency unless they re-sign soon. Among those four players are three starters from last season: Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods. The Cowboys still have money to use even after re-signing Dak Prescott, so it is likely that Dallas can bring back at least two of their starting defensive backs and possibly snag another in the draft with the 10th overall pick.
Update: Awuzie signed with the Cincinnati Bengals for 3yrs on 3/15
The Cowboys allowed 200+ rushing yards in four games last season against the Browns in Week 4, the Cardinals in Week 6, the Football Team in Week 7 and the Ravens in Week 16. While the Cowboys have a great linebacking core with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch along with major edge threats in DeMarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith and Tyrone Crawford, their interior defensive line has struggled to stop the run. There are no big faces in the DT position, which is a place that Dallas should certainly invest in if they want to take over the NFC East, like they should have been doing for the last 5 years.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1 in 2020)
Cap Space: -$17.9 million
1. Wide Receiver
The Eagles have had plenty of wideouts circling in and out of the lineup since their 2017 Super Bowl season. Previous draft picks and acquisitions have either struggled to stay healthy or have just been straight up bad. With the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft, the Eagles front office, led by Howie Roseman, has a chance to select a great receiver that will help Jalen Hurts develop into a true QB1. It is certainly too early to tell, but there seems to be no wrong answer in choosing between Florida’s Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase from LSU or DeVonta Smith who won the Heisman after a dominant season at Alabama.
2. Defensive Back (CB/S)
The Eagles have struggled heavily through injuries at every position over the last three or so seasons, but mostly at defensive back. Outside of Darius Slay, there aren't many players on the depth chart that seem to be able to get the job done. Philadelphia has a decent amount of draft picks in this year's draft so they should certainly be able to find their guy somewhere after their first round pick at No. 6.
The Eagles relying on TJ Edward, Nathan Gerry, Duke Riley and Alex Singleton has led the team to a very poor defense due to the team refusing to invest high draft picks or money into the LB positions. In a deep draft class on both sides of the ball, the Eagles would be making a major mistake by not using one of their mid-round picks on a linebacker that can play in coverage and pass rush. The four aforementioned players have proven to be very one-way players, only being able to play in coverage or rush the opposing quarterback.