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August 13, 2020

Cowboys, Giants, Washington Football Team all add defensive reinforcements

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042720EversonGriffen Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

Free agent defensive end Everson Griffen seems like he wants to play in Philly.

The Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, and the Washington Football Team all added defensive reinforcements this week, so let's take a quick look at what those guys are up to, shall we?

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Cowboys sign DE Everson Griffen

On Wednesday, the Cowboys agreed to a one-year deal with Griffen, reportedly for $6 million. Griffen will turn 33 in December. While on the downside of his career, Griffen was still reasonably productive in 2019, as he had 41 tackles (11 for loss), eight sacks, and 24 QB hits in 15 games (all starts) with the Vikings, which was somehow good enough to get him into the Pro Bowl.

The likely reason Griffen was still a free agent this deep into the offseason is because teams have understandable concerns about his mental state. In fact, in an interview with NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Griffen revealed that he was living in a sober house during the 2018 season while continuing his treatment following a laundry list of incidents, noted here:

What they know is largely based on what they read in a widely publicized police report from the 2018 incident: verbal outbursts in practice, prompting the Vikings to order Griffen to undergo a mental health evaluation; one encounter with police at a downtown hotel, another at Griffen's house after he'd entered teammate Trae Waynes' residence, shirtless and uninvited; an escape from an ambulance, before eventually going to a hospital for evaluation. Griffen was not arrested and faced no criminal charges.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Griffen was mulling offers from the Vikings and Seahawks, but the Cowboys beefed up their offer last minute:

So, are the Cowboys a better team after this move?

There are two ways to answer that. Yes, the Cowboys' pass rush is better today than it was yesterday morning. Griffen is probably an upgrade over whoever else would have started opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, whether that be Aldon Smith or one of their other younger players on the roster. 

They are not better at the position than they were a year ago, however, when they still employed Robert Quinn, who was easily the Cowboys' best pass rusher in 2019. Quinn signed a five-year deal worth $70 million with the Bears in free agency.

Also, $6 million is not insignificant money for a team that needs all the cap space it can get, on the premise that they may need to franchise tag their quarterback again in 2021.

The Cowboys' defensive line is now quite heavy on name recognition:

That would absolutely be a scary group in 2015. In 2020... meh.

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The Washington Football Team activated Reuben Foster off of the PUP list

Six days ago, The Washington Football Team released Derrius Guice after he was arrested for multiple alleged domestic violence incidents. They were praised for continuing to change the "culture" of the organization. Two days later, they activated Reuben Foster off of the PUP list, lol. 

During the 2018 season, the 49ers had enough of Foster, after he was arrested for the third time in a calendar year. Fewer than three days after the third arrest, which was on domestic violence charges, the Washington Football Team claimed him off of waivers.

In May of 2019, Foster tore his ACL, LCL and MCL, in addition to suffering nerve damage that caused him to lose feeling in his foot for a substantial amount of time.

The immediate reaction to Foster's return was focused on the juxtaposition of the team's release of Guice, and their promotion of Foster. Perhaps lost in the discussion is whether or not Foster is even good. He certainly was a stud linebacker in college at Alabama, but in three seasons in the NFL, he has no interceptions, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries, no sacks, and he is recovering from an injury far worse than just your run-of-the-mill ACL tear.

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Edge rusher Markus Golden returns to the Giants

The Giants' signing of Golden during the 2019 offseason was one of the extremely rare positive moves that Dave Gettleman has made during his disastrous tenure with the Giants. Last season, Golden had 10 sacks and 27 QB hits, easily leading the team in both categories. 

Earlier this offseason, the Giants placed the rarely used "May 5" tender on Golden, which allowed him to continue to negotiate with other teams, and if he signed elsewhere, the Giants would not receive direct compensation from the signing team, but Golden would still count toward the compensatory pick formula. If he remained unsigned at the start of camp, Golden would return to the Giants at 110 percent of his 2019 pay, which would end up being a little north of $5 million.

No other teams bit, and so Golden is back in New Jersey for another season. That was actually well-played by Gettleman. Prior to Golden's return, the following would have been the Giants' projected starting defensive front, with their sack totals from a year ago:

• EDGE: Lorenzo Carter: 4.5
• DE: Dexter Lawrence: 2.5
• NT: Dalvin Tomlinson: 3.5
• DE: Leonard Williams: 0.5
• EDGE: Oshane Ximines: 4.5

So, Golden's return will certainly help.


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