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March 17, 2021

NFL free agency: Day 2 NFC East recap

Day 2 of NFL free agency is in the books, and activity in the NFC East has picked up a bit after a slow start. With the Philadelphia Eagles completely inactive so far, let's take a look around the NFC East at what the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Football Team were up to. We'll go in order of each team's finish last season.


Day 1: Signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, retained K Dustin Hopkins, and had previously franchise tagged OG Brandon Scherff. Lost CB Ronald Darby and LB Kevin Pierre Louis.

Football Team notable players gained/retained on Day 2

• CB William Jackson III: Jackson was a first-round pick of the Bengals (24th overall) in 2016 who ran a 4.37 40 at the Combine. He missed his rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle, but has only missed five games in the four seasons since then.

Jackson signed a three-year, $42 million deal ($14 million AAV), with $26 million guaranteed. That's maybe a little pricey for a corner with three career INTs and no FFs, however, Jackson does get hands on footballs, as he had 11 pass breakups in 2020, and he is a solid tackler. Jackson should be an upgrade over Darby.

Football Team notable players lost on Day 2



Day 1: Signed RB Devontae Booker, and had previously franchise tagged DE Leonard Williams. Lost DT Dalvin Tomlinson.

Giants notable players gained/retained on Day 2

DE Leonard Williams: The Giants had previously franchise tagged Williams. On Day 2, they got a long term deal done with him. Three years, $63 million ($21 million AAV), including $45 million fully guaranteed. That contract is now the fourth-highest edge rusher deal in the NFL (in terms of AAV), tied with the Cowboys' DeMarcus Lawrence. 😬

Lawrence is actually a decent comparison for Williams. After three initial disappointing seasons in the NFL, Lawrence broke out in his fourth season, collecting 14.5 sacks, and the Cowboys tagged him. The following season, Lawrence had 10.5 sacks, got tagged again, and eventually worked out a deal worth $21 million/year. Lawrence has since proceeded to turn in a pair of mediocre seasons, at least in the stat sheet.

Similarly, Williams' career got off to a slow start. He got tagged last offseason, and then again this offseason after having a breakout season in 2020, when he collected 11.5 sacks (he only has 29 career sacks over a seven-year career). 

If Williams fails to produce elite-level number like Lawrence has in Dallas, this will obviously be a bad contract. If he continues to play well, he'll be in line for another very lucrative deal in two or three years.

• WR John Ross: Ah, here's a flier I really like. One-year deal worth $2.5 million, including $1 million guaranteed.

Ross was the ninth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he has been a bust. For his career, Ross has 51 career receptions for 733 yards and 10 TDs. Of course, Ross went top 10 because he ran the fastest 40 time in NFL Combine history:

If you'll notice, Ross injured himself running that record-breaking 40, and injuries continued to follow him throughout his four-year tenure in Cincinnati. He missed 13 games as a rookie in 2017 (though some of those were as healthy scratches), three games in 2018, eight games in 2019, and 13 games in 2020. All told, Ross only played in 27 of a possible 64 games (42 percent). He also requested to be traded during the 2020 season, but the Bengals didn't appear to have any takers.

So why is this a flier worth taking? To begin, he's cheap. But there was also at least of glimpse of what Ross could be during the 2019 season, when he had 28 catches for 506 yards (18.1 YPC) and three TDs in eight games, putting him on pace for over 1,000 yards. Here's what some of that looked like:

If Ross' speed does little more than keep opposing safeties from creeping up closer to the line of scrimmage, it's a win because guys like Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram will see less traffic in the box.

I'm actually a little surprised Ross only cost $2.5 million. Absolutely worth taking a shot on him. 

Giants notable players lost on Day 2



Day 1: Previously signed QB Dak Prescott to a four-year deal. Lost OT Cameron Erving and LB Joe Thomas.

Cowboys notable players gained/retained on Day 2

• OT Ty Nsekhe: Huge OT (6'8, 330) who toggled between the arena league and the NFL during the early portion of his career, but has managed to stay employed in the bigs since 2015. He's now 35 years old, but can still be a serviceable and versatile reserve. The Cowboys had major injury issues at OT last season, and they lost backup Cameron Erving on Day 1.

CB C.J. Goodwin: Special teamer.

Cowboys notable players lost on Day 2

QB Andy Dalton: Dalton signed with the Bears on a one-year, $10 million contract that has a max value of $13 million. If he doesn't get canceled out in the comp pick formula, the Cowboys should land a fourth-round pick for losing him. 

Dalton was a good backup, and the price was right for the Cowboys last season. With Dalton moving on, their remaining backup quarterbacks are Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert, and of course, Ben DiNucci, none of whom are as good as Dalton.

As long as we're on Dalton, lol Bears. Their QB cycle is hilarious:

• Free agency: Mike Glennon
• Draft: Mitchell Trubisky
• Trade: Nick Foles

And now they start the FA-draft-trade cycle over again with Dalton. How many times does a GM get to mess up at the quarterback position and continue keep his job? I guess we'll find out after their upcoming 8-9 season.

CB Chidobe Awuzie: Awuzie missed a big chunk of the season last year with a hamstring injury, and wasn't very good after his return. In his first three seasons, he was a solid-but-unspectacular corner. He signed a three-year, $21.75 million deal with the Bengals.


Day 1: Lost CB/S Jalen Mills and S Rudy Ford.

Eagles notable players gained/retained on Day 2


Eagles notable players lost on Day 2

WR Marquise Goodwin: Under extremely rare circumstances, Goodwin reverted back to the 49ers, and the Eagles gained a 2021 draft pick!

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