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March 15, 2023

NFL free agency: Day 2 NFC East recap

The Eagles retained All-Pro James Bradberry, the Cowboys swung a trade for former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, the Giants made a move for Darren Waller and more NFC East updates.

Eagles NFL
031523DarrenWaller Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

New Giants TE Darren Waller

Day 2 of NFL free agency is in the books, and the NFC East teams were busy after a quiet first day. Below is a quick look at what the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, and Commanders did on Day 2. We'll go in order of each teams' finish last season. Day 1 here.


Notable players gained/retained

CB James Bradberry: Leading up to free agency, it felt like Bradberry was as good as gone, but the All-Pro corner surprisingly returned on a three-year deal worth $38 million, a very reasonable cost. It will be interesting to see what develops with Darius Slay moving forward. Will the Eagles find a trade partner for him? Will he re-work his deal?

RB Rashaad Penny: Penny might have been an absolute star in the NFL by now, but his career has been derailed over and over again by devastating injuries. Still, he is a 220-pound power back with breakaway ability, and if he can stay healthy he should be an upgrade over Miles Sanders. He also came cheap, at one year for under $2 million.

RB Boston Scott: The Eagles brought Scott back for his sixth season with the team, with perhaps some more Giant-killer moments to come. The Eagles' running back dynamics will likely look the same as they did a year ago, with Penny serving in Sanders' former role as the first- and second-down back, Scott backing him up, Kenny Gainwell reprising his third-down role, and Trey Sermon lurking in the shadows. 

Notable players lost

LB Kyzir White: White will join Jonathan Gannon in Arizona, as he reportedly signed a two-year deal worth $11 million. Nakobe Dean will be expected to take on a much bigger role at linebacker in 2023, but the Eagles will also need to add linebackers with the losses of White and T.J. Edwards.


Notable players gained/retained

CB Stephon Gilmore: The Cowboys dealt a fifth-round pick to the Colts for the 32-year-old Gilmore, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, two-time All-Pro, and five-time Pro Bowler. While not the same player he once was, Gilmore is still a very good starting cornerback, and should be a significant upgrade at the CB2 spot opposite Trevon Diggs. He'll make the Dallas defense better.

S Donovan Wilson: Wilson is part of a trio of Cowboys safeties along with Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker who all get their share of snaps. Wilson is a good run defender and blitzer who tallied 101 tackles and 5 sacks in 2022. He also added a pair of forced fumbles and an INT. The Cowboys brought Wilson back on a three-year deal worth $24 million.

LB Leighton Vander Esch: Vander Esch was a good player for the Cowboys early in his career, but he has been hampered over his five-year career by neck injuries. In 2022, he had 90 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Notable players lost

WR Noah Brown: Brown is a big bodied receiver (6'2, 215) who had nice production in 2022 (43-555-3), but suffered from inopportune drops, notably against the Jaguars in overtime, when Dak Prescott was victimized by a walk-off pick-six. Brown got a one-year deal worth $2.6 million in Houston.

LB Luke Gifford: Gifford was a special teams standout for the Cowboys. He signed a two-year deal with the Titans.


Notable players gained/retained

TE Darren Waller: The Giants traded a third-round pick for Waller, who will have an $11 million base salary with up to $1.275 million in per game roster bonuses and $200K in workout bonuses due in 2023. The immediate reaction on Twitter was something to the effect of "The Raiders are idiots," and "Holy crap what a steal for the Giants."

If Waller is still the same player he was in 2019 and 2020, when he had 197 catches for 2341 yards and 12 TDs, then yep, that will absolutely be a steal. If he's the injury-prone player in 2021 and 2022 who had 83 catches for 1053 yards and 5 TDs over those two seasons, then the Raiders won't look so foolish, and the Giants won't have themselves a steal.

When healthy, Waller is an athletic beast with downfield playmaking ability, so his fit with the Giants is an interesting one. The Giants were arguably the most conservative passing team in the NFL in 2022, as Daniel Jones rarely took shots down the field. Will Waller make the Giants capable of more vertical concepts, or will his talents go to waste? That will be a fun pairing to judge over the next year or two. 

RB Matt Breida: Breida re-signed with the Giants. He had 54 carries for 220 yards (4.1 YPC) and 1 TD in 2022 as Saquon Barkley's backup.

Notable players lost

• None.


Notable players gained/retained

LB Cody Barton: Barton will reportedly sign a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. He is a former third-round pick who had 136 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 INTs for Seattle in 2022, his first as a full-time starter.

CB Danny Johnson: Johnson is a lesser-known corner who produced in 2022, making 29 tackles and an impressive 9 pass breakups in limited action. Two years, $5 million, reportedly.

Notable players lost

QB Taylor Heinicke: Heinicke was small-ish, he had a weak arm, and while he could escape pressure at times he wasn't a big threat to make plays with his legs. And yet, when he started for the Commanders over the last two seasons he had a winning record (12-11-1), while other quarterbacks had a combined record of 7-10 during that span. He reportedly signed a two-year deal worth $14 million with the Falcons.

The only quarterbacks the Commanders currently have under contract are Sam Howell and Jake Fromm.

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