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March 16, 2023

NFL free agency: Day 3 NFC East recap

The latest NFC East free agency news, including Darius Slay returning to the Eagles, the Cowboys cutting Ezekiel Elliott and more.

Eagles NFL
031623EzekielElliott Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

Former Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Day 3 of NFL free agency is in the books, and the NFC East teams were a little quieter after a busy Day 2. Below is a quick look at what the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, and Commanders did on Day 3. We'll go in order of each teams' finish last season. Day 1 here. Day 2 here.


Notable players gained/retained

DT Fletcher Cox: In 2022, Cox had good stats (43 tackles, 7 sacks), but he never truly felt like an impact player, and it has become pretty easy to see that he is a player in decline. A new contract for one year, $10 million is probably about right for the going rate at defensive tackle, but his re-signing is perhaps less exciting than some other Eagles players.

Notable players lost

RB Miles Sanders: After the Eagles added Rashaad Penny on Tuesday, it became clear that Sanders would be finding employment elsewhere. Sanders had a very good season in the stat sheet and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2022 after rushing 259 times for 1,269 yards (4.9 YPC) and 11 TDs, finishing fifth in the NFL in rushing yards.

However, he has remained a flawed player in the passing game and sometimes as a back who didn't get all the yards that were blocked up for him. He landed in Carolina on a four-year deal worth $25 million, reuniting with Duce Staley.

Notable players lost, and then gained

• CB Darius Slay: Slay tweeted that he was on his way out of Philly, with national and local (self included) media reporting that the Eagles intended on releasing him. But when the start of the new league year rolled around at 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, no official announcement of Slay's release came from the team, leaving open the slim possibility that he could remain on the roster. Slay's representation and the Eagles continued to negotiate through the evening, and yada yada yada, the two sides have found common ground on a re-worked deal, the details of which are not yet known.

When the Eagles were poised to release Slay, they were going to do so with a June 1 designation. That meant that they would have saved $17.5 million on their 2023 salary cap, but that savings would not come until June 1. With a re-worked deal, any savings on the cap will be immediate, which could help them in efforts to retain even more players from their Super Bowl run, such as free agent safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, for example. We'll see.


Notable players gained/retained

• None.

Notable players lost

RB Ezekiel Elliott: Elliott was a great running back for the Cowboys for four years, but after heavy usage early in his career his play predictably fell off a cliff. The decision to release Elliott as a cap casualty was an obvious one for the Cowboys, and in some ways it marks the end of an era in Dallas. Going forward, the Cowboys' rushing attack will go through the franchise-tagged Tony Pollard.


It will be weird seeing Zeke in another uniform.


Notable players gained/retained

WR Sterling Shepard: Shepard was Daniel Jones' top target over the first four games of the season in 2022, but he was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

LB Jarrad Davis: The Giants signed Davis off of the Lions' practice squad late in the 2022 season. He started against the Eagles in the Birds' 38-7 drubbing of the Giants in the playoffs. The Giants evidently liked enough of what they saw to bring him back.

Notable players lost

WR Kenny Golladay: During the 2021 offseason, Dave Gettleman and the Giants signed Golladay to a four-year deal worth $72 million, and $40 million guaranteed. They gave Golladay that contract even after an injury-riddled 2020 season in which he had 20 catches for 338 yards and two TDs with Detroit. After signing his contract in 2021, he proceeded to have a season in which he caught 37 passes for 521 yards in 14 games in 2021, and 6 receptions for 81 yards and 1 TD in 2022.

He will go down as one of the worst free agent signings in Giants history.


Notable players gained/retained

QB Jacoby Brissett: Brissett is a quality backup who will be competing for a staring job in Washington against Sam Howell, assuming the Commanders are unable to add any other more compelling quarterbacks in the draft. Brissett is a solid veteran player, but he gives the Commanders something close to a zero percent of winning a Super Bowl if he ends up being their best option in 2023.

DE Efe Obada: Obada is a somewhat intriguing rotational pass rusher with great size (6'6, 265) who had 4 sacks last season.

C Tyler Larsen: Backup-level center.

Notable players lost

LB Cole Holcomb: Holcomb has probably been the Commanders' best linebacker over the last four seasons, as he has racked up 388 tackles since being selected in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. He signed with the Steelers on a three-year deal. 

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