As a whole, the NFC East was quite disappointing in 2019. Collectively, this division won just 24 games and its lone playoff representative, Philadelphia, was eliminated at home in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. That being said, there is an excellent chance that the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins are improved teams next year. Let’s examine what those three teams’ offseasons might look like and some of the challenges they each face to improve.
Yes, the Eagles won the division in 2019, but it was still a disappointing season overall from the franchise that won the Super Bowl just two years prior. Philadelphia has noticeable holes in its roster, but the biggest hinderance for this squad of late has been injuries. Of course, you never know, but the Eagles should be in store for much better overall health going forward.
Philadelphia is about middle of the road in terms of spending ability this offseason. The obvious spots this team should look to upgrade are at wide receiver and cornerback. Nelson Agholor, Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are all set to hit the free agency market, but Philadelphia might be better suited bringing players in from outside their organization rather than retaining their own. Jason Peters contract is also expiring, but the Eagles planned well for this by drafting Andre Dillard last year in the first round. Other notable free agents-to-be include Jordan Howard, Timmy Jernigan and Vinny Curry. The Eagles defense is built on excellent and deep defensive line play, so they can’t ignore that situation and purely concentrate on cornerbacks and wide outs. Philadelphia also should consider adding help at safety, as their coverage units overall were quite poor last year.
In terms of draft picks, the Eagles are in really good shape. They have the Patriots fifth-round pick and are expected to receive a compensatory pick in the third round and two more in the fourth. They pick 21st overall in the first round. This applies to the other two teams discussed here, but really sets up well for Philadelphia: This is a rare and outstanding group of incoming wide receivers in this draft class. However, the Eagles have the draft firepower to maybe trade up for CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, the top two receivers in this draft class to really complete their offense. Of the Giants divisional foes, Philadelphia is the team most likely to really take steps forward with their roster in 2020 and could be in great shape overall if the Eagles can actually stay reasonably healthy.
Although the Eagles won the division, Dallas had by far the best point differential in the NFC East and now Mike McCarthy takes over as the Cowboys head coach. And expectations should remain high.
Dallas has the 17th pick in the first round and will pick in that area of every round. They also project to be getting a fifth-round compensatory pick. As it stands right now, the Cowboys have the most available salary cap space in the division. But that will dry up very quick. How about this list of prominent Dallas players with expiring contracts in order of importance: Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Randall Cobb, Sean Lee, Michael Bennett, Jeff Heath and Jason Witten. Prescott isn’t going anywhere, but if he is given the franchise tag or a contract extension, the Cowboys quarterback is going to eat up a lot of cap room. After that it seems extremely unlikely that Dallas can retain Cooper and Jones, both of whom could be near the top of their respective positions in compensation when it is all said and done. As it stands right now, Michael Gallup is the only wide receiver or tight end that Dallas can count on.
Without question, their defensive line needs work and the Cowboys can’t possibly be comfortable with their secondary. The Cowboys have some huge decisions to make and will be in a position with little room for error during the draft. Still, this team still has quite a strong core of talent in place, nonetheless.
Washington was the only team in the NFC East with a worse final record than the Giants. Like Dallas, the Redskins will have a new man in charge in Ron Rivera, who should bring stability this organization. Like McCarthy, Rivera knows how to win games in this league. Like the Eagles, Washington is also about middle of the road with its spending ability.
Dwayne Haskins should now be entrenched as the Redskins starting quarterback. His offensive supporting cast is very questionable and it seems probable that Washington uses the second pick overall Chase Young, which could give this team an outstanding young defensive front but isn’t real useful for making Haskins’ life easier. Washington also no longer has their very early second-round pick in this upcoming draft, as they moved it to obtain Montez Sweat last year. Compounding matters even further, Brandon Scherff is a free agent that will demand big money and the Redskins relationship with their best offensive lineman, Trent Williams, is rocky at best. Williams may not play for Washington again and his very short-term replacement, 37-year-old Donald Penn, also has an expiring contract. Besides these offensive linemen and Case Keenum, who Washington might not even be interested in paying, the Redskins have little in the way of important free agents to deal with. Outside of running back and quarterback, the Redskins basically need a dosage of everything on offense. Terry McLaurin looks like a potential star in the NFL, but the rest of the tight end and receiver playmakers are truly lacking.
Washington’s defensive front should be exceptional, but the Redskins could really use a cornerback to replace Josh Norman, who is likely to be a salary cap casualty. Adding an amazing prospect like Young could really help this organization and he and Haskins, both former Ohio State Buckeyes, could be the foundation of this team for years. But it is unlikely that Washington can greatly improve its offensive personnel in just one offseason. Maybe the smart move after taking Sweat last year is to move the second pick in the draft for a ransom and allow Rivera to really put his stamp on this team and bolster several areas of this troubled roster.