Though nothing is as newsworthy as what has happened to professional sports leagues around the country this week, we aim to provide some sense of normalcy with this week’s NFC East notebook.
And what is more normal than starting with the never-ending saga of Trent Williams?
Rumors circulating the fate of the seven-time Pro Bowler continue to spread the same way Tua Tagovailoa gossip disseminated just weeks ago. In last week’s notebook, we talked about how the Washington Redskins had finally given Williams permission to request a trade - something Williams has wanted for about a year now since he expressed his discontent with the Redskins medical staff in failing to properly treat a cancerous growth on his head. But Williams has proven to be difficult to get rid of.
Multiple sources have revealed that Williams wants to be the highest-paid offensive tackle in the NFL, which would mean making more than $20 million per year. The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets are reportedly interested in potentially pursuing a trade for Williams, among others teams.
The problem is that the Redskins want to get a valuable return for Williams so whichever team pursues the star pass rusher has to be willing to sacrifice at least one or two second-round draft picks (because I do not think the Redskins will get a first-rounder) and the millions of dollars that Williams is demanding. That’s a lot to ask of any team, particularly for a player who has not played in a year and has not played a full 16-game season in six years.
Williams will not leave Washington easily, though that really should not be a surprise given how the last year has played out.
In other news ...
The NFL announced schedule updates this week for important dates moving forward.
Saturday, March 14 at 11:59 p.m. EST: Deadline for players to vote on proposed CBA
Monday, March 16 at 11:59 a.m. EST: Deadline to apply a franchise or transition tag
Monday, March 16 at noon EST: Legal tampering window opens
Wednesday, March 18 at 4 p.m. EST: Free agency begins
Yes, the new deadline to apply a franchise or transition tag is just hours before the NFL’s legal tampering window begins. No pressure at all.
The previous deadline to vote on the proposed CBA was Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The CBA is 456 pages long and players are not allowed to change their votes. The current CBA will expire after the 2020 season. If the CBA is not approved, teams can use franchise and transition tags in 2020. The deadline for the franchise tags was changed so teams would not have to use both tags and then rescind one, if the new CBA is passed.
The tag deadline was moved in reaction to the NFL Player’s Association’s decision to move the deadline to voting on the new CBA from Thursday to Saturday, allowing teams to know whether the new proposed CBA has passed before they decided how to move forward.
The past week has also been the week in which teams are awarded compensatory picks by the NFL, finalizing the 2020 NFL Draft order. There are just 32 compensatory picks awarded each year. Teams receive compensatory picks if they lost more compensatory-level free agents than they gained in the previous offseason.
Let’s dive into how many picks each team received and other news surrounding the NFC East.
The extension of the franchise and transition tag deadlines probably affects the Cowboys more than any other team in the conference as Dallas is still determining how to move forward with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Dallas is particularly invested because it wants to be able to use both tags. If the new CBA passes, the Cowboys will only be able to use one franchise tag designation this offseason (either a franchise tag or a transition tag). If the CBA does not pass, then the Cowboys can use both.
The top priority for Dallas is, of course, keeping Prescott. So if the Cowboys wind up having only one tag available, then it will go their franchise quarterback. All the more reason to try to lock down a contract with Cooper sooner rather than later in case the Cowboys are forced to send their star wide receiver to the open market.
This is probably why there were reports this past week that conversations have heated up between the Cowboys and Cooper, suggesting that a Cooper deal might come before a Prescott one.
There are also rumors circulating about Prescott’s contract demands. It appears that Prescott wants a shorter deal (specifically, a four-year contract) so he can cash in soon, while Dallas prefers to have him signed on with the organization for the foreseeable future.
The debate surrounding how much to pay Prescott centers on the fact that the 26-year-old quarterback has yet to win a Super Bowl. He is coming off a career season in which he recorded 4,902 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. But Dallas, of course, failed to even make the playoffs down the stretch in 2019.
We know that the Cowboys want to keep Prescott in whatever way is possible, so perhaps both sides will be able to strike a compromise before the tag deadline approaches.
As far as compensatory picks, the Cowboys joined the Denver Broncos as the only teams granted fifth-round picks. The Cowboys received their pick for Cole Beasley, which, considering he was an undrafted free agent, is a good deal for Dallas.
The Cowboys now have seven picks to work with throughout the draft.
The Redskins received one compensatory draft pick and will now have seven picks in total. Washington was awarded a fourth-round pick for Jamison Crowder, who signed with the New York Jets last year. They would have probably received a seventh-round pick for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix but the Redskins failed to cut Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie before he got injured.
Because Washington traded its second-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts last year to trade back into the first round to draft Montez Sweat, it is without a second-round pick right now. If the Redskins can’t trade back and manage to pick up another first or second round pick, they would not pick again until No. 66 in the third round.
As far as the franchise tag window, the Redskins have gained a little more time to determine what to do with guard Brandon Scherff. Both parties have been trying, and apparently failing, to negotiate a deal. But as time winds down closer to the deadline, it appears that the Redskins will be forced to use their franchise tag to keep Scherff.
The Eagles, meanwhile, received three compensatory picks for this year’s draft. They were awarded a third-round pick for losing Nick Foles, a fourth-round pick for losing Jordan Hicks and another fourth-rounder for Golden Tate.
That brings their total picks in the 2020 draft up to 10, tying them with the New York Giants with the most picks in the division.
It is particularly crucial for the Eagles to have more picks in the draft this year after making the fewest draft selections in the league (10) over the past two years. The pressure is on the Eagles administration to makes these picks count. Philadelphia is not expected to add compensatory picks in next year’s 2021 NFL Draft because the Eagles have roster spots to fill and plenty of cap space to spend on free agent acquisition in the offseason. That being said, expectations are high for GM Howie Roseman to help field a team that will be able to compete in the playoffs next season.