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NFC East Notebook: PFF rankings, Bobby Mitchell and Jamal Adams Rumors

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Let’s take a look at the news around the division this week

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Bobby Mitchell - File Photos
Bobby Mitchell

In the midst of the NFL’s dead zone of news, Pro Football Focus came to the rescue. PFF released its 2020 roster rankings for all 32 NFL teams. The Baltimore Ravens took the top spot and the Jacksonville Jaguars were ranked last. The New York Giants are ranked 27th on the list. Let’s start this week’s notebook by looking at where the Giants’ division rivals fell in the PFF rankings.

Predictably, the Dallas Cowboys were ranked No. 6 overall thanks to Dak Prescott and their stellar receiving corps of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb.

“Among the 104 wide receivers to run at least 250 routes in 2019, both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup finished in the top 10 in receiving yards per route run. And now the Cowboys have the FBS leader in yards per route run last season — CeeDee Lamb — after selecting him in the first round of the draft.”

Dallas entered the 2020 NFL Draft needing a cornerback and though Alabama’s Trevon Diggs shows a lot of potential at the NFL level, he will have a hard time filling the shoes of Byron Jones. If Chidobe Awuzie transitions to safety as some offseason whispers suggest, then the depth at the cornerback position becomes even thinner.

The Philadelphia Eagles meanwhile were ranked No. 9 in the PFF rankings. For PFF, the Eagles biggest strengths are at the offensive and defensive lines.

“As a team, they finished the season with PFF’s highest-graded offensive line, and their defensive line ranked fourth behind only the Steelers, 49ers and Rams. The defensive line is a group that should continue to improve with the additions of Javon Hargrave and a healthy Malik Jackson.”

Drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft was as surprising as it was confusing. Philly has prided itself on being a sort of “quarterback factory,” but the decision to draft Hurts seems to only suggest more immediate negatives than positives. Instead of using their No. 53 overall pick to fill a big roster hole such as linebacker, Philly opted to add a player who, in the best case scenario, will not see much playing time any time soon.

The Eagles tried to fill the linebacker hole with their pick in the third round, but in the meantime, players who could have made an immediate impact - like Zack Baun and Logan Wilson - came and went. The Eagles’ eventual pick, Davion Taylor, does not bring a lot of experience to the NFL. Nathan Gerry is poised to be at the top of the depth chart with the most experience but our colleagues at Bleeding Green Nation know that Gerry was one of the worst linebackers in the NFL in 2019, missing 29 percent of his attempted tackles, the third-highest among linebackers with 50 such attempts.

After the Giants at No. 27, the Washington Redskins came in at No. 31 on the PFF rankings. For Washington, their biggest strength is also their greatest weakness.

“Terry McLaurin was a revelation as a rookie last season for the Redskins. His 86.5 receiving grade in 2019 was the best from any rookie wide receiver not named Odell Beckham Jr. in the past decade. You can poke holes at nearly every position on the Redskins’ roster, but WR1 is not one of them.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the Redskins receiving corps is not as strong. Steven Sims Jr. and Kelvin Harmon finished behind McLaurin last season with the top stats among receivers but neither recorded more than 365 yards. Sims hauled in four touchdowns, while Harmon did not record any. Out of the entire mediocre receiving corps on the Redskins, Richard Rogers is the only one to ever record a receiving grade above 70.9 or more than 35 receptions in a season. And that was in 2015.

Now let’s dive into some of the other news around the division this week.

Washington Redskins

In keeping with the same social justice tone as last week, Events DC removed the statue of former owner George Preston Marshall. Under Marshall’s rule, the Redskins were the last team to integrate in the NFL.

Marshall was forced to integrate when Interior Secretary Stewart Udall threatened to not allow Marshall to use the District of Columbia Stadium for games, revoking a newly-signed 30-year lease. The stadium sat on federal land.

The statue was removed on Juneteenth. Then, this past week, the Redskins removed Marshall’s name from the Ring of Fame, their history wall outside the locker room and their website.

The Redskins Ring of Fame encircles the middle level of the stadium. It includes the names of former players, coaches and contributors to Redskins history. Marshall’s name will no longer be on the list.

Here is what Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said about removing Marshall’s name:

“It makes me feel good, because there’s been plenty of times I walked around, and being in DC too, being able to go down to Washington and see all the monuments and things like that. Obviously in different states all over this country you have monuments and buildings and statues that are names after people that owned slaves, people that were racist, were a part of the solution to keep the minorities and the blacks/colored people down. It just shows that God is watching over us, to be able get to a point now where they are removing some of these statues and trying to pave a new way.”

In the midst of these subtractions from Redskins history, the team made an important addition this past week. The day after Marshall’s statue was removed, Washington retired Bobby Mitchell’s number, No. 49. Mitchell’s number is the just the second retired number in the Redskins’ 88-year history alongside three-way player Sammy Baugh. In 1962, Mitchell became the first African American to play for the Redskins under Marshall.

Dallas Cowboys

In Cowboys news, Dak Prescott signed his franchise tender on Monday. Though he is still looking for a long-term contract extension, the singing of the tender ends the threat of a holdout.

At the end of the 2020 season, the Cowboys will have essentially three options when it comes to Prescott.

  1. Tag him again. According to franchise rules, the Cowboys would have to guarantee Prescott $37.7 million, or 120 percent of his current salary.
  2. Sign Prescott to a long-term deal. That contract amount is only likely to go up in the next year due to Patrick Mahomes and/or Deshaun Watson extensions.
  3. Let Prescott walk.

For these reasons, Prescott still has the power in this situation moving forward.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Philly news was relatively quiet this past week in comparison to their NFC East counterparts. But the Eagles, along with the Cowboys, have been tied to some Jamal Adams rumors.

In typical New York Jets news, the Pro-Bowl safety asked New York for a trade last week in an attempt to leverage himself as one of the NFL’s best safeties. The Jets still have time to come to an agreement with Adams or reach a new deal. At 24 years old, Adams is under contract for two more seasons.

Yet if tensions boil too high, Adams and the Jets just might part ways. Enter Philadelphia.

With Malcolm Jenkins leaving in free agency, the Eagles are in need of some help. Converted cornerback Jalen Mills, veteran free agent Will Parks and fourth-round pick K’Von Wallace are not enough to fill Jenkins’ shoes. The salary cap might make this a hard move to pull off but the combination of Adams and Darius Slay would certainly upgrade the Eagles secondary.