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NFC East Notebook: Washington Football Team name, Dallas’ defense and Joe Flacco’s homecoming

Here are the headlines from around the division this week

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Football Team Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

As free agency drama slowly begins to die down, the Washington Football team can always be relied on to make headlines.

Last offseason, amidst growing pressure to change its name, the Football Team’s three minority owners expressed desire to sell their stakes in the team. It was a dragged out process that never amounted to much beyond contentious back-and-forth between the minority owners and majority owner Daniel Snyder. Then this week, the NFL’s finance committee cleared the way for Snyder to buy out his minority owners, essentially giving him almost complete control of the team.

The committee reportedly approved Snyder’s application for a $450 million debt waiver. The other NFL owners will vote at the league’s annual meeting next week on whether to approve the deal. Snyder needs 24 of the 32 owners to vote in his favor for the transaction to be approved. Snyder would have until 2028 to pay off the remaining shares.

If the deal goes through, Snyder would buy another 40.5 percent of shares in the organization from minority owners Fred Smith, Robert Rothman and Dwight Schar. Snyder currently own 40.59 percent of the team, while his mother and sister own 6.5 percent and 12.55 percent, respectively. The entire Football Team would therefore be in the Snyder name if the transaction is approved.

That is the part of the deal worth focusing on.

While this transaction process is underway, the NFL is still investigating the Washington Football Team for the various sexual harassment allegations that have been brought against the team since the publication of numerous Washington Post stories last summer. Together, the articles detailed the allegations of up to 40 women, many of whom were former female employees and two of which were female reporters covering the team. The allegations spanned 15 years.

An NFL spokesman says the Snyder sale and the Beth Wilkinson report are “two separate matters,” and adds that “the Wilkinson review is ongoing.” Wilkinson is the attorney hired by the NFL to conduct the investigation into the Football Team.

It is therefore fair to wonder how the NFL could approve such a consolidation of power while Snyder and the team are under investigation. Allowing Snyder to buy out the team before knowing the outcome of the investigations essentially renders the findings of that investigation meaningless.

It’s a strange look for the NFL especially because Snyder’s qualification as an owner have been called into doubt since the allegations surfaced last summer. In an entirely separate allegation, Washington settled a sexual misconduct claim against Snyder for $1.6 million back in December.

Below is ESPN analyst Mina Kimes’ reaction following that settlement:

“My reaction is pretty simple, I don’t know why this person owns an NFL team...But Daniel Snyder, a person with real power, probably won’t face consequences for his disastrous stewardship of this team. Disastrous. And it’s a shame because they are having a great season, they have new people involved in the organization. The players and fans all deserve better than Dan Snyder.”

Her words still ring true. Though it appears increasingly unlikely that the NFL is going to do anything about it.

Now let’s check out the other headlines from around the division from this past week.

Dallas Cowboys

As free agency continues, the Cowboys serve as a reminder that sometimes doing nothing is just as important as doing something.

The Cowboys informed defensive end Aldon Smith earlier this week that they will be moving in a different direction. Smith signed a one-year deal with Dallas at the start of last season and is now an unrestricted free agent. The pass rusher came got off to a hot start in 2020, recording four sacks in three games. But he was not as impactful the rest of the season, tallying just one sack.

Dallas recently signed DE Tarell Basham, who will join DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Dorance Armstrong in the group of defensive end candidates.

The Cowboys also announced this week that they signed safety Jayron Kearse to a one-year contract. The team is reportedly still on the hunt for others.

These signings are important because they illustrate the Cowboys’ shift in focus to the defense in the wake of the Dak Prescott signing. Considering Dallas already had a strong offense last season before Prescott went down, improving the defense will only make them a more well-rounded team overall.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles added another quarterback to their arsenal when they signed Joe Flacco, who is from New Jersey, to a one-year contract earlier this week. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie had reportedly already mandated Jalen Hurts as the team starter, making Flacco the backup.

But Flacco is getting paid more than expected. His contract is reportedly worth $3.5 million guaranteed with up to $4 million more in incentives. For comparison’s sake, Flacco’s deal with the New York Jets last season was reportedly worth just $1.5 million. It would have made sense if Flacco made the league minimum but for some reason, his value has gone up. Considering the Eagles are also not in good shape when it comes to their salary cap, Flacco’s contract seems more confusing.

But at 36 years old, Flacco provides veteran experience in the locker room behind Hurts. He has 175 starts over his 13-year career. In those 13 seasons, Flacco has passed for 40,931 yards, which ranks eighth among active quarterbacks, and he has 224 touchdown passes and 144 interceptions.

Of course, after the Eagles surprisingly drafted Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the possibility of them selecting a quarterback in this year’s draft should not be ruled out. Carson Wentz is with the Indianapolis Colts and Nate Sudfeld is a free agent. Philly has 11 picks in this year’s draft, including No. 6 overall. Sudfeld (and Giants fans) know better than anyone how former head coach Doug Pederson seemingly gave up in the team’s final game of the season last year against the Washington Football Team in order to secure that No. 6 spot. I wouldn’t put it past the Eagles - an organization that has tried to pride itself on being a quarterback factory of sorts - to choose a signal caller again this year.

Washington Football Team

In addition to the Dan Snyder news, rumors began to re-circulate this week about the Washington Football Team’s name. Since the team dropped “Redskins” last offseason, “Washington Football Team” was meant to serve as a placeholder.

But team president Jason Wright said this week that “Washington Football Team” will also now strongly be strongly considered in the running for the team’s permanent name. The “Washington Football Team” name will remain through 2021 and a permanent name is due to be announced in time for the 2022 season.

Wright said that there is no leading contender for the name, but he is conscious of the fact that fans have grown to like the “Football Team.”

“There are a set of folks that have warmed to the Washington Football Team,” Wright said. “Some of the things that are emerging from that are the Washington Football Team has something that ties deeply to our history. It feels like that isn’t jettisoning all the things we have been in the past, whereas something that’s completely new might feel that way.

Wright said the team has received 15,000 submissions from 60 countries and six continents about the name name or new logo.

Will WFT be the one that sticks?