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NFC East Notebook: The 17th game and a win for Philly’s Jalen Hurts and WFT’s Dan Snyder

Here are the headlines from around the division from this past week

Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

One more week of football.

The National Football League team owners voted to expand the regular season to 17 games per team at the Annual League Meeting on Tuesday. The preseason schedule has been reduced to three games.

Because of the new format, each team in the NFC East will play their 17th game on the road this season. Here are the opponents for each team:

New York Giants at the Miami Dolphins

Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles at the New York Jets

The four NFC East teams will travel to the AFC East teams that finished in the same position in the standings in 2020. This is why the Football Team is facing what appears to be the most challenging team in their 17th game - because they won the NFC East last season and the Bills won the AFC East.

It’s impossible to know where each NFC East team will be at the end of next season and if these 17th games will matter. For Washington though, playing a team that advanced to the AFC Championship last season in the Bills, might be a good thing because Buffalo may not be playing for anything in Week 17. The Dolphins and Patriots meanwhile, could have a lot riding on that final game and would therefore pose a more challenging matchup to the Giants and Cowboys, respectively.

Though this change in schedule was expected, the significance is likely still sinking in for many. A team will no longer be able to finish the season at .500. Coaches might have to rest players more later in the season in blowout games or games that just don’t matter. Records will get broken and expectations will change. For a running back, a 1,000-yard season might become the standard instead of an achievement.

But the additional game does not come without controversy. The 17th game was included in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. The final vote on that agreement was 1,019 to 959. There are roughly 2,500 players in the player’s union so an estimated 79.1% voted on the CBA. In other words, the vote was close and does not come with the support of all players.

During media availability before Super Bowl LIV, San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman expressed his disapproval of the 17 the game. He said, “It seems like player safety has a price tag.”

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara tweeted the following when the news was announced this week:

The addition of the 17th game makes sense as the NFL is trying to make up for the reportedly $4 billion in lost revenue last season due to the pandemic. Players should eventually make more money in the long-term but until then, what does this mean for the average NFL player who’s career is 2.5 years long?

Let’s dive into the other headlines from around the division from this past week.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles essentially broke the 2021 NFL Draft last week when they became part of a three-team trade with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins.

The Eagles acquired the No. 12 overall pick, a fourth-round pick and a 2022 first-round pick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the No. 6 overall pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick.

Philly still has 11 picks in the draft and is poised to have three first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft (their own, one from Miami (Dolphins’ original pick), and one from Indianapolis (the Carson Wentz trade).

The future is therefore looking pretty bright for the Eagles. In the short term though, the trade is a vote of confidence for Jalen Hurts. Instead of picking a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft, Philly is likely going to give Hurts one season to prove himself. Because if the signal caller falls short, the Eagles are on track to have three first-round picks in next year’s draft in which they could pick a new quarterback.

Hurts, the perpetual underdog, is getting his shot. Mock drafts are now picking Jaylen Waddle to go to the Eagles at No. 12, which would give Hurts an advantage with an elite weapon on offense.

Washington Football Team

We talked in last week’s notebook about owner Daniel Snyder buying out the three minority owners of the Football Team. This week, NFL owners unanimously approved Snyder’s purchase of the remaining 40.5% of the team, according to multiple reports.

Because the remaining minority shares belong to Snyder’s mother and sister, the Football Team is now entirely under the Snyder name for the first time since Snyder purchased the team back in 1999.

The NFL also approved a $450 million debt waiver as well as the $875 million sale. Snyder bought out his three minority owners, Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman, who purchased their stakes in the team back in 2003. Snyder will have until 2028 to repay the debt.

Washington remains under investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson - an investigation that began after the Washington Post reported on the sexual allegations of former female employees and two female journalists over a 15-year period.

The attorneys representing at least 20 of the women alleging sexual harassment sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday criticizing him for “an arrangement that leaves Mr. Snyder in a stronger ownership position than before the full extent of this scandal was known.”

Dallas Cowboys

Things were quieter in Dallas this past week in comparison to their NFC East counterparts.

Longtime defensive end Tyrone Crawford officially announced his retirement in a heartfelt message on social media. He played with the Cowboys for nine seasons after being drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Boise State.

Under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the Cowboys’ focus has certainly shifted to the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Last Thursday, it was reported that Dallas signed safety Damontae Kazee and this week we learned that former Cowboys safety Xavier Woods is headed to the Minnesota Vikings.

Safety remains an area of concern for Dallas as well as the cornerback position, particularly because the Cowboys gave up 34 passing touchdowns last season. Todd McShay’s latest mock draft had the Cowboys selecting cornerback Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina with the No. 10 overall pick. Whether it’s Horn or someone else, look for Dallas to upgrade the cornerback position opposite Trevon Diggs.