Giants actually add Josh Freeman

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
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Even after we spent the past couple of days discussing it here, and even after Matt Flynn went back to Green Bay and left Josh Freeman as the last man standing in the New York Giants' search for an extra quarterback for the offseason, it was still hard to believe it would happen. Freeman washed out of two organizations last year, and the one game he played for the Vikings after the Buccaneers cut him was hardly a helpful audition. You'll remember that "Monday Night Football" fiasco as the Giants' first victory of the season, and the fact Freeman obviously wasn't at all prepared to play in the game was the main reason they were able to stop their losing streak.

Freeman
But they did it. The Giants have in fact agreed to terms with Freeman on a one-year deal, which means he'll likely be in the building next week when they start their offseason program and will be a candidate to take some of the snaps in OTAs and minicamp if starting quarterback Eli Manning's recovery from ankle surgery takes longer than expected.

I guess, if he shows something, Freeman could beat out Curtis Painter for the backup quarterback job. That assumes second-year project Ryan Nassib can't get into that mix, but given the level of his competition I don't know why he couldn't.

I know there isn't much out there on the quarterback market, and that Freeman was the best and most experienced of the candidates once Manning had surgery last week, and the Giants decided they needed to add a reserve quarterback. But if Freeman is on the 2014 Giants, I can't see how that helps them. Nothing we've heard about Freeman over the past year has indicated he'd be a useful backup. And while I'm willing to give him a pass for his ugly exit from Tampa Bay because I believe loony former Bucs coach Greg Schiano to have been at least as much at fault for their conflict as Freeman, it says a lot that he couldn't beat out Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder for playing time after the Vikings signed him in October. It also says a lot that this week was the first time any sort of market materialized for Freeman this offseason, given the state of the quarterback market.

So if you think Freeman is going to be some sort of diamond-in-the-rough signing for the Giants, or that having him on the team makes them better prepared to weather a potential Manning absence than they were yesterday, I'm going to take the opposite point of view. The best thing you can say about this move is that it probably can't hurt. But if the addition of Freeman has any impact on the Giants' 2014 season, they're in trouble.
The Dallas Cowboys have three quarterbacks on their roster and expect to keep it that way when the 2014 regular season begins.

However, it doesn’t mean the Cowboys won’t look at some quarterbacks.

Team officials are in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday looking at University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Among the officials in attendance is Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson.

Murray
There is no expectation the Cowboys will draft Murray in the later rounds of next month’s draft, but the team is doing its due diligence, much like it did two years ago with Brandon Weeden.

When Weeden was entering the draft from Oklahoma State, Cowboys officials met with him and kept watch from afar. After Weeden was released by the Cleveland Browns this spring, the Cowboys jumped at the chance to sign him because they had done the research necessary to make a move.

With the amount of money invested in starting quarterback Tony Romo and backup Kyle Orton, the team isn't trying to draft a quarterback in the first two rounds. Finding a future replacement for Romo isn't a high priority, but they are looking for a quality young backup. Though Weeden is 30, he has only two years of NFL experience, so that justifies the Cowboys signing him.

Also, the Cowboys are expected to void out the last few years of Orton's contract, making him a free agent after the 2014 season.

Murray is projected as a middle-round draft selection, but ESPN’s Jon Gruden was impressed with him.

Gruden said Murray, who is fully recovered after tearing his ACL in his left knee last November, has deep-ball accuracy, good touch on the ball and will be “the steal for somebody” in the draft. Cowboys' officials aren't in love with Murray's height, 6-1, but they believe he's got a strong enough arm to make the necessary throws in the NFL.

Murray is the all-time leading passer in SEC history and holds the school record with 121 career touchdowns.

The Cowboys haven’t met with any of the top quarterbacks at Valley Ranch during their 30 pre-draft visits. It could be a smoke screen, or the simple fact the team isn’t drafting a quarterback.

Team officials are quite familiar with all the top quarterbacks, and their closer look at Murray might not mean anything now, but could be something for the future.
Malcolm Jenkins only echoed what others have said about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. And the new Philadelphia Eagles safety didn't question Griffin's game, but, rather his ability to stay healthy. At this point, it's a fair topic. Of course, maybe it's not one a player new to the division might want to address. But then again, it was tame compared to his thoughts on the Dallas defense.

Jenkins
When Jenkins appeared on the NFL Network, he discussed the other three teams in the NFC East. He took a shot at Dallas' defense, as well as the New York Giants' ability to protect Eli Manning. Here's what he had to say about Griffin:
"I think the biggest thing we're going to see is [Robert Griffin III] take that next step as far as the cerebral approach to the game. But the biggest concern I have with RG3 is, will he protect himself? And that's a thing he hasn't done early in his career.

"He scrambles, he gets those extra yards, he makes those throws out of the pocket, but takes a lot of unnecessary hits. We've seen the toll that has had on him.

“Last year he really wasn't himself, still trying to recover from that injury. Those kind of hits, when you talk about a QB, it's all about accountability and availability. He's very very accountable, but availability is going to be an issue if he continues to play the style of football that he's used to."

Jenkins isn't the first opponent to wonder about Griffin's durability or his health. In the past year, several players did just that, including Dallas corner Brandon Carr, San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks and New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle among them.

But Jenkins is new to the division and his yapping does two things: endear him to Eagles beat reporters and mark him as a target for other teams. With Griffin, there's only one way to prove Jenkins and many others wrong. He needs to stay healthy; it's not about one game or one throw, it's about a season and then a string of them. And Jenkins didn't knock his game, just questioned his durability.

Dallas' defense might feel a little differently about Jenkins. But when a defense ends the season ranked 32nd in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed, and then loses its best pass-rushers (Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware), well, it leaves little room for anything but criticism. So here's what Jenkins said:
“A couple years ago, their scapegoat was Rob Ryan, and they got rid of him, and he was the cause of all their problems. He went to New Orleans and took the worst defense in NFL history and turned them into a top 5 defense. So he couldn't have been the problem.

“And then you look at this year, I had the best seat in the house when I watched the Saints get 40 first downs in one game. Forty. In one game. So it must be the players.”

And then Eli Manning was the topic. Again, good, honest stuff.
"I think the problem is he was sacked 39 times, a career high last year. If that continues, Eli's best days are behind him. If they can protect him, then maybe, but it doesn't look like it."

When Jenkins played for Ohio State (my alma mater, as you might know), I preferred that he keep quiet. Typically his game spoke volumes. In the NFL, he's been up and down, but there's no doubt he now has a role as a future analyst. As a reporter, I'll never knock a guy for giving an honest opinion. Sort of helps the job, you know?
Last week I broke down the Redskins' salary cap by position and how it compared to the rest of the NFL. This is one more extension of that so you can see how the Redskins' top cap hit compares to the five biggest cap hits at each position. For the most part, the Redskins have more bargains offensively in part because they've found younger contributors through the draft or they landed players such as DeSean Jackson after they'd been cut, thereby lowering their price. The Redskins have only one player who will count among the top five at their position in 2014 -- left tackle Trent Williams.

Quarterback

NFL's top five cap hits

Eli Manning, New York Giants, $20,400,000

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh, $18,895,000

Jay Cutler, Chicago, $18,500,000

Drew Brees, New Orleans, $18,400,000

Sam Bradford, St. Louis, $17,610,000

Redskins top cap hit

Griffin
Robert Griffin III $5,759,754 (19th overall)

Summing it up: St. Louis is paying the price for a since-changed system when it comes to rookie contracts -- and the Redskins clearly have benefited. There’s little chance anyone would think Bradford is worth as much as his 2014 cap number. Manning has regressed the past two seasons, for whatever reason, and needed ankle surgery this offseason. Roethlisberger is excellent and Brees remains a top-five quarterback. But Cutler is an example of a guy who is being paid because of the position he plays. He's been a good quarterback, but it's tough to say he's been great. He's definitely not a top-five guy. The Redskins have Griffin at a lower cost the next two seasons and then, if he plays as they hope, his number will skyrocket.

Receiver

NFL's top five cap hits

Mike Wallace, Miami, $17,250,000

Andre Johnson, Houston, $15,644,583

Percy Harvin, Seattle, $13,400,000

Calvin Johnson, Detroit, $13,058,000

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay, $12,432,000

Redskins top cap hit

Garcon
Garcon
Pierre Garcon $9,700,000 (seventh overall)

Summing it up: The top two at this position certainly didn't outperform Garcon, who led the NFL with 113 catches. Garcon only caught five touchdown passes, but that matches what Wallace and Andre Johnson did as well. Harvin played just 19 snaps all season. Calvin Johnson caught 84 passes, but 12 went for touchdowns and he averaged 17.8 yards per catch. Jackson caught 78 passes, seven for scores, and averaged 15.7 yards per catch. The Redskins received good value from their top earner at this spot. They have even more invested here now after adding DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. The former will be a major bargain compared to the rest of this group if he puts up numbers similar to last year (82 catches, nine touchdowns, 1,332 yards. But keep in mind in his first five years Jackson averaged 54.8 catches, 4.6 touchdowns and 957 yards per season).

Running back

NFL's top five cap hits

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, $14,400,000

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia, $9,700,000

Ray Rice, Baltimore, $8,750,000

Arian Foster, Houston, $8,300,000

Matt Forte, Chicago, $7,900,000

Redskins top cap hit

Helu
Roy Helu $1,548,563 (38th overall)

Summing it up: Peterson and McCoy are two of the most dangerous offensive players in the NFL and are difference-makers. But what's also clear is why teams don't like to shell out huge money for running backs. Washington’s Alfred Morris, who is 93rd on the list of running backs when it comes to 2014 cap figures ($600,775), was as productive running the ball as Peterson. Morris ran for 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards a carry. Peterson rushed for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per rush. Rice ran for 660 yards in 15 games, averaging 3.1 yards on 214 carries. Foster only played in eight games. Forte is an excellent all-around back and was productive. But the Redskins are fortunate they won’t have to shell out more money here for two more years.

Offensive line

NFL's top five cap hits

LT Joe Thomas, Cleveland, $12,300,000

LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets, $11,698,666

LT Russell Okung, Seattle, $11,240,000

G Jahri Evans, New Orleans, $11,000,000

LT Trent Williams, Washington, $10,980,393

Redskins top cap hit

Britt
Williams
Williams

Summing it up: Williams is one of the games best tackles so for him to be in this group makes sense. He could be more consistent and avoid the clunker game, but overall Williams has proven himself and earned two Pro Bowl trips. I'd have a hard time paying a guard as much as Evans, but at least he's an elite player with five consecutive All-Pro nods (in addition to five straight Pro Bowl berths). Okung, drafted one spot after Williams in 2010, has missed 19 games in his career and made one Pro Bowl team. Williams has played in every game the past two seasons. Because of his athleticism, the Redskins can use him differently than other teams use their tackles.

Tight end

NFL's top five cap hits

Jason Witten, Dallas, $8,412,000

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville, $8,250,000

Greg Olsen, Carolina, $7,800,000

Antonio Gates, San Diego, $7,362,500

Vernon Davis, San Francisco, $7,342,916

Redskins top cap hit

Paulsen
Logan Paulsen $2,236,666 (21st overall)

Summing it up: Yet another position where the Redskins have a bargain for a few more seasons. This isn’t about how Paulsen stacks up, but really about Jordan Reed. If he can stay healthy, this will be the company he keeps statistically. I love watching Davis because of the matchup headaches he causes based on his athleticism. It’s the same with Reed. Marcedes Lewis has had a nice eight-year career and is an excellent blocker, but No. 2 on this list? He has 25 career touchdown catches, but 10 came in one season. The others are proven pass threats. Of course, this list will change once Jimmy Graham's situation is settled with New Orleans.

How well do the Giants pay?

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
12:00
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A look at the ESPN The Magazine/Sportingintelligence Global Salary Survey shows that NFL teams don't pay their players very much, at least compared with teams in other sports leagues around the world. This list ranks all of the professional sports teams in the world by average salary per player, and you'll see that the New York Giants this year came in at No. 139 worldwide with an average of $2,089,848 per player. That figure ranks the Giants 12th among NFL teams, just behind the Cincinnati Bengals and just ahead of the San Francisco 49ers. But the highest-ranking NFL team on this list (the Minnesota Vikings) ranks just 115th in the world in terms of average salary per player.

You can see an explanation of the methodology used to assemble this list here, and this here is a link to some charts showing the top-paid athletes in the world overall and by sport. Giants quarterback Eli Manning no longer ranks among the 10 highest-paid players in the NFL.
IRVING, Texas -- In a recent ranking of sports franchises, the Dallas Cowboys had the highest value of any NFL team, checking in at $2.3 billion.

The Cowboys doled out an average yearly salary of $1.875 million in 2013, which ranked 156th among 294 teams in 15 leagues in seven sports across the globe, according to the survey done by ESPN The Magazine/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey.

The Cowboys were 21st among NFL teams in average yearly salary. The Seattle Seahawks were No. 1 at $2.303 million, which was 116th in the overall survey. The Cowboys ranked just below Southampton ($1.893 million) of the English Premier League and just ahead of the NHL's Florida Panthers ($1.850 million).

For the NFL teams, large rosters combined with many players making the league minimum (based on years accrued) led to the lower average annual salaries. Manchester City of the EPL checked in at No. 1 overall at $8.109 million, ahead of the New York Yankees ($8.031 million).

Of the top 25 highest-paid athletes in the world, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo checked in at No. 14 at $26.5 million thanks to the six-year, $108 million extension he signed last offseason that included a $25 million signing bonus.

Romo fit between Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton ($27.5 million each) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney ($26 million).
Will McClayAP Photo/James D SmithAssistant director of player personnel Will McClay, 47, will be an asset to the Cowboys in May's draft.
IRVING, Texas -- There is a Herm Edwards story that keeps coming back to Will McClay, especially now.

The story is from more than 10 years ago, when Edwards was coach of the New York Jets. As a boy, Edwards' father made him sweep the back patio of their house. When Edwards was done, his father went out back, saw the pile his son made and immediately went to the corners. They were untouched.

The message that stuck with McClay when he first heard the story was simple: Details matter.

In his current job as the Dallas Cowboys' assistant director of player personnel, McClay is sweeping the corners.

In this case, sweeping the corners is looking anywhere and everywhere for a player to help the Cowboys in next month's draft. This is McClay's first as the Cowboys' highest-ranked personnel chief not named Jones.

"He's there night and day," said McClay's former Arena Football League assistant and confidante Terry Gray. "He's got a relentless passion to provide Mr. [Jerry] Jones and Stephen [Jones] the very best product available within the means and the parameters of what he's able to work with. He's nonstop. Nonstop. He doesn't sleep a whole lot."

There will be time to sleep after the draft. Maybe McClay, 47, can sneak in a little bit in June after the minicamp ends but before training camp in Oxnard, Calif., begins in late July.

For now, sleep can wait. McClay, whom the Cowboys declined to make available for this story, is in charge of putting the Cowboys' draft room together. It is a painstaking process that takes months to go through but picks up its pace in the final few weeks before the Cowboys pick No. 16 overall in the first round on May 8.

This week, nearly 30 players from across the country will visit Valley Ranch, wrapping up on Wednesday. On Thursday, the club will host its Dallas Day workouts for the local draft prospects. When it is all over, McClay and the scouting department will be back in the office grinding away, sweeping the corners.

McClay's rise to this current position has taken him through the Arena Football League as a player and coach, the defunct XFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was the assistant director of pro scouting. He joined the Cowboys organization in 2002 as defensive coordinator of the AFL's Dallas Desperados and became the head coach in 2004. He also served as a pro scout for the Cowboys, and in 2012 he was named the director of football research. Last spring he was promoted to his current title.

"Everything equates in looking at talent," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "He found some really unique guys in the arena league and then of course when he was back in scouting. He has had a passion for it, and it just seems like every step of the way he's done a good job for us. I commend him on the job he did finding guys like [George] Selvie and [Nick] Hayden, people like that. People that everybody had a shot at, but he brought them in."

Over the past few years, the Cowboys have found several prizes in street free agency in Laurent Robinson, Tony Fiammetta, Eric Frampton, Ernie Sims and Selvie, who had seven sacks last season. The Cowboys dressed 20 different defensive linemen in 2013.

McClay spent most of the season sweeping the corners for defensive linemen. And he was doing it long before he ever heard Edwards' tale. He did it at Houston Marian Christian, playing wide receiver as a freshman and quarterback as a senior to win Class 3A state titles in the Texas Christian Interscholastic League in 1981 and ‘84.

His high school coach, Mike Treybig, remembers walking into his office only to see McClay feeding the 16-millimeter film into the projector.

"

He found some really unique guys in the arena league and then of course when he was back in scouting. He has had a passion for it, and it just seems like every step of the way he's done a good job for us.

" -- Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones on assistant director of player personnel William McClay
"William liked watching tape," Treybig said. "I would imagine he would've loved it if we let him call his own plays. I know there were times we allowed him to do that. He was definitely a student of the game. We didn't have to worry about a lot of stuff when it came to William. We knew he did his homework and would take care of things to give us the best chance to win on that Friday."

McClay could have gone to Nebraska, but he chose Rice instead to stay close to home and played defensive back. He was recruited there by Mike Nolan, the current defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Tyrone Willingham, the former head coach at Notre Dame and Stanford, was the receivers coach at the time.

He remembers questions from McClay about what receivers looked for, searching for ways to get better as a defender even if the wins did not come as much as the Owls would have liked. Willingham and McClay remain close to this day.

"I'm personally excited for the individual, but I'm more excited for the organization because they did not let talent, for one reason or another, slip through the cracks," Willingham said. "That, to me, is so important because when you have talent you want to let it rise to the top to better everyone else in the organization."

Clint Dolezel played two years at East Texas State, throwing for 3,152 yards and 22 touchdown passes. McClay was defensive coordinator with a hand in personnel for the Milwaukee Mustangs in 1995 when Dolezel was recommended and eventually signed.

By the time Dolezel retired in 2008 with the Desperados with McClay as his head coach, he threw for 44,563 yards and 931 touchdowns.

"So many scouts get caught up in the fact, ‘Well, we want him because he went to this big school,'" said Dolezel, now the head coach of the AFL's Philadelphia Soul. "And a lot of times they're right, but those are the no-brainers that no one is pointing a finger at if he doesn't pan out. Hey, he had the pedigree because he went to Texas or Oklahoma or Florida State or Alabama. The good ones find the ones at East Texas State and schools like that."

In his interview with the Jaguars, Tom Coughlin had McClay research a particular free-agent cornerback the team was high on and wanted to sign. McClay watched the tape and concluded that the player would not be worth the money or fit in the system. Coughlin briefly objected, but McClay held firm. He got the job, and the Jaguars did not sign the player.

"There is not a magic formula," Gray said. "It's just good, old-fashioned bust-your-ass hard work and lots and lots of tape. Lots of calls. Lots of research. Just looking at thousands of players until you find one you think fits for you. He's just got a very unique way knowing a football player when he sees one. That's commonly described by a lot of people, but he just knows it at a different level. It's more than just everybody saying, ‘He can't play.' It's Will finding guys that can play that no one considered.

"Will McClay is a machine. He's a film-watching, evaluating, researching machine. He just never stops and he will never stop."

There always will be corners to sweep.
Depending on who you talked to, receiver DeSean Jackson missing the first week of voluntary workouts was either no big deal or the greatest sin committed in some time.

But all is fine now. Jackson showed up for the start of Week 2 of the workouts, with the Redskins tweeting a picture of him in the weight room.


I didn't have a big problem with him missing the first week, mainly because he told the Redskins before he signed about a previously scheduled trip. Yes, there are some who say it would have been a good move for him in terms of public perception had he cancelled his trip and showed up last week. Maybe they're right. One agent said Jackson could have recouped the money he lost from a cancelled trip by working it into this contract.

But I don't think most players will care a whole lot whether or not Jackson missed last week. Most will understand: the trip was scheduled when he played for a team that didn't have to report until April 21. In fact, the agent I spoke with said his Redskins client did not care at all about Jackson's absence.

For the first two weeks of the voluntary sessions, players aren't permitted to do more than just weight training and conditioning. But quarterbacks and receivers can throw (with no defenders). It's a good time for Jackson to start building a rapport with quarterback Robert Griffin III, which is obviously important. So, sure, it would have been nice.

The key for Jackson, though, will be how he handles the workouts going forward. If he takes them seriously and works hard? The players will embrace him. His situation is different because of the circumstances surrounding his release from Philadelphia and more eyes will be focused on him. Maybe he doesn't care. But the eyes he should care about are those of his teammates. And if it matters to him, he'll have a strong spring. If that's the case, they'll be looking forward to the start of training camp -- and not looking back on the first week of voluntary workouts.
In the wake of the surgery quarterback Eli Manning had on his ankle last week, the New York Giants are bringing in some veteran quarterbacks to have a look at them. Manning is hoping to be able to run by the end of May, and if that's the case he should be fine for the start of the team's offseason practices. But in case his recovery takes longer than expected -- or in case he's not able to participate in May and June drills to the extent he normally does -- the Giants know they may need a quarterback who can take some of the reps he has to miss.

Flynn
Flynn
Freeman
To that end, the Giants will host former Buccaneers and Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman and former Packers quarterback Matt Flynn for visits Tuesday. There's a chance they could sign one of them. There's also a chance they could send them both home and either keep looking or just decide to stick with their current backups, Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib. The Giants' preference would be that this all ends up unnecessary -- that Manning is fine in time for OTAs and they don't need Freeman, Flynn or any other outside help at quarterback. But there's no harm in looking, and there is plenty of potential harm in bring unprepared.

If I had to guess, I'd predict they sign Flynn. Freeman is the better player, the better athlete and the more accomplished NFL player, but Flynn worked with new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in Green Bay from 2008-11 and again last year. And Freeman is coming off a bad year in which questions surfaced about his off-field preparation habits. If the Giants were looking for someone to play games at quarterback for them, Freeman might make more sense. But if all they're looking for is a willing backup who'll take whatever reps come his way for however long Manning has to sit out, Flynn is probably the safer play. But we'll see. You might have an answer by this time Tuesday.

Redskins hope for 'double whammy'

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
12:30
PM ET
It's supposed to provide a boost to themselves and hurt a division rival at the same time. That's the benefit of signing a player from a team in your own division. The Redskins have done so in the past; they did it again this offseason -- twice.

First they landed defensive lineman Jason Hatcher, taking him away from Dallas. Then it was receiver DeSean Jackson from Philadelphia.

Hatcher
Hatcher
Jackson
"It's always great to go to a division rival and take someone from their roster that was big for them and bring it to your own team," Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield said. "That's almost a double whammy on their part."

How much does it really help or hurt? New York adequately replaced Cofield and won a Super Bowl in his first season with Washington. But the Giants' defense did fall in terms of effectiveness after he left, falling from 17th in points allowed his last season there to 25th the following year. Many reasons could explain that tumble and the Giants did rank 12th in points allowed in 2012. They survived the loss of a player to a division rival.

But consider that during Cofield's time in Washington, the Redskins steadily improved against the run while the Giants temporarily declined in this area. The Redskins went from allowing 4.6 yards per carry before Cofield arrived to 4.3 then 4.22 and finally 3.99 this past season. New York took an initial dip going from 4.16 yards per carry in his last season with the Giants to 4.46 and 4.6 in its first two seasons without him before rebounding this past season at 3.84.

Cofield has been a solid player for Washington, but its defense clearly needs more. The Redskins ranked 21st in points allowed the year before his arrival and have gone 21st, 22nd and 31st in points allowed with him. He has not emerged as the NFL's best nose tackle as the Redskins had once predicted.

And I use Cofield as an example more than Stephen Bowen, also signed from a division rival, because he was a full-time starter for all of his five seasons in New York. The most Bowen had started was nine games in 2010 for Dallas.

And the overall point is: They survived the loss of a player to a division rival. But the other point is: Cofield did help the Redskins' defense.

And 20 of his 95 tackles in Washington have occurred in six games against the Giants. That's 21.1 percent of his tackles during his 48 games with the Redskins. Yeah, those games probably meant something more. For Bowen, 11 of his 85 tackles -- or 12.9 percent -- and 1.5 of his seven sacks have come in five games against Dallas.

Cofield said playing your former team twice a season definitely matters.

"There's that chip you carry on your shoulder playing against your old team," Cofield said. "It's like playing against your brother in the backyard. You love them, but you want to beat them worse than anybody for bragging rights. Having guys within the division, having that hatred -- not just my feeling for the Giants, but my feeling against the Cowboys and Eagles built over the years. DeSean has feelings in the division that will be strong I'm sure. Playing against teams twice a year, you can't replicate it. So playing a division rival is a positive in many different ways."

The Redskins did not get the double whammy when they obtained quarterback Donovan McNabb from Philadelphia in 2010. Of course, that's exactly what the Eagles got as McNabb struggled, the Redskins went 6-10 in their one season with McNabb under center and they ended up with two draft picks. Oh, and they went 10-6 and made the postseason (but McNabb did win an ugly game in Philly; so he had that going for him). Then again, McNabb's failure eventually led to the Redskins' aggressive pursuit of quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Dallas and Philadelphia both were fine letting Hatcher and Jackson leave. The Cowboys weren't going to re-sign Hatcher and the Eagles cut Jackson. But having them both remain in the division? The Redskins hope they make their former teams pay.
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was in Las Vegas last week talking about why AT&T Stadium is a good place to host the Academy of Country Music Awards.

The $1.2 billion palace has hosted boxing matches, basketball games, football games, bowling events, rodeos and Jones has even hinted about hosting an Olympic-styled swim meet. It’s centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth, and is approximately a 15-minute drive to the airport.

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones
AP Photo/James D. SmithJerry Jones is like most any other NFL owner -- he wants to win and he wants his club to earn money.
During his chat, Jones talked about why his Cowboys are the most popular team in sports.

"As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years,” Jones said. “We have not gone. Yet we're the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 out of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play, and they’re up there at the top and leading."

That comment has led many to believe Jones’ goals have changed, that he doesn’t care about winning anymore and all he wants to do is market his team.

Jones is right, the Cowboys are leaders in TV ratings. And those ratings are why the networks, including ESPN, want his team on late Sunday afternoon games with 80 percent of the country watching. It’s why networks want the Cowboys to play on Sunday nights and Monday nights.

Fans watch.

But it's wrong to think Jones doesn’t care about championships.

That is all he thinks about.

Every day.

While the process is flawed in getting a fourth championship ring on his finger, his commitment is stronger than ever.

Jones is committed to coach Jason Garrett -- for at least one more season -- and he feels Garrett can take his franchise on a deep playoff run.

Jones isn't one of those owners afraid to spend money. He's given huge contracts to Miles Austin, Jeremiah Ratliff, Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware over the years. He believed those players could help him win a championship.

This offseason, Garrett talked about the Cowboys needing to get younger, which produced questions regarding a rebuilding effort at Valley Ranch.

Jones said you don’t rebuild with Romo at quarterback. Retool, maybe, but not rebuild.

The Cowboys expect to reach the postseason every season. But the reality is they missed out by losing in the regular-season finale in each of the past three seasons.

Jones felt the sting of those losses and tried to fix the franchise each offseason, whether that meant firing assistant coaches, releasing top players or changing the duties of coaches and front office personnel.

He wants to win in the worst way.

You may not like how Jones runs his football business, but don't question the commitment. Jones is being honest about what the Cowboys represent: A popular NFL team that makes money. And let's be honest, that’s what the 31 other NFL owners want from their franchises.

You don't think Robert Kraft wants to make money with the New England Patriots? Of course he does.

Again, the process in which the Cowboys go about their on-the-field business may be flawed, but the way things are going off the field is just fine.

If anything, it’s the best in sports.

Please, don’t get mad at Jones for that.
IRVING, Texas -- Whenever Jerry Jones speaks, you must remember there are two Jerrys.

There is Jerry Jones the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium and countless other business ventures. And there is Jerry Jones the general manager of the Cowboys.

In pumping up the 50th anniversary of the Academy of Country Music Awards that will come to AT&T Stadium next year, Jones had his owner hat on when he said the following:

“As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years. We have not gone. Yet we're the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings, 24 out of the last top 25 shows were NFL games. And any time your Cowboys play, they're up there at the top and leading.”

In other words, the Cowboys are famous for being famous, not for what they actually do. It’s a maddening statistic that Jones always cites. There is nothing incorrect about it, but are the Cowboys popular because they play good football? Their .500 record over the last decade-plus suggests otherwise. Are the Cowboys popular because they are a team others loathe? There is probably some of that, too. Are the Cowboys popular because of the inventive ways they lose and the types of games they play? There is some of that too.

All of it adds up to a ratings bonanza and why the Cowboys, despite their record, will be on national television so much in 2014 when the schedule is released soon.

ESPN NFL columnist Ashley Fox took Jones to task for the comments over the weekend. She didn’t separate Jerry the owner from Jerry the general manager.

Most important is whether Jones can separate the two titles? He is the only owner/general manager in the NFL. Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown doesn’t carry the title even if the final call is his. But Brown does not have the outside business interests of Jones. He is not trying to turn Paul Brown Stadium into a destination spot the way Jones has done with AT&T Stadium.

Of course, Jones also has had to pay off more than $700 million of the stadium since the city of Arlington’s contribution was capped at $325 million.

The sad fact for Cowboys fans is that there is never a clear-cut answer as to whether football is the No. 1 priority when it comes to how Jones operates the team. Jones will say it is and always will be, and there is no doubt he wants to win badly.

However, when Henry Melton made his free-agent visit, Jones was away from Valley Ranch tending to other business interests. Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett handled the visit and Melton signed on with the club. But how many other general managers wouldn’t be on hand when a free agent, especially one as important as Melton, is visiting? It is between none and nil.

When the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened last spring on draft day, Jerry Jones was there for the spectacle. How many other GMs would be there on a draft day? All of the work leading up to the draft was complete by then, but it again leads to questions about the priorities.

When the Cowboys lost 37-36 to the Green Bay Packers last season, Jones was asked on 105.3 The Fan if he worried about fan apathy.

“Not with games like the other day,” Jones said. “That’s a show, if you want to look at it that way.”

How many other GMs would look at it that way? None.

But how the Cowboys have operated this offseason might be the beginning of something different in how Jones separates the owner from the general manager. The Cowboys made difficult decisions on DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Miles Austin. They have eschewed the big-name signings and even the Melton deal is essentially for one year and $3.5 million.

Will they be bold and move way up in the first round? It doesn’t sound like that is in their plans. They could move down and collect more selections, which would be smart. They could take the best player available approach, which would be smart too.

It will be up to Jones the general manager.

Eagles may look to add linebacker depth

April, 14, 2014
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There are so many different ways the Philadelphia Eagles can go when the NFL draft takes place next month.

The Eagles have needs at wide receiver, defensive line and special teams among others.

Barr
They also could look to add some depth at linebacker.

DeMeco Ryans played more than 1,000 snaps last season -- 1,156, to be exact, according to Football Outsiders -- and he's going to be 30 in July. Mychal Kendricks developed into a solid player last season, but adding another piece at linebacker would help.

Montana linebacker Jordie Tripp recently visited the Eagles.

Another interesting name is UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. The 6-foot-5 Barr is a converted running back and he blossomed the last two seasons as he compiled 23.5 sacks for the Bruins.

A pass-rusher like Barr, who could play linebacker, would be a huge upgrade for the Eagles. He would probably need some time to improve as a coverage linebacker, but under coach Chip Kelly, he could definitely thrive immediately.

Barr is not lacking confidence as the draft inches closer.

"I think I am the complete package," Barr told the L.A. Times. "I can help a team right away win football games, playoff games and championships. It's something that I always dreamed about. The teams that do pass on me will regret it."

But Barr also realizes he has work to do.

"I don't think I'm a finished product by any means," Barr told FoxSports.com. "There are a lot of areas that I need to work on and improve on. But I think I've been able to learn over the past two years and to do what I've done says a lot. It just shows that I have a lot of room for improvement and growth and if I continue to work at it the sky is the limit."
As of now, the Dallas Cowboys don't have plans to visit with some of the top quarterbacks coming out for the NFL draft.

You can view this in several ways:

  • The Cowboys are not tipping their hand on which quarterbacks they actually like.
  • Maybe the Cowboys don't like any of the quarterbacks in this draft.
  • The Cowboys are comfortable with the three quarterbacks on their roster -- Tony Romo, Kyle Orton and Brandon Weeden.

Since 2000, the Cowboys have drafted three quarterbacks -- Quincy Carter (2001), Isaiah Stanback (2007) and Stephen McGee (2009).

[+] EnlargeTony Romo and Jerry jones
Richard Rowe/USA TODAY SportsJerry Jones seems to be squeezing as much as he can out of Tony Romo, but the quarterback's title window may already be shut.
Carter became the starter, but his off-field problems knocked him out of the league. Stanback was moved to receiver, and McGee never developed.

In free agency this offseason the Cowboys snagged 2012 first-round pick Weeden, a 30-year-old quarterback whose pro baseball career enabled him to play college football at a later age. The Cowboys like Weeden's mental maturity and feel they can improve his skill set with help from head coach Jason Garrett and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, among others.

It's a good plan because Romo, who is coming off back surgery, can't play forever. But if you listen to owner and general manager Jerry Jones sometimes, you can come away thinking that he will.

Jones said you can't rebuild with Romo as the starter. Based on Jones' thoughts, the time to win a championship with Romo is now. However, he's been chasing a title with Romo since he became the full-time starter in 2006.

Windows open and close in the NFL all the time, so it's interesting to note, Romo's. In 2006, he came on like gangbusters for Drew Bledsoe and led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC the next season. After a playoff win in 2009, however, the franchise has been stuck in mediocrity. Three consecutive 8-8 seasons span from 2011-13.

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Should the Cowboys draft a quarterback this year?

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Discuss (Total votes: 11,076)

Regardless of whether Romo is still a quality quarterback, the window for him to win a championship might be closed.

He's had all the pieces in place the last few years and still hasn't won a title. Just look at the talent base on offense. Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Flozell Adams, Andre Gurode, Miles Austin, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray all earned Pro Bowl berths with Romo under center.

Some of the names have changed at some positions: Bryant for Owens, Murray for Barber, Smith for Adams. But Romo remains.

The Cowboys don't want to waste a first-round pick on a quarterback, but it would be nice to see Jimmy Garoppolo selected at No. 16 next month. At some point, the Cowboys have to think about the future.

Not bringing in Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or even Johnny Manziel for a visit to Valley Ranch isn't the end of the world. Manziel and Garoppolo met with team officials during the scouting combine and the Senior Bowl. But the lack of personal visits and workouts, which are readily available with the draft pushed to early May, is disappointing.

The secondary is a need this draft. So is tin he defensive line, despite what the Cowboys did in free agency. If you can find an upgrade at quarterback, don't you need to do it?

The answer seems obvious depending on your point of view.

Eagles reportedly made offer for Jordan

April, 11, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles recently made an offer for Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Dion Jordan, according to a report in the Delaware County Daily Times.

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Jordan
Jordan played sparingly for the Dolphins last season but was a standout for Eagles coach Chip Kelly when they were at the University of Oregon.

The Delaware County Daily Times also reported that the Eagles included defensive end Brandon Graham, a former first-round pick, along with a second-round draft choice.

Jordan was taken No. 3 overall by the Dolphins a year ago, but his playing time was scarce due to injuries, and he finished with just 26 tackles and two sacks.

But Dolphins coach Joe Philbin remained optimistic about his young pass-rusher, who averaged about 20 snaps per game.

“We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position that he’s playing,” Philbin told ESPN.com. “We do want to do a better job with the numbers and rotating in.”

The Dolphins traded up to select Jordan, so it’s likely they would be looking for an enhanced trade from the Eagles.

If the Eagles can somehow find a way to acquire Jordan, it would be a major upgrade at defensive end. With Trent Cole on one side and Jordan on the other, suddenly the Eagles would be a much more dangerous group in terms of rushing the quarterback.

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