The NFC East is a perfect example of different approaches teams have in this NFL offseason to making changes. The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles are two of the biggest money spenders in the last few weeks, while the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins tried dealing with free agency as little as possible.
A lot of it had to do with the cap space available to both teams, not to mention re-signings teams had to do. The Cowboys as always enter the offseason without too much spending power, but unlike previous years, there’s someone like Stephen Jones who isn’t a fan of big free agents spending (a slightly different approach compared to his father, who happens to own the team), as the Cowboys spent only $13.5 million in guaranteed money on players, most of it going to defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, signing him from the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Redskins have spent even less ($7.4 million) because of how difficult it’ll be for them to keep the following players: Kirk Cousins, Junior Galette, DeSean Jackson,Chris Baker, Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon, who all become free agents at the end of next seasons if they won’t be extended. Cousins was franchise tagged, and the Redskins have $14.3 million under the cap to spend, putting them in a very interesting situation and big decisions to make, which will leave some players unhappy.
The Giants had all the money in the world to spend, and spend it they did. They’re still with over $24 million in available cap space, but they’re done for now with new players, not that there are too many left to spend big money on. The key was improving the defense, and so they did, signing Olivier Vernon from the Miami Dolphins, Janoris Jenkins from the Los Angeles Rams and Damon Harrison off the New York Jets. The Giants spent $106.3 million in guarantees which included keeping Jason Pierre-Paul, more than anyone else in the NFL, figuring that with the draft moves they’ll be making, they’re solid on both ends of the field for the first time in quite some time.
The Eagles ended the Andy Reid’s tenure after two seasons of some bold and big free agency spending. By trading away LeSean McCoy and Byron Maxwell they generated more than $26 million of cap space (they still have about $12.5 million) which gave them freedom to try and rebuild on what they consider the bad work of Chip Kelly, although he blames the front office. By adding players like Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod while keeping Sam Bradford and adding Chase Daniel as backup, they’ve spent $59.2 million on guaranteed deals.
The Cowboys headed into last season as Super Bowl contenders, but then the Tony Romo injury happened, along with others. They still their offense as elite with Romo healthy, and think they can patch up their defensive holes, and especially the defensive line, through the draft, picking fourth overall. The Redskins think that with Cousins finally broken through, last season is just the beginning, but if it wasn’t for all their expiring contracts a year from now, they probably would have been bigger players in the market.