ESPN.com issued its off season report cards on the NFC East for 2017 while Gambling911.com offers its picks for the best futures odds in which to wager on.
Dallas Cowboys – According to ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell, the Cowboys did nothing spectacular during the off season while managing to “pocket a few compensatory selections”.
The Cowboys did not consummate their long-standing interest in running back Adrian Peterson, instead allowing the would-be backup to Ezekiel Elliott to head farther south to New Orleans. They re-signed Terrance Williams and Jason Witten in lieu of finding a sexier second weapon in the passing game for quarterback Dak Prescott. They operated like a team in sound shape, which they are.
Additionally, they found help for their pass rush with the drafting of Taco Charlton out of Michigan with the 28th selection. Their three sacks of the Packers Aaron Rodgers in that 34-31 loss came, not from the offense, but from the defense.
The Cowboys did fail to draft anyone on the offensive line, however.
The Cowboys possessed the deepest offensive line in football last season, but that depth took a major hit this offseason, when right tackle Doug Free retired and guard Ronald Leary left for the Broncos in free agency.
The Cowboys are given a C+ by Barnwell for their offseason moves. With the grades for other NFC East teams no greater than B-, the Cowboys can still win the division at +145 odds for a payout potential of $14.50 for every $10 bet or $145 for every $100 bet.
Philadelphia Eagles – It’s the Eagles that get the best grade of B-. That’s because they are finally deep at wide receiver while adding a few more pieces to their defensive line. Philadelphia is still a mess at the cornerback position, at least for now, Barnwell says.
Eagles fans who grew ill at the sight of Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham taking regular reps last season probably won't have to reach for the Pepto-Bismol in 2017. The Eagles bought low on Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, adding a pair of veterans who still have considerable upside. The one-year, $9.5 million deal Jeffery took to rebuild his value in Philadelphia, in particular, is a steal of criminal proportions.
The new additions, along with fourth-round size-speed freak Mack Hollins, should provide QB Carson Wentz opportunities to create big plays downfield. Wentz has the arm strength and instincts to chuck the ball wherever he wants, but he struggled to impress on deeper passes last season, whether because of a lack of suitable weapons or a conservative scheme that coach Doug Pederson installed for him as a rookie. Wentz's average pass traveled just 7.3 yards in the air, which ranked 26th in the league. When Wentz did throw deep (16-plus yards in the air), he was 24th in QBR and 26th in passer rating.
And this just in as we were going to press: The Eagles and running back LeGarrette Blount have agreed on a one-year contract. Blount led the NFL with 18 touchdowns rushing in 2016 while helping the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl. He ran for 1,161 yards, averaging 3.6 per carry.
The Eagles won 7 games last season. We can see them bouncing above the .500 mark in 2017. The price is -125 but might be worth a small bet.
New York Giants – While the Giants added a few more weapons for Eli Manning (Evan Engram in the Draft among them), New York may have taken a step back this off season by failing to address what Barnwell calls a “dismal offense”.
For the second season in a row, the Giants' offense was rendered irrelevant at times by a porous offensive line. Inexplicably, for the second year in a row, (General Manager Jerry) Reese did close to nothing to address the issue.
It’s conceivable the Giants can win more than 8 regular season games but the price is -175. We still think Dallas is the team to beat in this division.
Washington Redskins – While Washington made few splashes during the off season where players are concerned, they did fire general manager Scot McCloughan, who publicly battled alcoholism. This was likely more of a power struggle however.
McCloughan though was reportedly well regarded by players. He did manage to go 17-14-1 with a team that had gone 7-25 the two seasons before his arrival.
Then there’s the Kirk Cousins QB situation:
After franchising Cousins twice, Washington is 12 months from what could be a franchise-altering offseason. It will be cost-prohibitive to franchise Cousins a third time, and Washington will have to pay a staggering sum to keep him from hitting the free-agent market, where teams such as the 49ers and Browns will be willing to hit new heights to get a franchise quarterback without having to give up multiple draft picks or develop a quarterback. Cousins' leverage -- and the chances that Washington loses its starting quarterback while getting no more than a compensatory third-round pick in return -- grows with each passing day. By this time next year, Washington might have lost the two most important pieces of its organization.
- Don Shapiro, Gambling911.com