The Cowboys entered the offseason hoping not to make a big splash. Their sole priority was signing linebacker DeMarcus Ware to a long-term contract extension. As far as free agency was concerned, the Cowboys were going to let Chris Canty and Kevin Burnett test the market and see what they could get. But now the Cowboys are faced with a huge decision of whether to release Terrell Owens, while also pondering the possibility of making a run at Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
The Cowboys are going to make a lot of moves, but what they do with Owens and possibly Lewis could dominate offseason headlines across the league.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Safety: Roy Williams will likely be cut. Keith Davis is a free agent. The Cowboys don’t have any answers and few options at a position that is arguably the weakest on the team. An upgrade is a must.
OFFSEASON STRATEGYDecisions will have to come fast and furious in the next two weeks, but the one the Giants would like to make will have to wait until at least March 31. That’s the date of WR Plaxico Burress‘ court appearance in New York City, where he will face charges for, among other things, carrying a concealed, loaded handgun into a Manhattan night club the night of Nov. 29. New York City law insists that such a transgression is punishable with jail time from three-and-a-half to five years.
If Plaxico is spirited away, the Giants will definitely need an impact WR, and currently there doesn’t appear to be one on the roster.
Other decisions will focus on draft needs, and which of those might be met by the judicious signing of UFA players.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Wide Receiver: The consensus says the top need is a WR to replace Plaxico Burress, whose status is the epitome of uncertain. But there is also a need to replenish and improve the rest of that corps. Veteran Amani Toomer, who has spent his 12 NFL seasons with the Giants, is part of their UFA list and odds are that he will not be offered a new contract. The replacement for Burress, young Domenik Hixon, was not able to maintain his fast start and near the end of the season hurt the offense with drops. Steve Smith is a possession receiver. Sinorice Moss, a No. 2 pick in 2006, has been a major disappointment.
2. Outside/Inside Linebacker: In order to keep Mathias Kiwanuka at defensive end, the Giants need to find another potential starter at strong-side linebacker. WLB Danny Clark (UFA-2008) was moved out of position and played well but not spectacularly. Rookie Bryan Kehl showed flashes, as did fellow rookie Jonathan Goff until he was injured. Gerris Wilkinson can’t stay healthy and after three seasons he might become a former Giant. Chase Blackburn, a natural middle linebacker, was used outside and showed some quickness problems.
3. Defensive Tackle: Despite another strong showing by Fred Robbins, his age is becoming a factor, as well as his weight. Barry Cofield has turned into a reliable run-stopper. Reserve Jay Alford shows bits and pieces of excellence but not enough; he needs more time to develop. One impact player in the middle could make the strong DE contingent even better.
OFFSEASON STRATEGYThe Eagles have seven players who can become unrestricted free agents, including three longtime starters – left tackle Tra Thomas, right tackle Jon Runyan and free safety Brian Dawkins. Dawkins, 35, has lost a step, but had a solid season in Jim Johnson’s defense. He wants to return and the Eagles seem to want him back.
It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do with Thomas and Runyan. Thomas has been protecting Donovan McNabb‘s blindside since the quarterback was a rookie. He played well this season and there is no clear replacement on the roster right now. Runyan’s a different story. He had microfracture surgery on his knee earlier this month and will be out for at least four months. The Eagles have the option of sliding right guard Shawn Andrews outside to replace him. Joselio Hanson, the team’s capable nickel corner, also is an unrestricted free agent. The Eagles want to re-sign him, but he is expected to attract interest from teams that could offer him a starting opportunity and starter’s money.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Offensive tackle: Both of their starting tackles are in their mid-30s and are unrestricted free agents. There are no obvious replacements on the premises.
OFFSEASON STRATEGYThe Redskins head to the scouting combine next week with major concerns about the salary cap and age. All five offensive line starters as well as Pro Bowl fullback Mike Sellers, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Jason Taylor, linebackers London Fletcher and Marcus Washington and cornerback Shawn Springs are in their 30s. All except Sellers have contracts in the millions with Springs, Taylor and Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels due more than $8 million each in 2009.
So look for some of these veterans, particularly Taylor and Washington (and Springs if free agent to be cornerback DeAngelo Hall is re-signed) to be axed before the start of the free agent signing period on Feb. 27. The others are candidates for reworked contracts.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Defensive end: Jason Taylor bombed in his Redskins debut and doesn’t figure to return at age 35 and with an $8.5 million salary cap figure while Andre Carter had the least effective of his three years in Washington and Erasmus James was such a bust he was cut during the season.
2. Offensive line: All five of Washington’s regulars will be at least 32 in 2009 and its only Pro Bowl performer, left tackle Chris Samuels, had operations on his left knee and right triceps in December. Left guard Pete Kendall, 35, is a free agent.
3. Linebacker: Middle man London Fletcher will be 35 this spring. Strong-side backer Marcus Washington, 31, might well be cut because of his high salary and decreasing availability/performance. Weakside starter Rocky McIntosh has a history of knee problems.
Tags: Backup Quarterback, Brad Johnson, Chris Canty, Contract Extension, Court Appearance, Dallas Cowboys, East Dallas, fox sports, Keith Davis, Manhattan Night, New York Giants, Nfc East, nfl draft, Nfl Offseason, Offseason Strategy, plaxico burress, Roy Williams, Sole Priority, Spirited Away, Strategy Decisions, Team Draft, tony romo
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