NFC East Roundup: The Latest On Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-Paul. Courtesy of USA Today.

Jason Pierre-Paul. Courtesy of USA Today.

The 2015 NFL Draft Combine is in full swing and we are less than three weeks away from the start of free agency. Here is a look at the news from around the NFC East.

Jordan Raanan of reports that the New York Giants are nowhere close to signing Jason Pierre-Paul to a long-term contract and will most likely resort to the franchise tag to keep the defensive end:

The deadline to use the franchise tag is 10 days away and the Giants and free-agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul aren’t anywhere near reaching agreement on a long-term deal.

In fact, the Giants still haven’t talked with representatives for the standout defensive end, a person with knowledge of the situation told NJ Advance Media. Pierre-Paul had a team-best 12.0 sacks last season.

It appears the 25-year-old and the Giants are headed toward the use of the franchise tag, which would keep him with the team for the 2015 season with a price tag near $15 million. The deadline to apply the franchise tag on a player is March 2.

The Giants have expressed their desire to keep Pierre-Paul with the team. He was solid against the run last season and finished the season especially strong following two injury-filled years.

“The goal is for him to be a Giant and play as a Giant forever, and retire as a Giant,” coach Tom Coughlin said on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “How that works out is another issue.”

 According to Dan Graziano of the Giants are looking for a running back in this year’s draft:

One of the items on the Giants’ offseason agenda is a change-of-pace, big-play-threat running back to fill the role they had carved out for David Wilson last year. One of the many players with whom they’ve met here is Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who had 14 rushing touchdowns of 43 or more yards and eight of 64 or more yards in college.

Former Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had some nice things to say about one of his former quarterbacks on the radio Wednesday, just not the one he sold the farm to get:

Shanahan shared more than a lot of thoughts on Robert Griffin III, the QB Shanahan drafted No. 2 overall in 2012. Shanahan also talked about Kirk Cousins, Washington’s fourth-round pick from the 2012 Draft. In an odd way, Shanahan had higher praise for Cousins than he did Griffin, despite overseeing the trade that gave up four draft picks to acquire RG3.

“I try not to compare them because each of them has a unique set of skills,” Shanahan said of RG3 and Cousins. “You have to run an offense that utilizes the talents of each player. But Kirk Cousins will be a quarterback in the National Football League. He’ll be a damn good quarterback in the National Football League. If it’s with Washington, or some other place, you will see, someday.”

The key phrase there? Cousins will be “a damn good quarterback.” Jay Gruden already clarified that RG3 will be the No. 1 quarterback for the Redskins this season, removing the possibility of open competition that Cousins desperately wants.

Shanahan goes so far as to suggest that Cousins time as starter could happen on another team, but it remains interesting that the former coach would offer such effusive marks for a QB he drafted to be a backup. In spurts, Cousins has looked great. In other spurts, he has been a turnover machine. If the fourth-year signal caller can figure out a way to move the ball efficiently like he normally does while cutting down on the turnovers, Shanahan’s prediction could someday ring true.

Field Yates of believes that the Cowboys handling of DeMarco Murray will be the most important decision they make in the offseason:

The Cowboys already have stated that they are leaning toward using their franchise tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant, a prudent move considering his value as one of the game’s best receivers. But that opens the door to DeMarco Murray, another pending unrestricted free agent, reaching the open market.

Dallas has made it clear that it’s interested in having Murray back, but what price point can the team stretch itself to in order to keep Murray? Valuing running backs is a tricky endeavor in today’s NFL, as some teams have shown an ability to consistently find young talent on affordable (i.e. rookie) contracts.

However, Murray was the best back in football for prolonged stretches in 2014, and the Cowboys are a team whose window to compete is presently open. Dallas likely has a figure — be it years, guaranteed money, annual value or otherwise — that it is willing to negotiate to with Murray and his reps to try to reach a deal. If that fails, Murray will be a coveted commodity elsewhere.

Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News wonders if the Cowboys will be able to maintain roster stability with over 20 free agents:

Last offseason, the Cowboys showed restraint, taking a disciplined approach because they aimed to shed payroll, stabilize their long-term salary cap situation, and cobble together a younger roster. Dallas cut ties with its accomplished pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware, and bid farewell to high-priced receiver Miles Austin before watching their then-31-year-old Pro Bowl defensive lineman, Jason Hatcher, sign with rival Washington.

They added only two unrestricted free agents — Henry Melton and Jeremy Mincey. Months later, the Cowboys won the NFC East and 13 games.

“It worked pretty good for us last year — being conservative with the cap,” Jones said. “And [now], we’ve got a good team. We have players that we want to keep.”

Retaining them is the top priority for an organization that believes it built a foundation last season with a mix of homegrown talent and cost-efficient additions. The Cowboys have expressed interest in bringing back a slew of players whose contracts are expiring — most notably receiver Dez Bryant, running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Rolando McClain. But to accomplish that goal, Jones doesn’t want to resort to restructuring too many current deals in order to create more available cash this year.