NFC East Roundup: The Fallout From Murray’s Decision

Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports

Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of activity in the NFC East this week, including reigning rushing champ DeMarco Murray trading in his star for wings.

Here is a roundup of how the rest of the division has reacted to the start of free agency:

John Machota of the Dallas Morning News believes the Cowboys were right in letting Murray leave:

If the Eagles would’ve signed Murray to a contract that averaged about $6 million per year and was around $16 million in guaranteed money, I would think differently. But that deal is just too high for me. And I really do believe he was more valuable than many think. DeMarco absolutely set the tone last season. He was the identity. When you can run the ball like he did, you wear teams down. That was a huge help to that defense. But you have to draw the line somewhere. That’s what smart teams have done during the salary cap era. That’s why teams like New England don’t break the bank for players as talented as [Darelle] Revis. I look at it this way, if Murray re-signed with the Cowboys today for that exact dollar amount, years and guaranteed money that Philly just agreed to, I would’ve thought the Cowboys caved under pressure. In the end, DeMarco got the best deal he could find and the Cowboys can sit back and not think what-if. It was just more than they could pay.

With Murray signing in Philly the Cowboys went in another direction, writes Mike Wilkening of Pro Football Talk:

Dallas has agreed to a two-year contract with Raiders running back Darren McFadden, Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Friday. The deal, as Williams noted, is contingent on McFadden passing a physical.

The 27-year-old McFadden rushed for 534 yards on 155 carries a season ago for Oakland, also catching 36 passes for 212 yards. The Raiders’ first-round pick in 2008, McFadden has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his career, and he has not even averaged 3.5 yards per carry in the last three seasons.

Nick Powell of wonders if the Giants will be able to stop Murray and the Eagles running attack:

Since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 out of Oklahoma, Murray has faced the Giants a total of six times, and has been enormously successful against their rush defense, gashing them for 577 yards on 111 carries, an excellent 5.2 yards per carry average. More importantly, five of those six games were Cowboys wins.

Those figures doesn’t necessarily foretell automatic success for Murray when the Eagles face the Giants in 2015, as the Giants have changed their defensive personnel over the last four seasons. What should concern the Giants is that, so far, they have not come close to adequately improving their porous rush defense from last season, when Murray had his most productive games ever against them, a combined 249 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry.

Dan Graziano of writes about the Giants’ loss of safety Antrel Rolle.

So Antrel Rolle is off to the Chicago Bears, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the New York Giants. They did this same thing a year ago with Justin Tuck — let a veteran defensive leader walk out the door without a fight because they’re not interested in handing out long-term deals to players in their 30s.

It’s their business strategy, and it’s basically a good one. There are very few players who have left the Giants as free agents who make you say, “Yeah, they really should have kept that guy.”

But with all due respect to Rolle, whose departure has saddened many of his teammates, losing him isn’t the major problem here. The Giants’ bigger problem is that, as is the case at many other positions, they haven’t groomed a replacement. Yes, they’ll add a safety or two in free agency, and the holes will get plugged as they always do. But over the past few years there have been too many holes that needed free-agent plugs, and that’s a continued sign of a systemic, long-term problem that’s not going to be fixed quickly.

Washington agreed to a one-year deal with former Temple Owl and Denver Bronco Terrance Knighton:

Knighton, [Stephen] Paea and Knighton [sic] are expected to team with [Chris] Baker, and Jason Hatcher (last year’s top free agent acquisition), among others, to anchor Washington’s 3-4 defense under new coordinator Joe Barry.

Washington also addressed one of its holes in the secondary with the signing of former 49ers CB Chris Culliver:

Listed at 6 foot, 199-pounds, Culliver was rated as the 14th best cornerback in the league by and recorded career highs in interceptions (four) and passes defended (15), despite the two missed games. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Culliver will earn in excess of $8 million per season in Washington.

Culliver is expected to provide a big boost to a corps of Redskins’ cornerbacks that desperately needed one. Veteran DeAngelo Hall is 31 and recovering from a twice-torn Achilles’ tendon. David Amerson allowed a league-worst 10-passing touchdowns, according to and was suspended a game for tardiness. Bashaud Breeland, meantime, had a promising rookie season, but remains far from a finished product.