NFC East Roundup: Replacing DeMarco Murray

Dale Zanine / USA TODAY Sports

Dale Zanine / USA TODAY Sports

Let’s check in on the rest of the division.

Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas does not think Adrian Peterson is in the cards for the Cowboys.

When you are around the Cowboys you learn to never rule anything out, so I will not speak absolutely on what could happen between the Cowboys and Peterson. My opinion? I don’t see it happening. There are just too many hoops to go through and that “financial discipline,” that they were praised for just a few weeks ago would go out the window. It would take premium picks (top three rounds) to get Peterson out of Minnesota, provided the Vikings are even willing to do it. The Cowboys would not be able to fill needs elsewhere by giving up multiple picks.

Then there’s the cash and cap space. They will restructure Tony Romo’s contract just to account for Hardy’s roster bonuses, draft picks, injury settlements, practice squad players and the in-season signings. They could designate Brandon Carr a post-June 1 cut and free up $8 million but that doesn’t cover Peterson’s base salary. A restructure ofJason Witten’s contract wouldn’t give them enough cash either. Plus, they could get a runner in the draft that could do quite well with this offensive line at a fraction of the cost. Again, is it impossible? No, but it’s close.

If not Peterson, then who? ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. believes Georgia running back Todd Gurley would be an ideal fit for Dallas’s offense:

Dallas is going to have one of the best run-blocking lines in the NFL next season, if not the best. The Cowboys don’t need a dancer, they need a player who will get downhill fast and turn a crease into a big run because he’s so hard to get to the ground when he hits the second level. Gurley can do that. Dallas added Darren McFadden, but they won’t be done at this position.

The Eagles aren’t the only NFC East team being connected with Marcus Mariota. Washington is going to bring the signal-caller in for a pre-draft visit, per the Washington Post. 

Despite reiterating this week that Robert Griffin III will enter the offseason program as the starter later this spring, coach Jay Gruden and general manager Scot McCloughan will continue to evaluate Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy this past season, along with the other top draft prospects.

Washington holds the fifth overall pick in the draft, which runs from April 30-May 2.

McCloughan said Tuesday that the team will select the best player available regardless of position.

“Just because it’s a quarterback sitting there at (number) 5, and say it is, and that’s the best available player, then we’re going with it,” McCloughan said. “You can never have enough. I was in Green Bay where we had Brett Favre, who won three MVPs in a row, and every year, we drafted a Matt Hasselbeck, an Aaron Brooks, and not that early, but still took quarterbacks.”

Kiper believes Washington could be a good landing spot for Mariota:

“They could take a quarterback knowing that RGIII obviously is not someone you can say definitively is going to be elite anymore,” Kiper said. “Can he stay healthy? With concerns about RGIII, you have to try to do something at quarterback.”

The upside, Kiper added, would be that Mariota wouldn’t be forced into the lineup, given the established backup quarterbacks on Washington’s roster.

“Some other teams would force feed him,” Kiper said of Mariota, who led Oregon to the Pacific-12 championship and a Rose Bowl triumph before falling to Ohio State in the national championship. “They would be able to do things to develop him.”

Meanwhile, Rich Tandler of CSN Washington wonders if USC DE Leonard Williams could fall to the Redskins at number five:

The key to the scenario is having quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota go first and second to the Bucs and Titans, or to a team that trades up into Tennessee’s spot. Picking third, the Jaguars might want a pass rusher like Vic Beasley. Picking in the four hole, the Raiders could tab a receiver like Kevin White or Amari Cooper to help out second-year quarterback Derek Carr. That would leave the 6-5, 302-lb. Williams on the board for the Redskins.

The Redskins have worked on beefing up the defensive line during free agency, signing Stephen Paea, Terrance Knighton, and Ricky Jean Francois. But they certainly could fit a player like Williams into their plans. From the defensive end position in a 3-4 set he could dominate against the run and the pass. Slide him in at tackle in a 4-3 front and he can collapse the interior. Line him up anywhere along the front in an exotic two-man line and watch him disrupt.

And, by the way, he’s just 20 years old. If the Redskins manage to draft him he could still be playing when they move into a new stadium in the late 2020’s.

Jordan Raanan of reports on Giants co-owner Steve Tisch calling 2015 a make or break season:

“I do not think that is an unfair statement,” he said.

Naturally that has all eyes on the head coach should the Giants fail to make the postseason for a fourth straight year. And while Tisch believes Tom Coughlin gives the franchise an advantage at the outset of every season because he checks off every box necessary for a head coach, he’s on board with the win-or-else mandate.

“I agree with that,” Tisch said. “I think the Giants have a tradition of stability supporting a head coach, supporting a general manager. I don’t want to say we’re adverse to change, but we like stability as the owner style. It was certainly that way before my family got involved in 1991. It is very much sort of a part of the Mara DNA, which I’m extremely respectful of.

“But at a certain point, when change is necessary, and if obviously things do have to change, we will do that.”

Coughlin believes that the return of Victor Cruz will play a huge role in the Giants contending in 2015, reports Dan Graziano:

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in the team’s Week 6 loss in Philadelphia, had surgery a couple of days later and missed the rest of the 2014 season. Coughlin said Cruz has begun running and that he saw him working out with trainers in the field house in East Rutherford, New Jersey, recently. But he indicated that Cruz’s recovery could stretch into the season and compared it to the delayed start Odell Beckham Jr. got last year off of his training camp hamstring pull.

“I think he’ll be the player that he was, and hopefully better,” Coughlin said of Cruz. “But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it’s the first game. But if it isn’t, you know we’ve done that one before. We just went through it. But I’m hoping it would be.”