NFC East Roundup: The Impact Of Dez Signing

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As the start of training camp inches closer, here’s what is going on elsewhere in the NFC East.

The Cowboys beat Wednesday’s deadline, signing Dez Bryant to a long-term deal, earning praise from ESPN’s Mike Sando:

Back in June 2014, I asked NFL coaches and personnel people for insights into Bryant, [Demaryius] Thomas and some of the other big-name receivers whose contracts were going to expire this offseason.

“Bryant is a better player than all those guys with the possible exception of Thomas, who is so technically sound,” a coach said. “But Dez can actually take over a game.”

Bryant’s sideline antics did not concern one GM contacted at the time.

“You’d better pay Dez Bryant,” this GM said then. “The antics you see, that is raw emotion, his competitive flair coming out.”

Despite Bryant’s signing, Peter King told a Dallas radio station he is still unsure about the Cowboys’ outlook in 2015:

Well I still think the biggest question is: are they going to be good enough on business? Is their secondary going to be good enough? Can Sean Lee hold up? What, if anything, is Rolando McClain going to be able to give them? He’s one of those guys — did you see his peak performance last year? Is he going to be able to duplicate that whenever he does play? What’s Greg Hardy going to be like after not being on the field or a game for 13 months? Those are the types of things that I think the questions I would have about their defense, but I think they’re going to score a lot of points. I’d say a month or so ago as the spring went on, I thought Philadelphia was the best team in the division. I have my questions now about that, because I think the more I’ve thought about Philadelphia, the more I look at it. Sam Bradford’s going to be a work in progress. He’s probably the player under the most pressure of anybody in the league this year. And so I think Dallas is going to be very good, but I just think at least early in the season, they better be ready for some track meets; they better be ready for some 34-30 games because I think those are the games they may have to win.

Jason Keidel of CBS New York says Jason Pierre-Paul is a cautionary tale for young players coming into the NFL:

Pierre-Paul is now in a lousy football position. The long-term deal the giants were pondering has been pulled from the table, leaving only his unsigned, $14.8 million franchise tender, much of which he may not see, depending on when he can play again. It’s all part of a legal and labor hodgepodge, including fine print and physicals and non-football injury lists.

No doubt Pierre-Paul was once a wide-eyed rookie, toiling in some dark auditorium, listening to some graybeard warm the room then warn the room of the perils of professional football. Maybe he was texting at the time, or playing Candy Crush Saga. Or maybe he simply fell asleep.

Pierre-Paul is wide awake now. And his current nightmare is no dream. Maybe in 10 years he takes a turn at the dais, hoping the next generation listens better than his.

Dan Graziano of ESPN New York reports the Giants signed safety Jeromy Miles to a one-year deal:

Miles, who turns 28 next week, played the past two seasons for the Baltimore Ravens, where new Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was the defensive backs coach. He started two games at safety last year, which is two more than any other safety currently on the Giants’ roster. His only other NFL start came in 2012 with the Bengals. Miles played 647 total snaps for Baltimore last year — 326 on defense and 321 on special teams.

The signing is noteworthy because the Giants left minicamp with literally no idea who their starting free safety would be for 2015. Spagnuolo and safeties coach Dave Merritt both said in June that they were hoping someone from their current roster would step up and show the leadership skills necessary for a free safety in this defense, but that to this point no one had. Candidates include 2013 fifth-round pick Cooper Taylor, who manned the spot for most of the spring, 2014 fifth-round pick Nat Berhe, who missed the whole spring with a calf injury, 2015 second-round pick Landon Collins, who profiles more as an in-the-box strong safety, and 2015 fifth-round pick Mykkele Thompson, who’s a bit undersized for the position.

Things remain bleak in Washington as Keith McMillan of The Washington Post wonders if this might be the least optimistic season in their franchise’s history:

Before training camps begin across the league, optimism reigns, because it’s easy to project that every key player remains healthy, every draft pick contributes immediately and as expected, and players changing teams or positions make those transitions seamlessly.

Around here, though, optimism seems surprisingly tempered. It’s not rare to hear or read a comment that suggests we might never see rookie-year Robert Griffin III again, or that Jay Gruden could be on the hot seat in only his second season, or that 7-9 would be a significant accomplishment. Even the folks who are supremely confident in new GM Scot McCloughan’s team-building skills seem willing to give him some time.

Rich Tandler of CSN Washington believes it just may be, predicting Washingtin to finish with less than 6.5 wins:

I have them at six wins right on the nose. As I noted a couple of weeks ago, they have a major hole to climb out of after being outscored by 137 points last year. They could play a lot better and still show only incremental improvement in their record.