NFC East Roundup: Free Agency Rumblings

What will the Cowboys do with Greg Hardy?

Greg Hardy. (USA Today Sports)

Greg Hardy. (USA Today Sports)

With free agency about to begin, here are the latest rumors and rumblings around the rest of the NFC East.

Jerry Jones says expectations for upcoming free agent Greg Hardy were too high and he didn’t live up to them, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill.

Jones still won’t talk about whether the Cowboys have moved on from controversial defensive end.

Hardy is a free agent, but the Cowboys have been purposely silent about whether they will attempt to re-sign him for next season.

“We are not discussing at all any free agents,” Jones said. “He is a free agent. That is not to say he is free from us. He is a free agent.”

Jones acknowledges this as a reversal from his talk during the season when he openly lobbied for a contract extension for Hardy.

“Well, we didn’t do an extension, didn’t get into discussion, whatever you want to do, now then it’s open season,” Jones said.

Terrell Owens ranks among the Cowboys’ five worst free-agent signings, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Keeping with his career pattern, Owens’ disrupted team harmony with his self-centered ways.

A 1- or 2-year deal for Owens would have been workable, but owner-general manager Jerry Jones gave Owens the original 3-year contract, followed by an extension two years into the deal.

The more security Owens has, the more likely he is to become a disruptive influence. Owens went from an idiosyncratic but productive player in 2006 to a divisive figure by 2008, when he wore out his welcome well before the end.

Owens had 38 touchdown catches with more than 1,000 yards receiving annually with the Cowboys, but the offense lost its balance to draw that from him. Owens did not provide a good return for the amount of money and passes invested in him.

The Giants are interested in Mario Williams, reports Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.

The Giants reached out to the agent for Mario Williams and expressed some interest in the former Buffalo Bills defense end, a league source told the Daily News, but not enough interest to prevent him from making his first free-agent visit to Miami. The 31-year-old Williams was on his way to meet with the Dolphins on Saturday, according to the NFL Network.

It wasn’t immediately known if he had plans to visit the Giants, but Williams did tell ESPN that he’d “like to visit 4-5 (teams) quickly, if possible.”

Even if Williams does sign with the Dolphins, it could benefit the Giants because it could make it much easier for them – or any other team – to pry defensive end Olivier Vernon away. The Dolphins placed the “transition tag” on Vernon, their 25-year-old defensive end, guaranteeing him a one-year deal for $12.7 million. Vernon can still solicit offers in free agency and the Dolphins would have the right to match, but they are not expected to match any significant offer.

Kevin Steimle of the Asbury Park Press lists Williams among one of several free agents the Giants should target.

Malik Jackson, DT, Denver Broncos: Jackson is one of the most underrated, versatile and valuable interior linemen in football. He’ll be seeking a big payday, but he proved in the playoffs he’s worth it. He and Johnathan Hankins would be a formidable 1-2 punch on the interior of the Giants defensive line.

Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Dolphins: Vernon received the transition tag from the Dolphins which means other teams can sign Vernon to an offer sheet and Miami has seven days to match. He’ll be 25 when the season begins which will make it easier to throw a big money deal at him. If the Giants let Jason Pierre-Paul walk, they’ll have to give serious consideration to signing Vernon.

Kelechi Osemele, OG, Baltimore Ravens: Osemele is easily the best run blocker on the market and would instantly upgrade the offensive line. Not sure O-line is the top priority for the Giants though, and he’ll be scooped up quick.

The Browns, Rams and Texans are the favorites to land Robert Griffin III, reports CSN Washington’s Keely Diven.

Competition over Griffin has heated up to the point that teams have quietly accused each other of tampering.

Perhaps most interesting, Freeman’s sources believe the Rams, Browns and Texans are the favorites to land him.

The article describes fairly intense jockeying for the former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but makes no mention of trade talks between the Redskins and his potential suitors.

Washington doesn’t have much cap space to operate with in free agency, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post.

The Redskins aren’t expected to be major players in free agency as General Manager Scot McCloughan again aims to build through the draft, but they will try to create more cap space by either restructuring or releasing players in order to acquire complementary roster pieces.

“It’s going to be similar [to 2015],” McCloughan said at the Senior Bowl in January. “We’re not going to be big players. You know, I don’t believe in that. I think we just need to add legit football guys that understand it’s about the Redskins and it’s not about themselves. That you’re going to come in here, ‘This is what we’re going to be.’ And you’re going to be in or out — one or the other.”

While there are some needs offensively, the Redskins will need to improve defensively at just about every position. Both nose tackles — Terrance Knighton and Kedric Golston — are scheduled to become free agents, and they could also use another rotational defensive end to go with Chris Baker, Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean Francois and possibly Jason Hatcher.