Between now and the start of the new league year in March, we’re going to look ahead at the offseason for each NFL team, division by division.
Our offseason summaries began with the AFC — East, North, South and West — and now we move to the NFL’s other conference, home of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. What issues do the Eagles face during the offseason, and can the other teams in the NFC East close the gap between them and the champs while dealing with coaching and quarterback changes?
2017 record: 9-7 — second place
What’s new? This offseason, their top offensive player isn’t facing a suspension.
Projected salary cap space: $20 million — The 11th-lowest projected total in the NFL, but an improvement over recent offseasons.
Key in-house free agents: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, G Jonathan Cooper, LB Anthony Hitchens.
Key needs: Wide receiver (Dez Bryant isn’t overly reliable and they’re thin beyond that), secondary (need at least one more corner and safety), linebacker (Sean Lee is often hurt and Hitchens is a UFA), left guard (could use an upgrade over Cooper).
Draft breakdown: The Cowboys select 19th and have one pick in every round except the fifth.
Other potential priorities: Might be time to identify a long-term replacement for the aging Jason Witten at tight end.
Outlook: Dallas has a chance to bounce back with Ezekiel Elliott back on track, but Lawrence will suck up a lot of that money if they hit him with the franchise tag. They’ll need better breaks in 2018.
New York Giants
2017 record: 3-13 — fourth place
What’s new? Dave Gettleman is back to serve as general manager, and they’ve got an entirely new coaching staff led by Pat Shurmur.
Projected salary cap space: $22 million — Just a little more than the Cowboys.
Key in-house free agents: OL Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, G D.J. Fluker.
Key needs: Offensive line (especially if they lose any of those guys), running back (as per usual), quarterback (doesn’t look like they believe Davis Webb can take over for Eli Manning) and, I suppose, linebacker.
Draft breakdown: The Giants pick second overall and have one selection per round the rest of the way.
Other potential priorities: Gotta find somebody who can take over for Eli Manning ASAP.
Outlook: With better health luck a year ago, this team was extremely competitive. If Odell Beckham Jr. and several key players stay healthy this time and they hit on that early draft pick, the Giants could turn this around quickly. But for how long? Again, that quarterback situation, man…
2017 record: 13-3 — Won Super Bowl LII
What’s new? Offensive coordinator Frank Reich is now coaching the Colts, while quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo is now running the Vikings offense.
Projected salary cap space: $-5 million — The Eagles are one of two NFL teams (the other being the Steelers) currently in the red.
Key in-house free agents: LB Nigel Bradham, RB LeGarrette Blount, RB Darren Sproles, CB Patrick Robinson, TE Trey Burton, S Corey Graham, DT Beau Allen.
Key needs: Linebacker, running back and defensive back, depending on who they keep from the above list.
Draft breakdown: They pick 32nd, lack second- and third-round selections but have two in the fourth.
Other potential priorities: Do they want to capitalize on the Nick Foles hysteria and trade him for a huge return? If so, they’d better hope Carson Wentz can return from knee surgery in less than nine months.
Outlook: The Super Bowl hangover could be harsh. No money, lots of key players hitting free agency, questions at quarterback and not a lot of draft capital. Won’t be easy to get keep it rolling in a division that hasn’t had a repeat champion in over a decade.
2017 record: 7-9 — third place
What’s new? Alex Smith is now their quarterback.
Projected salary cap space: $31 million — Middle of the league, but more than anyone else in the division.
Key in-house free agents: QB Kirk Cousins, CB Bashaud Breeland, WR Terrelle Pryor, G Shawn Lauvao, LB Zach Brown, CB DeAngelo Hall, LB Trent Murphy, C Spencer Long, WR Ryan Grant.
Key needs: Cornerback (Breeland is a free agent and they traded Kendall Fuller for Smith), interior offensive line (Long and Lauvao are free agents and that unit was crushed by injuries last season), running back and wide receiver (Smith needs more weapons).
Draft breakdown: They pick 13th and have one selection in every round except the third.
Other potential priorities: They’re probably stupid enough to waste cap space on a Cousins franchise tag in an attempt to trade him. Time to free Kirk, guys.
Outlook: Smith is older and less talented than Cousins and they’ll miss Fuller as well as that third-round pick. They have a lot of guys to re-sign or replace and they don’t have a ton of money or draft picks. It’s not good.