Published On: Tue, May 29th, 2018

Best and worst offseason moves by every team: NFC edition

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As eyes turn to training camp, every NFL team is feeling like it nailed its offseason decisions.

But, as the regular season and playoffs always illuminate, for every savvy, well-reasoned move, there’s a colossal error.

Here, we break down each NFC team’s crowning achievement and biggest misstep this offseason, starting with the NFC East.



Dallas Cowboys

Best: Bolstered main strength by selecting Connor Williams

Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and wide receiver Michael Gallup were the Cowboys’ most notable picks early in the draft, but sandwiched between them was the selection of Williams, who was once viewed as a potential top-10 pick before injuries derailed his 2017 campaign.

Dallas’ offensive line already boasts three All-Pro players in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, as well as the uber-talented La’el Collins. However, when Smith was lost to injury in 2017, he was arguably a bigger loss than Ezekiel Elliott, who was suspended at the time.

Williams could slot in at right tackle, move inside to guard, or act as cover for another Smith injury. With this addition, the Cowboys can get back to what made them NFC East champions in 2016.

Worst: Releasing Dez Byrant in April, not February

The Cowboys’ release of Bryant was a divisive move; the pro-Dez camp argued that, despite his high price, he was still by far the best receiver the team had, while detractors pointed to his declining skill set and poor fit with Dak Prescott.

Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, both sides should agree how illogical it was for Dallas to wait so far into the offseason to cut him. If the Cowboys moved earlier, they would have been able to use the cap space to better prepare for his departure, and would have given a franchise legend a better shot at finding a new home.

New York Giants

Best: Drafting Will Hernandez

The Giants’ selection of Saquon Barkley over the entire quarterback class, except Baker Mayfield, was bold and it will take time to determine whether they made the right call not to draft Eli Manning’s successor.

But to New York’s credit, they gave Barkley the best chance of succeeding by using their next pick on Hernandez. The 22-year-old guard is a mauler, plain and simple. He’ll bring a much-needed toughness to New York’s offensive line, and is perhaps the best run-blocker in this class. Hernandez doesn’t have the upside of Quenton Nelson, but he has the chance to make a similar Day 1 impact.

Worst: Overpaying Nate Solder

The Giants couldn’t exit the offseason without making a significant upgrade to their woeful offensive line and to the left tackle spot in particular, not if they wanted the 37-year-old Eli Manning to make it through the year in one piece.

But shelling out the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history for the underwhelming Solder was a classic desperation move. He’s an average pass-blocker, just turned 30 years old, and will unlikely be able to handle the division’s top pass-rushers one-on-one consistently.

Philadelphia Eagles

Best: Trading peanuts for Michael Bennett

The Eagles’ dominant defensive line play is a significant reason a Lombardi Trophy finally resides in The City of Brotherly Love. But Philly didn’t just rest at the position this offseason; the team aggressively sought out upgrades.

The trade for Bennett was the result of the Eagles’ aggression. Philly stole him from the Seattle Seahawks for a fifth-round draft pick and backup wide receiver Marcus Johnson. Bennett’s vast experience, versatility, and pass-rushing skills should be invaluable for the Eagles, especially after parting ways with the underrated Vinny Curry.

Worst: Passing on trading Nick Foles for the No. 35 pick

It’s understandable the talent-rich Eagles would prefer to keep a proven backup plan at the game’s most important position than another young talent, but not moving Foles might be the team’s biggest error in hindsight.

Carson Wentz appears on track for Week 1, and Foles’ contract is up at the end of the season when he likely leaves for nothing. Of course, another Wentz injury would justify the Eagles’ decision. Still, couldn’t Doug Pederson’s standout system pull a similar performance, moving forward, from another veteran quarterback if the reward was the Cleveland Browns’ high second-rounder?

Washington Redskins

Best: Ending Derrius Guice’s freefall

Character concerns seemed to be the root of Guice’s slide from a potential first-round pick to the Redkins at No. 59 overall, but for Washington, he’s worth the risk.

Alex Smith is at his best when supported by a punishing ground game, and the violent Guice can produce one. The rookie should step in from Day 1 and form a scary one-two punch with pass-catching extraordinaire, Chris Thompson.

Of course, every bold pick has the potential to blow up in a team’s face, but Washington needed to make some big swings to help its transitioning offense.

Worst: Paying Paul Richardson like a No. 2 receiver

The Redskins have enjoyed a quietly productive offseason, and look set to be a part of the wild-card race if Smith and the offense can gel together quickly.

Richardson should be a big part of the offense after signing a five-year, $40-million deal in free agency, but the former Seahawks receiver has yet to prove he can consistently be relied on as a second option. He averaged 16 yards per catch and caught six touchdowns when forced into the starting lineup by injuries, but Smith isn’t the deep passer that Russell Wilson is, even after a dramatic improvement in that area last season, and could struggle to connect with the receiver’s big-play ability.



(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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