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Weekend mailbag: Pining for free agency

Everybody wants to know what their team will do once free agency starts. No one knows when or if free agency will start. We're all in limbo, so there's nothing to be done here but speculate. So with that disclaimer out of the way ... your questions.

Bill P from New Jersey (woo-hoo) wonders: "What do you think the options are for the Giants at linebacker, in-house and around the league?

Dan Graziano: Odd. I'm going to a barbecue this afternoon at the house of a 'Bill P,' right here in New Jersey. Wonder if it's the same guy. Guess I'll ask when I get there. Anyway, the free-agent names that get thrown around for linebacker are Barrett Ruud from Tampa Bay, Stephen Tulloch from Tennessee and Paul Posluszny from Buffalo. The questions are (a) how available any of those guys will be and (b) whether the Giants will want to spend their free-agent dollars on a linebacker for a change. Needing one last year, they elected to spend on a safety (Antrel Rolle) instead and draft defensive linemen. So my answer is this: If one of those guys listed above (or someone else, like Carolina's James Anderson if he becomes available) is a guy Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin really like, better than any other defensive free-agent option out there, they make a play for him. But if not, and if they think a guy like Ruud is going to be asking for so much that there's no value there, they'll pass and stick with Jonathan Goff and whatever else they already have. They're not going to force it for a guy they don't like, just to fill a position need. I don't necessarily agree with that philosophy, but it's obviously the one they use.


Chris in Washington, D.C. writes: "Your posts are well written and interesting (especially given the lockout) but they are all TOO LONG. Each one seems like its 130% longer than it needs to be. For those of us at a desk at work its hard to read through the blog when each post is so long. PLEASE cut down the posts a little bit!"

Dan Graziano: Thanks, Chris. Got it -- you want less of the interesting, well-written stuff. I'll try and do better from now on at keeping things shor


Mr. W from Dallas wonders whether the Eagles would do better if they switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4: "Personnel-wise they don't seem built for the 3-4 everyone is switching to, but I can't think of any highly successful 4-3 teams right of the top of my head ... any thoughts?"

Dan Graziano: The Colts and Saints faced off two Super Bowls ago with 4-3 fronts. The Vikings had a lot of success with it that same year, and the Bears this year. Tennessee has done well with it for years. Personally, I think it's better to tailor the scheme to the personnel than to try to shoehorn personnel into the wrong scheme. I think the Redskins tried last season to make the switch without having enough good 3-4 pieces (though part of their thinking was that Brian Orakpo was a perfect one). If the Eagles all of a sudden looked up and had a couple of brilliant pass-rush outside linebackers and a monster defensive tackle who could play the nose, I could see switching. But with the personnel they have right now, I'm not sure how much sense it makes.


Ed in Queens Village, NY asks, with the Rangers and the Mavericks each having played in a championship series over the past eight months: "How much pressure is on the Cowboys to reach the Super Bowl?"

Dan Graziano: Ed, no more than usual, I wouldn't think. Expectations are always high for the Cowboys, and I don't imagine the success of the Rangers or Mavericks puts the Cowboys at risk of losing relevance to the fan base. I was in Arlington and Fort Worth during the World Series last year, and it seemed as if a lot more people were upset about the Cowboys than excited about the Rangers. The Cowboys will always been under as intense a spotlight as this sport offers, will always play under pressure and have no worries about losing fans to other teams in the market.


Mike Jones in Washington, DC calls himself "conflicted" and wonders whether it's worth it for the Redskins to pursue Nnamdi Asomugha: "The Redskins had a refreshingly quiet free agent period a year ago and collected draft picks in this draft and seem to finally be building a team the right way. But, if we dont sign him, we will likely face him 2x a year in either Dallas or Philly. And with our WRs, we wouldnt have a prayer."

Dan Graziano: Fair point on the receivers, and a nod to Friday's discussion. As for Nnamdi, whose name must appear at least once a day in this blog per a contractual agreement, I believe he's an elite-game-changing player. I believe he will dramatically alter whichever defense he joins for the better. I believe that, if the Redskins got him and no one else, their defense would improve as a result. They could use him the way the Jets use Darrelle Revis, to effectively take one receiver out of the game, and that would help their pass rush by eliminating a downfield option and forcing the quarterback to wait longer to throw. I get your point about how big-splash free agents haven't worked out for the Skins, but Nnamdi is no Haynesworth. If they can get him without blowing up the rest of their plans to do it, they should make every effort.

I'll cut it here so Chris doesn't get mad. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks, and please don't forget what Monday's all about. I was serious about that yesterday.