Breakfast links: Cowboys cap issues

August, 3, 2011
8/03/11
8:00
AM ET
Back up and at 'em we are with the links. Always, with the links.

Dallas Cowboys

Rick Gosselin paints a grim picture of a Cowboys organization that is hamstrung by salary-cap concerns and will be again next year. He thinks they're in the middle of a rebuild and they make their run in 2013. Rick's closer to the situation than I am, but you know from here I disagree. Dallas is still young and good enough at key positions that, if they get bounce-back years from some of the guys who underperformed on defense in 2010, I don't see why they can't contend in 2011.

Sean Lee will eventually replace Keith Brooking at inside linebacker for the Cowboys. How soon that will happen depends largely on whether Lee can stay healthy, Charean Williams writes.

New York Giants

Things are still murky on the Osi Umenyiora front, as a Baltimore Sun report late Tuesday said the Giants had dropped their trade demand from a No. 1 draft pick to a No. 2 but reports out of New York this morning cite Umenyiora's agent saying that's not true. The Sun report, though, raises a critical point when it discusses Ozzie Newsome's uncertainty over whether to pull the trigger if it is a No. 2. Sure, you'd give up a second-rounder for Umenyiora. But on top of that, you're going to need to give Umenyiora the big, new contract he wants, or he's just going to do the same thing to you he's doing to the Giants. And that's one of many reasons a Umenyiora deal remains unlikely.

Kenny Phillips was on the verge of becoming one of the breakout safeties in the NFL when he got injured early in the 2009 season. Ebenezer Samuel checks in with Phillips, who believes he should finally be able to continue on that path in 2011, now that his knee is fully recovered and there's no Deon Grant in the picture anymore. The Giants liked Grant fine, but the main reason they signed him last year was concern over Phillips' health. Now, the door is open for Phillips to become a star.

Philadelphia Eagles

Ryan Harris surely isn't the biggest headline-grabber among the Eagles' free-agent acquisitions so far. But Paul Domowitch thinks he's a perfect fit at right tackle -- a spot they needed to shore up.

Mark Kreidler warns the Eagles to steer clear of comparisons to the Miami Heat. I agree, and would extend that warning to those watching and covering them. It's a facile comparison, first of all, since what the Eagles are doing is part of a strategic plan put in place by team management and not some scheme hatched by three buddies when they were playing on the Olympic team together. But that's where we are in sports these days, and Mark is right that it was one of those new Eagles, Jason Babin, who said it first.

Washington Redskins

Rich Campbell sizes up the Redskins' quarterback situation now that Rex Grossman is back to compete with John Beck for the starter's job. The sense around Redskins camp is that Grossman likely can run the offense as well as or maybe better than Donovan McNabb ran it last year, but that the coaching staff wants to see if Beck can be even better than that. If he can't, Grossman would seem to be in a strong position to step in and claim the job.

As for the running back competition, it got a lot more interesting with the addition of Tim Hightower, who said he has zone-blocking scheme experience from college and plans to compete for a starting role here. Add in his pass-catching and pass-protection abilities, and Hightower appears to have more to recommend him than do the other backs on the Redskins' roster, though they do have a deep, young stable with guys like Ryan Torain and Roy Helu.

Back over to Ashburn for a few hours and then back on the road. Will keep you posted the best I can. Enjoy your day.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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