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Monday, July 18, 2011
NFC East team needs

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Our man Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc. has done a list of "team needs" now that we stand on the apparent precipice of free agency. Matt's list is simply a list, of all 32 NFL teams and what he considers their top three needs once the free-agent period opens. He offers no analysis with his list, so I'm going to go ahead and do that here for the NFC East teams.

Matt also did his list quite literally, treating the teams' own free agents as free agents. So, for instance, running back is listed as the Giants' No. 1 need even though they're expected to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw. Tackle is listed as the Cowboys' No. 2 need even though they'll almost certainly bring back Doug Free. Matt is of course right to do it this way, since those aren't sure things. Just didn't want anybody confused.

Anyway, here we go. Alphabetically, as ever:

Dallas Cowboys

1. Safety

2. Offensive tackle

3. Defensive line

My take: Yeah, though I'll say cornerback is probably a close fourth if they're ready to move on from Terence Newman and have to cut him for cap reasons. And I might have gone with "offensive line" rather than simply "offensive tackle," because I think guard Kyle Kosier is a high-priority re-sign for them. Free is getting a lot of well-deserved praise for his work in his first year at left tackle, but people around that team will tell you that Kosier was a big help to Free in making the transition, and that Kosier has a lot of responsibility for line calls. If they lose him, they'll need offensive line help even if Free is back.

New York Giants

1. Running back

2. Linebacker

3. Tight end

My take: This gets to the heart of the fact that the Giants' first task once the league year begins will be to prioritize and re-sign their own free agents. They will only need a running back and a tight end if they can't re-sign Bradshaw and Kevin Boss, but they hope to be able to bring back both. I believe both will draw interest elsewhere, and that it's possible Boss could draw more than the Giants expect. But of these three needs, linebacker is the only one for which they should have to play on the open market without getting a head-start with one of their own players.

Philadelphia Eagles

1. Cornerback

2. Linebacker

3. Defensive end

My take: All defense here, what with that right guard spot addressed in the draft. Could they do something at right tackle? Sure, but the focus is going to be on improving the defense that failed them at the end of the past two seasons. They'll play in the Nnamdi Asomugha market and should be on the hunt for a pass-rushing end to play opposite Trent Cole. And they'll have to figure out linebacker if they don't or can't bring back Stewart Bradley. More and more, it seems as if they won't seek a veteran safety to replace Quintin Mikell, but I wonder if they should, since a Nate Allen/Jaiquawn Jarrett combination would give them a pretty young set of starters at that position.

Washington Redskins

1. Quarterback

2. Nose tackle

3. Cornerback

My take: I agree that they could upgrade at quarterback, but I don't think they will. Unless Mike Shanahan's been snowing everybody (which of course is possible), he's prepared to go with John Beck and fill other needs while he finds out if Beck can be his long-term answer or if he needs to draft one of the very good quarterback prospects in next year's draft. I'm a little surprised that Matt listed neither "wide receiver" or "offensive line," since those are positions of need whether they re-sign Santana Moss and Jammal Brown or not. But the Redskins' list of needs is a lot longer than three spots, and Matt was only doing three per team, so here we are.