Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Breakfast links: Day one hangover

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

The first full day of the new NFL year dawns with the Redskins piling up receivers and the rest of our division still at work on the early part of free agency. Tuesday was a crazy, action-filled day, and the links offer us an opportunity to summarize, analyze or catch up on some things that maybe didn't get as much attention as they otherwise would have. Love the links.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys did not tender any of their restricted free agents, including fullback Tony Fiammetta, who performed well last year as the lead blocker for breakout star running back DeMarco Murray. This of course makes it less likely that they'll be able to bring back Fiammetta, and as Todd Archer speculates, it's likely the result of the salary-cap penalty issued by the league Monday for the Cowboys having the audacity to spend whatever they wanted to spend during a season that had no salary cap. Fiammetta says they're still talking, but that the non-tender was a "game-changer."

There's a prevalent assumption that, since their in-person talks wore on deep into the night, the Cowboys will succeed in signing free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr. Even if they do, however, it wouldn't be a bad idea for them to look at a cornerback with their first-round pick in next month's draft. To that end, and as part of its draft preview series, ESPNDallas.com looks at North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins and what he offers as a first-round option.

New York Giants

Mike Garafolo has the full breakdown of the contract Terrell Thomas signed Tuesday. While Thomas announced it as a $28.4 million deal over four years, Mike points out that the base value of the deal is $17.4 million and that $28.4 million is the maximum value. But Mike also points out that the extra money is easily attainable if Thomas is recovered from his injury and able to rack up the playing time that a starting NFL cornerback would normally get. In other words, if Thomas hits all of the incentives that max out the contract, the Giants would have no problem compensating him for it. But if he doesn't, they're covered. Fine deal both ways.

Perhaps in part because of reports that Brandon Jacobs visited the Giants' team facility on Tuesday, Justin Tuck is holding out hope that Jacobs might still be able to return to the Giants. I do not think Tuck should hold out this hope. A Jacobs return at this point is a serious long shot that would require him to receive almost no interest from other teams and for the Giants to sign no replacement while he looks. These are two unlikely scenarios, and the combination of the two is nearly inconceivable. Jacobs will play elsewhere in 2012.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles didn't go out on the free-agent market the first day. They stayed in-house and took care of extensions for two of their own players -- tackle Todd Herremans and defensive end Trent Cole. Jeff McLane explains the thinking behind this. But don't worry, Eagles fans. It was only the first day. They didn't do anything on the first day last year either, if I recall correctly, but they eventually caught up.

If you're looking for linebacker-target names, there's a report that the Eagles are bringing in Ben Leber for a workout. Leber is a former Vikings and Chargers linebacker who was cut by the Rams last year. It's entirely possible that this is the depth of the free-agent pool in which the Eagles plan to play this year, and that the big-splash signing doesn't happen. Not certain, but possible.

Washington Redskins

It seemed, for a time Tuesday, that the Redskins had signed wide receiver Eddie Royal to go along with wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. But we got a Lee Corso-style "not so fast, my friend" on that Tuesday night when we learned that the Royal deal was not done and that he was, in fact, still talking to other teams. I wonder if Royal got cold feet when he saw that he was one of three being signed on the first day and might be looking for better playing-time options. If the Redskins do succeed in signing him, he could upgrade their return game as well as their wide receiving corps.

Sally Jenkins thinks there's a personal element to what the NFL did to Dan Snyder (and, to a lesser extent, Jerry Jones) with the salary-cap sanctions -- that Snyder is paying the price for making enemies around the league and not toeing the establishment line. I have no problem with this theory. What the NFL did is wrong and ridiculous, and smacks of something petty. Yes, Snyder spent more than anyone else did in the uncapped year after the owners supposedly all got together and secretly agreed not to do that. But that doesn't make him the crook -- just the guy who wouldn't go along with all the rest of the crooks.