NFC East: janoris jenkins

Yeah, I know. You want to know when the Washington Redskins are going to re-sign London Fletcher. Don't have anything for you on that. All I can tell you is that they still plan to do it, he hasn't signed with anyone else yet and there are five months left before the season starts, so there's no real reason to worry that I can see.

In the meantime, though, they are still working. Mike Shanahan has said many times that the biggest thing the Redskins have lacked since he got there was depth. Having struck out in their pursuit of an upgrade at right tackle, they announced Monday that they have signed tackle James Lee, a former Buccaneer and Brown who will be thrown into the reserve tackle mix along with Willie Smith and Tyler Polumbus. He provides some level of veteran insurance in case Jammal Brown still can't shake his hip injury. At this point, with the top free-agent tackles all signed elsewhere and unless they can find a starter in the third round of the draft or later, the Redskins' best bet at right tackle is a healthy Brown. They just need to make sure they have some coverage in the somewhat likely event that Brown is not healthy.

Earlier in the day, ESPN 980 in Washington reported the Redskins had agreed to terms with defensive end Kedric Golston, who played for them last year and gets thrown into the defensive line mix. Having already re-signed Adam Carriker earlier in the offseason, and expecting Jarvis Jenkins back from the injury that cost him his rookie season, the Redskins believe their defensive line depth is a strength of the team. They signed defensive linemen Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield in free agency last year, and both are back as projected starters in 2012.

Expect the Redskins to keep making depth moves in advance of the draft. They had defensive back Madieu Williams in for a free-agent visit last week, and they still intend to re-sign Fletcher and running back Tim Hightower.
I love where the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are picking -- 14th and 15th, respectively, in the first round in next month's NFL draft. Those spots lend themselves to endless speculation and a myriad of possibilities. We know who the Redskins are taking at No. 2 (or at least we know it's one of two possible quarterbacks). And with the Giants picking No. 32, speculation is almost pointless. No way to know who'll be there, and the Giants always pick the best player available anyway.

But the Cowboys and the Eagles, right there in the middle of the first round, that's where the fun is when it comes to speculation. And I know you Cowboys fans are enjoying it, so here's some more.

Calvin Watkins reports that the Cowboys plan to bring in Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a visit in early April. The team can host up to 30 players, so a Kirkpatrick visit doesn't mean he's the pick. But with the Cowboys still needing to add depth in the secondary and on defense in general, he's a very interesting guy. Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft had Kirkpatrick going No. 17 overall, so it's possible he'll be there for the Cowboys at 14 if they want him.

We've talked about this a lot, and we'll continue to do so for the next five weeks. Some people like Stanford guard David DeCastro at that No. 14 spot. I personally think the Cowboys need to be thinking defense, and as bad as their secondary was last year taking the best available defensive back at 14 makes a ton of sense to me. That could be Kirkpatrick. Could be Janoris Jenkins. Could be a safety, if Kirkpatrick's national champion teammate Mark Barron is there.

But anyway, Kirkpatrick's going to Valley Ranch the week after next, and I figured you guys could have some fun with that information.

Breakfast links: Day one hangover

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
8:00
AM ET
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.

We've got new mock drafts

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
2:03
PM ET
Sure, the attention of the NFL world is on Indianapolis today. But I'm a heck of a lot closer to Radio City Music Hall, and I'm thinking about the draft. That may be because Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have unveiled their latest mock drafts today. They're Insider, but I'm allowed to tell you who they have for your favorite teams as long as I whisper and you promise not to tell anyone else. We do these rundowns in draft order.

6. Washington Redskins: Mel and Todd both leave open the strong possibility that the Redskins trade up, get the No. 2 overall pick from St. Louis and draft Robert Griffin III. But since that hasn't happened yet, they have to mock it as though the Redskins are still at No. 6. So Mel has them taking LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Todd has them taking Iowa tackle Riley Reiff. Todd's reasoning is that, if they don't get Griffin, they'll have secured a veteran quarterback in free agency and will want to protect him. Mel mentions the same possibility in his recap, but I agree with him that Claiborne would be a nice pick, especially if the Redskins have addressed offense sufficiently in free agency. What's interesting to me is that Mel has Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill going 12th and Todd has him going 8th, and if he can go that high, what's stopping him from moving all the way up to No. 6 in the next eight weeks?

14. Dallas Cowboys: Everybody agrees that the Cowboys need secondary help above all else. Mel's sticking with Alabama safety Mark Barron as the Cowboys' pick here, while Todd gives them North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins. This is a personal preference deal. The Cowboys can't go wrong if they pick the best available defensive back at No. 14, even if they've already signed one or two in free agency. They have room for several. I am interested to see, however, if they go for a pass-rusher like Alabama's Courtney Upshaw if he's still available, as he is on Mel's mock but not on Todd's.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Both mocks have Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly long gone by this spot, so Mel gives the Eagles LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Todd gives them Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe. The reasoning is that the Eagles were soft up the middle in 2011, and they were. And if there's not a good-value linebacker available, the odds would favor Andy Reid taking a defensive lineman here. He's set at end and needs beef in the middle. Possible wild cards: If DeSean Jackson is traded, they could go wide receiver here. And it's not ridiculous to imagine them taking a quarterback if Tannehill's still on the board.

32. New York Giants: Agreement here, as Mel and Todd both give the Giants Stanford tight end Coby Fleener after also agreeing that he's become the top tight end on the board. That'd be both a need and a value pick for the Giants, who lost two tight ends to serious knee injuries in the Super Bowl. But if there's a player the Giants had ranked much higher than 32 and he's still sitting there when it's their turn to pick, bet on them taking that player, regardless of position.

NFC East combine primer

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
2:30
PM ET
With the NFL scouting combine kicking off, let's take a look at some of the story lines involving NFC East teams in Indianapolis this week. We'll do them in draft-pick order:

Washington Redskins

Biggest need: Well, it's quarterback, as everyone within 500 miles of the beltway knows. But the Redskins will also be talking to wide receivers, defensive backs and offensive linemen at this year's combine. They have a number of needs, and a number of different things they can do with the No. 6 overall pick. The key question is whether they'll stay at No. 6. A big part of the combine is the after-hours interaction between team executives, agents, etc. By the end of this week, if they don't already, the Redskins might have some idea about what it would cost them to trade up to No. 2 overall and ensure they could draft Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Once they have some idea of that price, they can decide whether Griffin is their answer at quarterback or whether they need to find one in free agency and use the No. 6 pick on a receiver or a defensive back.

Interview targets: The Redskins will surely want to talk to Griffin, along with other, lower-ranked quarterback prospects such as Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler and Brandon Weeden. At other positions, it makes sense for them to be keeping an eye on wide receiver Justin Blackmon, cornerback Morris Claiborne and maybe an offensive tackle such as Riley Reiff.

Later-round sleepers: Boise State safety George Iloka is a second-day type of player on whom the Redskins could have their eye if the chips fall correctly. LaRon Landry looks like he may be a goner in Washington, and they could use some help at safety. And there's some buzz right now about Midwestern State tackle Amini Silatolu, who projects as a guard in the NFL and might look nice on the left side of the line next to Trent Williams.

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest need: They have several, but none so glaring as cornerback. When one of your starters gets hurdled by two fullbacks in the division title game, you know you have a problem at the position. The Cowboys pick 14th in the first round, and if they've addressed cornerback in free agency they could use the pick on a pass rusher, a safety or even an interior offensive lineman like Stanford's David DeCastro. But even if they pick up a big-name free-agent corner, it's not out of the question they could draft another in the first round. Their need at the position is that desperate.

Interview targets: With Claiborne almost certain to be gone by 14, the two corners on which the Cowboys have their eye are Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick. But they'll surely check in on DeCastro as well as pass rushers such as Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw. Mel Kiper had the Cowboys taking Alabama safety Mark Barron in his most recent mock draft, and with Abram Elam's 2012 status in doubt, it wouldn't be a huge shock to see them take the top available safety at 14.

Later-round sleepers: Todd McShay's recent post on possible combine sleepers mentions Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson and McNeese State safety Janzen Jackson as guys who could be there for the Cowboys at need positions after the first round.

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest need: The Eagles need linebackers — at least two of them. The issue is whether there is value at that position in the first round. If Boston College's Luke Kuechly is still there at No. 15, it would make a ton of sense for the Eagles to take him. But Andy Reid's draft history doesn't indicate that he likes taking linebackers that high. In spite of their disappointing 2011 season, the Eagles don't look, on paper, like a team with a lot of obvious needs. If they don't take a linebacker at 15, I'd expect them to either move down or pick a big defensive tackle such as Fletcher Cox, Devon Still or Dontari Poe. And if DeSean Jackson is traded or leaves via free agency, they could target a wide receiver such as Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright.

Interview targets: All of those names above, but I'm going to throw the two cornerbacks in here as well — Kirkpatrick and Jenkins. The Eagles obviously love to stock up on cornerbacks, and if they trade Asante Samuel for salary/overcrowding reasons, it's not crazy to imagine them deciding one of those corners has too much value to pass up. As for their troubled pasts... hey, this is Andy Reid we're talking about here.

Later-round sleepers: Michael Vick's not going to be around forever, so don't be surprised to see the Eagles spend an early-round or mid-round pick on a quarterback such as Osweiler or Nick Foles. But those guys aren't really sleepers, because you've heard of them. Nebraska's Lavonte David is a well-regarded, if undersized, linebacker prospect. At wide receiver, remember the name Tim Benford from Tennessee Tech.

New York Giants

Biggest need: Offensive line. The champs patched it together in January with a line that wasn't very good in the first half of the season but played big when it needed to. But Kareem McKenzie looks set to leave as a free agent, David Diehl won't play forever and the Giants need to be thinking about what their offensive line will look like in the future. They haven't taken an offensive lineman in the first round since Luke Petitgout in 1999, but at No. 32, their pick is barely in the first round, and they'll take the best player available, as they always do. Don't be surprised if that player is a tight end such as Clemson's Dwayne Allen. The Giants did lose two tight ends to knee injuries in the Super Bowl. Oh, and if they lose both Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas in free agency, they may need a cornerback.

Interview targets: Allen and Stanford's Coby Fleener at tight end. Mike Adams and Bobby Massie at tackle. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them look at a versatile rush linebacker like Marshall's Vinny Curry. I always think the Giants need help at linebacker, though they never seem to agree.

Later-round sleepers: Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green could fill a need for them in the middle rounds if his knees check out this week. And the Giants like to take late-round running backs, so keep an eye on Senior Bowl star Doug Martin from Boise State.

Cowboys must upgrade return game

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
10:02
AM ET
Yes, as someone who scours the Internet for content ideas on four teams during these slow offseason days, I will miss ESPNDallas.com's position series. But it concludes today with Calvin Watkins' look at special teams.

Clearly, the Cowboys found their kicker last year in rookie Dan Bailey, and they'll surely part ways with David Buehler as a result. They may have a decision to make on punter and unrestricted free agent Mat McBriar, but the injuries that plagued McBriar in 2011 could help keep his cost down, and assuming he's fully healed they have reason to believe he can return to his Pro Bowl-caliber form.

But the Cowboys do have questions in the return game, as Calvin points out. It seems clear they don't want to risk Dez Bryant on returns, in spite of the fact that he's their most dynamic option, and Calvin sees Dwayne Harris serving as kick returner and punt returner next year unless they find someone better. This is one potential ancillary reason for them to look at a guy like Janoris Jenkins in the first round this year. Even if they've already signed a cornerback in free agency by then, Jenkins would help deepen them at the position and also be an immediate asset in the return game, where he excelled in college.

Mocking the NFC East

February, 3, 2012
2/03/12
4:25
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- While we've all been running around here at the Super Bowl, creating web video content and working to find new and interesting angles on the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Todd McShay did a mock draft Insider. God love him.

It's Insider, but if you promise not to tell anyone, I can let you know who he's projecting in the first round for each of our four teams. Ssssshhhh....

6. Washington Redskins: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. Todd couches this, saying it assumes the Redskins don't trade up for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. He has Griffin and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne gone by No. 6, and Blackmon would fill the Redskins' most significant non-quarterback need.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. This guy is moving up quickly after a strong Senior Bowl showing. He comes with plenty of baggage, including some legal issues, which is why he was at North Alabama. But he can cover, and the Cowboys do need corners who can cover.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Devon Still, DT, Penn State. It seems the idea here is that a linebacker would be a reach at his spot. (Luke Kuechly is already gone by this spot in this mock.) Todd says he has an early second-round grade on Still, who's a physical specimen with upside, but that others are rating him as a mid first-rounder. You know Andy Reid wouldn't shy away from picking a defensive lineman.

31. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. Interesting. I keep thinking linebacker, offensive line, maybe running back if they do part ways with Brandon Jacobs. But Allen would be another fun weapon for Eli Manning as the Giants become more and more of a passing team. And yeah, we know the Giants will pick 32nd and not 31st if they win Sunday night.

Cowboys at the Senior Bowl

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
11:55
AM ET
Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com has been at the Senior Bowl keeping up with what the Dallas Cowboys are doing there, and he has some notes. I find it interesting that they met with Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, who's old enough to be a veteran backup even if he's not "veteran" enough. Calvin doesn't think the Cowboys will draft a quarterback, and Weeden wouldn't fit the profile of a guy who'd be ready to take over for Tony Romo when Romo's done (because Weeden will turn 29 next season and would be 32 or 33 by the time Romo's ready to retire). But perhaps his maturity level relative to the rest of the quarterbacks in the draft class made him someone the Cowboys wanted to at least check out for the backup role vacated by Jon Kitna's retirement. Due diligence, as Calvin said.

Of greater interest, potentially, is the Cowboys' interest in defensive players they might draft. As we mentioned in today's Breakfast Links, they met with Alabama pass rusher Courtney Upshaw, who'd be a great pick if he were still on the board at No. 14. Calvin also mentions here that they met with troubled North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins and could take a look at Georgia's Brandon Boykin, who could help in the return game as well as the secondary.

If the Cowboys are doing "due diligence" on backup quarterbacks, I imagine they're doing much more than that in an effort to spot defensive backs of interest. They need those. A qualified veteran backup quarterback is a luxury.

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