NFC East: Michael Huff

Cowboys working out Michael Huff

November, 12, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- In need of improved play in the secondary, the Cowboys are working out free-agent safety Michael Huff.

The Cowboys expressed interest in Huff in the offseason, but he signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens instead. But the former Longhorn was released in late October along with former Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears.

The need for veteran help at safety increased after the Cowboys allowed a franchise-record 625 total yards to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.

The Cowboys signed veteran Will Allen in the offseason, but he was released Oct. 8 so the team could go with younger players.

Barry Church is one of the starting safeties, but the other, rookie J.J. Wilcox, is nursing a sprained knee and his return is uncertain. In Wilcox's place is another rookie, Jeff Heath, who has struggled the last three games.

The Cowboys have the 32nd-ranked pass defense in the NFL.

Redskins Mailbag: Part 2

October, 26, 2013
Part 2 of the Redskins mailbag focuses on Michael Huff (?), Aldrick Robinson and, once again, Kirk Cousins' trade value.

The NFL draft is exactly four weeks from today. You know what I think about that? I think I'll have some links.

Washington Redskins

Fred Davis is still trying to scare the Redskins into offering him money they don't have, and this time it's with the help of the New York Jets. He's visiting them this week. Again, if I'm the Redskins I dare Davis to trade Robert Griffin III for Mark Sanchez.

Alfred Morris thinks the volume of knowledge he amassed during his rookie season in Washington will help him avoid a sophomore slump in 2013.

Dallas Cowboys

Prior to this week, the only two teams in the NFL who hadn't signed a free agent from someone else's roster were the Cowboys and the Packers. But now it's just the Packers. Dallas cleared enough salary cap room by releasing Anthony Armstrong and restructuring Kyle Orton's contract that they were able to sign deals with linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen. Durant looks like their new starter at strongside linebacker. Allen looks like veteran insurance in case they don't get what they want out of Barry Church or Matt Johnson. Michael Huff, the other safety who visited this week, might have been more of a threat to a starter's job, but he signed with Baltimore instead.

Todd Archer thinks the Cowboys still need to be thinking safety in next month's draft. I agree, since I don't think Church, Johnson or Allen -- let alone all of them -- are sure things. I just think they need to be thinking safety in the second or third rounds, after they've secured a new starting offensive lineman in the first.

New York Giants

Giants GM Jerry Reese went to LSU's pro day, which is interesting because the Giants have shown something of an affinity for LSU guys in recent drafts. Ohm has the rundown on who from that pro day could be of interest to the Giants in the draft.

The Giants announced this week that they would make some alternate-uniform tweaks and wear white pants (instead of gray) for some games this year. Just not when they wear the white jerseys. That'd be too "Clockwork Orange."

Philadelphia Eagles

Geoff Mosher is picking Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the No. 4 pick for the Eagles in his latest mock draft. Calls it a "no-brainer," actually. And I think Milliner will be tempting and would be a fine pick. But given the way that mock draft's first three picks unfolded, I have to believe they'd strongly consider Eric Fisher, and maybe even Geno Smith.

Former Oregon Duck (and current Eagle) Dennis Dixon helped recruit former Ravens teammate Cary Williams to Philadelphia by telling him good things about new Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
Yes, I know we've been Dallas Cowboys-heavy here the past couple of days, but they're the team that's actually making news all of a sudden, so that's the way the cookie bounces or whatever. The latest is Adam Schefter reporting via Twitter that the Cowboys have reached agreement on a contract with veteran safety Will Allen, who will sign once they clear some cap room. Adam reported Tuesday that they'd reached the same arrangement with linebacker Justin Durant.

Now, Clarence Hill points out that such informal deals are (understandably) illegal according to the CBA and the Cowboys are at risk of a fine if they've been found to have violated the rules. And that's why the Cowboys aren't acknowledging the deals yet. But while I wrote yesterday that these psuedo-agreements could be a sign that contract extensions for Tony Romo and/or Anthony Spencer are nigh, Calvin Watkins writes that the team is looking to cut or restructure the contract of another player on their roster and that they can add the players in question without the new deals for Romo and/or Spencer.

Adding Allen would, I assume, take the Cowboys out of play for free-agent safety Michael Huff, who also visited earlier in the week. And it should quash the notion that they're targeting Kenny Vaccaro in the first round of the draft (though I doubt it will), since it seems clear their plan all along has been to add a veteran safety to cover them in case Barry Church or Matt Johnson doesn't work out as a starter.
Morning. No elephants yet today, but it's early. Links.

Philadelphia Eagles

Former Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler visited the Eagles but left without signing a deal. I know this situation is getting a lot of attention, but the Eagles are likely looking at Butler as a rotational player and special teamer. I wouldn't get too excited if he signs or disappointed if he doesn't.

Remember back around Super Bowl time when DeSean Jackson talked about new Eagles coach Chip Kelly using him the way Kelly used running back De'Anthony Thomas at Oregon? Well, Paul Domowitch has a more realistic view on that.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins' team physician may think Robert Griffin III is "superhuman," but Griffin himself offered a much more level-headed assessment of his status and his plans for a responsible recovery from his knee surgery.

Free-agent cornerback Antoine Winfield is planning to visit the Redskins, who'd love to find a way to fit him under the salary cap. But he's considering other offers in the meantime, which is not encouraging for the Redskins' prospects.

Dallas Cowboys

Free-agent safety Michael Huff says he's intrigued by the idea of signing with the Cowboys. But just because (as Adam Schefter reported) linebacker Justin Durant may have agreed to wait on finalizing his deal until the Cowboys cleared enough cap space doesn't mean Huff is willing to do the same.

If the Cowboys want to take safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first round of the draft (and again, I don't see why people are assuming they do when it appears what they want is to augment their current safety duo with a veteran), they could have competition.

New York Giants

David Diehl has agreed to a pay cut of nearly 80 percent in order to remain with the Giants in 2013. This indicates that they plan to use him as a versatile backup and several line positions, rather than as the starting right tackle. But Diehl has won out in similar situations in the past when other options have proven insufficient.

Former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw has a visit lined up with the Pittsburgh Steelers. If he can prove he's healthy, I believe Bradshaw can help someone, even as their No. 1 back in 2013. The Steelers seem like a very good place for him. I think the Packers make sense as well, but they don't sign free agents.

Wait. The Cowboys signed someone?

March, 26, 2013
Really interesting report Tuesday afternoon on Twitter from Adam Schefter:
Dallas and former Lions LB Justin Durant agreed to a 2-year contract that will be signed once Cowboys create more cap space, per team source

I didn't even know you could do that, which is why I find it so interesting. If you want to know about Durant specifically, it looks as though he's a candidate to be that strongside linebacker in their new 4-3 defensive alignment. This is what Scouts Inc. says about him in our free-agent tracker:
Durant had the most productive season of his career in 2012. He is a powerfully built linebacker with excellent athleticism. He is an instinctive defender who reacts quickly as plays unfold. He runs well and shows good range to overlap zones in the passing game and is effective in combination man schemes. He is a solid tackler in the open field and understands angles to leverage the ball. Durant brings consistency and leadership to the Lions.

It now appears he'll bring it to the Cowboys, but Durant's strengths and weaknesses as a player aren't want interests me about this news. What interests me about this news is the idea the Cowboys could get a player to agree to a contract with them on the premise that they have to clear cap space before they can finalize it. That tells me that they were able to present tangible evidence to this player that they will be able to clear that cap room. And that tells me that they're confident about getting long-term contract extensions done with either quarterback Tony Romo, defensive end Anthony Spencer or both.

Durant was one of three players who visited the Cowboys on Monday, along with safeties Will Allen and Michael Huff, and if they have in fact agreed to a contract with one of them, that could be a harbinger of further news on the free-agent front. The Cowboys only have about $100,000 in cap room at this point, and so at least one of those contract extensions with Romo or Spencer has to get done before they can add anyone. They'll save $7 million when they cut Doug Free, but only if he's a June 1 cut, and I don't imagine their plan is for Durant to skip minicamp while he waits until June 1 to sign. If you want to interpret this news as a sign that a new deal for Romo and/or Spencer is on the horizon, I think you're probably on the right track. That's how I'm interpreting it.
We know that the Dallas Cowboys are having free agents in for visits this week, and that the names include safeties Michael Huff and Will Allen and linebacker Justin Durant. We also know that the Cowboys have about $100,000 in salary-cap room, which means they can't right now sign any of those guys. And we know that their clearest way to salary-cap relief at this point lies in their ability to work out contract extensions with quarterback Tony Romo and defensive end Anthony Spencer that would reduce those players' respective 2013 cap numbers of $16.8 million and $10.6 million.

So, about those extensions. How are they going?

Well, some guy on Twitter told me today that the Romo extension was "hours away" and would be for $68 million ($30 million guaranteed) over four years. But I have been unable to find much on this guy's reporting background, so I'm assuming he's guessing, though the numbers would make some sense. (That'd be a team-favorable deal, I'd think, in the current market.) In all seriousness, I believe the Romo deal eventually gets done, though I'm not going to join my Twitter friend in guessing as to the hours remaining in the negotiations.

As for the Spencer deal, a considerably more reputable source named Ed Werder tweeted that the Cowboys were at work on a multiyear deal for him as well, and that it could free up space to sign Huff and/or offensive lineman Brandon Moore. (Ed has Moore's first name wrong on that tweet, but he later clarified.) Spencer has the upper hand in negotiations with the Cowboys, since they've already franchised him for 2013 and his worst-case scenario includes $10.6 million in guaranteed money. So any contract he signs with them will surely include at least that much in guarantees. But since they appear to be all-in on Spencer as a starting defensive end in their new 4-3 alignment, it would be a coup for the Cowboys to lock him up long term and reduce the 2013 cap hit in the process. I still think he's being overpaid off of one very good year, but the Cowboys like him and have decided to go with him, so from their perspective a long-term deal would be a nice get.

As for the names? Huff and Moore would be excellent pickups for the Cowboys, who need a veteran safety and all the help they can get at guard. The issue is of course making room for them in the budget, but it's not crazy to think that, if they're bringing these guys in for visits, they're feeling better about their chances of getting either Romo's deal or Spencer's deal done sometime soon. Who knows? Could be "hours away."

NFC East Sunday: How was your day?

August, 1, 2011
Gonna make this quick since morning's coming soon, but all week I have made it a point, at the end of these busy free-agent days, to check in and ask one simple question: So, how was your day ...

Dallas Cowboys?

"Dull." Especially compared to what the fans I'm hearing from on Twitter would like them to be doing. Look, everybody: They're going to get two safeties. They're not going to open the season with nine players on defense. But there are cap concerns, and they can't just start throwing money around the way the Eagles are. Facts are facts, and they're going to have to make sure the deal they give to their first-choice safety doesn't prevent them from getting the second one they'll also need. That first choice may well be Abram Elam, but as Sunday turned to Monday in the East, he was still unsigned. Michael Huff, a guy a lot of people wanted and thought would fit in Dallas, decided to stay in Oakland, but that could be good news, as it could signal that the safety market is settling down after the big early deals guys like Quintin Mikell and Eric Weddle got. But there are still guys available, and the Cowboys will get two. I promise. Can't tell you when, though, no matter how many times you ask. How about those Rangers, though? Really beefed up that bullpen.

New York Giants?

"Disappointing." Yes, I believe they really wanted Plaxico Burress back. No, I don't really believe he wanted to go back to them. So when he signed with the Jets on Sunday morning, I don't think it was a surprise, though I'm sure the Giants were disappointed. Their sudden interest in Burress last week, given their more pressing concerns, indicated that they're more worried about Steve Smith's knee than they expected to be. Makes you wonder if they're going to be beating the bushes for receivers now. The Osi Umenyiora situation remains a thorn in their side, as he showed up but didn't practice and is apparently complaining of a hip problem. And the Ahmad Bradshaw situation looks to be coming to a head, as The Star-Ledger reports they're bringing in Jason Snelling for a visit, either to pressure Bradshaw into signing or to sign Snelling and tell Bradshaw best of luck in his future endeavors. I'm thinking a resolution on this could come soon. Maybe even during my upcoming nap.

Philadelphia Eagles?

"Bit of a come-down, actually." It kind of had to be after the previous two days, but nothing of major consequence happened with the Eagles on Sunday. They signed veteran guard Evan Mathis to give them some coverage as they continue to negotiate with first-round draft pick Danny Watkins. They didn't get Burress either, but I have my doubts about how badly they wanted him in the first place. And there were some reports swirling Sunday night that holdout receiver DeSean Jackson might make his way into camp this week, though I've personally been given no indication of that. It's possible the Eagles could tell him he has to come to camp before they'll start negotiating, which could get him there for a few days at least before he sees and/or decides how the negotiations are going. Remember, Jackson's holdout is justified. His contract needs to be improved, and both sides agree. They just need to sit down and ... you know ... do it. On the whole, though, Sunday was a yawner by recent Eagles standards, which have been pretty high.

Washington Redskins?

"Productive." I think I've used this one for the Redskins before, and it works. Washington continues to make smart, big-picture, non-flashy moves that look nothing like the free-agent plans under which they used to operate during the Dan Snyder era. They needed a right tackle, and they brought back Jammal Brown, the one they had last year. They needed a veteran running back, and they managed to get one, in Tim Hightower, who's only 25 and hasn't been ridden very hard. They're plugging away, putting things together and building for the future. It could make for a frustrating 2011 for their fans, especially in a division with three now-oriented teams. But it's the right way to go, given the number of holes they had on their roster. The payoff could be very nice down the road.

My day was long, and I'm a little road-weary, so I will bid you good night and catch you again in the morning from the practice fields in Ashburn, Va., just down the road from the hotel in which I'm writing this. On the road again to watch some football practice. Lockout feels like a million years ago.

How was your day?
So today is the day NFL free agents can actually sign contracts with teams. Yeah, that's right. All that noise and insanity of the past three days? Just the preliminary work. The agreeing to terms. The laying of the foundations for deals not yet consummated. Today is when it gets really nuts. Hope you didn't wear yourself out already. I haven't. See? Here are links:

Dallas Cowboys

Free-agent safety Danieal Manning reportedly got a four-year, $20 million deal with $9 million in guarantees from the Houston Texans. But Dan, that's the Texans, not the Cowboys, so why should we care? Well, I'll tell you why, italics. Because the safety market is going nuts, and the Cowboys still need to sign two of them. Quintin Mikell got $27 million for four ($14 million guaranteed) from St. Louis and Eric Weddle got $40 million for five ($19 million guaranteed) from San Diego. Manning's price is closer to that of the safeties the Cowboys are likely to get (Abe Elam, Brodney Pool, Roman Harper, Gerald Sensabaugh) than are either of those two deals, but it's still likely more than they hoped to spend (twice, remember, since they need two guys). And they may be priced out of guys like Michael Huff. Blogging the Boys offers a detailed breakdown of the safety market.

Lots of people have asked where Roy Williams would end up after the Cowboys cut him. Looks like he'll be a Chicago Bear. I'm interested to see if Dallas replaces him with someone from the outside, but I think their No. 3 receiver comes from their roster at this point.

New York Giants

Giants players are scheduled to report today for the start of training camp, which this year will be in East Rutherford, N.J., and all eyes are on disgruntled defensive end Osi Umenyiora. There's a pretty big leap from grousing about your contract to calling your GM a liar in a sworn affidavit, but it's a leap Umenyiora took this offseason, and it remains to be seen whether he'll hold out of camp until he gets what he wants (a trade or a new deal) or if he comes to camp and talks to Jerry Reese "man to man," as team owner John Mara has said he expects him to do. There's a report out of Baltimore that says the Ravens have some interest in Umenyiora if the Giants decide they don't want him anymore.

We might get some Plaxico Burress news today, too, though Mara said Thursday there's work yet to be done there. Remember, Burress is meeting with the Steelers tonight as well as the Giants, and could simply be using New York's surprising interest in him as leverage to sign with a team whose coach he doesn't hate.

Philadelphia Eagles

Albert Breer reports that Vince Young will sign his one-year contract to be the Eagles' backup quarterback today. If you guys were reading yesterday, you know how I feel about this. If not ... here you go.

And if I'm reading this correctly, Phil Sheridan believes the Eagles should pay DeSean Jackson more than the Jets just paid Santonio Holmes. I respectfully disagree, and I think Phil does raise in here some of the issues that are keeping the Eagles from jumping into a long-term deal with Jackson at this particular point in franchise history. Not saying they won't eventually pay him, and I'm certainly not saying he's not underpaid for 2011 (because he clearly is). But this isn't an open-and-shut case, and for that reason it could linger.

Washington Redskins

A refreshingly honest assessment from new Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen, who admits that his decision to leave Dallas and sign in Washington was, pretty much, about the money.

Jason Reid says the trade of Albert Haynesworth to the Patriots was Mike Shanahan's finest hour so far as the Redskins' coach. I mean, I know Jason wanted Big Al out, but ... sheesh. If he's right in his assessment, it's a good thing for Shanahan he has four more years on his contract to come up with a better "finest moment."

Been banging it around on Twitter the past couple of days instead of in the comments, in case you guys have been wondering. The posts are coming fast and furious, but I haven't forgotten you. Hope you're enjoying it and keeping up. Plenty more to come, I am certain of it. These four teams can make some news.
Kevin Acee from the San Diego Union-Tribute reports that Eric Weddle's new deal with the Chargers is for five years and $40 million with $19 million guaranteed. The Cowboys tried on Weddle, who was the best safety on the market, but there was little chance he was going to leave San Diego. Especially once they offered, as Steelers safety Ryan Clark tweeted, "what (Troy) Polamalu and I got combined!"

The Cowboys still need to come up with two starting safeties on a market that just moved dramatically upward. You can bet Michael Huff, Abe Elam and all the other available safeties in whom the Cowboys have interest are watching what Weddle got (and the four-year, $27 million deal with $14 million guaranteed that Quintin Mikell got from the Rams) and planning to use it as a benchmark. Weddle was the best of the bunch, but those who aren't quite in his class will try to get as close to what he got as possible. Dallas is going to have to spend big if it wants a top safety, and real big if it loses Gerald Sensabaugh and decides it needs two.

Now I'm going to go work on a post about how the DeAngelo Williams signing in Carolina is going to hurt the Giants' chances of keeping Ahmad Bradshaw. It'll be just like this post, but with different names and numbers. So if you don't want to read a whole 'nother post, you can just turn this one into a Mad Libs kind of thing. Enjoy that.
Happy New Year, everybody. It took a few months, but things are finally happening. Starting today, teams can sign drafted and undrafted rookies and make trades. So while it'll be a few days before free agents can officially be signed, some players could be on the move as early as this morning. Specifically, Eagles backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, whose immediate and long-term future were hostages of the lockout, could soon find out where he's going to be playing in 2011.

As of 10 a.m. ET today, teams are free to talk trade, which means that all of the Kolb-to-Arizona speculation of the past several months can morph into actual discussion that could lead to an actual deal. Will the Cardinals offer cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in exchange for Kolb? If they do, will that be enough to convince the Eagles to send Kolb away? Or do the Eagles deal Kolb for picks and keep themselves in the market for Nnamdi Asomugha or one of the other very good cornerbacks on the looming free-agent market? And where do the Seattle Seahawks fit into all of this? They need a quarterback, and it doesn't sound as if they'll bring back Matt Hasselbeck. Do they jump in here and steal Kolb away from the Cardinals once the doors to the trading season swing open?

Obviously, all indications are that Kolb will go to Arizona. But if neither the Cardinals, the Seahawks nor anyone else offers enough value for the Eagles to justify trading away a game-ready backup quarterback they like a great deal, they could always keep him.

We should have some answers soon. To this and many other questions. For the first time in months, there are plenty of options for the links.

More Eagles

Kevin Callahan says the Eagles can win the Super Bowl this week if they make the right moves once free agency opens. He runs down a list of potential moves with which we're all familiar, but I continue to take issue with this Albert Haynesworth stuff. The Redskins do not have to release Haynesworth, even if they're unable to get good value for him in a trade. And the main reason they won't release him is because they don't want the Eagles to get him, reunite him with former Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn and beat them twice a year. I would be floored, stunned, flummoxed, astounded and befuddled if Haynesworth were an Eagle in 2011.

Joe Banner spoke about the differences fans will see in training camp this year -- no two-a-days, no hitting in the early days, etc. Big win for the players there in the negotiations. They wanted stuff that will help them play and live longer.

Dallas Cowboys

Tim MacMahon runs down some options for the Cowboys at safety, but Cowboys fans aren't going to like this list. Tim announces before the list begins that he's going to "skip over Michael Huff, Eric Weddle and Quintin Mikell, who might be good fits for the Cowboys but could be expensive." Those guys will be expensive, sure. But if the Cowboys don't come away with this with at least one of them, it's going to be hard to say they did enough to address the safety position.

Keith Brooking tells Matt Mosley he's not worried about having to learn Rob Ryan's defense in this compressed, post-lockout training camp time period. Says he and some other defensive players met with Ryan before the lockout and have some idea what it's all about. We'll see. I think that's the biggest issue the Cowboys face, other than, obviously, signing enough players to field that defense.

New York Giants

Kevin Boss says his "No. 1 priority" is to remain a Giant, but he also says he's going to enjoy free agency and make sure to find out and consider all options. So yeah. Kind of non-committal there. Which is fine. I think he's going to hear from other teams. Not a big-numbers guy, obviously, but he's well thought of around the league.

Shaun O'Hara tells Zach Berman that he doesn't see why it'd be necessary to talk about re-working his contract as long as his injury is healed up and he's ready to play. Folks, this is a contract situation worth watching. The Giants may have some tough choices to make. They'll need to get under the cap. They have quite a few of their own free agents to sign. And they did manage to get by without O'Hara for most of 2010. Not saying he'll be cut, but it's not completely crazy to imagine it. Especially if he doesn't want to talk about re-working his deal.

Washington Redskins

Jason Reid is on the Redskins-must-dump-Haynesworth bandwagon. I guess I just don't see the harm in keeping him around. Does anybody really think Haynesworth's mopey presence was the reason the Redskins didn't win last year? As far as I can tell, his issues were his own and didn't bleed into the rest of the team, except insofar as he was unable/unwilling/unavailable to play and help them on the field. He has value. If he gets into a 4-3 defense with a coach with whom he clicks, he can again be a monster player. Mike Shanahan knows this, and that's why I don't think he's just going to set him free on the open market. And why I don't think he should.

I do not believe we can fully rule out a Redskins pursuit of Asomugha. My issue with it is that I don't think Asomugha will want to sign in Washington. If he's leaving Oakland, it's not because of dreams of big-money deals. It's because he wants to win a Super Bowl as soon as possible. And free agents aren't going to view Washington as the place where they can do that.

Lots more to come today, including the first post-lockout NFC East chat at noon ET. I'm also going to be on "First Take" on ESPN2, talking free agency. So check that out if I haven't posted in a little while and you just can't live without me.

NFC East free-agency breakdown

July, 25, 2011
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Unrestricted FAs

A look at the free-agent priorities for each NFC East team:

Dallas Cowboys

1. Re-sign left tackle Doug Free. He is coming off his first season as starting left tackle, but Free handled the move well and is viewed as the starting left tackle of the Cowboys' future. More importantly, with rookie Tyron Smith slated to start at right tackle and probably not yet ready to play on the left side, Free is the Cowboys' left tackle of the present. If he were to go elsewhere, the Cowboys would be scrambling to find a tackle, and it could mess with all of the other plans they need to make and execute before training camp begins. Expect Free to draw lots of interest, and his price tag to be higher than the Cowboys probably were hoping.

2. Fill holes in the secondary. The plan seems to be to move Alan Ball back to cornerback, so while you'll hear the Cowboys connected to free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, they're more likely to focus on bringing in a safety or two. There's a chance they re-sign their own guy, Gerald Sensabaugh, and then go get a free agent such as Eric Weddle, Michael Huff or Quintin Mikell. But if Sensabaugh were to leave, Dallas would be in the difficult position of having to sign two safeties.

3. Find defensive ends. With Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher set to be free agents, the Cowboys need a couple of starters at defensive end, too. They could bring both guys back, but it's not as if the defensive line was a position of strength for Dallas in 2010, so they'll probably at least look elsewhere. The Packers' Cullen Jenkins would be a nice fit, though there will be competition for him from within the division, as you'll see below in the Redskins' section.

Top five free agents: OT Free, G Kyle Kosier, DE Bowen, DE Hatcher, S Sensabaugh

New York Giants

1. Figure out which of their own guys to keep. With Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss all set to potentially go free, the Giants have to prioritize and figure out which guys they're keeping. The top priority is probably going to be Bradshaw, an emerging star at running back, and it appears they'll let Cofield walk while trying to bring back Boss. They think the injury situations with Kiwanuka and Smith will help keep those guys' prices reasonable. But before the Giants hit the market, they'll need to get their own free-agent house in order.

2. Get at least one linebacker. The Giants have ignored this position over the past couple of years, and they seem to believe Jonathan Goff can handle the middle linebacker spot. They'd probably be better off moving him back outside and exploring the middle linebacker market, which includes Stephen Tulloch, Barrett Ruud and Paul Posluszny. But if they're set on keeping Goff in the middle, perhaps someone such as Manny Lawson or Nick Barnett could be a fit. It's one thing not to prioritize a position, but it's another to ignore it completely, and the Giants have been doing that with linebacker, to their detriment.

3. Some offensive line insurance. There were lots of injuries along the line in New York last season, and although it didn't kill them, it was a potential sign of things to come. The Giants hope Will Beatty will soon be ready to take over at left tackle for a declining David Diehl, but they must watch out for the health of Shaun O'Hara at center. And if they have to cut Shawn Andrews to sign some other guys, they'll need to replace him with a tackle who can provide depth.

Top five free agents: RB Bradshaw, DE/LB Kiwanuka, TE Boss, DT Cofield, WR Smith

Philadelphia Eagles

1. Settle the Kevin Kolb situation. If they can get the great deal for him that most believe they can (i.e., a first-round pick plus), the Eagles will deal Kolb and look for a reliable backup quarterback who can play if and when Michael Vick gets hurt. If they can't get good value for Kolb, they'll probably keep him to serve as said reliable backup. A trade is most likely, but whatever happens, the Eagles will probably settle this soon after the league year begins.

2. Sign a cornerback. The starting spot opposite Asante Samuel is open, and no one on the current roster appears able to fill it. That's why you've heard, and will continue to hear, the Eagles connected with Asomugha. Philadelphia must rank among his most likely destinations at this point. If they don't get him, they'll look down the list at guys such as Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor and Antonio Cromartie. And there's a chance they could get a cornerback for Kolb. But they'll get one somewhere.

3. Re-sign Stewart Bradley. Sure, they could let Bradley go and play Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. Chaney looked, at least, capable in that spot last season and may be the Eagles' future at the position. But if Bradley leaves, the Eagles' problems will be about more than just the alignment of the linebackers. They'll actually be short on bodies and will need to play the free-agent field to find a replacement. Bradley's had injury problems, but when healthy, he's the Eagles' best linebacker and could be a key cog in whatever new defensive alignment Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn are cooking up.

Top five free agents: LB Bradley, S Mikell, G Nick Cole, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Ellis Hobbs

Washington Redskins

1. Fill out the defensive line. Whether they add a free-agent nose tackle such as Aubrayo Franklin or look at defensive end options like Jenkins, the Redskins must figure who their starting defensive linemen are. They like their linebacking corps, and although they also need a cornerback, they love their safeties with Oshiomogho Atogwe in the fold next to LaRon Landry. But their good, young outside linebackers will need big, space-eating ends in front of them to open up lanes to the passer. And they'll also need to get some sort of pass rush from the line, whether it's from the nose or the ends.

2. Re-sign Santana Moss. The Redskins are making noise about pursuing a big-time wideout such as Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice. But the reality is that it's going to be tough to convince receivers to sign in Washington while they're not viewed as a contender and the quarterback situation remains so cloudy. Moss likes it in Washington. The Redskins like him. And he's a nice guy to have around to help out young receivers Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson -- not to mention inexperienced quarterback John Beck.

3. Resolve the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth situations. They don't want either player on the team anymore, but the question is how to get rid of them. They might be able to dump McNabb for a late-round draft pick, but if they can't, they'll probably just cut him and let him find his next job on his own. Haynesworth has trade value in a league where many 4-3 teams are looking for interior defensive line help. Don't expect the Redskins to cut Haynesworth, because they don't want to do him any favors and they don't want him free to sign with former Tennessee D-line coach Washburn in Philadelphia. If they can't get value for him, don't be surprised if Haynesworth remains on the team all season and has a hard time getting into games.

Top five free agents: WR Moss, OT Jammal Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, LB Rocky McIntosh, QB Rex Grossman

'First' thoughts on free agency

July, 25, 2011
I know you're impatient. It's one of the things I like best about you. Because it's one of the things that keeps you coming back for more.

Free agency is nearly upon us, after months of waiting, and you want to know (among other things) what your team is going to do first. Well, if you have an ESPN Insider subscription, you can check out what the Football Outsiders think. They've done a list of the first thing each team should do once free agency opens. And while I can't give it all away (because we want you to buy the Insider access), I can offer a little glimpse into what they had to say about the NFC East teams.

Dallas Cowboys: "Sign S Michael Huff." As we have discussed here ad nauseum, the Cowboys will need at least one safety and maybe two, depending on what happens with Gerald Sensabaugh. The Outsiders point out that they didn't act in February, when guys like O.J. Atogwe were available, and they didn't draft one. So they'll have to hit the market. Eric Weddle is the best option, but everyone thinks he'll stay in San Diego. Huff is a fine consolation prize, especially given the fact that he's worked with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan before and might be able to help other players with the transition to a Ryan-coached defense.

New York Giants: "Sign LB James Anderson." You know where I stand on the Giants and linebackers -- i.e., that they've consistently ignored the position to their detriment over the past couple of years. Anderson is a fine strongside solution and there are many others out there. The trick for the Giants will be how quickly they can get their in-house free-agent situations settled. I might have put "Re-sign RB Ahmad Bradshaw" here if I were the Outsiders, and again ... you know how I feel about the Giants and linebackers.

Philadelphia Eagles: "Sign CB Nnamdi Asomugha." On this, the Outsiders and I heartily agree. The drop-off from Asomugha to the second-best cornerback available (Johnathan Joseph? Antonio Cromartie? Ike Taylor?) is significant, and the Eagles, armed with enough money to make it happen, should jump at the opportunity to fill their biggest need with the best player on the market. (Note: "Trade QB Kevin Kolb" could have been the answer here, but Brian McIntyre, who wrote this piece, already used "Trade for QB Kevin Kolb" in the Arizona Cardinals' blurb, so that was taken care of.)

Washington Redskins: "Sign DE Cullen Jenkins." There was some thought a couple of weeks back about pairing brothers Cullen and Kris Jenkins on the offensive line in Washington. Kris has since retired, and nose tackle remains a huge need for the Redskins. But adding a pass-rushing end the caliber of Cullen might help, since it might be easier to find a space-eating nose tackle on this market than a pass-rushing one.

Anyway, those are the Outsiders' thoughts. As always, I welcome yours.
You ask, I answer. It's the weekend mailbag, and there's nothing else quite like it.

Bill Hart from "Eagles area," wherever that is, asks: "Where would you rank Kevin Kolb in relation to the quarterbacks selected in the first round? I've seen several reports that question his value. Isn't the experience with the Eagles for something?"

Dan Graziano: No question, Bill. If Kolb had somehow been able to enter this year's draft, he would have gone No. 1 overall, ahead of any of the other quarterbacks that were taken. He has experience playing in and winning NFL games, and that's why teams like Arizona and Seattle are going to be interested enough to trade first-round picks for him. He has greater value to the Eagles as a trade chip than he does as a player, because his value as a trade chip (i.e., the way interested teams value him) is "starting quarterback." But he is not a starting quarterback for the Eagles, because they already have one. So, it appears, he will be traded for something quite valuable.

Jon from Atlanta wants the Cowboys to sign Nnamdi Asomugha, but he's wondering, if they could sign Johnathan Joseph, Cullen Jenkins and Eric Weddle (or Michael Huff) "for the same price as Asomugha, wouldn't that be a larger upgrade to the Defense as a whole?"

DG: Well, yeah. But it would also mean that Nnamdi got the largest contract in sports history or that those other three guys all got much smaller deals than expected. The Cowboys are going to have to make some tough choices if the cap concerns are as many expect. I don't think they're going to be able to get top-choice guys at all three of those spots -- safety, corner and defensive end. My guess is they'll prioritize the safety position, though I'm sure Nnamdi will be tempting, as he should be.

Chrissy from Patchogue wanted me to take a question about the Giants' punting situation. Specifically, "What are your thoughts about that adventure Matt Dodge called a season last fall? What do you think the future holds here?"

DG: Well, Chrissy, they like a lot of things about Dodge. He has a very strong leg, and his 2010 numbers reflect that. He is young and, they believe, talented, and they're not about to kick him out of town after a shaky rookie season. I do believe, however, that he'll need to show improvement in some key areas in order to last a full second season. Special teams were a major problem for the Giants last season, and for all the good and encouraging things Dodge did, his mistakes were severe and glaring and a big part of that problem. He suffers in comparison to his predecessor, Ridgewood's own Jeff Feagles, who was the master of directional punting and worked with Dodge some last season. But he's got the ability to be very good, and so far they're determined to show a little more patience with him.

Adam in Washington, D.C., asks: "Haynesworth for Orton- who says no? I agree with staying flexible going into next year's draft, but no Redskins fan in his/her right mind buys John Beck or Rex Grossman as a league average starting quarterback."

DG: The Broncos say no. And on that note...

Mike S. from Bethany Beach, Del., asks the following: "Dan, am I the only one in Redskins nation that has forgotten where Tom Brady came from before the 'Tom Brady' we know today emerged? That's why I feel that Beck could be that type of player. Your thoughts?"

DG: Mike, my thoughts are that, if you're making that comparison, you have forgotten where Brady came from. Tom Brady beat out Drew Henson to be a two-year starter at the University of Michigan. His last college game was a comeback victory in the Orange Bowl over Alabama in which he threw four touchdown passes. Brady was drafted much lower than he should have been, but that doesn't mean he was some nobody who'd never accomplished anything and then blossomed once he got a shot in the NFL. I think the comparison is imperfect at best, and that the Redskins would be absolutely thrilled if Beck's closest NFL comparison turned out to be somebody like Jon Kitna. I think asking for Brady is aiming a little high.

Hope everybody is having a lovely weekend.

In today's edition of the NFC East video mailbag, a reader asks which of three big-name free agents the Cowboys are most likely to sign -- Michael Huff, Quintin Mikell or Cullen Jenkins.