NFC East: NFC Roster Analysis 2011

Washington Redskins cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
7:21
PM ET
Click here for a complete list of the Washington Redskins' roster moves.

Biggest surprise: The decision to keep Chris Neild as a backup nose tackle and release Anthony Bryant. There was some chatter in the offseason about Bryant's possibly being promoted to starting nose tackle if the Redskins focused their offseason energies on defensive end. But once they signed Barry Cofield, they didn't need two backups, and they liked what they saw from Neild, especially on special teams.

Running backs Evan Royster and Keiland Williams have apparently been released, victims of overcrowding in a Redskins running back field now headed by Tim Hightower. Ryan Torain will remain on the roster, along with Roy Helu, as a top option if Hightower should falter. And it's a bit surprising to see them keep eight receivers, including Brandon Banks, Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul and Donte' Stallworth.

No-brainers: They're only keeping two quarterbacks, John Beck and Rex Grossman, while cutting Kellen Clemens and Matt Gutierrez, but I don't think that's surprising. Those last two were only there to help take up preseason snaps when they needed to rest guys who might be their starters at any point this season. Rookie receiver Aldrick Robinson didn't do anything to help himself. And Artis Hicks has been squeezed out of the offensive line mix. They looked into trading Hicks Saturday but ultimately had to put him on waivers.

What's next: They could hit the market for a third quarterback, obviously, though that's not a major concern. I wonder if they'll still look for help at defensive end with Jarvis Jenkins out for the year. The Cowboys just cut Igor Olshansky, who's a name that will surely catch someone's attention.

New York Giants cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
7:01
PM ET
Click here for a complete list of the New York Giants' roster moves.

Biggest surprise: Four rookie linebackers made the team. And yes, I know some of you were telling me that would happen Friday, but I expected Adrian Tracy to make the team and I was wrong. He was one of three 2010 draft picks -- including fellow linebacker Phillip Dillard and punter Matt Dodge -- among Saturday's cuts. But in part because of the way they played on special teams, rookies Mark Herzlich, Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger made the team. That's the corps of backup linebackers behind starters Jonathan Goff, Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley.

Running backs D.J. Ware and Da'Rel Scott made the team while 2009 draft pick Andre Brown was cut. Devin Thomas made the team as a wide receiver over Michael Clayton based on a strong preseason showing. And the Giants basically keep three tight ends -- Travis Beckum, Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe -- with rookie Henry Hynoski slated to be the starting fullback.

No-brainers: Dodge had a very good preseason, has a lot of talent and probably will find work somewhere. But once the Giants brought in Steve Weatherford, who has been one of the best punters in the league the past two years, Dodge's days were numbered. Weatherford will be the punter, and the bad memories of Dodge and DeSean Jackson can begin to fade. Health issues cost Sage Rosenfels the backup quarterback job, which goes back to David Carr.

What's next: I think they need to sort through the Eagles' castoffs. In particular, tight end Donald Lee and nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson make a lot of sense for the Giants, as the former would fill a huge hole and the latter would allow them to keep Antrel Rolle at safety. Personally I always think they need linebacker help, but they disagree and they like their rookies, so I guess we'll see.

Dallas Cowboys cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
6:49
PM ET
Click here for a complete list of the Dallas Cowboys' roster moves.

Biggest surprise: I guess they released four fullbacks, including Chris Gronkowski, meaning they kept none. They're obviously deep at tailback with Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner and at tight end as well, so they either didn't see the need to use a fullback this season or are content with the idea of picking one off the scrap heap within the next couple of weeks. Other than that, I didn't find any of the cuts especially surprising. Igor Olshansky started 28 of their 32 games the past two seasons, so he's the biggest name among the cuts. But we'd seen this one coming for a while. It was clear that new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan preferred Kenyon Coleman at defensive end, and that the Cowboys weren't going to be afraid to cut ties with established veterans.

No-brainers: Kickers Shayne Graham and Dave Rayner had their chances to win jobs but couldn't, so they're gone and the Cowboys will go with David Buehler for kickoffs and Dan Bailey for field goals. Lonyae Miller showed promise early but was passed by Tanner for the lone spot in the crowded running back field. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah clearly wasn't panning out at safety in spite of being the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2010.

What's next: With only five wide receivers on the roster, the Cowboys could theoretically hunt around for veteran help there. But they may believe the receiving ability of their tight ends and running backs minimizes the importance of adding there. They will surely continue looking for a kicker, because
they're obviously not satisfied with what they have, and they may be on the lookout for added depth in the secondary. They kept 10 offensive linemen, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to see them bringing someone in from the outside if they can find a reliable veteran backup for some of their young starters.

Philadelphia Eagles cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
6:25
PM ET
Click here for a complete list of the Philadelphia Eagles' roster moves.

Surprise move: It's not a huge surprise that nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson was released, considering how deep the Eagles were at cornerback after their frenzied first week of free agency. But I do think people are surprised that they couldn't get anything for him in a trade before releasing him. It seems no team wanted to compensate the Eagles and also assume Hanson's contract, which had $7.6 million left over the next three years. He was an extremely effective nickel corner last year and surely will end up on someone's roster (Cleveland? Arizona? St. Louis? The Giants?) before long.

It was a bit of a surprise to see the Eagles cut defensive tackles Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri and keep Cedric Thornton, but ultimately I guess they believed Landri and Hargrove weren't big enough to play the position in Jim Washburn's scheme. Very small but very effective former CFL star Phillip Hunt made the team at defensive end, though. And cutting Sinorice Moss and Johnnie Lee Higgins leaves the Eagles looking for help in the return game.

No-brainers: Keeping five safeties (Jarrad Page, Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Colt Anderson) and six linebackers (Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, Akeem Jordan, Brian Rolle and Keenan Clayton) makes some sense because they have questions at those positions and will hold onto depth until they sort out roles. Tight end Donald Lee probably can help someone, but with all of the options the Eagles have at receiver, there isn't much room in the game plan for many two-tight end sets. Mike McGlynn started 14 games for the Eagles last year, but it was clear from the start of camp that there was no place for him on the new offensive line.

What's next: The Eagles are likely to poke around and look for help at linebacker and kick returner, but they're set at almost every position and extremely deep at most. If I'm their front office, I begin focusing my attention on whatever potential resolution there might be to the DeSean Jackson contract situation.

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