NFC East: Terrance Newman

In light of the word that the proposed new NFL labor deal would make players with four years of service time into unrestricted free agents, there has been some support in the comments for a free-agent rundown as it pertains to our little division here. We're going to do it position-by-position, over the next couple of days, and because the biggest-name guy in the field is a cornerback, we're going to start with cornerbacks.

NFC East teams in need

[+] EnlargeNnamdi Asomugha
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesNnamdi Asomugha is the big prize in this year's free-agent class.
Cowboys: Dallas plans to move Alan Ball, who flopped as a safety, back to the cornerback position, where they already have Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman as starters. Assuming all of those guys are on the team, the Cowboys could decide to stand pat and focus their energies on upgrading at safety. But one of the starters may have to be cut to create cap room, and if that happens, expect the Cowboys to be big-game hunters on the corner market.

Eagles: They need another corner to play opposite Asante Samuel, and they've said they plan to be aggressive in free agency. That could mean playing at the top end of this pool, but even if they don't land the big fish, expect Philadelphia to come up with someone on this list.

Redskins: Carlos Rogers wants out and the team seems inclined to grant him his wish. But while Redskins fans may be sick of Rogers, he's not a bad player and he will need to be replaced.

Top five potential unrestricted free-agent cornerbacks

1. Nnamdi Asomugha. The prize of the offseason free-agent market. Probably the second-best corner in the league behind Darrelle Revis. Asomugha will draw interest from all three of the above-named NFC East teams plus plenty of teams (Baltimore? Houston?) outside the division. Whoever does sign him will use a lot of cap space to do it, which is why, as much as Dallas might want him, he might make more sense in Philly.

2. Johnathan Joseph. Some talk that the Bengals will make him their franchise player, but if they don't, the 27-year-old rising star stands to ride Asomugha's coattails to a big payday somewhere outside of skimpy-spending Cincinnati. A fine fallback for the Eagles or Redskins. Cowboys? Sure, but my hunch is, if they don't get Nnamdi, they spend elsewhere and either keep the corners they have or go further down this list for a replacement.

3. Antonio Cromartie. Remains to be seen if the Jets will keep him (or if they'll pursue Asomugha as well!). Cromartie comes with plenty of baggage, as his attitude and effort were in serious question at the end of his time in San Diego. Doubt he'd fit in a place like Dallas or Washington, where peace and quiet are going to be important to the short-term and long-term plans.

4. Chris Carr. He's said he'd like to return to Baltimore and that he'd be willing to play some safety in order to do that. Lots of turnover is expected in the Ravens' secondary, and depending on how other things shake out, Carr could be a surprise entry onto the market and a nice fit in Philadelphia or Washington, neither of which is too far from Baltimore. His fellow Baltimore corner, Josh Wilson, would be an intriguing name on the market as well.

5. Ike Taylor. Known more as a physical corner than a traditional cover type such as Asomugha, Taylor is a perfect fit right where he is, in Pittsburgh. But there have been rumblings lately that he's seeking a big payday, and Washington seems like it could use an infusion of toughness and a championship-seasoned veteran presence on defense.

Predictions that mean nothing: Asomugha to the Eagles, Taylor to the Redskins, Cowboys stand pat at corner and spend on safety.

How badly do the Cowboys need a CB?

February, 24, 2011
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Beat writer Calvin Watkins finished up ESPNDallas.com's position-by-position look at the Cowboys biggest areas of need with the cornerbacks.

Writes Watkins: "Where do we begin with how this unit performed? The bad: After reaching the Pro Bowl in 2009, Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman did not play up to that level in 2010. Newman did have five interceptions, tying for the team lead with safety Gerald Sensabaugh, but it was clear for the season overall, the secondary struggled. The corners were called for 17 penalties and allowed too many big plays. The good: Jenkins is young enough (he turns 26 in March) that you believe he can play better in 2011."

Watkins ranked the Cowboys' cornerback spot as a 3 out of 5 on the "need meter."

Rapid Reaction: Packers 45, Cowboys 7

November, 7, 2010
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Dallas Cowboys have hit rock bottom. In a performance that probably surpasses their 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to close the 2008 season, the Cowboys were blown away by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, 45-7, at Lambeau Field.

OK, officially the Cowboys are still in the playoff chase, but at 1-7 it appears doubtful the team will play in the middle of January. The Cowboys have lost five consecutive games, the first time they have lost five straight since 1997, when they finished 6-10. The Cowboys have been outscored 80-24 the last two games.

Wade Phillips' job status: Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show that Phillips would return to coach the rest of the season. But now after this blowout loss, the Cowboys owner might not have a choice but to fire Phillips because it appears the team is not listening to him.

The offense is lacking: On the night, the Cowboys got one touchdown thanks to Jon Kitna's 2-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant with 16 seconds to play in the first half. The Cowboys finished with just 87 total offensive yards after three quarters. The Packers had 390 yards. When the game was over, the Packers compiled 415 yards of total offense compared to 215 for the Cowboys.

Injuries a concern: Cornerback Terence Newman played with a bad rib, which seemed to bother him most of the game. He couldn't wrap up and at times he looked like he couldn't run. But Newman did finish the game. Defensive end Marcus Spears left the game with a left calf injury and he didn't finish. Wide receiver Roy E. Williams was hit in the back of the helmet, he left the game briefly, but later returned. Bryan McCann hurt his left leg when he was pushed out of bounds on a kick return. but he returned. Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer hurt his left shoulder with 4:39 to play in the game.

A second quarter to forget: The game turned in the second quarter, but more importantly a decision by Phillips cost the Cowboys a possible challenge. The Packers went ahead, 21-0, and on the ensuing kickoff, McCann was stopped and it appeared his knee was on the ground, but he was stripped of the ball by Jarrett Bush. Nick Collins picked up the loose ball and returns it for a score, 26-yards with 2:04 to play to make it 28-0. The Cowboys had no timeouts left, they used their last one with 2:16 left, so they couldn't challenge the play. And with it not being under 2:00 the replay official couldn't ask for a review.

What's next: The Cowboys might make major changes to the personnel and to the coaching staff. Next week they visit the New York Giants, who might be the best team in the NFC East.

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