Friday, April 5, 2013
Eight in the Box: Under the radar
By Dan Graziano
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A look at the top under-the-radar move made by each NFC East team thus far this offseason:
Dallas Cowboys: Cutting safety Gerald Sensabaugh.
This move was significant in a couple of ways. Its most immediate impact was that it created enough salary-cap room to allow the Cowboys, later that same day, to designate defensive end Anthony Spencer as their franchise player for the second year in a row. Spencer still stands as the team's most significant "free agent acquisition," and franchising him left the Cowboys with very little room under the cap for the ensuing few weeks. Although it helped the Cowboys cross starting defensive end off of their offseason shopping list, it left safety as a position of some concern. The projected starters right now are Barry Church, who's coming off injury, and Matt Johnson, a second-year man who didn't play at all as a rookie. They signed veteran Will Allen for depth, but it's a position they might have to address early in the draft as well.
New York Giants: Signing defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.
Jenkins was part of the colossal disappointment that was the past two seasons in Philadelphia, but he's a veteran with something left who should make a contribution in New York in a few ways. He has experience at defensive end as well as tackle, so he'll fit in when the Giants decide to use those packages that load up the line with pass-rushers. The Giants like to lean on high-character veterans to help develop young players, and Jenkins can fill that role for someone like Marvin Austin. And with the way the Giants rotate linemen, they should be able to keep Jenkins fresh. After cutting Chris Canty, the Giants needed to add depth on the defensive line, and Jenkins was a smart pickup after the Eagles cut him just before free agency opened.
Philadelphia Eagles: Trading for wide receiver Arrelious Benn.
I have no idea whether Benn will make an impact for the Eagles as a wide receiver. Injury problems his first three years in the league led Tampa Bay to give up on him and deal him to the Eagles for basically nothing. And he's behind starters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, among others, on the depth chart. But he's also just 24 years old and was a second-round draft pick only three years ago, so there is some untapped potential there. If he can get on the field in the offense, he's got enough size to offer something the Eagles' starting wideouts don't. Regardless, the move was significant as a part of a clear mission by new coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman to improve the Eagles' disappointing special teams units. Benn has experience as a return man and in kick coverage, and should help there right away. Along with the signing of linebacker Jason Phillips and punter Donnie Jones, and the re-signing of Colt Anderson, Benn is part of a special teams overhaul.
Washington Redskins: Re-signing fullback Darrel Young
Except on the rare occasions when he catches a pass or powers into the end zone for a short touchdown, Young doesn't get noticed much, but he's a critical part of a Redskins' running game that ranked No. 1 in the league in 2012. That run game is likely to be even more important than it was last season while starting quarterback Robert Griffin III recovers from offseason knee surgery, and the Redskins' ability to retain Young and keep their offensive line intact will benefit tailback Alfred Morris greatly in his second season.