Ranking The NFC East After NFL Free Agency

Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The free-agent period is all but over, as there are only a handful of names remaining on the market who will genuinely be able to help a team next season.

With the bulk of the signings out of the way, now seems like a good time to start assessing the divisions for 2024. Yes, we still have the NFL Draft, but, for the most part, we know where just about every team will stand heading into next year.

So, let’s rank one of the most compelling divisions in the league: the NFC East.

4. Washington Commanders

The Commanders made a few significant signings in free agency, landing running back Austin Ekeler, center Tyler Biadasz, edge rusher Dorance Armstrong and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

That being said, Washington’s offensive line remains dreadful, even with the addition of Biadasz. The Commanders will probably take either Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick to play quarterback, but behind that line, things could be problematic.

Also, while Ekeler is a decent name, he showed signs of a sharp decline this past season, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry with the Los Angeles Chargers. Is he truly a good complement to Brian Robinson at this stage of his career?

Bringing in Armstrong and Wagner (plus fellow linebacker Frankie Luvu) should definitely boost what was a horrendous defense in 2023, but Washington also lost safety Kamren Curl, who was one of the team’s best players this past year.

The Commanders also lack elite weapons in the passing game outside of wide receiver Terry McLaurin.

It would be surprising if Washington finished any higher than last place next season.

3. New York Giants

The Giants’ offense took a hit with the loss of Saquon Barkley (and to the Philadelphia Eagles, no less), but let’s be honest: just how effective would Barkley have been for New York in 2024 anyway?

Barkley is rarely 100 percent healthy these days, and he averaged just 3.9 yards per attempt in 2023.

New York replaced him with a far cheaper option in Devin Singletary, who, at the very least, has shown he can stay on the field. The Giants also shored up their offensive line, and they made a gigantic addition to their pass rush by swinging a trade with the Carolina Panthers for edge rusher Brian Burns.

Big Blue went from having one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL to now having a very fierce one with the tandem of Burns and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Throw in defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, and suddenly, the Giants have a pretty impressive front seven.

New York still has work to do. Its quarterback situation is in flux, as Daniel Jones does not appear to be the answer. Do the Giants take a signal-caller at No. 6? They also need a genuine No. 1 wide receiver, as they don’t seem to have one on the roster at the moment.

Losing top-flight safety Xavier McKinney also hurts.

At the very least, New York took a step forward, mainly due to the acquisition of Burns and offensive linemen like Jon Runyan Jr. and Jermaine Eluemunor.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Everyone is ready to anoint the Eagles as the best team in the division, but I’m not ready to go there yet.

Yes, Philadelphia had a huge haul in free agency, signing the aforementioned Barkley as well as edge rusher Bryce Huff, linebacker Devin White and defensive back CJ Gardner-Johnson.

But Philly overpaid for Barkley, who rushed for just 962 yards this past year and has not played a full season since his rookie campaign in 2018. Honestly, the Eagles may have been better off keeping the younger, healthier D’Andre Swift at a much cheaper price.

While the addition of Huff is huge, keep in mind that defensive lineman Fletcher Cox retired, and Philadelphia may be trading fellow edge rusher Haason Reddick. It also remains to be seen if Huff can replicate his breakout 2023 campaign.

On top of that, there is the situation with Nick Sirianni. Sirianni appeared to lose the team in the second half of 2023, as evidenced by the fact that Philly went 1-5 down the stretch and was routed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

Sure, the Eagles have some elite weaponry in the form of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but will Jalen Hurts rediscover his MVP-caliber form from 2022? Or will his play from this past year carry over?

I’m also not sold on the defense, which was absolutely horrendous this past season.

1. Dallas Cowboys

Did the Cowboys make any big moves in free agency? No. As a matter of fact, they barely made any at all, with linebacker Eric Kendricks representing their only addition.

However, Dallas still has the best quarterback in the division in Dak Prescott. It has arguably the best receiver in CeeDee Lamb. It also houses probably the best defensive player in Micah Parsons.

All of those guys will still be taking the field for the Cowboys in 2024, so in spite of the moves the Eagles made, I see no reason to bump Dallas out of the top spot. At least not yet.

Of course, the Cowboys need to address their backfield. They lost Tony Pollard to the Tennessee Titans and have not done anything to replace him. Surely, they will look toward the NFL Draft for a solution, and they may also sign someone like J.K. Dobbins or, heck, maybe Ezekiel Elliott for some veteran depth.

Let’s keep in mind that this team went 12-5 this past season. Yes, Dallas was demolished by the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round, but Philadelphia got smoked, as well.

The Cowboys certainly aren’t infallible, and it remains to be seen if Mike McCarthy is truly the right man for the job (his playoff results have not been great). But, this ballclub is still supremely talented, and at this current juncture, Dallas is the best team in the NFC East.

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