Each year free agency rolls around this division manages to shuffle around a high-profile player. This year we're talking about two Pro Bowl players in DeSean Jackson and Jason Hatcher staying inside the division to play for a former rival, pitting them against their former allies not once, but twice. How do these two signings specifically effect the rest of the division?
The Players Before:
Hatcher, selected in the third round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, had sat on the bench for much of his career with little to no impact before Monte Kiffin's scheme resuscitated his career. Jackson, a second round selection by the Eagles in 2008, had a profound impact on the Eagles since the beginning. But what made them so great? What makes these two players so key inside this division? Here's their 2013 statistics.
(Philadelphia '13) DeSean Jackson: 82 receptions, 1332 receiving yards, 9 touchdown catches
(Dallas '13) Jason Hatcher: 41 tackles, 11 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
The Players Now:
Both Jackson and Hatcher are now wearing burgundy and gold playing for the Washington Redskins.
On April Fools Day, DeSean Jackson played a trick on the birds and signed a three-year contract with Washington. There were interested teams outside of the NFC East - a reported total of nine teams - two of which lied in the California area, the 49ers and Raiders. Instead of playing for California, as NJ.com reports that he has affiliations with a gang in Cali, he chose to stay in the NFC East and play for a rival after being released by his team, after six years and two head coaches.
Jason Hatcher signed a deal for four years, worth over 27 million dollars and afterwards stated that the Cowboys showed no interest in bringing him back to the team after eight seasons. Whether that is true is really unknown. We're not inside Jerry Jones' mind.
The New York Giants:
How are the Giants doing after these turn of events? Not so good. They likely got the worst end of the deal, or deals. DeSean Jackson played the Giants twice last season and he went off, gathering 15 receptions, 195 yards and 1 score. Jason Hatcher put up 5 tackles and 3 sacks in two games versus the G-Men. Safe to say that these two greatly contributed to their All-Star campaigns when playing the New York football Giants. These two still know their new opponents very well, and that will only mean more havoc on the opposing side when this game rolls around.
The Philadelphia Eagles:
The Eagles will have to swallow a large pill, the one they were prescribed when they released the 27-year-old, 3-time Pro Bowler this week.
Bad news for those guys as they're going to need to order another for a double dose because Jackson's still in the NFC East and they'll have to play him twice this season. DeSean knows the Eagles' scheme after being around Chip Kelly for a season. If this move happened a year ago I wouldn't have looked much at all into it, because DeSean wouldn't be so aware of the defense Kelly runs. But now he has a clue; he's experienced it.
In two games last year Jason Hatcher had eight combined tackles, three sacks, and one of his two forced fumbles.
With revenge on the mind of DJax, and Nick Foles possibly holding the ball longer without their speedy separation receiver, this could bode very badly for the Eagles.
The Dallas Cowboys:
I saved the best for last! DC Nation, we might not have a problem on our hands, not with DeSean Jackson at least. In two games last year, against the worst Cowboys defense he's ever had to face, he managed only six grabs for 49 years and never saw the end zone. But Jason Hatcher?
Hatcher has a tendency to play well against division rivals. Does he get motivated off of this stuff? If so, with Dallas dropping him like Hatcher states, then we have a serious problem - Jason's motivation to stick it to his former team. Eight of Hatcher's eleven sacks last season came against NFC East teams. This concern might contribute to Dallas drafting a guard as an insurance policy for when the injury-bug strikes - which normally does.
It's likely that Dallas has the least of the worries, as opposed to the Eagles and Giants, when it comes to Jason Hatcher and DeSean Jackson playing for the enemy in 2014. In my opinion, do I think these two signings propel Washington to first in the division? No, but they won't hurt their chances if these two players perform like they did for their respective former teams.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins
Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.
Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.
By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.
Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.
Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.
Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.
Upgrading the Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?
Despite the displeasure by the majority of fans, the Dallas Cowboys continue to hold things close to the vest with their approach to free agency. It's definitely not the most popular approach and tends to drive fans crazy, but things could start heating up now that the free-agent market is starting to settle.
Looking from the outside in, we can only speculate as to which positions the Dallas Cowboys may prioritize in free agency and in the draft that matter. Earl Thomas and the safety position has been the most popular topic of discussion throughout the free agency process, but it looks as if the Cowboys are narrowing their focus on upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line.
This is just speculation of course, but it's based on the fact that the Cowboys are rumored to be bringing in free-agent offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming. And on top of that, it was announced that two of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are also offensive lineman, Will Hernandez, who is popular among Cowboys fans already, and offensive tackle Kolton Miller.
I don't know about you, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys are certainly focused in on upgrading the offensive line. This absolutely makes sense after what they went through last season with the carousel at the left guard position and Tyron Smith's struggles to stay healthy.
More than anything, the Cowboys need OL depth heading into the 2018 season. There is only really one spot up for grabs at left guard, but the depth across the OL is absolutely depleted unless you want to rely on Chaz Green again.
This is where Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming make a lot of sense. Marcus Martin has the versatility to play center and guard, and has done so already in his NFL career. He could compete for the starting LG position, but if nothing else, could replace Joe Looney as the backup C/OG.
Cameron Fleming could be the more important of the two free agents the Cowboys are rumored to be interested in. At the worst, Fleming would be an upgrade as the swing tackle, something he's done with the New England Patriots throughout his career. But, he could compete to become the starting right tackle, which would kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard.
That's all speculation right now, but the Dallas Cowboys would do what's best for the entire team in order to get the right starting five offensive lineman on the field.
The same can be said about rookies Will Hernandez and Kolton Miller. Hernandez would likely be a plug-and-play left guard if he ended up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick. That would keep the offensive line from shuffling and hopefully solidify the unit for years to come.
Kolton Miller on the other hand would be a lot like the Cameron Fleming situation mentioned above. He can probably tackle on the left or right side the NFL, although some draft analysts believe he will struggle as a LT at the next level.
Of course, there is no way of knowing how much interest the Dallas Cowboys have any of these players right now. But to me, it looks as if upgrading the offensive line is certainly one of their top priorities this offseason.
Is upgrading the OL the Dallas Cowboys top offseason priority?
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