NFC East report cards: Washington’s pivotal offseason blunders

Updated: May 17, 2017

7:30 AM ET

It’s time to reflect on the 2017 offseason. There are a few stray veterans left in the free-agent pool, and teams could still execute something unexpected if injuries arise, but organizations have mostly closed their checkbooks and built the rosters they’re going to take onto the field in September.

Of course, we can know only so much right now. This time last year, there was no way anybody knew that the Cowboys had drafted a franchise quarterback. Kyle Shanahan was lucky to survive the offseason in Atlanta as an offensive coordinator, let alone be considering head-coaching roles.

At the same time, we can look at what each team’s goals were (or should have been) heading into March and gain a sense of whether they did enough to address those concerns. In most cases, we can also plot what they have to do before hitting Week 1.

We’ll run division by division over the next two weeks. Let’s head to the NFC East, a division that drastically turned things around in 2016 and sent two teams to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Cowboys | Giants | Eagles | Washington

Dallas Cowboys

What went right

They didn’t do anything spectacular and pocketed a bunch of compensatory selections. Given owner Jerry Jones’ history, it’s always a relief to see the Cowboys have a relatively quiet offseason while avoiding going after players whose names (and salaries) might outstrip their performances. The Cowboys did not consummate their long-standing interest in running back Adrian Peterson, instead allowing the would-be backup to Ezekiel Elliott to head farther south to New Orleans. They re-signed Terrance Williams and Jason Witten in lieu of finding a sexier second weapon in the passing game for quarterback Dak Prescott. They operated like a team in sound shape, which they are.

The Cowboys might very well sign a veteran or two now that the additions won’t affect Dallas’ standing in the compensatory process. Per the projections at, coach Jason Garrett’s team appears set to pocket the maximum of four compensatory picks, including picks in the fourth and sixth rounds to go with a pair of fifth-rounders. If we treat those picks like the average compensatory selections from each of those rounds, the Cowboys are grabbing 6.4 points of draft capital, per Chase Stuart’s chart, which is roughly equivalent to the 84th pick in the draft.

They found help for their pass rush. Rod Marinelli has been manufacturing a pass rush out of sheer will the past couple of seasons; the Cowboys sacked Aaron Rodgers three times during their 34-31 loss to the Packers in the playoffs, but it’s telling that all three sacks came from defensive backs. At the very least, Dallas needed to try to give Marinelli a pass-rusher with some sort of pedigree to rotate in on the edge, and Jones committed his first-round pick toward an upgrade by drafting Taco Charlton out of Michigan with the 28th selection. Marinelli has a well-earned reputation of getting the most out of defensive linemen who have been anonymous elsewhere within the league; here’s his chance to work with a first-round talent. Dallas also spent four draft picks on defensive backs, which will be crucial, given that it lost four of its top six defensive backs from last season’s depth chart to free agency.