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Redskins Look to Re-establish Presence In NFC East


The 2010 offseason started slowly for the Redskins--and team officials were lauded for their calm, measured approach to free agency.

In the end, the Redskins made some of the biggest moves of the offseason again.

Two of the top free agent running backs--former Pro Bowlers Larry Johnson and Willie Parker--joined the Redskins.

Then, on April 4, the Redskins shocked everyone by acquiring Donovan McNabb in a trade with division rival Philadelphia.

The Redskins capped off the offseason by selecting offensive tackle Trent Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Washington entered the offseason needing to make some big moves after a disappointing 4-12 season. With McNabb the quarterback, it's conceivable the team has enough in place to make a run at the playoffs.

First they must re-establish themselves in the NFC East. The Redskins were 0-6 in divisional play last season.

Everyone else? They all beat up on each other. The Cowboys beat the Eagles twice (as well as a third time in the Wild Card playoffs), the Eagles beat the Giants twice and the Giants beat the Cowboys twice.

The Redskins can get off to a fast start in the NFC East next season as they host the Cowboys in Week 1 in a nationally televised, Sunday night matchup at FedExField.

Here's a look at the moves and maneuvers by the rest of the NFC East this offseason:

Dallas Cowboys

You knew the defending NFC East champion Cowboys could not go the entire offseason without some sort of dramatic move.

After basically sitting out free agency, the Cowboys made a splash in the draft by trading up to acquire wide receiver Dez Bryant late in the first round. Though Bryant has been labeled as a character risk, his talent is undeniable.

Dallas may have the best wide receiver corps in the division now with Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Bryant and Patrick Crayton. (Crayton's future with the club is uncertain, however.)

The Cowboys upgraded their defense with their next two draft picks, linebacker Sean Lee and safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in the second and fourth rounds, respectively.

They did not address their offensive line until the sixth round with Notre Dame tackle Sam Young.

Dallas has an aging offensive line that includes 10-year veteran Leonard Davis and nine-year veterans Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier.

The Cowboys did release long-time left tackle Flozell Adams and handed the job to fourth-year lineman Doug Free, who replaced an injured Marc Colombo at right tackle for seven games last season. Free is seeing his first extensive action at left tackle in his pro career.

New York Giants

The Giants moved quickly this offseason to shore up their weak spot in 2009 -- the secondary.

The unit finished 15th in the NFL in pass defense a year ago, but defensive backs struggled in coverage when safety Kenny Phillips went down in Week 2 with a patella injury.

In free agency this offseason, the Giants signed former Arizona Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle, one of the top free agents on the market, and 10-year veteran Deon Grant to shore up the secondary.

In the draft, the focus on defense continued.

The Giants added another pass rusher in Jason Pierre-Paul with the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Although Pierre-Paul is thought to be raw, he should have time to develop playing behind Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiawanuka and Osi Umenyiora. (Umenyiora's future with the club is uncertain, however.)

The Giants also added highly regarded defensive tackle Linval Joseph, a classic run-stuffer at 6-4 and 328 pounds, in the second round. In the third round, they selected safety Chad Jones to add more depth to the secondary.


Donovan McNabb (Ned Dishman Photo)

The Giants, who released long-time middle linebacker Antonio Pierce this offseason, may have drafted his eventual replacement in Phillip Dillard, a fourth-round selection.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are denying that the team is going through a youth movement, but their actions speak otherwise.

Trading a franchise quarterback like Donovan McNabb signals a new era in Philadelphia. Kevin Kolb, a 2007 second-round draft pick, is the new quarterback.

Kolb has started two NFL games, both last season as a replacement for an injured McNabb. He became the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards in his first two NFL starts, but there's no denying that the Eagles take a step back in terms of experience at the quarterback position.

The Eagles also released long-time running back Brian Westbrook, handing the job to second-year man LeSean McCoy.

Apart from Kolb and McCoy, the Eagles have focused on upgrading the defense. They finished 17th overall in the NFL last season and allowed 450 yards in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys to close out their season.

Via the trade route, the Eagles acquired defensive end Darryl Tapp from Seattle and linebacker Ernie Sims from Detroit.

And in the draft, nine of the Eagles' 13 picks were devoted to the defense.

In the first round, Philadelphia traded up to acquire Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, a classic edge rusher who should fit in well in the Eagles' aggressive defense. They added two more pass rushers with third-round pick Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and fifth-rounder Ricky Sapp.

The Eagles also addressed the secondary, which lost Brian Dawkins in 2009 and Sheldon Brown this offseason. Nate Allen, who the Eagles drafted in the second round with the McNabb pick, steps in at safety and Trevard Lindley, a fourth-rounder, is a rookie cornerback.

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