When the gates burst open to legal tampering on March 15, the NFL was met with a slew of headline moves that shifted power pieces all over the league. Things didn't get off to a roaring start in the NFC East, however, at least not for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. The former stole the world's attention when they inked two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott to a record-setting deal, but were much more measured in their overall approach up to now. For the Eagles, it was all about working to move on to the post-Carson Wentz era, but they're having a hard time making waves outside the building because of that decision.
Meanwhile, you have the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team, who didn't waste any time in their chase to be frontrunners for the division crown in 2021 -- Washington having taken the honor last season after the Eagles laid down and cleared the path for the Giants to be heartbroken in Week 17. This division doesn't need any more reasons for you to keep an eye on it, but it has them, nonetheless, thanks to a variety of big moves that must now be graded.
And, at the moment, it's clear who's in the driver's seat -- free agency-wise.
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Giants - A
Biggest signing: Kenny Golladay
Dave Gettleman and Co. aren't kidding around in 2021.
They've been the biggest spenders in the division in free agency, and while time will reveal if that translates to wins during the regular season, you'd be remiss to give them anything but high marks for what they've accomplished ahead of the calendar flipping to April. CBS Sports broke the news on March 17 that the Giants were trying hard to close in on wideout Kenny Golladay and, following an extended visit, they were successful in inking him to a massive four-year deal. Before the champagne was Swiffered off of the floor, they had already also reeled in former first-round pick Adoree Jackson, who'll join James Bradberry in the defensive backfield while a now-extended Leonard Williams pushes the defensive front -- having finally landed his multiyear deal after initially being tagged a second time. Had there been no issue found in the medical evaluation of Kyle Rudolph, the grade would max out, but that stands as the only red mark on an otherwise impressive free agency push by Big Blue.
Cowboys - B
Biggest signing: Dak Prescott
Well hello there, Dan Quinn.
The team almost always licks its chops to get to work in the third and tertiary waves of free agency, but it rarely ever cares about involving big-name safeties in its pursuits. Brent Urban, Carlos Watkins and Tarell Basham (the latter helping them likely say goodbye to Aldon Smith), before moving on to sign Pro Bowl safety Keanu Neal. Neal will be used as a safety and linebacker and isn't the end of the conversation for the Cowboys at the back end of their defense, having also added Jayron Kearse for depth and after visiting with they . With cornerback Jourdan Lewis re-signed on a three-year deal, if the Cowboys add more firepower to their secondary with a top pick to help complement Donovan Wilson, Lewis and the newcomers, Quinn will have changed the entire defensive outlook in Dallas in only a few weeks.-- the single biggest signing in the entire division, if not conference or league -- the freed up cap space allowed the Cowboys to add beef to their needy defensive line by way of
Washington - B
Biggest signing: Curtis Samuel
The Football Team hasn't exactly been a slouch themselves in free agency.
Ron Rivera is coming off a division crown in his inaugural season that was also not devoid of drama, having now moved on from former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins and then releasing Alex Smith this offseason. Re-signing fan-favorite Taylor Heinicke will go over well in the D.C. area, as will adding Ryan Fitzpatrick to the mix at QB. Those two don't yet provide enough oomph to potentially threaten some of the better defenses in the NFL, but might be enough to do the trick in the NFC East -- keeping in mind Fitzpatrick is far from immune to errors he usually mixes in with his magic. Adding Samuel to the mix opposite Terry McLaurin will go a long way in helping the QBs, though, and tagging Brandon Scherff keeps one of the better pass protectors in tow as well. Flip to the other side of the ball and you have to like the addition of William Jackson III, on its face, but will they lose team legend Ryan Kerrigan in 2021? It looks like they might, which will sting behind a stellar starting cast on the defensive line.
Eagles - D
Biggest signing: Anthony Harris
It's difficult to spend cash when you're handcuffed to the bank's counter.
That was the problem for the Eagles as they entered free agency, having been massively in the red as it relates to the NFL salary cap heading into the offseason, things didn't get better in seeing how they traded away Carson Wentz and choked down a $33.8 million dead-money hit for his contract -- the largest in NFL history. Because they were/are so hamstrung, there's not much they could/could've achieved thus far in free agency, but the addition of Harris has to be viewed with golden lenses. Not far removed from being one of the best ballhawks in the league, the veteran safety gets plopped into a secondary that's long been in need of safety help, and much more so after sending Malcolm Jenkins on his way one year ago. They hope safety Andrew Adams will help as well, but that's a longer reach, and the Eagles also lost several players to other teams, including Jalen Mills to the New England Patriots. It hasn't been a good run in this year's free agency for Philly, to say the least, largely due to a self-inflicted cash crunch.