NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants

     

Cowboys

After he finished the year a perfect 10-for-10 on field goals, Cowboys K Kai Forbath appeared to have the lead on the starting job in Dallas in 2020 until the team signed former Rams K Greg Zuerlein. Given Dallas gave Forbath a one-year deal as opposed to a three-year deal for Zuerlein, it’s pretty clear who the frontrunner for the job is. However, Zuerlein doesn’t anticipate it being awkward come training camp. 

“I know Kai from having him come in and working out at the Rams’ facility in the past, and he’s a great guy,” Zuerlein told 103.3 KESN-FM via the Dallas Morning News. “I look forward to being around him, learning from him. And hopefully, we have a good competition. Ideally, I win. I wouldn’t have signed here if I didn’t think I … I mean, you go anywhere and expect to win the job if you have any sort of confidence at all. I just look forward to being around him. I’ve been with other kickers in camp, and there’s never any animosity. Kickers get along very well. You go out, kick, and let the kicking speak for itself. Friendships don’t have to get in the way of a job. The rest is up for the coaches to decide.”

Not only did Dallas bring in Zuerlein, but the Cowboys also hired former Rams ST coordinator John Fassel as a part of a wholesale renovation of its special teams unit that was a major weakness in 2019. Fassel has been one of the top special teams coaches in the NFL for so long he earned the nickname “Bones” from his players. Zuerlein says Dallas scored a major coup by signing him. 

“Oh, we could have a whole hourlong conversation about ‘Bones,'” Zuerlein said. “He’s going to get the guys ready to play. They’ll know what they’re doing. I think the biggest thing that’s really immeasurable is the chemistry he creates by making all the guys buy in. So, everyone is working as a unit. … He makes sure guys aren’t out there on an island by themselves.

“He gets those undrafted guys, players who don’t want to play special teams and think they should be starting, he gets them to believe in themselves and then buy in to what he’s doing. Following what he says, you’ll get opportunities to start. Just looking at what he’s done with so many late draft picks or undrafted guys, he gets them balling out on special teams and when injuries happen those guys get their opportunity. … Then they get paid a lot of money by somebody else or their own team. I’ve watched Fassel do this eight years now and it’s impressive. He’ll continue to do that in Dallas.”

Eagles

  • Per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, free-agent RB LeSean McCoy said “it would mean a lot to be back” with the Eagles: “It’s not a secret, everybody knows it was special for me there when I was playing with the Eagles.”

Giants

  • Per NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo, Giants GM Dave Gettleman said he thought it was “more prudent” to put the franchise tag on DL Leonard Williams rather than the transition tag. 
  • The transition tag would have given New York the right of first refusal if another team had offered Williams a deal but no draft compensation if they let him walk, which indicates the Giants thought Williams would command a decent market from other teams. 
  • As it is, multiple NFL agents say the $16.12 million franchise tag number for Williams currently sets the floor for long-term negotiations: “Pass rushers always get the big-time money in the NFL. If I were his agent, I’d shoot for the moon, but I think the franchise tag price is actually pretty fair. He’d likely get mid-teens [millions].”
  • While one agent said they didn’t think the Giants would go over $15 million for Williams, who had 0.5 sacks in eight games after being traded in 2019, other pointed to 49ers DL Arik Armstead and Falcons DT Grady Jarrett getting $17 million per year as what Williams’ agent could ask for in negotiations. 
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