NFC Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Zach Ertz, Giants, Saquon Barkley, Washington


  • Cowboys DC Dan Quinn has cleared COVID-19 protocol after testing positive on August 21. (Michael Gehlken)
  • Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy confirmed that they are not interested in free-agent QB Cam Newton: “I think he has a ton of football left. But we’re very excited about the group that we have.” (Andrew Siciliano)


  • Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says Eagles TE Zach Ertz garnered legitimate trade interest this offseason, specifically from the Bills, Chargers and Colts. A conditional fifth-round pick was on the table but Philadelphia never pulled the trigger. 
  • McLane adds Ertz had a sitdown with Eagles GM Howie Roseman and HC Nick Sirianni after the draft where Sirianni explained that although he liked Ertz, he wanted his offense to feature three wide receivers more than two tight ends. 
  • That said, Sirianni has adjusted to the idea of keeping both Ertz and TE Dallas Goedert after the two were regularly among Philadelphia’s best pass-catchers during training camp. 
  • Ertz said an ankle injury exacerbated a tough year last season but he feels healthy and renewed going into 2021: “I feel better now than I did at this time last year going into the season physically, mentally, emotionally. So there’s no doubt in my mind that I can be exactly the player I was if not better than I was, how everyone talks about me prior to this past year.” (Zach Berman)
  • Asked whether he thought the organization treated him honestly and fairly this offseason, Ertz responded: “It’s a moot point. This organization has believed in me, not only the first eight years of my career, but they believed in me probably more than so than anyone else did in the league. They were standing firm to what they believed was fair. And ultimately I can’t fault them for that. They know how I feel about this city. I truly love being here. And what’s happened in the past is in the past to me. I’m not thinking about it.”


  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports Giants RB Saquon Barkley (knee) has a “strong chance” to play in Week 1 but the team won’t decide on his availability until next week.
  • Although there is optimism that Barkley will play, Fowler mentions there’s still a chance that they hold him back.
  • Giants DC Patrick Graham had high praised of OLB Quincy Roche‘s strength: “He almost broke my hand when I met him.” (Art Stapleton)
  • Giants OC Jason Garrett said he’s optimistic that TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) will be able to play in Week 1 after returning to practice this week.  (Ryan Dunleavy)
  • Giants OL coach Rob Sale said OL Nick Gates will get more playing time at guard after participating there at Wednesday’s practice. (Zack Rosenblatt)
  • Giants DBs coach Jerome Henderson said CB Sam Beal could have a big role going forward: “With those physical traits and skills he has, he’s a guy we hope late in the year will play some serious snaps for us.” (Ralph Vacchiano)
  • Giants WR Kenny Golladay said recovering from hamstrings is complex but still feels capable of playing: “Each day I’m getting better. … I’ve still got to get my legs underneath me. … Hamstrings are tricky. You’ve got to be patient with them.” (Ralph Vacchiano)


Washington HC Ron Rivera explained why they ultimately landed on Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback for the 2021 season. The team thought they were a season away from really competing, so they couldn’t go all-in on a veteran. But now with Fitzpatrick in the fold, they feel optimistic he can take advantage of what’s become a surprisingly good team around him, at least on paper. 

“We didn’t have the pieces in place to say, ‘All we have to do is get a quarterback we can win now,'” Rivera said via Michael Silver of the team website. “I felt that if we could continue to put the rest of the pieces in place, why not do that? We like the guys that we have, and we like where we are, so why not add on a couple of pieces? Then, as we went through it, we felt, Wow — we’re shoring up the defense in free agency and the draft. Wow — we got a slot receiver and a speed receiver in free agency and drafted a speed receiver. Now let’s see if we can get everybody trained, get a veteran quarterback and see what happens.”

Rivera said the team poked around but the cost to trade up for a rookie quarterback was prohibitive. 

“That would have defeated the whole purpose,” Rivera said. “We’re trying to build a team, not give up building blocks. Some people wanted way too much draft capital for the next two years. We weren’t through building. If we mortgaged our future on a player — and maybe he isn’t the right guy, and maybe we can’t afford to keep our core — it could have really set us back.”

As for Fitzpatrick, there was a lot that compelled him about the situation in Washington, where he enters the season as the unquestioned starter with no one really looking over his shoulder for the first time in his 17-year career. 

“A chance to start — that was the big thing I was looking for,” Fitzpatrick said. “And there were a couple of teams out there that I talked to, and then it was like I got a chance to make a decision. Which is crazy, cause I never really have a chance to make a decision; the decision is pretty much always made for me. It’s always been a couple of backup jobs here or there, and Which one’s closest to Disneyworld?… that type of thing. I’ve obviously been brought in to start. But I don’t think I’ve ever really had to make a decision (between potential starting opportunities).

“There was the appeal of the youth of this team, and of Coach Rivera and everything I’d heard about him. There were just a lot of positives and things that seemed like this place was trending in the right direction. So, it had all of those things wrapped up in it and made it an easy decision for me.”

Both sides are clear-eyed that this arrangement isn’t guaranteed past this season, as Fitzpatrick is the quintessential journeyman quarterback. But who knows what could happen after the season plays out. 

“We’ve got our fingers crossed that we’re doing the right thing,” Rivera said. “We do want to try to keep our own; we feel really good about our own. We’d like to get everything else in place and then take a step back and address that position and say, ‘Now it’s time, guys. Let’s roll.’ Next year, if all goes well, it’ll be like, ‘Man, we’ve got all the pieces now.’ Then we can decide: Is it time to draft a young one, trade for one or, who knows, maybe Fitz has another year in him?”

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