NFC Notes: Eagles, Giants, Washington


  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes that despite some flashes, people around the league expect the Eagles to explore an upgrade to QB Jalen Hurts, especially because they have three first-round picks: “When you have three first-round picks and you don’t have a top guy at quarterback, you have to exhaust that option.” 
  • Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins were two names who came up, per Fowler. 
  •’s Mike Kaye thinks the Eagles should only bring back S Rodney McLeod, CB Steven Nelson, S Anthony Harris or DE Ryan Kerrigan if they’re unable to find better options in the draft or free agency this offseason. 
  • Kaye adds it’s time for a fresh start for DE Derek Barnett after five years of limited production and penalties with the Eagles. 
  • As far as returnees, Kaye mentions LB Genard Avery, RB Jordan Howard and DT Hassan Ridgeway likely won’t face much competition for their services and could be back as depth in 2022. 
  • Eagles LB T.J. Edwards said the team stands behind DC Jonathon Gannon: “When he’s talking, you know what he’s talking about, he’s very clear.” (Kaye)
  • Eagles DT Fletcher Cox said he isn’t thinking about his contract right now: “I’m happy where I am right now. If you want to ask a question about that, I can give you [agent] Todd France’s number. I’m not talking about any type of contract situation or me being here.” (Jeff McLane)
  • Hurts is happy with the progress he made this year: “I think I’ve done a lot of great things this year, a lot of things to learn from.” (McLane)
  • Eagles first-round WR DeVonta Smith believes he can do better next year: “There’s some stuff I left out there…I’m still not satisfied. Still feel like I can be a whole lot better than I was.” (Pro Football Talk)
  • The Eagles declared $16,481,403 in unused cap space to roll over for 2021, though this figure will be audited for incentives by the NFL before becoming official. (Field Yates)


A major criticism surrounding the Giants as they wrap up what has been a decade of mostly failure is how insular the organization has become. Family members of co-owner John Mara are scattered throughout the front office, including his brother, senior VP of player personnel Chris Mara. He cut his teeth coming up through the scouting department and ran his own independent scouting firm for a while, so his qualifications aren’t what draws scrutiny. It’s his influence on the team which is more nebulous. 

“You can’t treat him the same as a scout or a coach,” said a former member of the Giants front office to the Athletic’s Dan Duggan. “If the owner says something, you’re going to have to take that into account more so than someone else. I know this guy owns the team, so we have to sort of navigate around what he wants.”

Chris Mara has wanted the GM job in the past but that was a bit too much of a bad look for the Giants to consider, so he’s been passed over multiple times. John Mara has said his brother spends most of his time scouting and evaluating players, but Duggan notes colleagues say he’s been more hands off in recent years, including skipping the third day of the draft in 2015 to go watch his horse race in the Kentucky Derby. And he’s been a part of the last two coach search committees for the Giants, including this year. 

Jerry Jones is out there, like, ‘Yeah, I’m doing this.’ He’s not hiding. He’s not in the shadows,” a former front-office employee said. “He’s like, ‘Me and (son) Stephen are doing this. We messed up? OK, here we are.’ It’s different where they’re upfront about it and they’re accountable for their decisions.”

John Mara’s nephew, Tim McDonnell, also works in the scouting department and also gets glowing reviews for his work ethic inside and outside the building. But others question how quickly he’s gained influence and point out it’s another example of family being prioritized over getting new ideas in the building to turn things around. 

“Legitimately two weeks on the job, not knowing what life was like working in the NFL, I’m like, ‘This place is f—g messed up,’” said a former staffer who worked for high-level college programs before joining the Giants. “There was no structure, no accountability. You have people in positions that are just god-awful that have been there for so long. They need to bring in a third party and they need to audit everything from top to bottom, in terms of processes, quality of staff, plan, protocols.”


  • Washington HC Ron Rivera referenced potentially being willing to give up core players to get a quarterback this offseason and the Athletic’s Ben Standig highlights the defensive line as a natural place to take from given Washington’s depth there. 
  • Standig says trading either DT Daron Payne or DE Montez Sweat would make sense given DT Jonathan Allen was just extended and they don’t have to worry about a new contract for DE Chase Young until 2023 at the earliest. Sweat would be worth more than Payne but Washington doesn’t have a clear replacement for him on the roster. 
  • Standig notes Washington will have some decisions to make with a group of pending free agents that includes TE Ricky Seals-Jones, OT Cornelius Lucas, CB Danny Johnson, RB J.D. McKissic, S Bobby McCain, LB Jonathan Bostic, WR Adam Humphries and WR DeAndre Carter.
  • Not all of those guys were starters but they all played key roles or exceeded expectations, and Rivera said in December the team wanted to bring back as many as possible: “You can’t keep everybody, and it’s hard. You want to keep as many of these guys as you can though.”
  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes that league executives thought Washington made sense as a trade destination for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo with the thought he wouldn’t cost much to acquire and would be a decent scheme fit: 
  • Washington declared $4,080,239 in unused cap space to roll over for 2021, though this figure will be audited for incentives by the NFL before becoming official. (Field Yates)
  • Washington chief legal officer Damon Jones left the team to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as an assistant GM. (JP Finlay)

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