Notes around the NFC East: Doug Free’s leverage, the Skins’ cap number, a great new website find, and DeSean’s “greatest play”

Cowboys

• The Cowboys are trying to get Doug Free to take a pay cut, and rightfully so. Free has been awful the past two years. Last year, he led the entire NFL in penalties. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that the Cowboys want him to take a cut so that they can sign RT Eric Winston.

The problem is that Free has little reason to accept a drastic pay cut. The risk in not accepting a pay cut is that the team can release you. However, if the Cowboys were to release Free, they would save exactly $0 on this year’s cap, which would of course do them no good whatsoever in trying to sign a new player:

Doug Free

Oh, and then there’s the awkwardness of asking a player to take a pay cut so that they can replace him with another guy who plays his position.

The other option the Cowboys have would be to cut him after June 1. That would enable them to spread Free’s cap hit over this year and next. The Cowboys’ books in 2014 are already laughable. Adding more money to 2014 would not be a prudent thing to do, but if there’s something Jerry Jones is not, it’s “prudent.” Maybe Free takes a minor pay cut that will guarantee him a portion of his salary this season, but there’s little incentive for him to shave off a significant amount that’s going to help the Cowboys all that much.

On a side note, signing Winston would be classic Jerry Jones. Put an aging band aid on the OL instead of fixing it long term through the draft.

Redskins

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the Redskins are less than $30,000 under the salary cap. One paragraph from Maske’s piece stood out:

The Redskins reworked the contracts of wide receiver Santana Moss, safety Brandon Meriweather and defensive end Adam Carriker earlier in the offseason to create maneuvering room beneath the cap. But team officials stressed that in those cases, they did not place any additional burden on the club’s salary cap in future years with the contract reworkings. Instead, players agreed to salary reductions. In at least some of those cases, the player’s reworked contract contains incentives enabling him to possibly earn back the money lost in the salary reduction.

That is the difference between what the Redskins did this offseason, and what the Cowboys did.

Giants

DeSean Jackson’s walkoff punt return TD won NFL.com’s “Greatest Play of All Time” bracket. Here it is again, in case anybody missed it.

And yeah yeah, I know… No Super Bowls.

Eagles

• The Eagles reportedly made a contract offer to Akeem Jordan. I like Akeem Jordan. He was one of the few good special teamers for the Eagles last season, and can play a variety of positions in a pinch. He’s a quality “back of the roster” guy that will have to fight for a job, if indeed he re-signs with the team.

• Last week, I wrote about how the Eagles might have a potential trade back partner in the Dolphins for the services of OT Lane Johnson. Within that post, I noted just how stellar Johnson’s combine performance was:

One of my readers, @PhiIs_Goodman, saw the above chart and sent me a link to a site that shows visualizations of combine performances in comparison to other players in their positional groups. Here’s what Lane Johnson’s looks like:

Lane Johnson

I passed along the site to some friends, and they wasted the better part of their afternoons yesterday looking up players, and seeing who they compare to. By far, the funniest find in my opinion, was Casey Matthews’ chart:

Casey Matthews

Casey didn’t exactly light up the Combine.

Anyway, the site is called Mockdraftable.com. Here is the starting point to where you can look at comparative Combine visualizations. I warn you though. If you have things to do today, DO NOT click that link.

Be sure to follow Blogging the bEast on Twitter and like Blogging the bEast on Facebook.

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  24. NYG_Slater says:

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    every time i close the tab, i come up with another guy i gotta look up.

  25. Bob says:

    Well yeah, the cowboys do have leverage over Free. Forget the dead money etc., it’s already gone. It basically comes down to keeping him on the roster costs them $7 million dollars, either against this year’s cap or next year’s cap. No way in hell is he seeing that money.

    So either he takes a pay cut, and has a chance to compete for a job in Dallas, possibly against a FA, or he gets cut, and joins the bottom of the untouched pile of RTs. Even if it’s only to be replaced with a Winston on a one year $3-4 million deal, that would save them cap space and probably upgrade the position for 2013.

    1. Bob says:

      Sorry, keeping him costs them $7 million this year. Cutting him saves $7 million, either in 2013 or 2014.

    2. poolboy87 says:

      I wouldn’t say they don’t have leverage…but they don’t exactly have a ton of it. Unless they were willing to pay him above what his market value would be and guarantee that salary, then what incentive does he have to sign? Cutting him would leave them in a tough place on whether or not to outright release him and save absolutely $0 this year, thus increasing the cost of the RT position by yet another $3-4 million this year, or tack on a lot of dead money onto next year’s cap while already needing to do a CRAP-TON of restructuring just to get back under the cap again (not to mention in order to sign players who’s contracts are expiring after this season, ala Sean Lee).

      That’s the big problem with their Game of Restructures that they seem to have fallen in love with lately…had they NOT restructured Free a couple of years ago, they likely could have easily cut him this year and gotten enough immediate relief to sign a guy like Winston.

      You say the last part as though he’d likely have a real or fair chance to compete against Winston. That’s not likely. So the reality is, he can take a pay cut to have a chance to likely be the second or even third tackle, or he can get cut, probably take the same or similar money, and find the best situation for himself.

      1. poolboy87 says:

        Though, the flip-side is…seems to me that they could afford Winston without Free taking a paycut or needing a June 1st cut. NFLPA reports that the Cowboys are now at $4.4 million in cap space.

      2. Bob says:

        You’re looking at it the wrong way. Net salary cap gain of $7 mil by cutting him. It is what it is, don’t get distracted by all the dead money and bonuses in there, that’s already gone, it’s just when it hits the cap that changes. They can restructure someone else to compensate, such as Romo. Net cap space gain of $7 mil by cutting him is all that matters, so replacing him with Winston, for example, would both give them a net cap space gain, and upgrade the position.

        I’m doubtful they really want to bring someone else in. Bryan Broaddus basically called BS on the Winston rumour. I’m guessing if he takes the pay cut, it means they are willing to roll with the Free/Parnell rotation for another year, unless they draft someone. Basically, it’s the Cowboys, or hit FA. FA is a cold hard place for decent RTs this year, let alone bad ones. Which is the better option depends entirely on how much the Cowboys are offering, but it won’t have to be a lot to be the better option.

        Not restructuring Free a few years ago would just have meant that all this bonus money would have been a salary hit that year’s cap. Wouldn’t have saved them any cap space.

        Essentially they are loaned $20 million into future cap space; restructuring him maintained that loan. They aren’t paying it off because there is no reason to, they aren’t increasing it further because they aren’t signing any big contracts, so they can just shift it into the next year each and every year. It really isn’t the big deal Jimmy and others are making it out to be.

        1. poolboy87 says:

          Except, no. It’s not a “net gain”. It’s $7 MM LESS against the cap. That’s not the same thing as a gain.

          “They can restructure someone else to compensate, such as Romo.”
          That is exactly the point, and it’s exactly why saying “net gain of $7 mil” is, frankly, wrong. Because in two un-played seasons we will have the league’s worst right tackle costing 7 figures against the cap. Because of freaking restructures. People want to act like they’re no big deal, and that it’s never going to hurt the Cowboys, but that’s flat out BS. The Cowboys are significantly over the salary cap for NEXT year. Sean Lee, Jason Hatcher, Dan Bailey, Chris Jones and Anthony Spencer are all free agents next year. Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Dwayne Harris, Bruce Carter are all free agents the year after that.

          So keep saying “oh, it’s no problem, they can live with starting every offseason $20 million over the cap”. But get ready to lose some players.

          1. Bob says:

            He’s not costing for those unplayed seasons. He’s costing for the seasons he has already played. And because he’s costing against this cap, he didn’t cost that money against the cap a few years ago. Same cap space lost, stop obsessing about which year it’s in. That is because of restructures, and it really isn’t a big deal. They will enter the offseason over the cap next year, just like this year and last year, and then they will do a load more to move that hit into another year. It’s planned and costs absolutely jack in overall cap space.

            The guy that might get lost amidst all this is Spencer. But there are real questions about how much he’s worth anyway.

        2. poolboy87 says:

          Not to mention, you better hope that whatever player you restructure doesn’t pull a Free and start sucking. Because, boy that’ll be so much fun to get stuck paying a huge salary to a shitty player.

          1. Bob says:

            No, you wouldn’t be, you would be paying them for the season they have already played. Restructuring a players salary into a bonus makes his cap hit for that year transfer to hit over several years, it doesn’t magically make some of their later contract guaranteed.

  26. Buck Henderson, Union Buster says:

    “I know, no Super Bowls”

    And how. If you guys ever win one I’ll be crestfallen.

    1. Joe D says:

      seeing giants/cowboys fans (who really cares about the skins LOL) so upset after an eagles sb will be the best part lol

      1. A fine messi says:

        Did daddy forget to activate the “Parental Lock” on your computer today?

      2. Nope says:

        Then they’ll just relentlessly make fun of you for only have ONE. Hahahaaa.

  27. Joe D says:

    13 reps on bench press is really bad for a guy his size. you can pretty much find HS kids weighing 180 to do 13 reps for 225 .. Not that I put much stock into the combine or anything.

  28. Honestly that play was only a Miracle for the Packers since it led to their to SB win.

    1. Brian says:

      The only thing that was a miracle for the Packers that year was David Akers’ left leg.

  29. TylerD says:

    Hat’s off to Desean and the Eagles, it was a great play and it stung. Not sure I would call it the best play in history but non the less a great play. Now let’s all get back to some Cowboys bashing somthing most of us here can agree on, LOL just kidding Cowboy fans

  30. bula says:

    that Desean highlight never gets old

  31. ct17 says:

    Free may have dropped off in performance but I’m not sure there are any better options out there. Now that he is on the bubble is when many players miraculously improve.

    Mockdraftable.com looks like a site Jerry Reese would like.

  32. Ryan says:

    Check out the chart for EJ Manuel

  33. OlSkool1972 says:

    A bunch of Skins fans were whining about wanting the team to go after Eric Winston. If Jerry Jones is going after him now you know it was the right move for the Skins NOT to try and sign him. Winston doesn’t even fit their scheme since he’s primarily a zone blocker. Hopefully Jerry pulls that move off then puts the icing on the cake by neglecting getting an Offensive or Defensive Lineman in the draft so he can get Tavon Austin or Kenny Vaccaro.

    1. Derf Diggy says:

      I think Jimmy’s “bias”(i only say that because it’s thrown around here so often…it’s like the opposite troll at this point) sometimes skews his thoughts on what division foes are doing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with kicking the tires of a 30 year old “bandaid” if he’s a legitimate upgrade over what you have(if Free never returns to form…Winston is). He’s not going out giving Winston what he wants…Infact Winston has been complaining to the media that he’s NOT getting the interest he thinks he deserves. The Front office kicking the tires on these old guys is actually GOOD GM’ing, but somehow it’s “jerry being jerry”. They’re lining up options just incase the draft doesn’t fall into place for them in terms of Tackles obviously. There’s only so many holes you can plug, and the Boys have needs across both trenches.
      And then of course the Boys are moving to a ZBS.

      I absolutely don’t understand how anyone can come to a conclusion that this is a negative move in any way shape or form.
      Even if he’s signed, it creates depth at a position that was hamstrung by injuries last year, and you have Free who’s played both tackle spots, and could potentially return to form(doubtful), and Parnell who’s a project that looks promising.

      1. Jimmy Kempski says:

        Should have been written as “If they sign Winston and don’t draft an OT reasonably high…”

        Would you object to the statement in that case?

        1. DerfDiggy says:

          Except they haven’t done anything…its like you’re writing a negative article based on…nothing. If they sign Winston after the draft because they couldn’t land a decent OT…and they sign him for less than he wants because he’s been sitting and has no other options…that’s a good gm move no?

          1. It was a sentence, not an article.

            And sure, if they address the OL in the draft and sign Winston afterwards as a transitional player until the new guy is ready, then fine, I’ on board. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

            1. poolboy87 says:

              Honestly, I’d be on board with them signing the band-aide now and not addressing tackle in the draft, particularly early, so long as they used that short window to address the interior. Actually, that’s my best case scenario for the line.

              Hell, I’m just hoping that they carpet bomb the hell out of both lines, with maybe a safety thrown in there.

              The good, or at least promising news, is that they’ve brought in a lot of first and second round OL prospects. Crossing my fingers that they’ll go that route.

            2. DerfDiggy says:

              Maybe you struck a chord…I just hate the “jerry being jerry” memes. Some deserved obviously…but in the instance of Free….he was a drafted OL, home grown, and coached into a PLAYER…and his contract was well under what the market dictated at the time(I believe you even wrote saying the same at the time). Boys would’ve had two bookends for the next 5 years..It didn’t work out, he regressed for whatever reason…and here we are…needing a bandaid because there’s still other holes to address on the OL.

              I’m ranting…but these are the types of things that Cowboys fans(knowledgeable) tire of reading/seeing. Jerry is gonna be Jerry, and he’s not going anywhere…but he’s not all bad in the least…ask any non-cowboy fan and he’s the worst GM to ever draft a player.

              1. Turd.Ferguson says:

                Sounds oddly familiar to any Philly fan who’s sick of hearing about being the worst fans in sports after somebody threw a snowball at Santa in 1968. Just for fun:

                I’m ranting…but these are the types of things that Eagles (Cowboys) fans tire of reading/seeing. Philly fans (Jerry) are (is) gonna be Philly fans (Jerry), and they’re (he’s) not going anywhere…but they’re (he’s) not all bad in the least…ask any non-Eagles (non-cowboy) fan and they’re (he’s) the worst fans (GM) to ever enter a stadium (draft a player).

            3. "...sentence, not an article." says:

              Someone is TOUCHY!! Lmao.

              HAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

              1. DerfDiggy says:

                Oh…OK?

        2. HYPOCRITE! says:

          Yeah, when the Eagles were looking at signing Winston, it was a “brilliant move.” Lmfao!!

    2. Horatius says:

      Nobody tell Olskool that skins run a ZBS. It’s our little secret.

  34. brisulph says:

    Wow, putting that under Giants portion? Obvious trolling Jimmy, you are better than that (go with subtle trolling, much better).

    Also, how’d that work out for the Eags after that?

    1. Ha, definitely trolling. Slow time between FA and draft and no Giants news made this happen.

    2. Also, how’d that work out for the Eags after that?

      Well… They won the division. So that was nice… for a week.

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