On Saturdays, we dip into the mailbag for questions and hope we have answers. Then we go hit golf balls. Or something else summery. You can use your imagination.
Sean from West Des Moines, Iowa suggests a swap of disgruntled players: The Dallas Cowboys trade cornerback Mike Jenkins to the New York Giants for defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
Dan Graziano: I mean, on the surface it sounds as though it could make sense. Neither guy wants to be where he is right now, the Cowboys could use the pass-rush help and the Giants have health and depth questions at cornerback. But there are way too many reasons why it wouldn't work. Umenyiora makes a lot more money than Jenkins does, for example, and the Cowboys have some cap concerns. But the big thing is that it wouldn't address either player's current gripe. If Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara are healthy, both (along with Corey Webster) would be ahead of Jenkins on the depth chart in New York. The Giants aren't going to give Jenkins the long-term contract he seeks, nor probably any more playing time than Dallas currently plans to give him. And while I believe Umenyiora would be a good outside linebacker in a 3-4, what's Dallas going to do? Give him his long-term deal while Anthony Spencer plays on a one-year, $8.8 million franchise tag? Basically, the teams would be trading each other's headaches, and I really don't think either team is in a position where it's dying to get rid of the guy. I think both Jenkins and Umenyiora are stuck.
*NOTE: Umenyiora and the Giants agreed to a restructured contract Friday, and Umenyiora says he'll start showing up for offseason workouts. He still doesn't have the long-term deal he seeks, but a 2012 raise is apparently enough to soothe his complaints for the time being.
Ben from Boston read last weekend's post on the ESPN poll that asked people who their favorite NFL team was. Ben grew up in Charlotte and thinks that the addition and growing popularity of the Carolina Panthers and probably the Baltimore Ravens is responsible for the drop in the Washington Redskins' popularity, as they play in areas that used to be Redskins Country. My thought was that the Redskins had been so bad for so long during the Dan Snyder era that their national popularity has dwindled in spite of the intense loyalty of their fans, but Ben points out that the Cowboys remain at the top of the poll in spite of not having won in a long time.
DG: Fair point, Ben, and I'm sure the presence of teams in Charlotte and Baltimore has had some impact. But I think the main problem is that the Redskins haven't been nationally relevant for so long. Sure, the Cowboys haven't won a Super Bowl in a long time, but they've been a relatively consistent contender, and a pretty good team -- certainly good enough to stay interesting and maintain their popularity in spite of the arrival of a team in Houston. The Redskins' problem is that they haven't been good or interesting for too long, and there's been very little reason for anyone outside of their core fan base to maintain or develop loyalty to them over the past couple of decades. Their hope is of course that they have changed this with the arrival of Robert Griffin III and the work Mike Shanahan has done to overhaul and rebuild the roster since his arrival.
Alex from Iowa remains interested in Eagles sixth-round pick Marvin McNutt, a big wide receiver who could push for the No. 4 or 5 wide receiver spot. Alex asked about McNutt here some weeks back, and since I rarely get any good Eagles questions in the mailbag and Alex was apparently not satisfied with my answer, here's more.
DG: The word on McNutt is that he has the size and the great hands, as you point out, Alex, but he doesn't have great initial speed or get a great jump off the line. The Eagles look at him as a potential slot receiver, which means the guy he has to eventually beat out is Jason Avant. What he hasn't done much of is play special teams, and that's going to be important to his ability to stay on the roster and get a shot at eventually competing for a spot. So if you're a McNutt fan and you want to monitor his prospects, it's probably better to pay attention to what he's doing on special teams this offseason and in preseason games than to how he looks catching the ball. The Eagles aren't starving for wide receiver help just yet, and McNutt is a project in terms of NFL route-running. So if he's going to make an impression this year, it's likely to be on special teams.