NFC East Q&A: Who is on hottest seat in division?

Kirk Cousins is once again playing for a contract since Washington opted to use the franchise tag on him for the second straight year. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Our reporters are split when it comes to the person who most likely is on the hot seat in the division, but quarterback Kirk Cousins gets the most votes.

Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys reporter: I want to say Redskins coach Jay Gruden, considering there always seems to be drama in Washington, but I will go with Cousins. He is once again playing for a contract since Washington opted to use the franchise tag on him for the second straight year. He responded last year with 4,917 yards and 25 touchdown passes after a somewhat slow start to the season -- well, slow to me, because he was not very good in the Cowboys’ Week 2 win at FedEx Field. If he does not get the Redskins to the playoffs in 2017, then would they use the franchise tag on him again in 2018? Would another team be willing to fork over a huge free-agent deal for him? If he takes a step back because of the losses of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, there will be questions surrounding him going into next season, wherever he plays.

Jordan Raanan, New York Giants reporter: Cousins. He’s a quarterback playing for a contract. Every move he makes will be dissected and overanalyzed. Every mistake will be used against him and his case for the next quarterback mega-deal. It doesn’t help that Cousins already has been penciled into the 49ers lineup in many people’s minds for next year. There already were rumors this past offseason that he will join former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. That makes his seat extra hot. The spotlight will be on Cousins again this year.

Tim McManus, Philadelphia Eagles reporter: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. There were a few factors working against Pederson last season. It was his first year as a head coach in the NFL. He was tasked with implementing a new system and building a new culture, all while breaking in a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, who leaped from third-stringer to starter when Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota a week before the start of the regular season. With a year of experience under his (and his quarterback’s) belt and with more offensive weapons at his disposal, it should be easier sledding for Pederson in Year 2. That’s good, because the expectations are up. Owner Jeffrey Lurie believes he has a special quarterback in Wentz, and while he’s publicly preaching patience, he also is itching to return his franchise to prominence. With a potential franchise QB in place, a rare window of opportunity could be opening. Pederson needs to show that he is the right man to take advantage of it. Another 7-9 season just won’t do.

John Keim, Washington Redskins reporter: Giants QB Eli Manning. It’s not as if Manning is in danger of losing his starting job. But considering he’s 36 and coming off a down year -- 26 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 6.7 yards per attempt average, his lowest since 2007 -- there’s no doubt he has a lot to prove. The Giants added receiver Brandon Marshall and drafted tight end Evan Engram to provide more help. (But the line remains an issue.) The Giants also drafted Davis Webb in the third round, so they can perhaps start the process of grooming Manning’s successor. This season will determine when that handoff might need to occur.