How about our division? All four teams have franchise players. The Giants sneaked one in before the deadline, slapping that tag on punter Steve Weatherford, and that made it 4-for-4. I foresee long-term deals for Weatherford and the Cowboys' Anthony Spencer, but not for the Eagles' DeSean Jackson or the Redskins' Fred Davis -- at least not this offseason. But we'll see. Meantime, links.
New York Giants
Eli Manning is one of the first players I've seen really speak out against the bounty situation with the Saints. While he said he can't remember any hits he's taken by the Saints that were dirty, he said that such bounties "can't be a part of football." I find Manning's take a refreshing departure from the seemingly universal rush to machismo about this whole thing. "Everybody does it" doesn't make it right.
Manning was one of several Giants who showed up to screen the DVD copy of their Super Bowl victory. So was Mario Manningham, who thanked Bill Belichick for ordering his defenders to focus on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz and allow him to make the key catch in the fourth quarter.
Free-agent guard Evan Mathis says he wants to be back with the Eagles, and I'm sure they'd like to have him back. He's not the most high-profile guard on the market, so he could be affordable (though not as affordable as he was last year), and he fits perfectly into Howard Mudd's blocking schemes. But the way Mathis played last season is no secret to the scouts who watched him, so it's not crazy to think he draws outside interest.
The Eagles signed a linebacker off the 49ers' practice squad, and according to this report they have some degree of interest in Carolina linebacker Dan Connor. These may not be the big names of which Eagles fans are dreaming, and it remains to be seen whether the Eagles will spend big to upgrade at linebacker, but at least it appears they won't be ignoring the position again this offseason.
Todd Archer has a breakdown of the Anthony Spencer franchise situation, including the chances the Cowboys still trade him and the reasons Spencer should sign the tender quickly before they find another option.
Archer was busy Monday, and noticed that the Chargers released defensive end Luis Castillo. It sure looks as though Castillo would help the Cowboys' pass rush from a 3-4 end position, especially if they're going to stick with Spencer as their outside linebacker opposite DeMarcus Ware. Spencer isn't much on the pass rush, as we've discussed here at length.
The Redskins coaches who were involved in the Gregg Williams "bounty" situation when Williams was coaching in Washington say Joe Gibbs, who was head coach at the time, had no idea about the bounties. That, to me, is the big difference between whatever went on with Williams in Washington and the extensive findings of wrongdoing the league has uncovered in New Orleans. With the Saints, it appears as though the head coach, the GM and any number of people who run an arrogant organization that likes to flaunt league rules were involved in the thing and condoned and enabled it.
Mike Shanahan says he thinks the Redskins had a "playoff-caliber offense" last year, which I think is a stretch, but I think he's basing the claim on the idea that they could have built on their 3-1 start if not for a rash of injuries to the offensive line, tight ends, receivers and running backs. Oh, and all of the Rex Grossman turnovers. But the fact is, those things all happened, and the Redskins' backup plans weren't good enough to keep them afloat. Playoff-caliber teams and offenses run deeper.