With the draft coming up at the end of the month, free agency has started to slow, so now is a good time to assess what the NFC East has done in free agency.
This week NFL Nation reporters Dan Graziano, John Keim, Phil Sheridan and Todd Archer are taking a look at the best, worst and underrated signings so far and will offer up who is the best team in the division entering the draft based on the moves that have been made.
Dan Graziano: Darren McFadden, Dallas. Underrated because everyone hated it, so if McFadden produces anything at all, this is a deal that will have exceeded expectations. The key here is that the Cowboys find their starting running back in the draft, which I believe is their plan, and keep McFadden in a secondary role. If that happens, I think he has a chance to stay relatively healthy and maybe even quite productive. If they're counting on him as a bell-cow back then they're likely to be disappointed. But given the cost and the likely role, I think this has a chance to be a decent pickup.
John Keim: Stephen Paea, Washington. Terrance Knighton and Chris Culliver are more well-known, but Paea is coming off his best season and could help the Redskins at two spots: an end in their 3-4 and an interior rusher in the nickel. He penetrates well because of his quickness. That will work well on run downs with the clogging Knighton beside him and inside in nickel with Jason Hatcher. Those two could give the Redskins the interior rush they have sought for several years.
Phil Sheridan: Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia. He was the second-biggest name signed at his position on the day he agreed to a contract with the Eagles. DeMarco Murray got all the headlines, and understandably so. But if Chip Kelly really plans to share the workload and use Mathews extensively then he could wind up having just as much of an impact. And if Murray gets hurt, Mathews is the only thing between Chip Kelly and a lot of second-guessing.
Todd Archer: As I type this I realize I’ve gone with the Eagles on every decision so far, so maybe I’ve got Philly on the brain. And maybe it’s my Cowboys’ ties blinding me to this answer. I’m going with Miles Austin. Laugh all you want. Remember how he struggled with hamstring injuries in his time with the Cowboys. He caught 47 passes for 568 yards and had two touchdowns for Cleveland last year and the Browns quarterback situation was something of a joke. I’m not sure Sam Bradford can stay healthy or Mark Sanchez can be accurate enough, but I believe Austin will have a solid year under Chip Kelly. Will he be Jeremy Maclin? No, but he will put up some numbers.