Each Wednesday we will take a look at how one of the NFL’s eight divisions did in the offseason. Today, the NFC East.
Most improved team: Eagles
They churned their team as much as any in the NFL, starting with an upheaval of the coaching staff. The hiring of Chip Kelly may have been the boldest coaching hire in the NFL, as he brings a new philosophy to the league from Oregon. Heading up Kelly’s 22-man staff of assistants are former Browns head coach Pat Shurmur (offensive coordinator) and former Cardinals and 49ers defensive coordinator Bill Davis (defensive coordinator). The Eagles also brought in Tom Gamble from the 49ers as vice president of player personnel.
They will oversee a team that should have at least seven new starters, inlucing an entirely new secondary. Outside linebacker Connor Barwin, the former Texan, was signed to be a key component of the Eagle’s new 3-4 defense.
Biggest veteran move: Tony Romo.
There wasn’t a lot of star power added to the NFC East in free agency. That’s why the biggest move was the retention of Romo by the Cowboys. The Cowboys put all of their chips on their QB, signing him to a six year extension worth $108 million and making him the NFL’s fourth highest paid player. It was a signing that was met with some criticism, given Romo is 33 years old and has a 1-3 playoff record. The team also wants Romo to step up as a leader and presence with the team. And that might even mean less offseason golf.
Best draft addition: Lane Johnson.
The Eagles added a lot of talent on draft day, including in the fourth (Matt Barkley) and fifth rounds (Earl Wolff). They also chose left tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth overall pick. Johnson has the athleticism of a tight end, a position he used to play, and that should play well in Kelly’s high octane offense.
Best under the radar move: Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson.
Jenkins and Patterson still have some pass rush juice, and each should be effective in the Giants’ rotation up front. Plus, they signed both players from their rivals in Philadelphia, which always is a plus.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.