I've got to weigh in on the state of the Eagles now that Terrell Owens has signed with the Cowboys. I don't care about what he'll mean for the Cowboys on the field. What really bothers me is all the off the field stuff, particularly all the media blathering that's going to accompany the Eagles' two meetings next year with Dallas. The Eagles needed a clean break from Owens solely from the perspective of getting their locker room back together, getting rid of distractions and rebuilding team chemistry. The jackass has a book coming out too, in which he'll take more shots at McNabb.
The biggest thing that bothers me is the cosmic or karmic injustice of Owens' getting rewarded with a $25 million contract after what went down last year, and especially given the fact that nobody was even bidding with the Cowboys. They could have paid him much less, instead he's getting $10 million this year, then $8 million and $7 million after that.
Of course, that's still not much more than the contract with the Eagles that he deemed unacceptable. That contract was $7 million per year, this one is $8.3.
Whatever. The thing that causes me the most anger and dread is the prospect that Owens might keep his act together, that this might not blow up in Dallas' face. But even if things go smoothly the first year, they're bound to go sour eventually, because Owens has a clinical personality disorder. And unless he gets treatment, then the symptoms will emerge once again.
As for how this affects Dallas, it doesn't scare me all that much. Looking at the NFC East, Dallas is still in the worst shape of the four franchises from a long-term perspective when you look at positions of quarterback and head coach. You have to have long-term solutions in place. The Eagles are in the best shape here, with McNabb and with the stability of Andy Reid and the front office, followed by the Giants, with Eli Manning, though Giants fans have reason to worry after last season about the direction of Manning's learning curve. Still, they're better off than the Redskins, who are only going to get a couple more productive years out of Mark Brunell, if they're lucky, at which point they turn the reins over to Jason Campbell, who I'm not at all convinced can play in the NFL. At coach, Joe Gibbs is not around for the long haul. But at least they're not Dallas. The Tuna has one foot out the door, and after Drew Bledsoe they're looking at Drew Henson, a guy who's pushing 30 who hasn't played a football game that counts in 6 or 7 years. Ouch.
The Redskins vastly improved themselves on offense by adding Antwan Randel-El and Brandon Lloyd at receiver, which potentially makes them a legitimate title contender this year, provided that their defense is as good as it was last year and Mark Brunell doesn't get hurt or experience a drop-off in production.
The one quibble with that receiver group is size: They seem to have decided to recreate the Smurfs from the 80s. In my view, they should have taken USC receiver Mike Williams in last year's draft. Williams didn't do much last year with the Lions, but these are the Lions after all. They've ruined everything they've touched over the past 5 years. The guy they took instead, CB Carlos Rodgers, did well last year, but they could have gotten a guy with comparable talent in the second round.
Also, the Redskins overpaid most of their free agents. Niners DE Andre Carter has done just about jack squat over his career. Adam Archuleta? Squadoosh. And Randel-El is a good and versatile player, but probably not worth what they paid. Because the cap got pushed up again, Dan Snyder's spending hasn't really burned him yet, but the bottom line is that you don't build a championship roster by showering money on non-All Pro free agents.
What about the Eagles? The Shawn Barber move was underwhelming, but he gives the team depth at a position (OLB) that was a problem for them last year. If he's healthy, he could have another great season, like he did back in '02. One overlooked factor here is chemistry. Brian Dawkins loves this guy and fed off his energy during their one season together. The Eagles are looking to replace high-energy leaders like Hugh Douglas and possibly DT Hollis Thomas, who may be released, so Barber fills a role both on the field and in the locker room.
The Jeff Garcia signing is a low-key one, but huge, given the fiasco that was our backup QB situation last year. Garcia is a proven winner and Pro Bowler.
The signing of Darren Howard is big. If he is able to produce, the Eagles' pass rush should be back to form.
The Jabar Gaffney signing at WR was out of left field. Chemistry-wise, I like the fact that he's a cousin of Lito Sheppard and went to B-Dawk's high school. On the field, I think he'd be ideal in the slot, if Todd Pinkston returns at full-strength. At least Greg Lewis won't be counted on this year. Lewis has a knack for getting open, I still believe, but when he was the team's number 2 receiver last year, he proved unreliable at fighting for and winning balls when he was tightly covered.
So the Eagles have some bodies at wide receiver. It'll be interesting to see what else they do. They should not draft a receiver with the 14th overall pick. I'm still tantalized by the possibility of taking RB LenDale White, who would add a huge new dimension to the O, but RB is not a need position of that magnitude. I would be happy with a big DT like Broderick Bunkley, a stud OLB like Chad Greenway or Ernie Sims, or an OT like Winston Justice, since our offensive line situation is a bit up in the air with RT Jon Runyan now a free agent and LT Tra Thomas coming off an injury and having had a couple down years.