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Washington enters offseason with more questions than QBs

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USA Today Images

Washington enters offseason with more questions than QBs

very week this season we’ve taken a look at how the Eagles' NFC East rivals have been doing… and for the most part, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like listening to a great love song or eating a box of Cheez-Its. Alas, like that box of delicious cheesy crackers, our time enjoying the demise of the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington has come to an end. At least for this season.

Without further ado, here’s a look back at what happened, and what’ll be happening, in the NFC East. Our "savoring the Giants season" here, and Washington below. Come back for Dallas tomorrow.

Washington (7-9)

2017 Headline: “At Least We’re Not The Giants!”

What Happened: If the 2017 Giants were a slapstick comedy movie, 2017 Washington was like watching an overhyped sequel; some exciting bits but for the most part tremendously disappointing.

After nearly beating the Eagles in Week One, Washington actually started the season 3-2, including what was an extremely impressive (at the time) shallacking of the presumably-playoff-bound Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. 

Then came a Monday Night Football game in Philly, where Washington got steamrolled by the Wentz Wagon 34-24. Jay Gruden’s squad would never really recover, dropping three of their next four to a bunch of teams that ended up making the playoffs. There was a stretch from late October till Thanksgiving where Washington could have put themselves squarely in the “IN THE HUNT” playoff graphic every football show likes to use. Instead they feel flat, like “Independence Day: Resurgence” or “Speed 2: Cruise Control.”

A lot went wrong for Washington this season, especially in the injury department, as the team looked like a M*A*S*H marathon where I was the only one laughing. Their most dynamic player, Chris Thompson, went down to injury. Their best offensive weapon last season, Jordan Reed, barely played at all. And their big offseason addition, Terrelle Pryor, never got in sync with QB Kirk Cousins and eventually was put on injured reserve when they couldn’t trade him back to the Browns. By the time the season was mercifully over, Washington had twenty separate guys on injured reserve, including offensive lineman Trent Williams, who essentially played the majority of the season on one leg.

The 2017 season may have been the grand finale in Washington for Cousins, whom Jay Gruden spit at on his way out. Blaming Cousins for the team going 7-9 is like blaming your basement flooding on the fact that its underground and completely ignoring a massive thunderstorm; the first part definitely didn’t help, but it’s not the main culprit. Gruden may regret being so mean to the only starting QB he’s ever coached when his team is forced to pay Sam Bradford $18 million this offseason.

Positive Spin: Well let’s start with the big one: Dan Snyder didn’t get into any trouble. Like, zero trouble. Sure, there was a little smoke suggesting he was the only ally to Jerry Jones when the Cowboys owner went toe-to-toe with Roger Goodell, but haven’t we all? No news is good news when it comes to the owner of the Washington Football Team, so props to Danny Boy for staying out of everything.

And regarding the QB, well… like a peanut butter sandwich or a movie starring Will Patton, there’s really nothing special about Kirk Cousins. And like the sandwich or Tom Hagan’s portrayer, Cousins definitely can flash brilliance, but it’s not something you really want to build around. So his departure can certainly be spun positively by Washington fans in need of a silver lining.

Had Washington made the playoffs again, or had they even put together a winning season, Snyder may have felt compelled to give the YOU LIKE THAT Vine some of that Matthew Stafford money. How well has that worked out for Detroit? The correct answer is: how well has *anything* worked out for Detroit?

Negative Spin: So Cousins isn’t the answer; where does the team go from here? It’s like telling me I can’t have a ChocoTaco for breakfast -- okay, we’ve established what we can’t have, but I’m still hungry and gotta eat.

It’s a similar spot to where the Iggles were when Chip Kelly declared Nick Foles his starting QB for the next 1,000 years; he (and we) knew Foles wasn’t the greatest option, but finding the greatest option at QB isn’t as easy as scarfing down a couple of early-morning ChocoTacos. 

When Cousins first starting stealing playing time from Robert Griffin III, he was an interception machine the likes of which hadn’t been seen before in modern NFL history. The 76ers Big Bella t-shirt gun had less off-target shots than this guy. And yet he developed into an above-average option, and what NFL history tells us is that it’s entirely possible for an above-average QB to win a Super Bowl. Just ask Brad Johnson, or Trent Dilfer, or Eli Manning.

If Washington had signed Cousins to a moderate extension a couple years ago, they could be spending this offseason trying to build up a suspect defense, rather than looking for ways to acquire the likes of Teddy Bridgewater or A.J. McCarron. Kirk wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle, but it’s fair to argue he could have been *a* piece of the puzzle.

Oh, and speaking of “the ones that got away,” this fanbase is going to regret letting Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan walk. Mark that one down.

What’s Next: A search for a quarterback. Remember two years ago when Howie Roseman made a flurry of Houdini-esque trades to move the Birds into position to draft Carson Wentz? That’s what Washington has got to be hopeful for, though most fans of the franchise are still suffering from football PTSD over the draft day trade for RG3. Of course, if they can’t swing something, Washington fans may start getting flashbacks of the 2011 year featuring Rex Grossman and John Beck (both of whom, rest assured, are currently available).

Terrell Owens is back in the game ... the video game

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Madden

Terrell Owens is back in the game ... the video game

Soon-to-be Hall of Famer Terrell Owens is back in the game. 

The video game. 

The once-superstar receiver is the cover boy of the new Madden NFL 19: Hall of Fame Edition video game. But get this … he’s dressed in Cowboys garb. 

TO spent three years in Dallas before wearing out his welcome and was good in Big D, putting up three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, but is most known for crying about Tony Romo (his quarterback) while with the ‘Boys. 

While players don’t go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as members of any specific team, if they did, Owens would be a 49er. He spent eight seasons in San Francisco and became a great player there. 

Of course, after he left San Francisco, he had his short stint in Philadelphia, which was as tumultuous as it was productive. From there came his three seasons in Dallas, followed by one in Buffalo, one in Cincinnati and comeback rumors ever since. 

Owens, 44, probably thinks he can still play in the NFL. Playing in the video game will have to suffice. 

Eagles wise to reject Nick Foles trade offer ... for now

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AP Images

Eagles wise to reject Nick Foles trade offer ... for now

Nick Foles for the 35th overall pick in the draft? A lot of Eagles fans would’ve probably pulled the trigger on that trade.

We know now the Eagles, wisely, did not.

Technically, it was Foles who shunned the Cleveland Browns’ overtures. According to an NFL.com report, the Eagles approached the Super Bowl MVP in March about the Browns’ offer of a second-round choice in the 2018 draft. He would rather remain a backup quarterback in Philadelphia than start for the league’s most pitiful franchise.

The Eagles respected his wishes. It wasn’t what was best for Foles. He earned that deference.

But it wasn’t what was best for the Eagles, either.

Never mind the organization owed it to Foles to ask his feelings about a possible trade, or that dumping him off in Cleveland against his wishes would’ve been unpopular with fans and around the league. Those were good reasons to turn down the offer. Just not necessarily the only reasons.

There was no need for the Eagles to settle for a second-round pick at that point in time, and all the rationale in the world says to wait and see what transpires.

Carson Wentz’s ongoing recovery from a torn ACL is the obvious. As confident as Wentz is he’ll be under center for the Eagles in Week 1, that remains to be seen. His progress was an even greater unknown when the offer was made over two months ago.

Was No. 35 enough to gamble on Wentz’s getting healthy in time for the 2018 season, amid the Eagles’ bid to repeat?

Maybe, maybe not – fortunately, the Eagles didn’t have to decide to trade Foles right then and there.

If recent history has told us anything, it’s not only do the Eagles have the option to trade Foles at a later date, but his value could increase based on demand.

The Eagles would know. Fans couldn’t believe the front office didn’t ship a disgruntled Sam Bradford to the Broncos for a second-round pick after making the move to draft Wentz in 2016. A few months later, almost everybody was amazed when Bradford was dealt to the Vikings for a first and a fourth.

Circumstances changed. The Vikings were a viable contender that, due to an injury, suddenly became desperate for an established quarterback just as the regular season was about to begin.

There’s no telling which teams might have interest in Foles between now and the mid-season trade deadline, or what price they might be willing to pay. And the Eagles were never going to find out had they shipped him out for the first semi-decent package that was floated their way.

The absolute worst-case scenario now is Foles sticks with the Eagles all this season, is never called upon to play a meaningful snap, then opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent next year.

Yet, even in that scenario, the reigning Super Bowl champions had the best insurance policy in the NFL, for a relatively modest price at $8 million against the salary cap, and the league eventually awards the team a compensatory draft pick after his departure. Along the way, the Eagles simultaneously get to do right by Foles and engender positive vibes among fans and around the league.

The Eagles could’ve used the cap space and another second-round pick this year, but they were better off keeping Foles.

For now, at least.