Roster turnover for every NFC East team
Which teams in the NFC East have to replace the highest percentage of snaps from last season? Cole Schultz answers.
Roster turnover for every NFC East team
Returning for the 2016 season, PFF’s snaps lost series takes a detailed look at the playing time void created by players who have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left via free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we will be looking at what percentage of each teams’ total snaps are in need of replacement, rather than raw snap-count totals. Each team will have a ranking following their percentage of snaps lost, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
- Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2016 snap counts are not considered.
- “Biggest losses” are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
- All snap counts are regular-season only.
With those qualifiers in mind, let’s first dive into the NFC East.
Overall snaps lost: 14.22 percent, third-smallest loss in the NFL (2015: 19.01 percent, ninth)
Offensive snaps lost: 9.87 percent, fourth (2015: 11.37 percent, third)
Biggest losses: QB Matt Cassel (427), QB Brandon Weeden (216)
Cassel moved on to his fourth team in the last five years, signing with the Titans to back up Marcus Mariota. Weeden was waived last November when Dallas decided to give Cassel a try, and he’s caught on in Houston as the second quarterback.
Replacement plan: Expecting a full season out of Tony Romo might be a tad optimistic, but odds are he won’t miss as much time as last season, and neither of those two gave the Cowboys much of a chance to win during his absence.
Defensive snaps lost: 18.57 percent, sixth (2015: 26.65 percent, 17th)
Biggest losses: DE Greg Hardy (610), DT Nick Hayden (584), DE Jeremy Mincey (386)
Hardy was a distraction in his lone season with the Cowboys, and despite his obvious talent, his off-field issues have prevented any teams from giving him anything more than a passing glance. After three consecutive seasons with strongly-negative grades, the Cowboys elected to let Hayden walk, and he’s since signed with the Browns. Mincey has produced positive grades for the past three seasons, but at 32 years old, Dallas elected to let him walk.
Replacement plan: Randy Gregory would be a prime candidate to replace some playing time at defensive end, but he’s facing a 10-game suspension and will be hard pressed to top the 250 snaps he played last year. Having logged just 775 snaps during his three-year career with the Raiders, Dallas signed Benson Mayowa (Raiders), who should figure heavily into the defensive end rotation. Sophomore David Irving will also play more than the 205 snaps he managed last year. The Cowboys poached Cedric Thornton from the Eagles, signing the young defensive end to a four-year contract, and he will help shore up the interior of their D-line.
New York Giants
Overall snaps lost: 30.69 percent, 29th (2015: 25.57 percent, 18th)
Offensive snaps lost: 19.62 percent, 17th (2015: 13.42 percent, fourth)
Biggest losses: WR Rueben Randle (1016), G Geoff Schwartz (685)
Randle turned over 1,000 snaps into a meager 797 receiving yards last season, and signed on with the Eagles to help bolster their underwhelming receiver group. An excellent guard when he makes it on the field, Schwartz has struggled tremendously with health, averaging less than 400 snaps per year over the last four seasons. He signed with Detroit after two limited seasons in the Big Apple.
Replacement plan: Second-round pick Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma) could see some playing time in his first pro season, but Giants fans will be hoping that Victor Cruz can come back and contribute after missing over a full year with a knee injury. John Jerry spent time at both guard positions last season, and will be the prospective starter at right guard in place of Schwartz.
Defensive snaps lost: 41.76 percent, 31st (2015: 37.72 percent, 31st)
Biggest losses: S Brandon Meriweather (850), CB Prince Amukamara (779), DT Cullen Jenkins (750), DE Robert Ayers (581), CB Jayron Hosley (539), S Craig Dahl (437)
The Giants allowed Meriweather’s contract to expire, and the 32-year-old safety is still available. Dahl followed the same trajectory as an older safety who has thus far drawn little interest. Amukamara signed a one-year “prove it” deal with the Jaguars after struggling with health during his time in New York, and Hosley is out as well after averaging 318 snaps per season in his four years with the Giants. On the line, Jenkins turned in a positively-graded season rushing the passer at age 35, but was not re-signed after his contract expired. Two seasons with high, positive grades as a situational rusher saw Ayers nab a three-year deal with Tampa Bay.
Replacement plan: The Giants hit free agency hard, pulling in Damon Harrison from the Jets as a run-stuffing nose tackle. They also handed DE Olivier Vernon a huge deal to pull him from the Dolphins, and he’ll be expected to cover for Ayers, and then some. The secondary was thinned out, and a large deal to former Rams CB Janoris Jenkins will see him slotted in at one starting cornerback position, while first-round pick Eli Apple (Ohio State) should be able to make up for Hosley’s departure. The safety position opposite sophomore Landon Collins is up for grabs, where Taylor Cooper and third-round rookie Darian Thompson (Boise State) are the front-runners heading into the season.
Overall snaps lost: 22.66 percent, 17th (2015: 32.55 percent, 30th)
Offensive snaps lost: 12.85 percent, 11th (2015: 29.79 percent, 24th)
Biggest losses: WR Riley Cooper (590), RB DeMarco Murray (495), WR Miles Austin (416)
Philadelphia unloaded Murray’s contract onto Tennessee via trade after a disappointing debut season with the Eagles. Cooper never lived up to the five-year deal he signed in 2014, and was cut after two negatively-graded seasons in a row. Austin was waived late last season, and at 32, he’s drawn little interest after three straight seasons under 600 receiving yards.
Replacement plan: Nelson Agholor may see an increase on his 687 snaps, but if he doesn’t improve on a disappointing rookie season, he may see a lighter workload instead. At any rate, the Eagles won’t be short on options, picking up Chris Givens (Ravens) and Reuben Randle (Giants). Ryan Mathews was unsurprisingly limited in 2015 with injury concerns, but there’s a decent chance he plays more this year, even if he can’t make up for all of Murray’s snaps.
Defense snaps lost: 32.47 percent, 26th (2015: 35.30 percent, 28th)
Biggest losses: S Walter Thurmond (1219), CB Byron Maxwell (926), LB DeMeco Ryans (620), CB E.J. Biggers (571), DE Cedric Thornton (501), LB Kiko Alonso (481)
The Eagles got out from under Maxwell’s contract by shipping him and Alonso to Miami as part of a swap of first-round picks. Thurmond retired after only six seasons, despite grading positively in all three facets of the game. Thornton bolstered the Cowboys’ defensive interior after four underrated years in Philadelphia. Having turned 32 last week, Ryans has drawn little interest since his contract expired this offseason. Biggers turned in a negative coverage grade as a part-time corner, and he found his fourth team in five years in signing with the Patriots.
Replacement plan: Mychal Kendricks and Jordan Hicks should find full-time roles in the defense this year, joined by former Bill Nigel Bradham. Beau Allen and Taylor Hart could be in for bigger roles on the interior after Thornton left, though neither has impressed much in their short careers. Thurmond was replaced by Rodney McLeod (Rams), whom the Eagles signed to a five-year deal after showing improvement in his final year in St. Louis. Holdovers Nolan Carroll and Eric Rowe could see a few hundred more snaps each, and the Eagles signed veteran Leodis McKelvin (Bills) to a reasonable two-year contract to help fill out their secondary.
Overall snaps lost: 20.31 percent, 14th (2015: 25.92 percent, 20th)
Offensive snaps lost: 10.06 percent, fifth (2015: 17.83 percent, 13th)
Biggest losses: RB Alfred Morris (391), WR Andre Roberts (264)
Morris never quite reclaimed the magic of his rookie season, and as such, received a moderate offer from the Cowboys for the next two years. The fifth option at wide receiver, Roberts was released in May and has since signed with the Lions.
Replacement plan: Matt Jones should be the Redskins’ feature back after posting 349 snaps in his rookie season, with Chris Thompson taking over the change of pace back. Any number of players could snap up Roberts’ playing time, whether DeSean Jackson stays healthy (366 snaps last season) or first-round pick Josh Doctson (TCU) breaks into the lineup as a rookie.
Defensive snaps lost: 30.56 percent, 23rd (2015: 34.02 percent, 27th)
Biggest losses: S Dashon Goldson (995), DE Jason Hatcher (555), LB Keenan Robinson (550), S Trenton Robinson (449)
Goldson’s lone year in D.C. resulted in an extremely negative overall grade, likely playing a part in his inability to find a contract this offseason. Keenan Robinson was our sixth-lowest-graded inside linebacker last season, playing just over half of the Redskins’ snaps, yet found his way onto the Giants’ roster as a potential starter. Up front, Hatcher retired after 10 productive seasons with Dallas and Washington. Waived last December, Trenton Robinson was signed by the Panthers in March.
Replacement plan: Goldson leaves behind a full slate worth of snaps at safety; DeAngelo Hall will fill one spot after a career at corner and an injury-shortened 2015, while David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho will compete opposite him. Ricky Jean-Francois posted the highest grade of his career last season, and could see a tad more than the 394 snaps he logged last season on the interior. Inside linebacker has been a trouble spot as of late for Washington, so expect open competition by the likes of Mason Foster (268 snaps last year), Will Compton (739 snaps), and Perry Riley (474 snaps), though Compton and Riley both earned heavily negative grades in 2015.