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Pat Leonard’s NFL Notes: Joe Schoen can begin to reverse NFC East balance of power on draft day

The Philadelphia Eagles traded over the Giants to take Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft.

The Dallas Cowboys helped the Eagles do it in an unusual gang-up on a common NFC East foe, then snagged Micah Parsons when the Giants passed and traded out, instead.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman is up to his tricks again now, too, recently trading two of his three 2022 first-round picks to the Saints to acquire an extra 2023 first-rounder from New Orleans.

That gives Philly extra ammunition next year to get a quarterback if they give up on Jalen Hurts. It gives them more first rounders than the Giants, who could be in a similar spot next year if they bail on Daniel Jones.

This is the first area where GM Joe Schoen should be and must be an upgrade for the Giants organization: in equaling, and perhaps outmaneuvering, Roseman and the rest of the division at draft time. In being proactive and not reactive. In asserting the Giants as a force to be reckoned with way before the clock starts on the evening of April 28.

In early dealings with Schoen, he seems thorough and direct. He comes off as a man with a plan who will be aggressive when he believes it is called for. He and the Giants poached assistant GM Brandon Brown from the Eagles’ front office in February, too.

These are good qualities for someone who is holding two draft picks in this year’s top seven, promises to take plenty of calls, and needs to make a decision on what’s best for his team.

The Giants’ direct competition in division is significant here in the spring. The Eagles’ advantage on regular season Sundays in recent years has been directly connected to their actions in free agency and drafts, even as Roseman has had his misses, too.

The Eagles have four playoff appearances, two division titles and a Super Bowl win in the last five seasons, while the Giants are tied with the NFL’s worst record during that time.

Head coach Joe Judge split 2-2 on the field with the Eagles the past two seasons and somewhat salvaged last year’s draft with a forward-thinking decision: a trade back with the Chicago Bears to acquire an extra first-round pick here in 2022. Thanks to Judge, the Giants are rich in first round picks at Nos. 5 and 7 overall.

But Schoen is now the one surveying the landscape on how best to manage those assets.

He could be positioned ideally to trade one of those picks and try to add another 2023 first-rounder to match Roseman and ensure they’re not outgunned in a possible future quarterback chase.

Or Schoen could use his picks to restock the Giants’ cupboard and improve their on-field product around Jones in 2022, unconcerned with matching wits with Roseman in some hypothetical future scenario that may never come to pass.

There are numerous other variables to consider, obviously, like available cap space in 2022 and other division rivals in Dallas and Washington. Roseman and the Eagles did crack the playoffs in year one of their own rebuild last season, though, after trading up to draft a player the Giants coveted. And now Philly holds two 2023 first-round picks in this NFC East arms race.

It will be fascinating to see if Schoen can be the key to rebalancing that power dynamic in the division, beginning with this month’s draft.

YOU CAN WIN IN YEAR ONE

Schoen believes the Giants can compete in 2022 while building for the future. Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum — a Bill Parcells disciple who overlapped with Schoen in Miami (2015-16) as the Dolphins’ executive VP of football operations — believes it can be done, too.

“The Eagles swallowed Carson Wentz’s dead money last year and went to the playoffs,” Tannenbaum said in a phone call recently.

“This whole notion of swallowing cap charges and not winning games, if you look at history, it’s just not the case,” said Tannenbaum, the Jets’ director of player contracts under Parcells from 1997-2000. “Going back to Coach Parcells, I’m not a big believer that rebuilds take a long time.

“The 1996 Jets spent more money than anybody [with Rich Kotite] and won one game,” Tannenbaum continued. “In 1997, we won nine games. In 1998, we went to the championship game.”

Tannenbaum, who now runs the NFL website and football think tank “The 33rd Team,” acknowledges Schoen’s salary cap constraints and challenges. He’s simply saying it’s not impossible for an NFL team to have some success in year one of a cleanup.

“One of the best meetings I was ever in was that first 1997 meeting with the Jets, it lasted about 15-to-18 seconds,” Tannenbaum said. “Coach Parcells came in and said ‘I expect you to work hard and come in and compete. And those who don’t work hard, improve and compete won’t be here. Any questions?’”

Tannenbaum remembers that linebacker Bobby Houston decided not to be in the offseason program that first spring. “He got cut, and everybody else fell in line. They all got coached better and away we went.”

PARKING THE CARR

Derek Carr’s three-year, $121.5 million contract extension through 2025 puts the Raiders quarterback’s average annual value at $35.4 million the next four seasons. That ranks him seventh among active QBs, per overthecap.com. His new money is $40.5 million per year from 2023-25.

There are six quarterbacks making at least $40 million a year. The five who were active last season all won their respective divisions: Aaron Rodgers ($50.2 million) and the Packers, Patrick Mahomes ($45 million) and the Chiefs, Josh Allen ($43 million) and the Bills, Matt Stafford ($40 million) and the Rams, and Dak Prescott ($40 million) and the Cowboys.

Deshaun Watson ($46 million) was idle with Houston while facing rampant sexual assault and harassment allegations. He just cashed in after a trade to the Cleveland Browns.

Las Vegas’ commitment to Carr following their trade for his college teammate, star receiver Davante Adams, locks up a formidable tandem that could help the Raiders win a 2022 division title even in the loaded AFC West.

In related news, Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels is the early favorite for NFL coach of the year at 12-to-1 odds, per betonline.ag.

DIRTY DAN

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder wasn’t ousted in the wake of sexual harassment allegations last year. Maybe screwing with the NFL’s money will be the nail in the coffin.

Snyder and his club allegedly may have hid and withheld millions of dollars from the NFL owners’ shared revenue pool, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Jason Friedman, a former Washington VP of sales and customer service, told the Committee that the team maintained “two sets of books,” including one set of financial records used to underreport certain ticket revenue to the league.

Friedman alleged, for example, that he “falsely processed” $162,360 of revenue from Commanders game tickets as money made on a Notre Dame-Navy game at FedEx Field.

Snyder is on double-secret probation with the league and so far has been shielded from real accountability for the sexual harrassment allegations against him.

It’s likely he will continue to lose allies in the billionaires’ and multi-millionaires’ club, though, if he truly took money out of their pockets.

GARRETT CALLING USFL GAMES

Ex-Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is calling USFL games as an analyst this season for NBC Sports. Fox Sports also will be televising games. The New Jersey Generals opened the schedule Saturday night at the Birmingham Stallions. The 10-week regular season will culminate in a championship on July 3.

Garrett, 56, posted an 85-67 regular season record in nine-plus seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach from 2010-19. He had a 2-3 postseason record in three playoff appearances. An arranged marriage on Joe Judge’s Giants staff in 2020 was never a good fit, and Judge fired Garrett midway through the 2021 season. The Giants ranked 31st in offensive points and yards both years.

THE SKED

New coach Brian Daboll and the Giants will open this week’s voluntary minicamp to the media on only one of the camp’s three days. They opened it all three days in April 2018 under Pat Shurmur, the last first-year head coach who wasn’t operating during COVID. Schoen will conduct a pre-draft press conference in person, though, which will be a refreshing return to some normalcy.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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