A year ago, the NFC East seemed like a division full of quarterbacks who could get older with Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins Jr. in the spotlight.

Things have changed in different ways.

Haskins, a 2019 first-round pick, was cut by Washington football and Wentz was traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts. The Dallas Cowboys signed Prescott to a four-year, $160 million contract with a $66 million bonus, an NFL record. As for Jones, he is now entering a critical season in his development that will determine if he will be the New York Giants’ quarterback long term.

Philadelphia will likely lean on sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts, while Washington has chosen veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

After a 2020 NFL season in which Washington won the NFC East by a seven-vote margin, it’s time to take stock of where each team stands at the most important position in the game.

NFL reporters Jordan Ranan (Giants), Tim McManus (Eagles), John Keim (WFT) and Todd Archer (Cowboys) discuss the state of quarterback play in the league and look ahead to the 2021 season and beyond.

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1:26

Dan Orlovsky explains how expectations have risen for Dak Prescott with his new contract.

Sign before 2021: Signed Prescott to a four-year, $160 million contract with a franchise starting in 2020 : Andy Dalton
prediction 2021 week 1 start and his 2020 stats: Prescott (5 starts, 151 for 222, 1,856 yards, 9 TDs, 4 INTs, 78.7 QBR).

What else is there to do? Dalton left Dallas for a starting opportunity – and $10 million guaranteed – with the Chicago Bears. He joined the Cowboys in 2020 hoping to revitalize his career after spending nine years as a starter with the Cincinnati Bengals. He got what he wanted after replacing the injured Prescott with positives. The Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci listed as Prescott’s backups. Could one of them be the second pick in 2021? Potential. The Cowboys can look to the veteran market in the Free Agency for more experienced support.

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Are the Cowboys better or worse at the QB position than last season? From what we know now, they are worse because they don’t have Dalton’s guards. Gilbert performed well in his only start last season, but it was the only real playing time of his professional career. Is that enough to make the Cowboys feel comfortable? Maybe it is, and maybe Prescott will come back completely healthy with no problems. He had no trouble starting the first 69 games of his Cowboys career. Prescott’s recovery from an open fracture and sprained right ankle is going well, and it is hoped he will be on the field during the offseason program and ready for training camp.

What about QB solutions for 2021? The Cowboys made the right move by contracting Prescott, but they never made it to the Super Bowl. While the average annual salary of $40 million may be too much for some, that’s the price the Cowboys had to pay after Prescott showed exceptional patience in rejecting mega-targets for 2019 and 2020. There will be a whole new round of contract negotiations for Prescott after the 2023 season, as the Cowboys will not be able to use the franchise tag on him in 2025. Imagine how high the price could be by then.

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2:31

Stephen A. Smith bursts into laughter after Max Kellerman picks the Giants as the NFC East winners.

Sign before 2021: Mike Glennon was signed to a one-year, $1.35 million contract effective in 2020 : Colt McCoy
predicts a launch in the first week of 2021 and its stats through 2020: Jones (14 starts, 280 for 448, 2,943 yards, 11 TDs, 10 INTs, 61.5 QBR).

What else is there to do? Nothing. Sit down and cross your fingers. This is Jones’ show. The Giants have shown no interest in improving their quarterback this season. They are convinced by Jones after watching him work for two years and knowing what he has to offer. Now it’s time to produce. But as Giants general manager Dave Gettleman explained, how many guys do great in their first two years? The point is that the Giants are counting on Jones and doing everything they can to give him a fair chance to succeed. You only have to look at the amount they paid wide receiver Kenny Golladay and even Kyle Rudolph to see that.

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Are the Giants better or worse at the QB position than last season? They hope they are better, and it all comes down to Jones playing better. He wasn’t great in 2020, throwing 11 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions on the season in which he didn’t make the expected progress. Jones should be better in year 3 with an improved backup, with the addition of Galladay and the return of running back Saquon Barkley. That should make a difference. As for securing Jones as a No. 2, an NFL assistant said he thinks McCoy is a better player than Glennon. So it’s a demotion.

What about QB solutions for 2021? The Giants’ patience paid off. Jones is going to be a very good quarterback at this point. He can run, throw and avoid the turnovers that plagued him early in his career. Also, the Giants (law of averages) have won more games in recent years than in the first two seasons of their pro careers. That’s not bad considering the Giants struggled and won a combined 10 games in 2019 and 2020.

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1:23

Mel Kiper Jr. is pushing the Eagles to draft receiver Ja’mar Chase after contracting Joe Flacco.

Sign before 2021: Signed Joe Flacco to a one-year contract with guaranteed
deductions of $3.5 million starting in 2020 : Wentz, Nate Sudfeld
Scheduled to start in week 1 2021 and are stats for 2020: Pain (4 starts, 77 for 148, 1,061 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs, 41.0 QBR).

What else is there to do? Setting up quarterback. The Eagles added a solid No. 2 with the arrival of Flacco on Tuesday. He has done enough in this league to replace Hurts, the Eagles’ expected starter. With 175 starts in his career and a Super Bowl MVP to his credit, Flacco has a lot of knowledge to take on Hurts. There is an opening in the QB room, and it’s a safe bet that it will be filled by the lineup. If the Eagles don’t use the #12 pick for signal-caller – which seems likely at this point – then Kyle Trask makes sense in the third or fourth round. Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson was his offensive coordinator at Florida, helping him go from a reserve in high school to a Heisman finalist last season.

Simulation drawings: Kiper | McShay
Rating: 13 QBs in class, five key stats – Piper’s March mailbag: 15 questions Full score | Pick order | Plus

Are the Eagles better or worse at the QB position than last season? When it comes to talent, they are even worse. Wentz nearly became MVP in 2017 and was selected as a top-15 quarterback overall before a disastrous 2020 campaign. But the atmosphere among the QBs was not good last season. Wentz didn’t seem to respond well to Bolno’s wording, and a loyalty gap began to form in the locker room as Wentz struggled and was later benched in favor of Bolno in the final quarter of the season. The Eagles should have a more seamless QB room this year, assuming the roles are well defined. Not to mention that Hurts’ season will probably be better than Wentz’s in year 20.

What about QB solutions for 2021? Let them be an example when it comes to dealing with quarterbacks. Pain could prove to be a very good starter in the league. Maybe Wentz will do it in Indy. Maybe he fell. It’s not so much about the results, but the process. The Eagles would continue with Wentz for the foreseeable future and thought he would lead their next charge to the Super Bowl. They never really thought about how contracting Hurts might negatively affect their relationship with Wentz if things go wrong and the season doesn’t go as planned. Regardless of how it turns out on the field, the lessons about properly supporting the QB1 should be applied in the future.

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1:02

John Keim reflects on Washington’s decision to contract quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Sign before 2021: Signed Fitzpatrick to a one-year contract worth up to $12 million; signed Taylor Heinicke to a two-year contract worth $4.75 million; signed Kyle Allen to a one-year contract worth $850,000 with a one-year retention of
starting in 2020 : Alex Smith, Haskins
predictions to start Week 1 2021 and his 2020 stats: Fitzpatrick (7 starts, 183 for 267, 2,091 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs, 76.9 QBR).

What else is there to do? Find the quarterback of the future. Washington will keep a close eye on selecting a signal caller, and perhaps the team will wait until the second or third round for a player like Trask or someone else with those abilities. When the team signed Fitzpatrick, they did so knowing that he would be a good mentor to young quarterbacks. Allen, who is recovering from an ankle injury, and Heinicke are not considered long-term solutions at this time. If Washington doesn’t name a quarterback, he’ll see if one of them develops, and if not, he’ll try again next season.

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Is Washington better or worse at the QB position than last season? Better. Allen started last season as the No. 2 guard behind Haskins, but it was Smith who finished the season as the starter. Smith was a great story – an eternity back – and he was a great leader. But Fitzpatrick is a good leader and a better passer. He still makes costly mistakes, especially in the red zone, but if Washington surrounds him with one or two other pass threats, he can capitalize and play without fear. Allen is a capable reliever and Heinicke, a late acquisition, is a wild card. He played well in one start, but lost in the playoffs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lifetime is an issue, and Heinicke was out of the league two years ago, but he provided a spark and earned a two-year contract.

What about QB solutions for 2021? Although Fitzpatrick has only been here a year, he has brought the joy back to the offense. It’s been a long time since Washington has had a nice offense. Over the past three years, it ranked 29th, 32nd and 25th in points per game and 28th, 31st and 30th in yards. Zzzzzz. This season should be much better. But of course, the key will be if and how they draft the QB and how he develops. Either way, it’s the right decision to look further, and if Fitzpatrick was never more than a stopgap, he’s a good mentor. With his signing, Washington knows the search for a QB isn’t over – and that’s a good thing.

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