First and 10: Putting the pieces together

With the players and owners inching closer to a new deal, let’s keep our focus on football. As soon as the two sides shake hands, all 32 teams will be in serious acquisition mode, looking to add what they hope will be the final pieces of a championship puzzle.

With that in mind, NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan begins a weeklong series examining team needs. He’ll do two divisions a day –- starting today with the AFC East and NFC East. In the former it seem pretty clear: The Patriots and Jets are neck and neck atop the division, looking for that one player to vault them over the top.

Here’s what else is on tap Monday:

  • In his NFC East take, Kirwan details not the contenders, but the team with the most needs: the rebuilding Redskins.
  • Speaking of the Redskins …  several notable past and present NFL players are celebrating birthdays today, but we’ll single out the one who recently played softball with the NFL Network crew. Happy 29th to ‘Skins TE Chris Cooley.
  • This week’s Instant Debate topics will shadow Kirwan’s team needs series, and today we’ll ask the crew about the Dallas Cowboys. That will be posted later today. In the meantime, here’s the answer from NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora: “They need an injection of leadership, a change in culture. What ails the Cowboys isn’t a lack of talent or worthwhile coaches — it’s something far less tangible, and, for this franchise at least, more difficult to attain.”
  • With all the talk of where players will go in free agency, what will teams do to replace key players they lose in free agency? NFL.com senior writer Steve Wyche will look at the “trickle-down effect” later today.
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