AFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • The Athletic’s Jeff Howe says the Falcons’ decision with QB Matt Ryan is going to be pivotal to their offseason and their team-building strategy. Howe writes they could cut or trade him for $8 million in savings but an NFL-record $40 million in dead money. 
  • A June 1 designation or trade after that date cuts the dead money in half while creating $23.75 million in savings. But Atlanta would need to have a replacement quarterback. They could also draft someone this year and have them sit behind Ryan for another season. 
  • Falcons HC Arthur Smith said fifth-round OLB Ade Ogundeji (ankle), second-round S Richie Grant (ankle), and CB Fabian Moreau (leg) are all considered “day-to-day.”


Panthers’ QB Cam Newton feels that he may be responsible for the recent firing of OC Joe Brady. He also knows better than anyone that the NFL is a business and the only thing that matters are the numbers in the win and loss columns.

“Do I think I had something to do with it?” Newton said, via David Newton of ESPN. “The competitor in me, absolutely, yes. Because the truth of the matter is you don’t lose your job because of success. Where I’m at now is doing what I can control to make sure that I have a job, too. Let’s just be honest. It’s a great feel-good story. But once again, it’s the NFL. This is a production-based league. I don’t know if there’s a need to say anything else. Am I excited for the opportunity [Nixon has]? Yes. Am I also disappointed about the opportunity? Yes. Obviously, you had Joe who was here prior to. Man, I’m here to win. When we win, everyone else gets promotions. When we don’t, people get cut along the way.”

New Panthers’ OC Jeff Nixon will be the only other black play-caller this week, joining former NFL quarterback and Buccaneers’ OC Byron Leftwich.

“I’m not going to lie,” Nixon said. “I’m proud to be in the position I’m in. I’m extremely happy Coach Rhule gave me this opportunity. I’m going to try to make the most of it. I know in the past there really hasn’t been a lot of people who look like me in this position, so I don’t take that lightly. I’m going to do my best and try to represent others like me and do the best job I can.”


  • Another NFC executive tells ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler they wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints sign up for another year with QB Jameis Winston if no better alternative materializes. Winston certainly would be cheaper than some ways they could go: “There was excitement there because you’re dealing with big-time arm talent. Jameis isn’t perfect, but there’s a lot of ability there, some of it still untapped.”
  • Saints HC Sean Payton said RB Alvin Kamara (hamstring) was “close” to playing in Week 13, while the running back mentioned that he nearly suited up: “Close as I could have put on a helmet.”  (Katherine Terrell)

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