NFC Notes: Antonio Brown, Buccaneers, Matt Rhule, Panthers, Saints, Sean Payton


  • Bucs QB Tom Brady reiterated that he and WR Antonio Brown have a strong relationship, but declined to go into detail as he focuses on finishing out the season. “I think there’s a lot of personal feelings, obviously. I don’t think this is really the week to discuss it though. I’m just going to do the best I can do as the quarterback of the team, try to put together a great week and finish strong…” (Mike Giardi)
  • The NFL league office declined to comment on whether they are investigating allegations that Brown smuggled a woman into the team’s hotel room. (Jenna Laine)
  • According to Greg Auman, the Bucs plan to sign WR Cyril Grayson to their active roster in the coming days, effectively replacing Brown.
  • Bucs HC Bruce Arians ruled out linebackers Shaquill Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul for Sunday, along with RB Ronald Jones. (Auman)
  • Jenna Laine of ESPN reports that Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles interviewed with the Jaguars on Monday and OC Byron Leftwich is interviewing with the team today.
  • Arians when asked about Bowles and Leftwich interviewing for the job during a game week: “Those guys are pros … I have all the confidence that it’s not a distraction whatsoever and I’m pulling for both of them.” (Auman)
  • Arians also said he hopes to have most of his players back next week on defense, along with RB Leonard Fournette: “Hopefully we’ll have almost everybody back defensively next week, pretty sure Lenny will be able to go.” (Laine)


  • Joseph Person of The Athletic believes that while QB Sam Darnold will still be with the Panthers next season, the team is likely to move on from Cam Newton and P.J. Walker this offseason.
  • Person also sees the team moving on from C Matt Paradis, who tore his ACL this season, as they have Pat Elflein ready to take over for him.
  • On the defensive line, the Panthers could bring back DaQuan Jones on a team-friendly deal but they have depth at this position.
  • When it comes to LB Haason Reddick, Person admits that it is very much a tossup when it comes to him returning. The breakout linebacker will likely be looking for a big payday after a strong season playing on a one-year deal.
  • There is also speculation around what cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Donte Jackson will do this offseason, with Person saying that both players could base their decision off of what the other decides to do.
  • Panthers HC Matt Rhule mentions that S Kenny Robinson is “really ascending” due to the extra playing time he received this season. (Person)
  • Rhule plans to get rookie G Deonte Brown reps during Sunday’s game as well. (David Newton)
  • Albert Breer still expects Panthers HC Matt Rhule to get a third year in Carolina.


  • According to Albert Breer, there’s been “a lot of talk through the grapevine” about Saints HC Sean Payton and his future.
  • Breer thinks Payton is likely back in New Orleans, but he expects tires to be kicked on possibilities.
  • The Bears have been brought up as a potential option for Payton, who is from Chicago. However, Breer’s sense is that he’ll pass on this.
  • Breer has heard that TV networks are preparing to make a run at hiring Payton, but Breer doesn’t see this happening yet.
  • If Payton were to move on, Breer mentions that a major overhaul is unlikely, as GM Mickey Loomis could move to president, Jeff Ireland to GM, and DC Dennis Allen to head coach.

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