NFC Notes: Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, Bryce Young, Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers


  • Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles spoke on Tampa Bay releasing veteran LB Shaquil Barrett: “Shaq has been great for us over the last 5 years, but these tough decisions have to be made. Who knows we’ll see what happens down the line.” (Will Selva)
  • GM Jason Licht mentioned how difficult it was to make the call on letting Barrett go: “Did not want to make that call. At the same time I did — I wanted to give him some time here to look for another team if that’s what he wants to do. We can’t officially release him until beginning of the league year, but he actually calmed me down on the call.” (Jenna Laine)
  • With the pending free agency of WR Mike Evans, Bowels said: “Obviously we want him to retire a Buc.” (Selva)
  • Bowels talked about getting QB Baker Mayfield a new contract: “It’s an extremely high priority. We love Baker. He had a heck of a year. You want to hope to build on that. We hope that gets worked out.” (Selva)
  • Buccaneers GM Jason Licht also discussed the pending free agency of Mayfield: “Baker meant a lot to this team and this fan base and this town. And I think we meant a lot to him. And I think it was a perfect marriage. And I think I’ve said before he sought us out. He gambled on us. He saw it as a good situation. He saw it better than a lot of national people who saw us with the two games so he he thought it would be good for him and it certainly was so I know he wants to be a buc. We want him to be a buc. So that’s usually a good starting point.” (Stroud)
  • Licht then went on to speak on Evans as well: “He’s an unprecedented player. We want him to be a Buc for life. We’re working towards that. Obviously, it takes two sides, I know he wants to be a Buc, we’ll probably have to strain a little bit but we’re working towards that right now.” (Jenna Laine)
  • If Tampa Bay can retain Mayfield, Evans, S Antoine Winfield Jr., LB Lavonte David and K Chase McLaughlin, Licht says “We should be throwing another boat parade,” as that’s his top priority. (Greg Auman)


New Falcons HC Raheem Morris says that Atlanta is ready to win games once they find the right quarterback.

“Go out there and find out who’s going to be the trigger man for us and put ourselves in a position to win,” Morris said at the NFL combine, via Marc Raimondi. “And I’m not afraid to say that we have the ability, and we are capable to go out there and win next year if we do some of the right things, some of the right moves, we can do that. And that’s not an arrogance, that’s not a cockiness. If we had a better quarterback play last year in Atlanta, I might not be standing here, and they would have the ability to be talking about those things. But right now, if we can focus on some of those things and do some of that, I think that’ll give us the best chance to go out there and win.”

“People know that that quarterback is a priority for us, but there’s so many options,” GM Terry Fontenot added. “It’d be a little tougher if there weren’t a lot of really good options. Again, whether you’re talking about veterans, whether you’re talking about the players in this college draft, there’s a lot of really good options. So, that’s why I wouldn’t say that I feel like we’re in a bad leverage spot. If there weren’t a lot of options, maybe we would be so, but no. Very excited.”


  • New Panthers GM Dan Morgan talked about how Carolina is going to be smarter when dealing with contract restructures going forward: “We’re going to do things the right way, not kind of kick the can down the road. We want to evenly distribute and pay year to year.” (Joe Person)
  • Panthers new HC Dave Canales doesn’t view 2023 first-round QB Bryce Young as someone he has to fix, and he will ensure to create an offense where Young fits. (Darin Gantt)
  • Canales mentioned how important it was to keep the defensive staff the same for 2024. He feels the defense is in “good hands” with DC Ejiro Evero. (David Newton)
  • On finding a way to make the offense easier for Young, Canales said: “And then see if we can kind of expand that and grow that as the season goes along, but we definitely just have to have a core identity in the spring in training camp so that we can just get good at our fundamentals. The focus for this year has been let’s just get our football right. Let’s take care of the ball. Let’s have sound run ideas. let’s have sound protection. Let’s get the ball out on time. Let’s be where we’re supposed to be. let’s have great execution at a very basic and fundamental level. and then we can start to expand and grow the system from that perspective.” (Rick Stroud)
  • Canales called OT Ikem Ekwonu a “mauler in the run game.” He also will tell Ekwonu and OT Taylor Moton to be aggressive in pass protection because the new offense will insist on Young getting the ball out quickly. (Person)
  • Ryan Fowler reports Western Michigan EDGE Marshawn Kneeland had a formal meeting with the Panthers at the NFL Combine. 
  • South Carolina WR Xavier Legette said he spoke twice with the Panthers while at the Senior Bowl. (Joe Person)
  • Augustana OT Blake Larson highlighted the Panthers as a team that showed a lot of interest in him at the College Gridiron Showcase. (Justin Melo)

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