NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Calvin Ridley, Saints, Sean Payton


In the event QB Tom Brady does retire, Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said he likes the internal replacements currently on the roster, including veteran Blaine Gabbert and 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask, but added that they will likely look at outside help this offseason.

[We’ll] see where we’re heading and wait and see what Tom does. But we’ll be doing our homework, that’s for sure,” Arians said. “I like what we have, but again, you never know what’s behind Door No. 2,” Arians explained. “We kind of went down that road two years ago and there was Tom Brady. We’ll have to wait and see.

Arians handed OC Byron Leftwich play-calling duties when the duo came to Tampa Bay in 2019, which was one of the conditions to him returning to coaching after retiring for a year. If Leftwich was to accept a head coaching position, Arians said he would likely take play-calling duties back. He believes he can handle the role by shifting some of the day-to-day responsibilities to other members of the coaching staff who have been with him for a while.

It would be a number of different things, just with who is on the staff and what we’re doing, [how] we’re compiling and doing the meeting each day and all those things that go with it,” Arians said. “I wouldn’t be doing all of that. So, it’s just a matter of who and what happens in the next few weeks, how we put that staff together.” 


  • Scott Bair of thinks S Jaylinn Hawkins will start next season with 2021 second-round S Richie Grant needing to prove more before he gets a bigger role on the defense.
  • Bair notes a second-round draft pick would be fair compensation for WR Calvin Ridley, though he is unsure if the Falcons would accept any such deal.
  • When it comes to picking eighth overall in the upcoming draft, Bair would be willing to select LSU CB Derek Stingley, given that he could eventually form a top cornerback tandem with AJ Terrell.
  • Bair leans more towards the team selecting a pass rusher, believing the team will add two edge rushers, one offensive tackle, and an interior defensive lineman during the draft.
  • Albert Breer of believes it could be best for both parties if the Falcons ultimately trade Ridley, who stepped away from the team midseason.
  • Breer lists the Jaguars, Jets, Bears or Patriots as teams who could use a receiver like Ridley.


Former Saints HC Sean Payton curtailed the idea that he was riding off into the sunset, saying there is a chance he may return to coaching.

“Honestly, you don’t even think about the ending,” Payton said, via Katherine Terrell of The Athletic. “You don’t have time to think about ‘what if.’ … For the last solid maybe week, I’ve thought about not the ending but maybe the presentation of the ending, like this. But I don’t think when you’re young and fast and trying to build something, you’re ever considering what it’s going to be like.”

“I don’t like the word ‘retirement,’” Payton said. “I still have a vision for doing things in football, and I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching again at some point.”

Saints owner Gayle Benson suggested that Payton take time off and return for training camp, which he considered before ultimately deciding to step away.

“I thought that sounded pretty good, actually,” Payton said. “But I’m glad that she told me to spend some time away and give this some thought. Because this is a big decision, and it certainly affects a lot of people. I felt the time was right for me, and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about. Forget football, there are other things, spending more time … there’s a lot of sacrifices you make. Not many get to choose their terms, and I looked at it as an opportunity to see my kids more, to travel more, to get in better shape. … I felt as this season was winding down that it was the right thing, and the last week and a half, yeah, I’m comfortable with that.”

“We’re going to make a thorough search and choose the right person for the position,” Benson said, via Luke Johnson of “It didn’t feel like he was leaving, but now I really know he is. But he’ll be around. I don’t think he’s going very far. He had made up his mind. He’s been talking about it, and I thought, ‘Eh.’ Because he’s been talking about it for five years! And I felt like maybe he’s just talking about it this year. But after I came back from that press conference at the Faubourg (Brewery) (on Monday) and he said, ‘I still don’t know.’ And then today we went to lunch and he said this is it. … I felt like I wasn’t prepared for today. It was a bittersweet day, but I’m happy for Sean.”

  • Payton said on Thursday that two teams have reached out to him through back-channels, but he has gotten calls about being on TV and he’s more interested in that right now: “I’m not looking at that path right now. I don’t think I’m finished coaching. But I was excited to get two or three calls from people in the TV industry.” (Luke Johnson)

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