NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers

     

Buccaneers

  • Buccaneers DT Steve McLendon‘s one-year deal is worth the veteran minimum of $1.075 million and includes a $137,500 signing bonus. (Greg Auman)
  • Buccaneers CB Ross Cockrell‘s two-year, $2.11 million is worth the league minimum salaries of $990,000 for next season, to go along with a $1.12 million salary in 2022. He can also earn up to $450,000 in playtime-based incentives each season. (Greg Auman)
  • Buccaneers’ new RB Giovani Bernard said he typically tries to bring the running backs group together as a veteran in the locker room: “I’ve always been the type of guy where I want the running backs group to be the closest group on the team.” (Jenna Laine

Falcons

Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said that even though the team is committed to Matt Ryan, they still have to look into and evaluate all the quarterback prospects in this draft.

“That’s critical because that’s a position that regardless of where you are at your starter — we’re so excited about Matt Ryan, but we have to evaluate every one of these quarterbacks,” Fontenot said, via the team. “Not just for now, when you think big picture, if you have an opportunity — for example Trevor Lawrence, when you have an opportunity to see that player in person throw, then you have to take advantage of that. Even if you’re not going to have the opportunity at him this year, you don’t know what’s going to happen three, four, five years from now in the future. So you want to take advantage of that in-person exposure.

“That’s why we see every single one of these quarterbacks. We want to, as much as we can, get to them, see them in person, and just take advantage of those exposures because it’s the most critical position in the NFL and we want to stack good quarterbacks. It’s a prime time to do it when you have a player like Matt Ryan, because when you can get in the right quarterback, you don’t have that pressure to play him right away. So it opens up so many possibilities, and we have to make sure we’re evaluating those positions. And we feel good about where we are there.”

  • Michael Rothstein reports the Falcons have hired Jake Pfeil as their director of sports medicine. Pfeil spent the last 15 years at Florida State.
  • Washington’s recently signed TE Sammis Reyes said he canceled visits with the Falcons, Chiefs and possibly five other teams after the WFT offered him a contract. (John Keim)

Panthers

New Panthers QB Sam Darnold played with last year’s starting QB Teddy Bridgewater with the Jets for a small time, but the two haven’t spoken much since then.

“I’ve always admired Teddy,” Darnold said, via the Carolina Panthers. “Being with him in New York, we became close friends there. We would talk every now and then. I haven’t talked to him since the trade went down, but I’m looking forward to that interaction and I’m looking forward to competing with him.”

Darnold is also looking forward to his fresh start in Carolina, and he’s only concerned about producing for his new team.

“I’m just coming in with an open mind, just seeking for a great opportunity to lead this football team and move the ball up and down the field and score touchdowns,” Darnold said. “I have a great opportunity to do that.”

Panthers HC Matt Rhule doesn’t think that Darnold’s recent struggles with the Jets mean he cannot succeed in Carolina.

“I look at every player on an individual basis,” Rhule said, via ESPN. “Sam or any other player’s lack of success has nothing to do with what’s happened to other people in similar situations.

“It comes down to him, comes down to the work he puts in, the situation we have here. We believe in Sam. We believe in his skill set. We believe in his approach.”

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