NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers

     

Buccaneers

Buccaneers’ recently signed RB Giovani Bernard said the organization is “still buzzing” after its Super Bowl victory. 

“You can already feel the difference, just that atmosphere as soon as I walked in the building,” Bernard said, via Nick Shook of Around the NFL. “You can tell there’s an excitement still buzzing. Obviously, you guys won the Super Bowl last year, but you can kind of tell nobody’s kind of let their guard down. Everybody’s excited for that next run and I’m just excited to be a part of that.”

Bernard said the opportunity to work with Tom Brady was something he found “really, really tough” to pass on. 

“Being able to work with Tom (Brady), that in itself was something that was really, really tough for me to pass up on, just to be able to build that relationship with him,” Bernard said. “His reliance on the running back is huge, and I’m sure that’s how it is across the league. Me personally, I feel like I will always want to be an every-down back, so for me, it’s not just about the passing. For me, I really take into account the blocking, that’s a huge thing. Obviously, you want to be able to protect that investment behind you. I’ve always really relied on that.”

Bernard added that his experience as a pass-catcher out of the backfield will prove beneficial with Brady. 

As far as Tom throwing the ball to the running back, that’s obviously a huge thing and something I’ve done throughout my career. You saw what he’s done in New England with James White. That’s a very close friend of mine. I grew up with James over in Fort Lauderdale at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, so a very close relationship with him. I’ve obviously talked with him when I was picking the team that I wanted to go to. He had only great things to say about Tom and his work ethic and everybody knows that. For me, it was a no-brainer.

Bernard said his role in the Buccaneers’ offense wasn’t as large a factor as the organization’s culture under HC Bruce Arians.

The thing for me when I did speak with the coaches throughout this free agency, it wasn’t so much the role that I would take on that attracted me. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna have you do this and do that or whatever, this and this and that,'” Bernard said. “For me, it was always about the culture that the coach was trying to build and the players in the locker room because at the end of the day that’s what’s really gonna ride you throughout the season. The roles, yeah, that’s part of the decision, but I think the biggest factor for me was just what I saw, what these guys are continuing to try to build here in Tampa.”

Falcons

  • The Athletic’s Tori McElhaney expects the Falcons to address safety and edge rusher heavily in the draft this year, as new DC Dean Pees has expressed a desire to have young players to mold. 
  • McElhaney points out if the Falcons draft a quarterback in the first round, it likely means QB Matt Ryan won’t be the starter beyond the 2021 season, as it’s hard to see the team sitting a highly-drafted rookie more than one season. 

Panthers

  • The Athletic’s Mike Sando had an NFL general manager project the top 10 picks and he believes the Panthers will go defense with the No. 8 overall pick, with Alabama CB Patrick Surtain, Penn State LB Micah Parsons, and South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn potential options. 
  • Panthers CB A.J. Bouye‘s two-year, $7 million deal includes a signing bonus of $2.45 million, his $1.075 salary for 2021 is guaranteed and his $1.27 million salary in 2022 is non-guaranteed. He can earn a $2.18 million roster bonus in 2022, to go along with $50,000 in per-game roster bonuses. (Mike Klis)

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