NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Buccaneers EDGE Shaq Barrett became the poster child for how to win a prove-it deal as a player, blowing up for 19.5 sacks after signing a one-year deal with Tampa Bay last offseason. However, Barrett fell victim to bad timing as the pandemic threw a wrench into negotiations. Instead of signing a major long-term extension, Barrett will be playing out 2020 on another one-year deal, albeit with a much higher salary on the franchise tag. 

“It was pretty much just the whole situation with COVID,” Barrett said via Kyle Wood of the Tampa Bay Times. “It was too much up in the air, so we weren’t able to get on time or get really the right negotiations going because we really didn’t know anything.”

  • Per NFL Media’s Michael Giardi, new Buccaneers RB LeSean McCoy said he turned down a few other interested teams because Tampa Bay was the best fit. 
  • McCoy added a return to the Eagles was on the table but the Buccaneers won out: Tom Brady. Tampa. Warm weather. C’mon.” (Rick Stroud)
  • McCoy is open to whatever role the team has in mind for him: “If it’s five carries, if it’s 10 carries – whatever it is – I’m willing to give my best effort and 100 percent. I can’t really complain. I had zero touchdowns and zero carries in the Super Bowl.” (Stroud)


  • Per Kelsey Conway of the team website, Falcons WR Calvin Ridley, who finished 2019 on injured reserve with an abdomen injury, says he’s healthy for 2020: I’m 100 percent. I’m ready to go.”
  • Falcons DE Dante Fowler says he will be used more as a pass rusher, either standing up or in a three-point stance, like he was with the Rams as opposed to his first few seasons with the Jaguars, who do run a similar defense to Atlanta. (Jason Butt)


For basically the entirety of his rookie contract, Panthers LB Shaq Thompson had to bide his time behind Carolina’s star duo of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. The team made sure to get their former first-round pick on the field, but it wasn’t until this past season when the Panthers let Davis go that Thompson stepped in as a full-time starter. Now that Kuechly is also gone, Thompson won’t be asked to take a back seat anymore and will become the new face of the defense. 

“I knew my place. I knew who my leaders were — Luke and T.D. on defense,” Thompson said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “Now they’re gone and I know they’d tell me to step up and be vocal. So that’s what I’m gonna do this year.”

Panthers DT Kawann Short is now one of the elder statesmen on the team after the mass exodus this offseason and is also looking at a bigger leadership role. Short was a team captain last year but still was more of a silent leader. He wants to change that in 2020. 

“I’m the type of guy that tries to lead by example, and now going into that eighth season and really being a vet around here now, I have to step up and lead vocally,” Short said via Myles Simmons of the team’s website. “So just showing Derrick and all those guys what I’ve done to put myself in position, and what they can do to help me, what I can do to help them — we’ve just got to work together.”


  • Per ESPN’s Mike Triplett, Saints QB Drew Brees spent a lot of time this offseason with personal QB coach Tom House working on being able to throw deep, reaching 60 yards at one point. 
  • Brees hasn’t had as much time as a normal offseason to build a rapport with new WR Emmanuel Sanders, but he flew out to Denver specifically to throw with him this offseason: “We had a good couple of days together, so that was really valuable. I feel great about him, and obviously he’s a savvy veteran player. I think he brings a great element with his skill set, as being a great guy with Michael Thomas, and I think he’s a great veteran presence for that room.”
  • The Saints promoted director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot to VP/Assistant GM — Pro Personnel. (Ian Rapoport)

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