NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Buccaneers’ WR Antonio Brown underwent an MRI on his knee, but HC Bruce Arians isn’t worried about QB Tom Brady making a connection with other receivers such as WR Scotty Miller and rookie WR Tyler Johnson.

“[Tom Brady] sees those guys work so hard on the practice field and he’s got a great rapport with all of them, especially Scotty,” Arians said via Pro Football Talk. “Tyler, very few guys can twist and turn and make that catch. Tom put it out there and he knew Tyler could make that catch. He’s got a great, great future.”

  • Brown’s injury is not considered serious and the veteran wideout is day-to-day ahead of the NFC Championship game, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.


  • Per Kelsey Conway of the team website, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said both HC Arthur Smith and GM Terry Fontenot would report to team president Rich McKay.
  • Smith said it’s still early in the roster evaluation process, but there’s a lot to like, including DT Grady Jarrett and G Chris Lindstrom specifically: “It’s more than just Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.” (Tori McElhaney)
  • Smith was known for accentuating the strengths of his personnel with the Titans and he hopes to continue that with Ryan in Atlanta: “Matt’s had a lot of success. Matt’s the ultimate pro. He’s a great leader and there’s a lot of things he can do. I don’t get into comparisons. Just because we did something with Ryan [Tannehill] doesn’t mean that we’re gonna do the same thing with Matt. We’re gonna play to Matt’s strengths just like we tried to play to Ryan’s strengths.” (Twitter)
  • Smith confirmed he will call the plays on offense, as expected. (Conway)
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis told Blank that Fontenot was the person they had identified as his successor if/when he retired. (Conway)


  • CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reports the Panthers will hire Tony Sparano Jr. as an assistant offensive line coach. 


Saints’ DL coach Ryan Nielsen was leaving the Saints to become LSU’s defensive coordinator, yet there is now a dispute with his contract.

“Apparently there is a dispute on whether the language of Nielsen’s contract will support the move to the college ranks,” says Jane Slater of NFL Media. “The Saints are currently NOT signing off on this.”

  • ESPN’s Mike Triplett reports that Nielsen will sign a new three-year deal and have the title of assistant head coach added to stay with New Orleans. 
  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes that if Saints’ QB Drew Brees retires, he will leave the team with $22.65 million in dead cap space.
  • Breer points out that CB Marshon Lattimore and RT Ryan Ramczyk will likely be looking for extensions of around $20 million per year.
  • The Saints plan to promote from within to replace pro personnel director Terry Fontenot, with pro scout Michael Parenton a name to watch. (Jeff Duncan)
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis told Falcons owner Arthur Blank that Fontenot was the person they had identified as his successor if/when he retired. (Kelsey Conway)

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