NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • Per ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Buccaneers’ HC Bruce Arians voiced his displeasure that OC Byron Leftwich didn’t even get an interview for a head coaching position this offseason: “I was very, very pissed that Byron didn’t at least get an interview this year for the job that he’s done. I get way too much credit and so does Tom Brady for the job that Byron has done.” 
  • Buccaneers assistant HC/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin was reportedly a possibility for the Dolphins’ vacancy at offensive coordinator. (Armando Salguero)
  • Buccaneers RB coach Todd McNair said that once RB Leonard Fournette accepted his role with the team, his performance took off: “The biggest thing with Leonard was just accepting that he wasn’t the superstar and only guy, and wasn’t ‘the man.’ Once he accepted that, he’s been a trouper man, a soldier.” (Joey Knight)
  • If Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl, Buccaneers RB LeSean McCoy said he might hang it up and retire: “If I get two championships, with my resume, it might be over. But you never know. When I retire, I definitely want to retire an Eagle. That’s always a dream.” (Darryl Slater)
  • Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown earned a $750,000 incentive for hitting a 35 percent playing time incentive this season and can earn another $750,000 if Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl even if he doesn’t play. (Mike Florio)
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hosting LB Devante Bond for a visit. (Aaron Wilson)


New Falcons OC Arthur Smith has a pretty unassuming last name which matches his general demeanor. But as his profile has increased the past year or two, it’s become more common knowledge that he’s the son of FedEx founder Fred Smith, a minority owner in Washington. Smith could have done a lot of things but he picked football in part because of how it confounded the assumptions some people made about him when learning about his background. 

“It was probably at the end of my high school career,” Smith said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “I certainly have other interests and I’m very curious about other industries, other things that I could have seen myself doing. But I knew I wanted to play as long as I could, and it was going to end at some point. We all want and we all hope to have a Bruce Matthews career.

“But it’s realistically not going to happen for most. And I always knew I wanted to be involved in football in some way. I think in a lot of ways it gave me an identity that kind of gave me a chance to prove myself, because I think there’s a lot of narratives about that, kind of what you’re saying. I think that people just assume that because of your background that you live a certain way or you have certain values.

“And it couldn’t be …” Smith then paused and continued, “it’s just false, and that’s why I always give everybody the benefit of the doubt to prove who they are, instead of just looking at your background saying, Alright, well, you live in Boston, you must be an a——.’”


  • Albert Breer of SI reports the Panthers were close to trading for QB Matthew Stafford and went as far as acquiring his medical records from the Lions.
  • The Athletic’s Joe Person writes it stands to reason that Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater would have been included in the trade package Carolina offered the Lions for Stafford.
  • No one has confirmed Bridgewater as a part of the package that included the No. 8 overall pick and a later-round pick, which makes sense given he’s still the Panthers’ starting quarterback right now and the team doesn’t want to prematurely alienate him. 
  • But keeping Bridgewater and his $23 million cap hit along with Stafford wouldn’t have worked and Lions HC Dan Campbell does know Bridgewater from their time together with the Saints. 
  • Person expects the Panthers to aggressively pursue Texans QB Deshaun Watson if he’s made available since they were willing to swing hard for Stafford. 
  • He also adds the draft is worth watching for the Panthers, though they’d likely have to trade up as high as into the top five for one of the top quarterbacks like BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and perhaps even North Dakota State’s Trey Lance
  • While the Panthers coaching staff worked with a number of quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, Person didn’t think anyone like Alabama’s Mac Jones, Georgia’s Jamie Newman or Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond set themselves apart enough to be a target in some kind of trade back. 


  • The Athletic’s Larry Holder says he gets the sense the Saints are more bullish on Jameis Winston as a replacement for Drew Brees in 2021 than Taysom Hill. However, Winston is a free agent and Holder thinks he and Hill will compete for the job if Winston is re-signed in 2021. 
  • The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell mentions that she would lean toward thinking the Saints won’t exercise DE Marcus Davenport‘s fifth-year option this offseason. 
  • She adds she doesn’t see anything happening with DE Cameron Jordan this year in terms of his contract but if his play slips again next year, that could put something on the table. 
  • Saints DL coach/assistant HC Chris Kiffin will interview for the Packers for their defensive coordinator vacancy. (Rob Demovsky)

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