NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


The last time the Buccaneers and Chiefs played earlier this season, Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill absolutely torched Tampa Bay’s secondary. He was on pace for 1,000 yards after the first quarter alone and finished the game with 269 yards and three scores. Hill burned Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis repeatedly and he’s looking forward for the chance to redeem himself on the game’s biggest stage. 

“I play defensive back in the NFL, so you’re going to have your share of losses,” Davis said via Pro Football Talk. “It doesn’t change who I am or what I do or how I approach the game. I’m going to continue to be a dog and go out there and give it my all every time.”

“There’s going to be ups and downs,” he added. “It’s like a roller coaster. But you’ve got to be able to bounce back. You’ve got to stay even keel through the highs and lows. So even when you’re high, you’ve got to keep and maintain that balance. And even when you’re low, you’ve got to keep and maintain that balance. So it affected me, but it was a good way for me to bounce back and just stay even keel. It happened and you move on and you continue to grow and you continue to try to get better.”


Falcons QB Matt Ryan isn’t going anywhere in 2021 but the veteran is much closer to the end than he is the beginning. Atlanta has the No. 4 overall pick in the draft this year and could use it on a successor to Ryan who would presumably sit and learn behind him his rookie year. It could be tough for Ryan to work with his eventual replacement, but he says “we all understand how this goes” and sounded open to helping the new guy. 

“You’re not going to be best friends with everybody,” Ryan said via the Athletic’s Jeff Schultz. “But part of being a good teammate is competing and pushing people to be the absolute best they can be. Your job as an individual is to be the best player you can be and find a roster spot regardless of who’s drafted or where they’re drafted. . . . But my personality is not to be standoffish with anybody else.”

  • Ryan didn’t say how much longer he’s considering playing: “I’d like to play as long as I’m playing well and I’m healthy. For me personally, I don’t put a number on it.” (Kelsey Conway)
  • He’s also jazzed about the addition of new HC Arthur Smith: “I’m excited about it. I think he’s really smart, I think his personality is a really good fit for what we need at this point.” (Conway)
  • The Falcons hired Giants assistant strength and conditioning coach Thomas Stallworth as their new head strength coach. (Kimberley Martin)
  • Atlanta also hired Brian Griffin as director of coaching operations. (Jason Butt)


  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says his understanding is the Panthers’ top option at quarterback this offseason is to swing a trade for QB Deshaun Watson.
  • Around the league, Carolina is viewed as a darkhorse contender to land Watson, per Rapoport
  • Plan B would be to draft a quarterback very high and Rapoport notes the Panthers are doing work on the top passers in this year’s class. They have the No. 8 pick and could presumably trade up. 


Saints P Thomas Morstead revealed he battled through a back injury this past season. He picked up the injury during the summer and it knocked him out for three weeks as well as lingered into the regular season. Morstead saw his punting average drop as low as it’s been since all the way back in his second season in 2010. Morstead acknowledged his name has come up as a potential cap casualty given his dropoff last year, the Saints’ salary cap situation and the position he plays. But the 34-year-old thinks he still has some good seasons left. 

“I’m sure everybody likes to speculate about things like that, and honestly, I think it’s a little bit warranted,” Morstead said via BootKreweMedia’s Nader Mirfiq. “I didn’t have a great year last year. All I can promise is that I’ll do everything I can to be back to where I know I’m capable…I look forward to the opportunity to show everybody that not only can they count on me consistently, but I can be a gamechanger like I have been in the past.”

  • Saints QB Drew Brees has not announced his retirement yet, which is widely expected, but HC Sean Payton said there should be some resolution on that front soon: “I think within the next week, week-and-a-half we’ll get a little bit more information relative to Drew. We’ll wait on Drew’s announcement.” (Pro Football Talk)

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