NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • Per the Athletic’s Greg Auman, Buccaneers OLB Jason Pierre-Paul had surgery on his left knee on Wednesday, posting on his Instagram that he played last year at 70 percent. 
  • After his offseason knee surgery, QB Tom Brady isn’t expected to be able to fully practice until “somewhere around June.” (Auman)
  • Buccaneers GM Jason Licht said that as far as input on personnel decisions, “Tom isn’t banging down the door saying ‘We need to sign this guy.” (Auman)
  • Licht added: “I would say Bruce and I both talk to Tom, why wouldn’t you when you have a guy with his resume? …There’s never been any animosity or directive from him…” (Rick Stroud)
  • Licht told reporters they haven’t ticketed any one of their pending free agents for the franchise tag yet, despite reports they plan to franchise WR Chris Godwin: “The tag is an option for any one of our players right now. We don’t have plans to use it on any one player versus another.” (Stroud)
  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians praised what Godwin brings to the offense beyond just catching passes: “He brings so much more than just targets…[his blocking is] a huge part of what we do offensively … it’s more than just stats.” (Auman)
  • Arians says Tampa Bay isn’t getting much of a Super Bowl discount to keep their team together and players are offering to take restructures and not pay cuts: “Nobody’s giving up money.” (Auman)
  • Licht said keeping the duo of LBs Lavonte David and Devin White together is a priority because they think the veteran David has a positive impact on White’s development. (Stroud)
  • He added that LT Donovan Smith and C Ryan Jensen will be back in 2021 despite being speculated as potential cap casualties. (Jenna Laine)

Falcons

Picking No. 4 overall this year puts the Falcons in a fascinating situation. They’re in range to potentially take one of the top quarterbacks in the class and get a successor to QB Matt Ryan, who will be 36 in May, in the building. But given that Ryan hasn’t really shown many signs of decline and top quarterbacks are playing longer than ever, they could use the pick on another top prospect to build the team, or even trade down to another team for a presumed haul of picks. 

“There are so many different scenarios,” new Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said via the Athletic’s Tori McElhaney. “There are going to be some really good players there at No. 4. We can move up, and we can move down and acquire more picks. There’s just a lot of different scenarios to really go through. It’s a prime spot to be in. It’s not somewhere that we want to be in very often with this team, but we are going to take advantage of that and be open to all possibilities.”

The number of ways Atlanta could go with the pick reflects where the roster is right now, straddling a weird in-between phase between competing and rebuilding. The team has obviously struggled in recent seasons and is incredibly top-heavy from a cap allocation standpoint, including to aging core pieces like Ryan and WR Julio Jones. Those two aren’t going anywhere in 2021, though, which leaves some talent to work with and perhaps a chance to make some noise next season. Fontenot’s team-building approach this offseason seems to reflect that. 

“We’ll make decisions that help the team win this year, but we’ve also got to think of future years — 2022, 2023 — so there’s a balance to it,” Fontenot said via the Associated Press. “We want to be as competitive as possible now, while also keeping the future in mind.”

Saints

  • ESPN’s Mike Triplett notes the Saints have big decisions to make with CB Marshon Lattimore, LT Terron Armstead and RT Ryan Ramczyk, as all three are up for new deals that could be worth $20 million a year or more.
  • Lattimore has played his best against the Buccaneers and WR Mike Evans, which is obviously big for the Saints, and New Orleans would have a huge hole at corner without Lattimore. But he’s also battled inconsistency and might not be worth the top market deal he’s probably seeking. 
  • Triplett says the Saints will almost assuredly extend one of either Ramczyk or Armstead. Ramczyk is a right tackle but the market there is increasing as the importance of right vs left tackles shrinks. Triplett notes Armstead has some injury issues that could raise questions about how well an extension would age. 
  • The Saints trading either Lattimore, Armstead or Ramczyk is not necessarily out of the question, per Triplett, though extensions for them could lower their cap hits in 2021. 
  • Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out that Saints QB Drew Brees technically could still return and play in 2021 if he’s willing to do it for the minimum base salary. 
  • Oregon CB Thomas Graham has had a virtual meeting with the Saints. (Justin Melo)

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