NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

While their cap situation may be a little tight following their Super Bowl victory, Buccaneers’ WR Antonio Brown would still love to return to Tampa Bay next season.

“Man I’d love to, I look forward to going through the process,” Brown said, via Pro Football Talk. “This is a great spot for me and I would love to come back and give it another shot at a 2-peat. I would love to be back here next year. It would mean everything to be back. I’m just excited and super grateful.”

  • Albert Breer of SI says the biggest decision for Tampa is who they will franchise tag between WR Chris Godwin and LB Shaq Barrett.
  • Breer thinks it will likely be Godwin, as a second-time tag on Barrett would cost around $19 million compared to $16 million for Godwin. Godwin is also the younger of the two players and could play a part in the potential return of QB Tom Brady.
  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman writes there’s a slight chance the Buccaneers tag and trade Godwin given their investment at wide receiver but he’s also the player they would most like to keep out of their pending free agents. 
  • Auman adds the price point for 31-year-old LB Lavonte David is going to go a long way when determining if the Buccaneers can re-sign him. 
  • If another team is willing to pay RB Leonard Fournette mid-tier starter money in the range of $8 million a year following his super playoff run, Auman doesn’t think the Buccaneers will try and match it. 
  • Auman notes there’s a long list of other veterans the Buccaneers will need to make decisions on while also weighing future extensions for players like CB Carlton Davis, RB Ronald Jones, S Jordan Whitehead, OLB Jason Pierre-Paul and even Brady.
  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said his wife and children urged him to consider opting out of this past season given his age and the fact he’s a cancer survivor, which put him in the high-risk category for COVID-19: “Some people said, ‘Dad, you need to opt out this year,’ and I was like, ‘No way. I’ll risk it. It’s going to be a magical year.’” (Sam Farmer)
  • Arians added he and his wife took every precaution this past year to stay safe. He’s now been vaccinated: “I went to work, came home,” he said. “We haven’t gone out to dinner since July. We have all these open-air restaurants here, but I just couldn’t risk it. Both of us are high risk.”
  • At the team’s victory boat parade, Arians announced Tampa Bay’s intentions to keep David alongside LB Devin White, saying he “ain’t going nowhere.” (Jenna Laine)
  • He said the same for Godwin: “Your ass ain’t going nowhere neither!” (Rick Stroud)

Panthers

Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey‘s workload was a major topic of conversation coming into 2020, as he played a league-leading 91.3 percent of Carolina’s snaps in 2018 and then led the league in touches the following year with 403. Multiple injuries limited McCaffrey to just three games in 2020 but he doesn’t think it’s because of his heavy workload the past few years. 

“I don’t like to think that any past years are the reason for anything,” McCaffrey said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I think when you look around different players in the league who have experienced injury, some of them will have season-ending injuries in the first game and play 15 more years. So, some of that noise, ‘Well it’s because they’re giving him too many carries.’ — I look at a guy like Emmitt Smith, who played double-digit years and in his 10th year and all that, he was an animal. He had a lot of carries and he experienced injuries. Adrian Peterson tore his knee all the way and then he was the MVP of the league the next year. For me, I say part of it was bad luck. Injuries happen in football. Looking at this offseason, I think I have an amazing plan.

“It’s the correct fuel, the correct nutrition, the correct sleep, the correct hydration. There’s no distractions. There’s no vacations. You kinda get that [vacation] out of the way and then you lock in. I’ll go four weeks on, one week off, four weeks on, one week off. That’ll get me to OTAs, which is April 19. Hopefully we have it in person this year. After that, I’ll have another three-and-a-half, four weeks of a ‘training camp’ so to say, before camp.”

  • The Panthers promoted chief communications officer Steven Drummond to senior advisor to owner David Tepper and VP of external football ops. Drummond was part of both search committees that hired HC Matt Rhule and GM Scott Fitterer. (Joe Person)
  • Carolina also promoted security director Eddie Levins to VP of compliance and operations. Levins was the Panthers’ point person for COVID-19 protocol compliance. (Person

Saints

  • The Athletic’s Larry Holder thinks the Saints could offer QB Jameis Winston a one-year, $7 million deal to come back and compete for the starting job in 2021, similar to what they did two years ago with Teddy Bridgewater.
  • While Saints RB Latavius Murray has come up as a potential cap cut, Holder expects the Saints to keep him in 2021. He also doesn’t think the $4 million in cap savings justify eating $6 million in dead money to cut WR Emmanuel Sanders.
  • However, he says it’s safe to assume TE Jared Cook has played his last snap for the Saints. 
  • If the Saints can’t keep DE Trey Hendrickson, Holder expects them to look to add a veteran pass rusher as insurance for DE Marcus Davenport.
  • Saints DT Malcom Brown is another speculated cap cut but Holder believes the Saints would rather keep him if he accepts a pay cut. New Orleans is in a similar situation with veteran CB Janoris Jenkins.
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