NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints


  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman writes that after placing the franchise tag on WR Chris Godwin and extending LB Lavonte David, the Buccaneers will need to create more cap space to re-sign other pending free agents like OLB Shaq Barrett, WR Antonio Brown and K Ryan Succop
  • Auman adds that while David’s contract doesn’t ensure he’ll finish his career in Tampa Bay, it is another step in that direction. 
  • As for Godwin, Auman says there’s at least a possibility 2021 is his final year with the Buccaneers, as he could cost $20 million per year on a long-term deal in 2022 and Tampa Bay could decide to stick with Mike Evans and a younger receiver like Scotty Miller or Tyler Johnson instead, especially if one of the latter two takes a big step. 


The Panthers’ desire for an upgrade at quarterback has been one of the worst-kept secrets of this offseason. That leaves the current starter, veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater, twisting in the wind somewhat. Panthers HC Matt Rhule, perhaps doing a little bit of damage control, perhaps covering Carolina’s bases in case they strike out on a blockbuster move for another quarterback and do indeed start Bridgewater in 2021, offered some public reassurances of Bridgewater’s standing with the team. 

“This is the time of year where there’s lot of rumors and speculation,” Rhule said via NFL Media’s Nick Shook. “Not all of it is true. … Teddy’s a tremendous professional and Teddy’s a tremendous person. I can’t speak for him; I think he’s controlling what he can control. He’s having a great offseason, I’m sure. I can’t wait to get him back here. And I think he’s determined to play his best football next year.

“As far as where he stands with us, he’s our quarterback. Nothing’s changed since the end of the season. … We’re going to continue to try to improve the roster at every position through free agency, through the draft and also through development.”

  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora expects the Panthers to explore an aggressive trade into the top three picks for a quarterback if they can’t land Texans QB Deshaun Watson in a trade. 
  • Rhule referenced the “major commitment” the team made to RT Taylor Moton by placing the franchise tag on him: “That’s how much we think about Taylor.” (Joe Person)
  • Moton’s $13.75 million tag took almost half of Carolina’s available cap space going into Wednesday, which Rhule said will affect their approach to free agency: “We don’t have a ton of money, so we have to be really targeted in what we’re going to do.” (David Newton)
  • That may or may not include re-signing WR Curtis Samuel, who is expected to be a hot commodity when free agency begins, per Rhule: “I’d love to have him here. We’ll see how it plays out.” (Person)
  • The Panthers also created nearly $12 million in cap space by restructuring the contracts for RB Christian McCaffrey and LB Shaq Thompson. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said that’s not a habit he wants to get into: “We are thankful Christian and Shaq were able to restructure for us. It’s not something we want to do long-term, kick money down the road. This was one of those unique years we wanted to do this. It can get you in trouble long-term.” (Newton)
  • The Panthers attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Pro Day to observe OL Quinn Meinerz. (Owen Riese)


  • Regarding the Saints using the franchise tag on S Marcus Williams, Katherine Terrell of The Athletic writes that it made sense for New Orleans to use the tag given it only cost them $10.5 million despite their current cap situation.
  • If the Saints allowed Williams to walk in free-agency, Terrell points out that the Saints likely would’ve had to sign a free-agent safety anyways instead of hoping for the right prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.  
  • Terrell writes that the Saints tagging Williams is essentially a placeholder in case they are unable to create the necessary cap space for the franchise tag. They can still negotiate a long-term deal between now and the July deadline. 
  • Terrell notes that Williams, CB Marshon Lattimore and OT Ryan Ramczyk are set to account for $32 million against the cap for 2021. She believes it is “hard to imagine” all three players going forward without new deals.
  • Terrell expects a “flurry of moves” by the Saints ahead of free agency, which could include a “surprise cut or two.” 

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