NFC Notes: Derek Carr, Jon Gruden, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints


Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield found himself playing in the slot a lot last season and is now expected to return to free safety, which HC Todd Bowles said was part of the team’s plan.

“I will probably be in the middle of the field more,” Winfield said, via “I like having that freedom to roam around and be in the middle of the field, have that presence . . . I’m able to play around and cover different things than being in the slot.”


  • The Athletic’s Joe Person wouldn’t rule out the Panthers kicking the tires on former Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins but he doubts there’s much appetite on Carolina’s part to fork over a big deal for a receiver who turns 31 this year. 
  • Although there’s a local connection with Hopkins playing at Clemson in college, he doubts the veteran would have much interest in Carolina if they’re not going to pay up. 
  • Carolina is near the top of the NFL in available cap space right now but Person says the team is making it a point to be patient with that sum. For starters, their real window for contention probably starts in 2024 even if first-round QB Bryce Young is a hit. Secondly, having that flexibility would help Carolina if the chance to add a difference-maker crops up during the preseason or before the trade deadline. 
  • Person mentions QB coach Josh McCown, assistant HC/RB coach Duce Staley, DL coach Todd Wash, OLB coach Tem Lukabu and secondary coach Jonathan Cooley as potential internal coordinator candidates if the Panthers lose either or both of DC Ejiro Evero or OC Thomas Brown to head coaching jobs in 2024. 


Some of Saints QB Derek Carr‘s best seasons came while he was being coached by former Raiders HC Jon Gruden. So Saints HC Dennis Allen thought it just made sense to bring Gruden in as they try and make Carr’s adjustment to New Orleans as seamless as possible. 

“In Jon, we have a resource here that is football through and through,” Allen said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “And he’s had an opportunity to work with Derek Carr. “So what better [way to use that] resource than to just get some thoughts and ideas on how he worked with Derek and what he thought worked well with Derek?”

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