NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Falcons

  • The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz writes that rather than try to straddle the line between rebuilding and competing at the same time, the Falcons should embrace a rebuild. 
  • For Schultz, that means drafting a quarterback at No. 4 overall and then looking to trade Matt Ryan after June 1 this year when the dead cap hit drops to just under $25 million. 
  • He also thinks the Falcons should look into trading WR Julio Jones, either before the draft or before the start of the season. He believes Atlanta could get a second-round pick back, perhaps from a team like the Chargers with a young quarterback and lots of cap space. Jones does spend a lot of time in the offseason in Los Angeles. 
  • Schultz says that, for whatever it’s worth, that while Jones remains close with owner Arthur Blank, he’s not as close with others in the organization. While the Falcons have met Jones’ financial asks every step of the way, Schultz doesn’t rule out the possibility of Jones requesting a trade if he wants to compete for a Super Bowl and believes that won’t happen in Atlanta. 
  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline says the Falcons are one of the teams showing interest in Nebraska TE Jack Stoll as an undrafted free agent. 
  • Iowa State S Lawrence White has met virtually with the Falcons. (Justin Melo)

Panthers

  • According to Albert Breer, when the Panthers called the Texans about QB Deshaun Watson in January and February, Houston wasn’t willing to even discuss a trade.
  • Breer explains that pivoting to Sam Darnold was easier since GM Scott Fitterer and HC Matt Rhule interviewed for their respective positions for the Jets while Darnold was the QB. 
  • Fitterer also had a positive evaluation of Darnold coming out of USC, and when Rhule and Fitterer watched Darnold’s NFL tape, they saw a lot of the same positive traits that he had in college, per Breer. 
  • Breer says that the best conclusion for Panthers’ QB Teddy Bridgewater would be a trade, and while Breer doesn’t think a team would pay Bridgewater $18 million, he doesn’t see why a team would be unwilling to pay him around $10 million.
  • Right now, $10 million is what Bridgewater will make guaranteed from the Panthers no matter what. The Athletic’s Joe Person adds the rest of his $17 million 2021 base salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster Week 1, serving as a deadline for Carolina to potentially move on. 
  • While Rhule said Carolina hasn’t officially exercised Darnold’s fifth-year option, Person says team sources tell him that move is expected. 
  • Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr. had a second meeting with the Panthers. (Justin Melo)
  • Louisiana Tech OL Donavaughn Campbell has met virtually with the Panthers. (Tony Pauline)

Saints

  • On the GM Shuffle podcast, former NFL GM Michael Lombardi said he’s heard the Saints were involved to some extent at some point in trade talks for Sam Darnold with the Jets: “They were in the Sam Darnold market too. They’re kicking the tires on everything. Like I think what Sean Payton’s doing is exactly what you have to do, it’s what Matt Rhule’s doing too: just throw as many against the wall as you can, and figure out which one will stick.”
  • ESPN’s Mike Triplett writes that the Saints will have to lean on 2020 rookies like OL Cesar Ruiz, LB Zack Baun and TE Adam Trautman to step up as starters in 2021. 
  • Triplett notes Ruiz started and played the most out of that group and he could now be a full-time starter at guard, hopefully with the benefit of a full offseason to transition. 
  • He adds Baun was also changing positions after primarily playing as an edge rusher in college. Triplett says the Saints thought Baun could make the switch to inside linebacker and there’s now an opening to see if he can do so in 2021. 
  • As for Trautman, he finished the season on an upward trajectory and Triplett points out the Saints haven’t added any major competition for him as the No. 1 tight end. 
  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline says the Saints are one of the teams showing interest in Washington DL Josiah Bronson as an undrafted free agent if he’s not selected. 
  • Auburn S Jordyn Peters had a virtual meeting with the Saints. (Justin Melo)

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