Home Falcons NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints

NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints


New Falcons DC Ryan Nielsen has a reputation as a coach who can get a lot out of the defensive line, which must have been appealing to Atlanta given they haven’t had a good pass rush in years. Falcons GM Terry Fontenot worked with Nielsen in New Orleans but HC Arthur Smith didn’t and Nielsen also comes from a different schematic background than former DC Dean Pees. It’s clear Nielsen’s resume and vision got him the job. 

“I don’t care what system you’re running. You have to be able to adapt,” Smith said via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “I was impressed with the plan with that, what we currently have and what we want to look to add and where we’re going.”

“We don’t want to just blow everything up and start all over again,” Nielsen added. “We’re going to take what we’ve done well here the last couple of years. We’re going to implement some new things, put in some new ideas, and just kind of marry it.”


Former Panthers HC Dom Capers is returning to the city after 25 years on the staff of QB Frank Reich, who was his original starting quarterback with the franchise. Capers is looking forward to working under Reich along with DC Ejiro Evero, whom he worked under with the Broncos.

“Number one, I’ve always had tremendous respect for Frank Reich,” Capers said, via Joseph Person of The Athletic. “We were together back there starting in 1995. He was a class guy then, and a really good leader. I’ve followed him through his career and think he did a tremendous job in Indianapolis. Then Ejiro Evero was a quality control guy for me in Green Bay (in 2016). I thought he had a really bright future. He went to Sean McVay’s staff and did a great job there. They won a Super Bowl. When he took the coordinator’s job at Denver, called and asked if I’d be interested in coming in and helping him. He did a tremendous job in Denver this year. I think the world of both of these guys. I couldn’t be working for two guys I think more highly of.”

Capers also spoke about some of the Panthers players that he feels could improve under Evero, including DE Brian Burns, DT Derrick Brown, and CB Jaycee Horn.

“I’ve always been intrigued by Burns as an outside rusher,” Capers said. “This defense over the years, we’ve had great success with the outside people and a lot of production out of them. And the production he had last year (12 1/2 sacks and 22 quarterback hits, both career highs) speaks for itself. (Derrick) Brown was one of the top guys coming out in the draft. I think he’s a very talented guy, as well as (Jaycee) Horn from a coverage standpoint. So it’ll be fun going in and really taking a good look at the defensive personnel. I’ve always believed that you’ve got enough flexibility in your scheme that you try to feature your best players. You don’t fit guys into the scheme. You fit the scheme around the players. I think Ejiro did a great job of that last year. Pat Surtain was one of the top two or three corners in the league.”

As for his role and his thoughts on the way the rest of the staff is filling out, Capers gave his in-depth opinion on how things are going up to this point.

“I’ve been very impressed, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Capers said of the staff. “Knowing Frank, he’s gonna think things through thoroughly and make the decision he feels is gonna be best for the team and give the Panthers the best chance of winning. I had the good fortune to work with James Campen for nine years in Green Bay. I think he does a great job with the offensive line. I worked with Duce Staley in Detroit for a year. I think Duce brings a lot of energy and obviously played for a while. He’ll do a great job with whatever he ends up with in his role. Peter Hansen was with us in Denver. Does a really good job with the linebackers, and understands Ejiro’s scheme. They were together back in San Francisco, so they’ve known each other for a while. Those two guys are on the same page. That always helps if you’ve got guys that have worked together.”

“I would assume my role with Ejiro will be very similar to what it was this year,” Capers added on his role. “That’s basically just to try to help him in any way that I can, whether it’s organizationally. Just a lot of things to try to streamline things for him to where he can spend as much time zeroing in on the opponent. I enjoy that. This will be 37 years for me. I had some great mentors that were tremendously helping me along the way. I get more pleasure now helping my guys that I’ve been around trying to have success.”


  • ESPN’s Katherine Terrell explains how she expects the Saints to dig out of the $55 million hole they find themselves in against the salary cap in 2023. Once again, they’ll likely restructure a long list of players. 
  • That list includes DE Cameron Jordan, CB Marshon Lattimore, RT Ryan Ramczyk, RB Alvin Kamara, TE Taysom Hill, S Tyrann Mathieu, S Marcus Maye, and C Erik McCoy.
  • Terrell mentions McCoy and Maye had bonuses specifically designed to be restructured. Jordan is 34 but Terrell doesn’t think the Saints will move on until they have a clear replacement ready. He’s entering the final year of his deal in 2023 but there are void years for cap purposes. 
  • Saints G Andrus Peat is another restructuring candidate but Terrell points out he’s getting pricey for the level of play New Orleans has been getting. A straight release doesn’t save the team much but a June 1 cut would add $11.825 million after that date. 
  • In addition to the expected release of WR Michael Thomas, Terrell says it’s hard to see the Saints bringing back QB Jameis Winston, and the only question is if he’s cut with a June 1 designation or not. 
  • Extensions for DT David Onyemata and DE Marcus Davenport could save the Saints a little bit of money, per Terrell, but both are set to count sizable amounts against the cap no matter what due to the remaining dead money from previous restructures. If they’re extended, Terrell points out the Saints don’t have to pay for players who aren’t there. 
  • If the Saints still need to dig through the couch for spare change, Terrell notes they could cut WR Tre’Quan Smith and add void years and restructure K Wil Lutz‘s deal.
  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer mentions the Saints were the only team to put an offer on the table to the Raiders for QB Derek Carr, though the Jets also inquired. The expectation is that the Raiders will cut Carr this week before his guarantees are due. 

Looking for the latest NFL Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow NFL Trade Rumors on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NFL News and Rumors for all 32 teams!

Leave a Reply