NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints QB Competition

Falcons

  • Mike Lombardi said on his “GM Shuffle” podcast that a number of factors were working against the Falcons getting a first-round pick for WR Julio Jones, including his age, durability and contract.
  • One team told Lombardi that they felt they should receive compensation for taking on Jones’ contract.
  • According to Lombardi, the Rams were engaged in trade talks for Jones early on in the process. In fact, Lombardi says Los Angeles was floating the idea of trading WR Robert Woods to an unknown team. Lombardi explains that if the Rams were to get something like a third-round pick for Woods, they could essentially dump his contract and then take on Jones.
  • Lombardi adds that this was never a firm offer for Jones and was just “concepts and ideas.” Ultimately, Rams HC Sean McVay decided against pursuing the idea.

Panthers

The Panthers had two roles in mind when they signed CB A.J. Bouye in free agency this offseason. With Donte Jackson and eventual first-round pick Jaycee Horn manning the two outside spots, Carolina needed someone to lock down the slot corner position. There also was a need for a veteran presence to steady the secondary and mentor younger players like Jackson, Horn and others. 

“A.J.’s an ultimate pro. He’s a guy that is just a joy to have in the room — not only for the coaches, but especially for this young team that we have and this young secondary, young defense,” Jackson said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “A.J. is a guy who can literally go play any position in the secondary at a high level. He’s very smart. He brings it every day. He’s not going to allow a day where the young guys see him not on his game.”

Horn already started impressing Bouye long before they were teammates, as he got a look at him last offseason. Not only was Bouye reminded of former teammate Jalen Ramsey when watching Horn because of his size and athleticism, but now that they’re teammates, the mental aspect is standing out too. 

“He’s out there on the field, talking to me about stuff he noticed from reps I played when I was in Houston four or five years ago. As a rookie, I wasn’t studying the game like that. Compliments to his dad and the people around him,” Bouye said.

Bouye will miss the first two games of the season as he finishes out a PED suspension that also tripped up former Texans teammate Will Fuller. He said he was given a supplement by someone “in his circle” that contained a banned substance. 

“I was mad at the time because there was already a lot going on that year with injuries, (and) getting used to the new season,” Bouye said. “And then to find out that you’re getting suspended for something you didn’t even know was really in your body, that’s just the toughest part because you have to just accept it.”

Saints

Saints’ HC Sean Payton noted he will tweak the offense for whichever quarterback wins the starting gig, either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, but the base scheme will still remain the same.

“We’ll build it a little bit around that player accordingly. That’s something that we did when Drew first arrived here and that we would do with either of these two players,” Payton said, via ESPN’s Mike Triplett.“There are certain things that you might do just specific to one or the other. And yet there’s still an overall philosophical approach that these guys will have learned to play offense. It’s not a whole different game plan for each one of them.”

Winston said his year on the bench as the Saints’ backup made him “even hungrier” to earn the starting role. 

“One year not playing has just made me even hungrier to get back at the (helm) and lead a team,” said Winston. “My about-to-be seven years in this league has been a blessing, because I worked my whole life to have the opportunity to be a starting quarterback in this league.”

Hill said he’s structured his offseason training around “being a quarterback” and is focused on improving his footwork and decision-making. 

“I’ve really been able to tailor all my workouts and everything to just being a quarterback … just knowing and feeling like I won’t have to take on as much as I did last year. So that’s been the emphasis. But the mindset of getting better every day and improving on what you’ve done in the past, that hasn’t changed,” said Hill.

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