NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers


Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston became the dubious charter member of the NFL’s 30/30 club — 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions — with his game-ending pick-six on Sunday giving him 30 on the season. Winston also threw 33 touchdown passes in 2019, which exemplifies the type of rollercoaster player he’s been in his five-year career. To keep that career going in Tampa Bay, Winston knows he has to cut back on the interceptions. 

“I know I’m confident in my abilities,” Winston said via the Tampa Bay Times’s Rick Stroud. “I know I’m a baller. I know I’m going to fix my mistakes. . . . I’m focused on how I can get better, because I know if I eliminate those, I’m going to be the best. That’s bar none. You better check your sheet. I eliminate those, I’m going to be the best.”

  • Per the Athletic’s Greg Auman, Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians says the team will make a decision on Winston’s future in the next couple of weeks but likely won’t make it official for a while longer. 
  • Arians pointed out the team believes it could win with another quarterback besides Winston: “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too.” (Stroud)
  • Arians acknowledged that Winston is near-sighted: “He can’t read the scoreboard, but he can see the guys in front of him, so he’s fine. He’s got goggles he practices (with) sometimes.” (Auman)
  • Arians added that bringing back DE Jason Pierre-Paul and keeping the front seven together is a “huge priority.” (Auman)
  • Buccaneers LB Shaquil Barrett and DT Ndamukong Suh are also among Arians’ top priorities. (Scott Smith)
  • Barrett broke out in 2019 and Arians wants to make sure he’s rewarded: “Hopefully we can get a deal done. We’ve got some very important free agents that I think want to be here. We’ll have long, hard discussions this week, Jason, myself, the owners, see what we can iron out. I want to keep this defense together.” (Auman)
  • Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin is another “high” priority for an extension, per Arians: “He’s earned it. If we can keep the receiving corps together, which is going to be hard, we’ll try to do everything we can.” (Auman)
  • Arians would also like to bring back 34-year-old OT Demar Dotson: “I love him. He’s a warrior. You want to build your team around warriors, and he’s definitely one of them.” (Auman)
  • Buccaneers first-round rookie LB Devin White said he will have his tonsils removed this offseason so he doesn’t have to miss time with tonsilitis again. (Jenna Laine)
  • Buccaneers OL Mike Liedtke is unlikely to be tendered as a restricted free agent but would like to return in the spring when his rehab from a shoulder injury is complete and compete for a roster spot. (Auman)


Following a 1-7 start to the season, it appeared that Falcons HC Dan Quinn was well on his way to losing his job just three years after taking Atlanta to the Super Bowl. However, team owner Arthur Blank insisted he wouldn’t fire Quinn midseason and Quinn used the extra time to turn the Falcons around with a 6-2 record down the stretch. After announcing he would retain Quinn in 2020, Blank hopes his patience is further rewarded. 

“The words consistency and continuity are important,” Blank said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I think staying the course often makes sense. These quick fixes—sometimes they’re not quick fixes. Sometimes they appear to be. If you look at the history of the NFL, the organizations that have stayed their course, even through some tough times, are the smart ones. New Orleans had three seasons where they were 7-9. They stayed the course with Sean Payton. Sean Payton’s been a great coach. Now look at them. It’s been the truth in Pittsburgh as well.”

From a talent standpoint, Atlanta’s roster was well-stocked this year, which made their under-performance to start the season even more baffling and didn’t look good for Quinn. After taking over defensive play-calling heading into this season, Quinn reconsidered and turned things over to current DC Raheem Morris. That flexibility earned him points with Blank. 

“I think a lot of our early problems were to some extent self-inflicted,” Blank said. “I think there were some things that the coach to his credit has got tremendous humility and self-awareness. I think he realized that being the defensive coordinator on top of being the head coach was asking too much of himself. And I don’t think he had time to do the job as a head coach that he needs to do. I think the moving around of some of the coaches, position-wise, and who’s calling the defensive signals made a big difference as well. It’s a great credit to the players and a great credit to all the coaches. The changes, and players hanging in, I believe that those things can all carry over to next year.”

  • Per Kelsey Conway of the official team website, Falcons TE Austin Hooper said he wants to be back with the team but it obviously depends on what happens with his expiring contract. 
  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff mentioned Falcons LB De’Vondre Campbell and DE Vic Beasley as extension candidates. (D. Orlando Ledbetter)
  • Campbell told reporters he would love to stay in Atlanta but understands if it doesn’t work out given the Falcons’ tight cap situation: “I’m used to the city. I just don’t want to have to pick up and go figure out a new city, a new coaching staff. But if that’s what I have to do, that’s what I have to do. I know they appreciate me, but business is business. And sometimes, no matter how much you appreciate somebody, it doesn’t always work out like that.” (Vaughn McClure)
  • Both Dimitroff and Quinn praised Hooper and made it sound like re-signing him is a priority this offseason. (McClure)
  • Falcons K Younghoe Koo hopes his performance in 2019 — 23-26 on field-goal attempts and multiple successful onside kicks — is enough to earn him another shot in 2020: “This is what I’ve dreamed about. Hopefully I can stay.” (McClure)
  • Quinn said Koo made a case for himself but didn’t rule out bringing in more competition. (McClure)
  • Quinn also said it was too early to commit to Falcons RB Devonta Freeman as the No. 1 running back next season. (McClure)


Panthers TE Greg Olsen still technically has one more year left on his contract in Carolina. But the 34-year-old veteran is pessimistic about his chances of returning for that final year. Carolina can save $8.1 million against the cap by releasing Olsen, who likely has a prominent broadcasting job waiting for him after he’s done playing. Olsen made sure he savored Sunday’s home game as much as possible in case it really is the last of his career. 

“I just think sometimes the writing’s on the wall,” Olsen said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “There hasn’t been anything officially. But I wanted to make sure if that was my last time that I made sure I told the people that I needed to how much they meant on my career, and how much I enjoyed playing with these guys and playing [for] these coaches.”

  • Olsen said he expects to know his future, “sooner rather than later.” (David Newton)
  • Per the Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, Panthers DT Gerald McCoy said the health of key players like QB Cam Newton and DT Kawann Short would affect his decision on whether to re-sign with Carolina. 
  • McCoy added his two cents regarding the Panthers’ upcoming decision on Newton’s future, saying it would be the “dumbest thing they ever did” if Carolina moved on from him: “There aren’t a lot of Cam Newtons walking around. In fact there are NO Cam Newtons walking around.”
  • Panthers CB James Bradberry made it clear that he wants to be paid like one of the top corners in the NFL even if it means leaving Carolina: “I feel like I’m a top corner in this league and I want to be compensated as such. … I’m open to any and all possibilities. I understand this is a business. We’ll see what happens.” (Max Henson)
  • Panthers CB Donte Jackson said he’s determined to regain his starting position next season: “I stated it a few weeks back, my confidence has never gone anywhere. Year Two, just made 24 years old. I have a ton of football left to play in this league. Whether people are fans of me or not, I’ve still got work to do. If I was a Pro Bowler or All-Pro this year, I still was going to put in the same work. Just back to the drawing board.”
  • Panthers OC Scott Turner noted third-round rookie QB Will Grier did not suffer a break in his foot and was in a walking boot mostly as a precaution. (Rodrigue)
  • Panthers DT Dontari Poe said he’s on schedule in his rehab following quad surgery. (Rodrigue)
  • Panthers S Tre Boston told reporters he’s been approached about re-signing in Carolina. (Newton)

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