NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Buccaneers backup QB Ryan Griffin has been in the NFL for seven years. On Sunday, Griffin took the first regular-season snaps of his career. This week he waxed to reporters about the experience. 

“It was cool,” Griffin said via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “It felt normal. It felt like it’s always felt. No big deal.”

  • CBS Sports analyst and former agent Joel Corry identifies Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston as a potential franchise tag candidate. 
  • Tampa Bay could also use the transition tag on LB Shaquil Barrett
  • The Athletic’s Mike Sando writes it’s still up in the air whether the Buccaneers will exercise the fifth-year option for TE O.J. Howard this offseason.


  • CBS Sports analyst and former agent Joel Corry identifies Falcons TE Austin Hooper as a potential franchise tag candidate. 
  • The Athletic’s Mike Sando writes the Falcons will likely decline the fifth-year option for DE Takkarist McKinley this offseason.


Panthers owner David Tepper pumped the brakes somewhat on the talk that QB Cam Newton was on his way out of Carolina. When healthy, Tepper affirmed Newton is an elite player and someone who would figure heavily into the Panthers’ plans. The healthy portion is key, however, as Newton hasn’t been fully healthy in a game dating back to midway through the 2018 season. 

“Cam’s future is going to largely be up to how good he feels,” Tepper said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “That’s first. It’s actually an interesting question to me when there’s a lot of speculation on this because there should be no speculation on Cam one way or the other. If Cam’s healthy, he’s an elite player. So we all hope Cam’s healthy. And people will use an elite player because there just aren’t that many elite players in the league.”

  • Tepper mentioned he will hire the head coach first before hiring an assistant general manager, as the AGM would have some overlap with the general head coaching duties. 
  • The Athletic’s Mike Sando writes the Panthers will likely exercise the fifth-year option for RB Christian McCaffrey this offseason.
  • Panthers TE Greg Olsen was a limited participant in practice but remains in the concussion protocol. (Max Henson)
  • Panthers OC Scott Turner told reporters they want to make sure third-round rookie QB Will Grier is ready before they play him in a game: “Sometimes sitting for an entire season can be better. We want him to play when he’s ready. We don’t want to rush him in and do something that could possibly hurt (his development).” (Henson)


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