- According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, the top priority for the Buccaneers this offseason is keeping their front seven together. Tampa Bay HC Bruce Arians identified LB Shaquil Barrett, DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Ndamukong Suh as top priorities.
- Buccaneers LB Carl Nassib is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, but it’s more likely Tampa Bay lets him test the open market.
- Laine says addressing offensive tackle is also a priority. Current RT Demar Dotson is set to hit free agency, while LT Donovan Smith ranked 33rd in the NFL in pass block win rate and is entering the final year of guarantees in his contract in 2020.
- An extension for Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin is also among Tampa Bay’s priorities this offseason, per Laine.
- Tampa Bay also is unlikely to be able to afford WR Breshad Perriman, who could make $7-$8 million on the open market in 2020. (Greg Auman)
- Some lower-cost veterans Tampa Bay could consider include Jets LB Jordan Jenkins, Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley, Cardinals DL Rodney Gunter, Steeler S Sean Davis, Saints LB Josh Martin, Jets RB Bilal Powell, Vikings DE Stephen Weatherly and Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell.
- According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Falcons offensive assistant Ben Steele is in line to replace Mike Mularkey as Atlanta’s tight ends coach.
Heading into their interview with new HC Matt Rhule on Monday, the Panthers knew they had a limited window of time to convince him to join the organization before his interview with the Giants on Tuesday. Rhule grew up in New York City, coached with the team in 2012 and was the presumed favorite for the job — right up until New York declined to match Panthers owner David Tepper‘s seven-year, $60+ million offer. Tepper knew his best chance was making sure Rhule never got on the plane to New York.
“That’s home for him. I think it’s always difficult when you’re talking about home,” Panthers communications director Steven Drummond said via the Athletic’s Joseph Person. “He had been there. So, yeah, we fully expected him to talk to the Giants. I think that’s why Dave was so adamant and aggressive that once he realized and it clicked that this is the guy. This is my guy, this is our guy, he wanted to try to get a deal done as quickly as possible.”
Tepper tread lightly for most of his first two years in charge of the team. But a pattern has emerged for Tepper — whose reported $12 billion net worth ranks near the top of all 32 NFL owners. While he can’t exceed the salary cap to get players, there’s nothing stopping him from throwing around his fortune to make Rhule the sixth-highest paid NFL head coach or give him other resources to succeed.
“Remember one thing about the NFL, it’s an 8-8 league,” Tepper said via Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt. “It’s an 8-8 league because you all get so much to get the same players. That’s why it’s an 8-8 league. It’s not an 8-8 league when you build facilities. It’s not an 8-8 league when you get trainers. It’s not an 8-8 league for other sort of things you can bring in here. And I’ve heard this, the Carolina Panthers have an owner who has some resources.”
- Per Robert Klemko of the Washington Post, another NFC South coach doesn’t think the other NFL owners will be happy with Tepper’s move to throw cash at Rhule: “Tepper just drove the price of pork up, and I know the owners are pissed. They’re gonna hurt him at the next league meetings. They might just shut him out of the room.”
- The Panthers requested an interview with Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald, but he declined. (Person)
- Former Dolphins OL coach Pat Flaherty is considered a strong contender to take the same position on Rhule’s staff in Carolina. (Mike Garafolo)
- Joe Person reports that Baylor’s Phil Snow is a candidate for the Panthers’ defensive coordinator job and Rhule also wants to bring Baylor LBs coach Mike Siravo with him.
Since being acquired off waivers from the Giants near the end of the season, Saints CB Janoris Jenkins has made a big impact in a short amount of time. While he’s still technically under contract at a cap hit of $11.25 million in 2020, New Orleans is expected to be tight for cap space and could consider an extension for Jenkins to create some space. That’s something the 31-year-old Jenkins would be amenable to.
“That’s my plan,” Jenkins said via NOLA.com’s Rod Walker. “I’d love to see that. Business is business. They control what goes on. I’m just happy to be here and hope I can stay.”
- CBS analyst and former agent Joel Corry expects the Saints to give Drew Brees a similar deal to when they re-signed him to a two-year deal in 2018 if he doesn’t retire.
- Factoring in the rising salary cap, Corry projects Brees’ deal to be for two years around $28 million per year with the first year guaranteed and additional void years tacked onto the end to help spread out the cap hit.
- Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, one NFC executive would not be shocked to see the Saints move forward with QB Taysom Hill as the starter for HC Sean Payton: “Sean always has been intrigued by athletic quarterbacks and how to utilize them. Taysom is a talented guy.”