NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Buccaneers LB Lavonte David has played for Tampa Bay for the past eight seasons. He’s never made the playoffs and has just one winning season to his credit in that time. So it’s easy to see how David would be jazzed by the addition of QB Tom Brady and what that means for the team’s ability to compete at a very, very high level. 

“It’s very exciting, man. Very exciting,” David said in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio via Pro Football Talk. “We’ve always been on the brink of getting there and having a couple mistakes here and there that get us from not being in the playoffs or being able to compete in the Super Bowl. We can have a guy who can erase all that, come in and erase all that and know what it takes to get there. Having him at the helm and being a leader, one of the leaders of our football team, hopefully he can put us over that hump and get us there, find a way to get us to the big dance that we all want.”

  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman says to keep an eye on S Tony Jefferson for the Buccaneers, though it might not be for a while as Jefferson is recovering from knee surgery. 
  • According to Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times, Buccaneers DT Ndamukong Suh is still open to returning to Tampa Bay but has informed the team he has interest from other teams including the 49ers and Cowboys. 
  • Buccaneers GM Jason Licht confirmed landing Brady was their top goal this offseason: “Tom was our No. 1 priority in free agency this offseason. … Today, we begin a new era.” (Albert Breer)
  • Brady also gave his first public comments since agreeing to sign a two-year deal with Tampa Bay: “This is an exciting moment for me in my life, entering something very unique to me, the first time this is happening in 20 years.” (Auman)
  • Brady acknowledged he faced a transition learning a new system, particularly given the likely absence of OTA’s this year, but hoped his past decades of experience would come in handy: “Where I’ve been, I’ve learned a great deal. As I move forward, no one cares what you’ve done in the past … There’s a lot of things I have to get up to speed on, learning different terminology, that’s a unique challenge I haven’t faced, but one I look forward to.” (Auman)

Falcons

Early in the Ravens’ loss to the Titans in the playoffs last season, former TE Hayden Hurst was caught on the broadcast apparently yelling for his team to throw him the ball more after catching a short pass. Hurst caught just 43 passes in his two years in Baltimore despite being drafted in the first round. Given his predecessor in Atlanta, Austin Hooper, broke that mark before the season’s halfway point last year, Hurst is understandably thrilled about his fit with the Falcons.

“It’s going to be a perfect fit,” Hurst said via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Koetter’s pass-heavy offense is going to suit me well. It’s going to allow me to do some things that I personally do well [like] stretch the field vertically and hopefully create some mismatches for the other guys, Julio and Calvin. I saw where they’ve picked up Laquon Treadwell as well. It’s a pretty potent offense. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

  • Falcons CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson‘s one year, $1.187 million deal includes a $137,500 signing bonus, $1.05 million base salary and qualifies for the veteran salary benefit. (Aaron Wilson)

Panthers

  • The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue says Panthers GM Marty Hurney informed QB Cam Newton‘s camp a few days before the legal tampering period that they would be exploring a trade. One reason is the team learned Teddy Bridgewater would be available at a lower price than they had expected.  
  • After that, Newton’s camp requested more autonomy within the process to explore a trade, which the Panthers granted and which ultimately led to the wording and backlash of their announcement they had given Newton permission to seek a trade. 
  • Rodrigue says because of the current landscape in the NFL, with getting a team physical difficult and few immediately open starting jobs, it could be June or July before Newton finds a new team. 
  • Carolina tried shopping Newton to the Bears and Chargers but didn’t find any takers. (Ian Rapoport)
  • Former XFL MVP and new Panthers QB P.J. Walker thinks he can be a starter in the NFL “with the right opportunity and the right system and everything,” but for now his sights are a little lower: “Right now I’m just going in there trying to compete for the No. 2 job behind Teddy and see what happens from there.” (Joseph Person)
  • Walker’s deal is for two years, $1.565 million with a $150,000 signing bonus and $25,000 workout bonus in 2021. (Tom Pelissero)

Saints

The Saints were S D.J. Swearinger‘s third team in 2019 and he spent the least amount of time there compared to his stints with the Cardinals and Raiders. However, the little taste he got was enough to convince him to re-sign with the team on a one-year deal this week. 

“As soon as I got to New Orleans last year, I felt the culture, I felt the camaraderie, I felt everybody was on one page and one accord,” Swearinger said via Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I remember telling [TE] Jared Cook my first day I got to the facility, ‘Man, you guys are living in luxury. … The luxury is winning.’”

“I’ve seen seven, eight different head coaches,” Swearinger added. “I’ve seen seven, eight different locker rooms. . . . I’ve seen the difference from how it looks to the winning side, and of course I’ve been on a bunch of losing teams as well. The culture is a winning deal, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

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