NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman looks at the running back position for the Buccaneers. While they have expressed confidence in Ronald Jones, HC Bruce Arians mentioned adding a pass-catching back first when asked what the team’s needs were: “Just using backs out of the backfield as wide receivers, as primary receivers, that’s not RoJo’s deal. Hopefully we can find somebody like that who can compete with [Dare Ogunbowale] on third downs and become more of a wide receiver threat.”
  • Per Auman, Arians expressed a desire to have a complete back he didn’t have to take off the field. However, the Buccaneers have other needs and Arians has hesitated to use picks higher than the third round on running backs. Tampa Bay also just spent a second-round pick on Jones in 2018. 
  • Auman believes the third round or later makes the most sense for the Buccaneers to address the position, with Florida State’s Cam Akers and Memphis’ Antonio Gibson compelling options. 
  • If Tampa Bay chooses to address the position earlier, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins would be on the table. 

Falcons

After being selected third overall by the Jaguars, and leaving the Rams in free agency this offseason, pass rusher Dante Fowler is looking for yet another fresh start in Atlanta.

“Just the situations that I was going in Jacksonville, not playing and stuff — I feel like that was the reason, as how they were viewing me as a person off the field,” Fowler said via Jason Butt of The Athletic. “I don’t know, it definitely changed my life around in a lot of ways. When I got to the L.A. Rams, they gave me an opportunity to basically start over again. I took advantage of that because I didn’t make the most of the opportunity the first time. I said, ‘If I ever get it again, I’ll never mess it up again.’”

Fowler is still invested in becoming a great player in the league and says that his love for the game is about his legacy, not the money.

“Like I said, I didn’t take the most advantage of my opportunity in Jacksonville,” Fowler said. “Knowing the things I did is going to help me a lot in this run with what I want to be. It’s definitely another opportunity to be the player that I always wanted to be for a franchise. This is really big to me, and I’m not taking it lightly at all. I love the game of football, and it’s never been about the money. It’s always been about my legacy, my career and my last name.”

  • Wyoming LB Logan Wilson had a private visit scheduled with the Falcons before the shutdown. He ended up having the meeting with Atlanta virtually. (Vaughn McClure)
  • Rice OT Justin Gooseberry had a virtual meeting with the Falcons. Gooseberry is seen as a late-round pick or priority undrafted free agent. (Aaron Wilson)

Panthers

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer points out Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey embodies the culture new HC Matt Rhule wants to build and that likely played a role in why he was given a massive extension. 
  • Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes it’s unlikely McCaffrey would have participated in Carolina’s offseason program without a new deal but according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the Panthers stepped up and did the deal before it had a chance to become acrimonious. 
  • New Panthers OT Russell Okung believes Carolina “made a great decision” by trading for him. (Jourdan Rodrigue)
  • Okung said he was able to fly to Charlotte for a physical to complete the trade before shutdown regulations were put in place. (Joe Person)
  • Okung doesn’t see the Panthers as a rebuilding team in 2020: “I don’t really see us as rebuilding. … I’m not here to just rebuild. I’m here to win, and win right now.” (Person)
  • The 31-year-old Okung believes he has a lot of football left in him, saying he wanted to play three to five more years before joking: “I’m coming after Tom Brady.” (David Newton)

Saints

Running backs pay attention to contracts other running backs sign, particularly when those deals reset a brutal market. It just so happened that Saints RB Alvin Kamara was in a live Twitch session with a reporter when the Panthers gave RB Christian McCaffrey his major extension. Both were drafted in 2017 and Kamara is entering the final year of his rookie contract, so the deal has major implications for his negotiations. 

“Man, look, ahhhhhh… I don’t even,” Kamara said when asked by Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion what McCaffrey’s deal meant for him. “I just play football. I’m just a football guy, I don’t know nothing about contracts, and all these things, and all this money. Shout out to Christian, man. That’s my boy. Talented for sure.”

  • Per NOLA.com’s Amie Just, Saints CB P.J. Williams, who saw time at both nickel corner and safety for New Orleans last year, said after re-signing to a one-year deal he’s ready to play the same role: “I’m going to come in there being ready to play them all. So wherever they need me, I’ll be ready.”
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