NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints

     

Buccaneers

When Tom Brady was first linked to the Buccaneers, the first reaction by many was that it wasn’t the cleanest scheme fit. Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians is known for wanting to push the ball deep down the field and his quarterbacks often take more punishment as a result. That was exacerbated by an offensive line that was at best average for much of 2019. However, Arians says he’s more confident in the ability of the last year’s line, including LT Donovan Smith, LG Ali Marpet, C Ryan Jensen, RG Alex Cappa, to protect Brady in 2020 than outside observers are. 

“I don’t put a lot of stock in what other people grade our guys, but they were graded pretty high,” Arians said via the Athletic’s Greg Auman. “I thought Donovan got a lot better. I think he’ll get even more intense with Tom back there at quarterback than he has been, but he did play extremely well last year. He made the most improvement of the things we asked him to do than anybody up front. Ali’s solid, Ryan had a heck of a year, Cappa had, I thought, a fantastic year for a young guy, played with a broken arm and got better and better. (Newcomer) Joe Haeg is a solid right tackle, and we’ll see what happens in the draft.”

Arians added that the perception of Brady not having the arm for his offense was also incorrect. Based on his tape study last year, Brady still has the juice and mentality to get it downfield, and he won’t hesitate to take the checkdown which is something they struggled to hammer home with Jameis Winston

“I think the perception’s just wrong,” Arians said. “Our quarterback [Brady], I thought he put it as good as anybody: Throw to the guy that’s open. We do have reads that start deep and come to short. I’ve had a couple of quarterbacks that keep looking deep. They won’t throw the checkdown. Tom Moore has the best saying in the world: ‘You never go broke putting money in the bank. Take the damn checkdown.’ So we don’t have to teach Tom that. I think the freedom of looking downfield on certain routes in certain situations, when the matchup’s perfect, take it. Don’t be afraid to take it. Some quarterbacks are afraid to take it. I’m not looking for a Checkdown Charlie type of quarterback.”

Falcons

Regarding Falcons’ new TE Khari Lee, former HC Pep Hamilton of the XFL’s DC Defenders believes Lee will compete for a role in Atlanta and is a “willing inline blocker.”

“Will compete for a job with the Falcons. Can play without the ball. Willing inline blocker. Also versatile enough to function as a move tight end. NFL-caliber talent. If not for durability [concerns], he may have stuck with an NFL team by now,” said Hamilton, via McClure.

Saints

  • Per the Athletic’s Jeff Duncan, Saints HC Sean Payton confirmed QB Taysom Hill will be their No. 2 quarterback behind Drew Brees in 2020: “He’s earned that opportunity.” 
  • Duncan expects the Saints to sign a veteran quarterback as an “emergency fill-in” for Brees if he were injured for a single game as opposed to bringing in a rookie to serve as the team’s No. 3 option.  
  • Saints CB Janoris Jenkins‘ new deal following his two-year extension includes base salaries of $1.05 million, $12 million and $5.25 million. (Katherine Terrell)
  • Jenkins also received a $9 million signing bonus and has a $1 million roster bonus due the fifth day of the league year in 2020, a $1.2 million roster bonus in 2021 and a $500,000 roster bonus in 2022. (Aaron Wilson)
  • Saints G Andrus Peat‘s five-year, $57.5 million deal includes a $13 million signing bonus and base salaries of $1 million, $9 million, $10.85 million, $11.825 million and $11.825 million. (Underhill)
  • Peat’s 2020 and 2021 base salaries are fully guaranteed, while his 2022 base salary becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2021 league year. That probably locks Peat on the team for three seasons. 
  • Saints FB Michael Burton‘s one-year, deal includes a $910,000 base salary and $137,500 signing bonus. He qualifies for the veteran salary benefit and $160,588 of his base is guaranteed. (Underhill)
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