NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints


  • While the Athletic’s Greg Auman doesn’t think the Buccaneers will spend major resources at running back this offseason, addressing the position will be an offseason need as Tampa Bay isn’t expected to re-sign RB Peyton Barber
  • If the Cardinals cut RB David Johnson, Auman believes Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians would be interested in a reunion. 
  • Auman also mentions 49ers restricted free agent RB Matt Breida, Falcons RB Devonta Freeman or a third-round rookie being options for Tampa Bay.


  • The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue writes that new Panthers HC Matt Rhule will have input into the Panthers’ decision on QB Cam Newton, the final word will come down to owner David Tepper and GM Marty Hurney.
  • Rodrigue adds the Panthers could try to retain DL coach Eric Washington to help rebuild their aging front. 
  • Rodrigue points out Panthers strength coach Joe Kenn‘s contract ends at the end of January. Kenn would be in high demand as a free agent and could return in Carolina even with a new coaching staff. 
  • Per NFL Media’s Peter Schrager, the Panthers pitched Rhule with the opportunity to build a culture over the long-term. 
  • According to Ralph Vacchiano, Rhule’s top choices for assistants are Lions QB coach Sean Ryan as offensive coordinator and Baylor DC Phil Snow in the same role. 
  • Carolina paid Baylor $6 million to buy out the rest of Rhule’s contract. (Adam Schefter)
  • Rhule told reporters in Waco he will be in charge of filling out his staff in Carolina and is already talking to potential assistants. (Brice Cherry)
  • Rhule said in a later radio interview his similarities to Tepper helped sell him on the Panthers being the perfect situation to jump to from Baylor: “You have a new owner who is committed to doing things the best way. He’s very much a process-oriented person. That’s essentially all I wanted. I wanted to go to a place that is not going to flail in the wind.” (David Newton)
  • Rhule downplayed the seven-year and potential $70 million deal he got from Carolina in his decision to leave: “The football part of it for me is trying to go coach and compete at the highest level. It’s really about nothing else. It’s not about money or fame.” (Newton)


At the age of 41 and with an expiring contract, Saints QB Drew Brees faces some understandable speculation about his long-term future with the team in New Orleans. However, despite all of that, Saints HC Sean Payton isn’t anticipating needing to find a new franchise quarterback for the 2020 season, especially given the abrupt way New Orleans’ season ended again. 

“I can’t speak for (Drew), but I think he wants to play more,” Payton said via the Athletic’s Jeff Duncan. “We just saw him play at a very high level. … I don’t anticipate this grandiose meeting and phone call (with Brees) soon.”

  • Payton added in a “perfect world” the Saints would keep all three of Brees, QB Teddy Bridgewater and QB Taysom Hill, but “we don’t live in one.” Hill is a restricted free agent and Bridgewater is an UFA. (Mike Triplett)
  • Other positions the Saints need to address this offseason include a No. 2 wide receiver, guard, nickel corner, linebacker and backup tight end. (Duncan)

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