NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • CBS Sports Jason La Canfora says keeping QB Jameis Winston might be the best option for the Buccaneers. 
  • While Tampa Bay has had internal discussions about signing Chargers QB Philip Rivers, La Canfora says Rivers has the same interception problem as Winston while being 13 years older. 
  • La Canfora adds neither Patriots QB Tom Brady nor Saints QB Drew Brees are coming to Tampa, while the Panthers won’t trade QB Cam Newton inside the division.
  • Raiders QB Derek Carr and Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater don’t fit the profile of Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians‘ downfield attacking offense, while the Titans will likely franchise tag QB Ryan Tannehill.
  • According to La Canfora, the expectation around the NFL is that Buccaneers DE Shaq Barrett receives the franchise tag. 
  • NJ.com’s Mike Kaye lists the Buccaneers as a possible landing spot for WR Nelson Agholor on a one-year deal this offseason, as they’ll need a third wide receiver if Breshad Perriman leaves in free agency as expected. Agholor also went to high school in Tampa. 
  • Winston recently underwent LASIK eye surgery, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Winston has been nearsighted since at least college. 

Panthers

Panthers owner David Tepper said Cam Newton‘s health will determine his status on the team for the 2020 season and beyond. 

I’ve said again and again and again about this. It’s a question of how healthy he is, foot and otherwise,” Tepper said, via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. “And that’s still the No. 1 overwhelming thing, to see how healthy he is, and how we can figure out when he’s healthy or not. Everything comes from that.

When asked about whether teams are reaching out to the Panthers regarding Newton’s availability in a trade, Tepper says he hasn’t “heard about that.” 

“I haven’t heard about that, no,” said Tepper. 

As for Newton being on the team in 2020, Tepper reiterated that the quarterbacks’ health will be the determining factor. 

“Listen I’m not a doctor,” Tepper said. “I’ve said it a million times: Is he healthy? And he’s not a doctor. So there’s a lot of different things that can happen. But first, is he healthy? Tell me that, and then we can talk.”

  • According to the Athletic’s Joseph Person and Jourdan Rodrigue, the Panthers and CB James Bradberry have not had much contact regarding a new contract recently. However, that could pick up after new HC Matt Rhule and his coaching staff have finished their evaluations. 
  • Person and Rodrigue point out that it doesn’t behoove the Panthers to openly discuss Newton’s future if they’re trying to drum up a trade market, hence the team’s recent evasiveness on the subject. 
  • If the Panthers do move on from Newton, Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater could make sense as a replacement or bridge quarterback given his familiarity with Panthers OC Joe Brady
  • Both Panthers DT Dontari Poe and WR Jarius Wright are potential cap casualties, per Person and Rodrigue.
  • Given their plethora of needs, the Panthers could consider trading down from No. 7 overall. 

Saints

Saints S Vonn Bell is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Bell’s first preference is to return to New Orleans, where the Saints have been pegged as Super Bowl contenders for a few years straight despite some heart-breaking playoff losses. If it’s not New Orleans, Bell would like to land with another contending team. 

“First and foremost, I want to go back, but we have to see what happens,” Bell told NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. “You always want to go to a contender. I’ve been spoiled the last few years, going to the playoffs each year. You want to go to that. You always want to have a chance in the big dance and go get it. You always want to have a good culture, good standing program, club. We’ll see what happens.”

In addition, Bell wants to take advantage of the growing market for safeties. After stagnating a couple years ago, the market has seen a boom, with players like Redskins S Landon Collins, Titans S Kevin Byard and Bears S Eddie Jackson moving the level up above $14 million per year. Bell says that makes sense given how the modern NFL asks safeties to be “the general of the defense.” 

“You’ve gotta get the calls,” Bell said. “You’ve gotta get guys lined up. You gotta be able to be in the post, in the box, cover the slot, you’ve gotta be so versatile on the field. That’s why I feel like the payroll is rising, because of the versatility and you’re an asset on the team.”

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