NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Falcons

Falcons TE Austin Hooper is currently set to be a free agent in March and team owner Arthur Blank says he’s more than worthy of a long-term deal that makes him among the highest-paid at the position. Whether or not that is with Atlanta remains to be seen, as Blank stopped short of guaranteeing the Falcons would be able to bring Hooper back. 

“I think he’s a young, ascending player, and he has performed at a very high level for us,” Blank told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “I think he’s worthy, certainly, of a new contract based on the market. Whether that fits in with us and our salary cap remains to be seen. I will tell you with all our free agents, [GM] Thomas Dimitroff and the personnel staff have spoken to agents and understand the direction of where things are going. We’ve made it clear that we’re making more final decisions after the Super Bowl.”

  • Per Kelsey Conway of the official team website, Blank said he expects Atlanta to compete in the playoffs in 2020.
  • Some of that is driven by the need to win to help the increase in fans who are defaulting on their PSL’s. While Blank says there are other factors, the product on the field the past few seasons hasn’t helped matters: “Part of that, obviously, is that we are going to have to produce a different set of results on the field. That’s definitely been a factor. So, I’m optimistic that we can do that this coming year based on a variety things.” (D. Orlando Ledbetter)
  • Blank mentioned Dimitroff and HC Dan Quinn are not tied together as far as job security: “They work together, so they are connected that way. You always want a head coach and general manager to work together. But they are not connected in any way, shape or form beyond that.”
  • Falcons S Ricardo Allen underwent shoulder surgery to correct an issue that bothered him toward the end of the year. He’s expected to need to rehab multiple months. (Jason Butt)

Panthers

  • Per Alaina Getzenberg of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers have hired former Baylor analyst Ed Foley as an assistant special teams coach. 

Saints

Saints RB Alvin Kamara hinted that he has opened contract extension negotiations with New Orleans given he is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract. 

“I’ve thought about my situation,” Kamara said, via Luke Johnson. “We’ll see what gets done. I’m obviously in my third year of my rookie contract, so we’ll see. There might be something going on.”

Kamara said it was “great to see” Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott sign a record six-year, $90 million contract, which is a clear figure to watch for Kamara in regards to negotiations. 

“It was great to see that number and see a guy that has obviously worked hard and deserves it actually get it at a position that usually doesn’t get the recognition it deserves,” Kamara said. “Zeke set a bar, so we’ll see what happens.”

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