NFC South Free Agency Update: Falcons Adding More Offense, Saints and Panthers Treading Water
By Leo Howell
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans are well aware of the action (or lack of action, in the opinion of some fans) that has taken place at One Buc Place this offseason. The signing of Dashon Goldson has been the highlight of the Buccaneers’ offseason, but what has the rest of the NFC South been up to? Let’s break it down, team by team.
The Dirty Birds have made their biggest moves on the offensive side of the ball, bringing back Tony Gonzalez from the realm of semi-retirement, and signing former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson to replace Michael Turner. Neither of these moves represent anything that should worry the Buccaneers, as Gonzalez is a known quantity and the Falcons will be no better at tight end (That said, they’ll still be really good) and Jackson is sneaking past his prime, and figures to slow down in coming years. He is an upgrade over Michael Turner, but doesn’t figure to give the Buccaneers fits.
Defensively, they have lost Dunta Robinson and John Abraham, and brought in Osi Umenyiora to replace Abraham up front. Osi is someone we discussed here at The Pewter Plank as a mediocre option for the Buccaneers, and figures to be a decent replacement for Abraham in the ATL. The loss of Robinson, and the unlikely return of Brent Grimes means the Falcons will be in need of new corners, as Asante Samuel can’t do it all on his own, and is getting up in years.
Chris Gamble is out the door, as is James Anderson. D.J. Moore of the Bears will try to replace Gamble, and Drayton Florence will join him as a new corner for the Panthers. They also snatched up Chase Blackburn from the Giants, and Ted Ginn Jr. from the 49ers. None of these moves are particularly impressive, so it will be interesting to see how the Panthers approach the NFL Draft. They seem to have locked themselves into some key players who aren’t producing, as they currently sit second to last in salary cap space available.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have moved on from offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, but seem no worse for the loss. They’ve added Keenan Lewis at corner, giving them a decent set of corners when he combines with Jabari Greer. Longtime wideout Devery Henderson remains unsigned, but they did bring in a tight end to help out Jimmy Graham, as Benjamin Watson has signed with the Saints. And as Buccaneers’ fans know, Jonathan Casillas has signed with the Buccaneers.
None of the NFC South’s teams have impressed this offseason, as this free agent pool has lacked in impact players, and what few big names there were have landed elsewhere. The Falcons look to be slightly improved on offense, and the Saints seem to have held fairly steady so far. The Panthers don’t seem to be moving forward, but they live or die by the performance of the plethora of inconsistent players on the roster, and will do so for the next few years.
So what do you think, Buccaneers fans? How do you think our rivals have done so far?