Behind Enemy Lines is a weekly look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes and the latest news and rumors for each team. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?
• The Falcons made one of the biggest moves of the past week when they signed free agent running back Todd Gurley, who was released by the Rams earlier last week. It is reported to be a one-year deal. Gurley, who played his college ball for Georgia, replaces Devonta Freeman, who was cut by Atlanta last week.
• Atlanta had a busy Sunday coming to terms with one of their own and two free agents from other teams. Cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson is re-signing with the Falcons, and the team also will add wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and former Cleveland offensive lineman Justin McCray.
• The Falcons made a big splashes last week when they traded for Baltimore tight end Hayden Hurst and then signed former Jags and Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler, who inked a three-year deal worth $45 million. The Falcons gave up their second- and fifth-round picks for Hurst and received the Ravens’ fourth-rounder in the deal.
Fowler had 11.5 sacks in 2019 and is only 25 years old. The former Gator standout had a relationship with Atlanta coach Dan Quinn, who was in Gainesville while Fowler was in college. Hurst makes up for the loss of tight end Austin Hooper, who signed with the Cleveland Browns.
• Atlanta has also agreed to terms with more of its own free agents, including former Bucs defensive end Steven Means, fullback Keith Smith, offensive lineman John Wetzel, punters Ryan Allen and Sam Allen-Hill, kicker Younghoe Koo and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison.
• Besides losing Hooper, Atlanta has seen guard Wes Schweitzer leave for the Redskins, corner Desmond Trufant depart for Detroit, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell sign with Arizona and defensive end Vic Beasley heading to Tennessee. Freeman remains unsigned.
• The Panthers added a few players over the weekend including tight end Seth DeValve, who played last season with the Jaguars. In addition, the Panthers have added three receivers since the start of free agency, including former Rams receiver and returner Pharoh Cooper. Carolina also came to terms with free agent wide receivers Seth Roberts and Keith Kirkwood.
• The Buccaneers weren’t the only NFC South team to find a new quarterback. The Panthers agreed to terms with former Vikings and Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater, who at one time was thought to be a possibility to sign with Tampa Bay.
• The Cam Newton era in Charlotte appears to be over and the team has given Newton and his agent permission to talk to other teams about a trade.
Last year’s part time starter under center, backup QB Kyle Allen, signed a one-year deal to remain with the Panthers.
• The Panthers were able to come to terms with safety Tre Boston on a three-year, $18 million deal, keeping him in Carolina, but have lost a number of starters including cornerback James Bradberry, who signed with the Giants for $46 million over three years. In addition to losing Bradberry, Carolina will look to replace former defensive line starters Mario Addison (Bills), Vernon Butler (Bills) and former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who will be a Cowboy after agreeing to a new three-year, $20 million contract with Dallas. The team also decided to release starting safety Eric Reid.
• Carolina was able to come to terms with some fringe starter/depth pieces, including guard John Miller and EDGE Stephen Weatherly.
New Orleans Saints
• Where the Saints manage to keep finding salary cap room is anyone’s guess, but for a team strapped prior to free agency, New Orleans has made the most of things and has gotten better. The Saints’ biggest addition was coming to terms with receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who will pair up with Michael Thomas to give the Saints an excellent 1-2 punch at the position.
• Over the weekend the Saints and offensive lineman Andrus Peat were able to come to terms, keeping Peat in the Big Easy for five more seasons on a $57 million ($33 million guaranteed) contract.
• Drew Brees agreed to a new two-year deal with the Saints worth a reported $25 million per year. Brees, the top passer in NFL history, joins Matt Ryan and Tom Brady to form the only three quarterbacks to ever have over 50,000 passing yards and play in the same division. As expected, New Orleans offered Taysom Hill a one-year tender at $5 million and let backup QB Teddy Bridgewater leave for Carolina via free agency. Hill will now serve as Brees’ backup.
• The Saints have also retained two of their own free agents in DT David Onyemata (three years, $27 million) and long snapper Zach Woods (three years, $4.78 million), according to reports.
• The Saints added some safety help, signing former Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, but lost cornerback Eli Apple to the Las Vegas Raiders. New Orleans linebacker A.J. Klein also joined the Buffalo Bills on a three-year deal worth $18 million.
• The Saints have a number of other free agents that could depart, including safety Vonn Bell and cornerback P.J. Williams. The team is not expected to being back aging wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who is an unrestricted free agent.