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?

Atlanta Falcons

• 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.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn – Photo by: Getty Images

• 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.

Carolina Panthers 

• 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.

Former Bucs DE Da'Quan Bowers - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs DE Da’Quan Bowers and QB Cam Newton – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater – Photo by: Getty Images

• 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.

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

10 COMMENTS

  1. It looks like second place in the division is ours for the taking.
    Watch your back, New Orleans!
    Can’t wait for the season to start. I can’t remember ever feeling this optimistic. I’m really looking forward to watching a fourth quarter without fear of a pick six.
    Go Bucs!

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  2. Myself, I was scared of the first pass attempt.

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  3. I get what you are saying but nobody here in Bucville is rooting for 2nd Place!

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  4. Of course a lot of this strategy going on is based on we’re going to have a football season.
    Presently we don’t even know if that is going to happen. Just because at some point we’re going to spike our virus thing and slowly go down to something that is controllable, doesn’t mean these players are going to be able to make physical contact with each other.
    This is why I have been asking Scott to inquire about what are the NFL now in helping players being able to do telecommunication with coaches and physical trainers.
    Looking forward to hear the fans comment on this.

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  5. I hear you, Horse, but the distraction of sports and free agency and the draft is helping me cope with the pandemic. We may very well not have a season, but it doesn’t help me out to think about that. So, until word comes from the NFL, I’m going to act like its business as usual this fall and read all I can about the Bucs.

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  6. We are starting to look good on paper here in BucLand. But then again, Don’t we always?

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  7. There’s enough time to see what happens with the virus. They can push the start of the season back, or even still could have a 12, or 14 game season. See how it goes. I’m glad they went ahead with FAcy, and will still hold the draft. All those visits, and work outs leading up to the draft are to much anyway. These kids need as much, or more of a break after the season as the pros do. Endless trips, and work outs is a good thing. The tape don’t lie. Pop in the tape, it’s all there.

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  8. Isn’t a good thing.

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  9. As usual I hoping that the NFC South can become a meat grinder. If we can come out on top or get into the post season tournament as a wild card entry we’ve got to become playoff ready in order to make a run at the Lombardi. Nothing like tough games all season long to hone a champion.

    This is of course true for us every year. This being the first year in a long, long time for us to have any hope this early in the process I am dreaming big as usual.
    ________________
    Go Bucs!!! In BA I trust!

    P.S. The current crises is serious but life goes on as it ever has. Everyone who lives long enough has “war stories” of their own to tell.

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  10. McCoy to Dallas. LMAO.
    Headed for last place with this Jonah.

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