Behind Enemy Lines is a weekly look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes every Tuesday. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?
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• In what has been a fairly long search, new Falcons head coach Arthur Smith appears to finally be wrapping up his new staff. The team recently announced a number of hires naming Roderick Moore Jr., and Bobby Thomas assistant strength and conditioning coaches, and named Mario Jeberaeel a diversity coaching intern. Additionally, Paul Rice, Charles Walker, Sal Conti and Patrick Kramer have been named football analysts.
• The Falcons salary cap isn’t in very good shape entering the 2021 NFL new year, and new general manager Terry Fontenot said tough decisions lie ahead for Atlanta.
Terry Fontenot was asked how he will be able to improve the roster when there aren’t a ton of guys under contract and a tight cap: “Everything is in consideration. We’re going to have to make some hard decisions on this roster.”
Already the Falcons have started the purge to get under the cap, releasing safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey last week. Allen started 76 games for the Falcons over his career and recorded 340 tackles, 11 interceptions and one sack. He was also the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2019 and was a four-time captain for the Falcons. The move clears $6.25 million in 2021, but leaves $2.1 million in dead money.
• The Panthers appear to be getting ready to make a push to trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who wants out of Houston.
ESPN’s Field Yates reported that the Panthers have cleared a few million dollars with a recent move. It should be noted that, if Carolina were to trade for Watson, he actually carries a fairly small cap hit for the 2021 season, around $10 million. So they don’t need to do anything more to create room for his contract this offseason.
The Panthers have converted $7.04M of C Matt Paradis’ $8.03M base salary in 2021 into a signing bonus, creating $4,693,334 in cap space.
Carolina continues to create cap space to be aggressive this offseason if it so chooses…
Paradis is heading into his third season with the Panthers and has started every game in his first two seasons in Carolina.
So far this offseason the Panthers have released safety Tre Boston, defensive tackle Kawann Short, defensive end Stephen Weatherly, and punter Michael Palardy, clearing approximately $20 million in cap space and are now left with around $31 million in cap room.
• It appears new owner David Tepper wants a new quarterback, as the team did all it could to trade for Matthew Stafford before losing out to the Rams. If the Texans decide to trade Watson, look for Carolina to be a major player, and if all else fails they could take one with their No. 1 pick (No. 8 overall) in April’s NFL Draft. Justin Fields could be a potential pick according to some recent mock drafts including ones from Ryan Wilson, Pete Prisco and Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, who has the former Ohio State standout heading to Charlotte.
• The Panthers have brought back offensive tackle Trent Scott on a one-year deal, the team announced this week. Scott was scheduled to become a restricted free agent next month. Carolina claimed him off waivers after the Chargers released him last September and he appeared in 14 games for the Panthers last season, starting four at left tackle.
New Orleans Saints
• The Drew Brees watch in New Orleans continues, but a decision is expected soon
Teammate Alvin Kamara was on SIRIUS XM radio recently and talked about his quarterback’s future.
Saints RB Alvin Kamara – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“As far as his career goes and retiring or playing still, a lot of people ask me that and I just say, ‘Drew’s going to take his time and make the best decision for him.’ He’s a legend,” Kamara said. “He’s definitely going to go down as one of the greatest.”
• If Brees does retire as expected, the question becomes who replaces him under center in New Orleans? Jameis Winston is the obvious choice but Winston might have a handful of other teams interested in his services. CBSsports.com’s Jordan Dajani recently wrote an article detailing potential landing spots for Winston if he’s not back in New Orleans.
Despite this speculation, it is hard to see Winston finding another job with his limited 2020 action. His best bet would be to stay in New Orleans on another one-year deal and battle Taysom Hill and any other quarterbacks the Saints might sign for the starting job.
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, the beach and family time.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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