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?

Atlanta Falcons

• Speculation has run rampant all offseason that the Falcons could move on from some players as they rebuild under a new head coach and general manager. One of those players whose future is in question was quarterback Matt Ryan. This week reports came out that Ryan will be with Atlanta in 2021.

One of the biggest reasons, besides new coach Arthur Smith’s offense that fits Ryan’s strengths, is the over $45 million in dead cap money it would cost Atlanta if Ryan were to be traded in 2021.

• Atlanta continued to round out its coaching staff over the last week under Smith. Chandler Henley was hired as the assistant offensive line coach the team announced Monday. Atlanta also announced that T.J. Yates, who worked as assistant quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2020, will join Arthur Smith’s staff in the same capacity.

Arthur Blank and Rich McKay
Arthur Blank and Rich McKay – Photo by: USA Today

• As the coaching staff hires are rounded out, so have the open positions in the front office as well.

New general manager Terry Fontenot has hired Kyle Smith as Atlanta’s new vice president of player personnel and Dwuane Jones as assistant director of college scouting.

“We are thrilled he is joining our team,” Fontenot said. “I also wanted to acknowledge and appreciate our current staff who has shown flexibility and adaptability as we continue to make this transition within our organization. They have continued to focus on our goals as a team and we look forward to growing together.

“Dwaune has an incredible drive and knowledge of our game fueled by his extensive experience in the field as a scout. Like Kyle Smith, he is passionate about his craft and is a tireless worker who has a great appreciation for the process from A-to-Z. He is a great man with an exceptional family, and we are excited they are joining the Falcons family.”

Carolina Panthers

• The Panthers are clearly in the market for a new quarterback to replace Teddy Bridgewater. And while they may still end up with Bridgewater under center in 2021, it won’t be for a lack of looking for his replacement.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers were hot on the Matthew Stafford trail before he was eventually traded to the Rams. Carolina reportedly offered up this year’s No. 8 pick in the draft to acquire Stafford from the Lions.

Don’t be surprised to see the Panthers inquire about Houston’s Deshaun Watson who has requested a trade from the Texans, and if that doesn’t materialize the draft is an option as well.

Last week Rhule talked about what he is looking for in a quarterback.

Panthers HC Matt Rhule
Panthers HC Matt Rhule – Photo by: USA Today

“Just in general, I think you want someone who’s elitely intelligent. I think you want someone who’s a tremendous leader,” the Charlotte Observer reported. “I think you want someone who’s accurate. I think you want someone who has arm talent to make all the throws. And I think you want someone who has a history of making plays in crucial situations, that’s just very urgent.”

• The front office shake-up in Carolina continued this week with front office executives Bryan Porter and Mark Carrier let go by the team. Porter served as director of football operations and Carrier was executive director of football staff. Carrier was a former standout wide receiver for the Buccaneers from 1987 to 1992.

New Orleans Saints

• The Saints could now still lose assistant head coach Ryan Nielsen after all. LSU wanted Nielsen as its defensive coordinator last month but language in Nielsen’s contract kept the Tigers away. But a new suitor has come calling and the Saints may not be able to block the move. The Packers, who fired their defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, following last week’s loss to the Buccaneers have targeted Nielsen to succeed Pettine in the same capacity.

• Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn left New Orleans to join Dan Campbell’s staff in Detroit as its defensive coordinator last week, but the Saints have found their replacement, according to reports.

Richard was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks from 2015-2017 and the defensive backs coach for the Cowboys in 2018 and 2019 before sitting last year out.

• While most assume Drew Brees will be in a television booth next football season, the Saints said they are still awaiting a final decision from their future Hall of Famer.

“I don’t think it’s a lot different from last year,” GM Mickey Loomis said. “We’ll wait for him. We’ve got a lot of other planning to do. There’s more unknowns right now than there are knowns in the sense that we don’t yet know what the cap’s going to be.”

Loomis also noted despite a serious cap crunch, the Saints won’t be in a rebuild mode in 2021.

“We’ve got a great roster, and I can’t foresee a circumstance where we’re not going to say, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to win, win now and compete for a championship,’” Loomis said.

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