Behind Enemy Lines is a weekly look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes every week. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?

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Atlanta Falcons

• The Falcons know quarterback Matt Ryan will likely be on the roster in 2021 because of his salary and the dead money that it would cost the team if they moved on from their former league MVP, but that wont stop them from bringing in other quarterbacks according to new general manager Terry Fontenot.  

S Antoine Winfield Jr. and Falcons QB Matt Ryan
S Antoine Winfield Jr. and Falcons QB Matt Ryan – Photo by: USA Today

“Whether we’re talking about free agency or whether we’re talking about the draft, we are going to add to every position,” Fontenot said. “We’ll build strength. We’re not afraid to build strength. We’re going to add to every position. It’s about adding. We want a culture of competition, and (coach) Arthur Smith has said it: We want to bring in smart, tough, highly competitive football players that are going to fit this culture. And we’re going to do that at every position, whether it’s quarterback or whether it’s wide receiver.

“You look at (former Packers GM) Ron Wolf. You always bring in quarterbacks. You need to bring in quarterbacks, whether it’s in the draft, whether it’s in free agency, or signing guys off the street. It’s so important, bring in quarterbacks a lot, build strengths. (Former Ravens GM) Ozzie Newsome, bring in the best players available. These are men that have had all that success, and it’s about having the right 53, but we have to add competition at every position. So we’re not going to be afraid to add to strengths. But both (Ryan and Julio Jones) are really good and I’m excited to be here with those players.”

• Recent mock drafts have echoed Fontenot’s sentiments and most have the Falcons taking a quarterback with their first round draft pick.

Here is what CBSsports.com’s Ryan Wilson had to say about about BYU’s Zach Wilson who has been shooting up draft boards as of late.

“As it stands, Wilson is our QB2 in terms of upside (though we think Mac Jones is behind only Trevor Lawrence in terms of being NFL-ready in 2021) and the new coach Arthur Smith may want to start preparing for life after Matt Ryan, who will be the starter in ’21.”

• Atlanta has almost completed their coaching and front office overhaul, and hired Chris Olsen as their senior director of football administration last week.

Olsen joins the Falcons after 13 seasons with the Texans, where he served as the senior vice president of football administration. 

Carolina Panthers

• The Falcons aren’t the only NFC South team projected to have a new QB face in the building.  The Panthers have made it known that they weren’t satisfied with the play of Teddy Bridgewater last season and are looking for an upgrade.

QB Deshaun Watson
QB Deshaun Watson – Photo by: USA Today

Noted draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah sees Carolina selecting North Dakota State’s Trey Lance with the eighth overall pick, but David Newton of on ESPN’s NFL Live said in a bold offseason predictions article that the Panthers are looking to make a trade for a veteran starter.

“The Panthers will do whatever it takes to get Deshaun Watson, and that includes giving up three first-round draft picks and (running back) Christian McCaffrey,” Newton said.  “Owner David Tepper wants to win a Super Bowl. He’s made that clear. He understands it takes a marquee quarterback to do that. If you look at recent history, outside of (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback) Patrick Mahomes, the quickest way to do that is to trade for a marquee quarterback and not draft one in the first round. Just ask Tampa Bay.”

Newton did make it clear that he was not reporting actual intentions from Carolina, but rather making a bold prediction based on his knowledge of the team that the Panthers will be aggressive in their offseason pursuit of Deshaun Watson.

• Adam Schefter of ESPN reports the Panthers are cutting defensive tackle Kawann Short, who is 32 and has been limited with injuries over the past two seasons. Short was also on the books for $20 million in 2021, so the move was expected.

New Orleans Saints

• When the Saints season ended following their divisional loss to the Buccaneers last month, the new year began immediately. New Orleans was projected to be the most over the cap team entering the 2021 NFL new year, but over the last week the Saints have cleared over $30 million in cap relief.

First quarterback Drew Brees restructured his deal despite his impending retirement, in a move that saved the Saints $24 million off of their projected overage. Next, the Saints cut offensive lineman Nick Easton saving $5.87 million.

Even with those moves, Spotrac still shows the Saints $65 million still over the projected 2021 cap. And lots more moves will need to be made to make them compliant prior to the new NFL year beginning in March.

The Saints also waived tight ends Jason Vander Laan and Cole Wick, both of whom opted out of the 2020 season.

• Saints GM Mickey Loomis knows the challenge of getting his team under the cap while still being competitive won’t be easy, but said recently it isn’t impossible.

Saints QB Drew Brees and GM Mickey Loomis
Saints QB Drew Brees and GM Mickey Loomis – Photo by: USA Today

“For sure it’s going to be challenging and yet, I don’t want to speculate as to how challenging it’s going to be until we have a better understanding of what’s going to be available, not just for this year, but even for the year after,” Loomis said  “So I can’t really answer that question other than to say yeah, it’s going to be daunting. I think it’s going to be daunting for a majority of teams in our league.”

• With a number of expected cuts still to be made and an uncertainty at quarterback it was a little surprising to see the Saints still getting solid Las Vegas odds to win it all in 2021. BetMGM has New Orleans at 18:1 odds of winning the 2021 championship, eighth overall and fifth in the NFC, behind the Green Bay Packers, the reigning champ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10:1) the Los Angeles Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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ScottC543
18 days ago

Don’t really care what those teams do – we now OWN this division so they’re all playing for second place.

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Horse
18 days ago

I’m all in and signing as many of our present players on the roster as long as we do not rob “Peter to pay Paul” because eventually it will bite you in the ass. No question we can win another Super Bowl if the attitude remains the same; I would stay more focused on that thought than anything else. Go By s! Keep the dream alive!

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Horse
Reply to  Horse
18 days ago

I apologize I keep forgetting to spell check as I am talking my messages in versus writing them.

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scubog
Reply to  Horse
17 days ago

Wow Horse. I’m impressed that a fellow Boomer even knows you can talk instead of thumb-type a text. The world sure has changed when these kids can even have sex on their phones. Me, I still prefer the back seat of the 67 Camaro.

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thewbacca
18 days ago

Atlanta is going to be a dumpster fire with a front office that reeks of New Orleans fiscal management and Houston culture.

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Spitfire
17 days ago

I Love that the Aint’s are in trouble. They have been the biggest showboating dirty players for decades. They should have been disbanded as a team after the discovery of their hit list bonuses for injuring other players scandal was discovered. I hope they have to cut all stars and play all Undrafted guys for 5 years just to get back to even with the cap. It makes me so happy that they have blown so much money and p space to get absolutely nowhere. I hope they end up having to push more space ahead and never get relief… Read more »

bucballer
17 days ago

I’m really not concerned with what other teams do. We need to take care of business and ride this wave while we can!

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Buc76
17 days ago

We just reasserted the spot we held when we won our 1st Super Bowl. The AINTS and Seahawks got one each and tied us and put us back down in the discussion. Now we are 2-0 in the Super Bowl. Carolina 0-2, Atlanta 0-2. AINTS 1, Seahawks (our 1976 nemesis) 1-2. Now let’s go to 3-0 and leave them all in the dust probably for good.

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fredster
17 days ago

F the Saints. I hate that team more than any other. Bunch of douche bags. Lol. Brees is ok though.

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