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

Atlanta Falcons

• Many think the Falcons look to draft their quarterback of the future in April to replace Matt Ryan down the road, but a number of the latest mock drafts have Atlanta adding another weapon to an already potent lineup.

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts’ name has been linked more and more to the Falcons at No. 4. with Pete Prisco, Ryan Wilson, Matt Miller and others thinking Pitts could be the pick.

• The cash-strapped Falcons had to clear a lot of cap space prior to free agency, and a number of cuts and restructures made them cap compliant, even giving them a little money to spend. One of the new faces in Atlanta in 2021, isn’t really all that new to the division. Former Carolina running back Mike Davis, an Atlanta native, joined the Falcons earlier this month and spoke to the media recently about the process.

“You can’t beat it. I’ve got a lot of family here, so it’s real good to be here,” Davis said. “The only thing I can say is that Atlanta was the best fit.”

Davis signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal with a $1.5 million signing bonus after two seasons in Carolina where he filled in for an injured Christian McCaffrey last season and finished the season with over 1,000 total yards from scrimmage.

Bucs ILB Devin White and Panthers RB Mike Davis

Bucs ILB Devin White and Panthers RB Mike Davis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• One of those players who recently agreed to restructure his contract to help the Falcons cap situation is linebacker Deion Jones who deferred $4 million of his $8.2 million base salary until the 2022 season. As part of the deal, the team will also guarantee Jones’ 2022 salary of $9.64 million.

• The Falcons lost center Alex Mack and guard Justin McCray to free agency this year, and have a couple other key linemen who remain unsigned. Their starting five will look considerably different in 2021 including at guard where former Jet Josh Andrews joined the Falcons on a one-year deal and is expected to compete for a starting role. Andrews started four games in New York last season.

• NFL owners approved a 17-game schedule on Tuesday and the NFC South found out who their out-of-conference final regular season game would be against. The Buccaneers drew the Colts, while the Falcons will travels to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. The Panthers travel to Houston and the Saints will face Tennessee on the road.

Carolina Panthers

• Most bets are the Panthers coming away with a new quarterback after the NFL Draft next month, but who will be available, or can they trade up to get who they covet is the biggest question still.

North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is a name that seems to be settling in on in a number of mock drafts but it could take the Panthers moving up to get him. Ohio State’s Justin Fields is another name linked to the Panthers as well. How the draft shakes out with the seven picks in front of Carolina will go a long way in determining who ends up as the Panthers’ pick. The team hasn’t been shy in saying this offseason they are looking to upgrade from Teddy Bridgewater.

North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

North Dakota State QB Trey Lance – Photo by: USA Today

• The Panthers were at quarterback Zak Wilson’s pro day last week and likely would have to move up to get a chance at the BYU standout. But while Wilson is unlikely to be under center for Carolina, the Panthers did find another BYU player at the workout they liked enough to sign.

Wide receiver Micah Simon went undrafted last year after catching 51 passes for 616 yards and two touchdowns for BYU in 2019. Last week he ran routes for Wilson and the Panthers brass who attended were impressed with his routes, hands and his speed which was reported to be 4.34.

• Carolina decided that incumbent kicker Joey Slye needed come competition and added Matt Ammendola, who last kicked at Oklahoma State in 2019. Ammendola finished his college career 60-of-78 field goal attempts (76.9 percent) and 179-of-183 extra points (97.8 percent) and was undrafted last year.

New Orleans Saints

• The Saints lost a number of players this offseason as they worked to get under the cap, and now are in the process of trying to replace those losses with budget players to stay on top in the NFC South. This week the Saints reportedly added defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon on a two-year deal.

Kpassagnon was a second-round pick in 2017 and spent his first four seasons with the Chiefs as a rotational player for the most part, but did start 15 games in 2020 only recording one sack, a pair of tackles for loss, four QB hits, and three passes.

Drew Brees, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston

Drew Brees, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston – Photo by: USA Today

• Jameis Winston continued the podcast circuit this past week, this time appearing on the Huddle & Flow podcast with Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter.

“I never wanted to be deemed a game manager,” Winston said. “But really, that game manager is not a bad piece. That’s something that I think just comes with being a professional quarterback. Being able to not just only do the things that you can do, but being able to do the things that you should not do — like what not to do versus what can I do.”

Winston agreed to a one-year deal with the Saints and will battle Taysom Hill for the starting job. The Saints will be attempting to win their fifth consecutive NFC South division title.

• While the Saints offseason has been ruled by departures, they will be keeping one of their best players as safety Marcus Williams officially signed the franchise tag this week. The tag guarantees Williams $10.612 million in 2021 and gives the Saints until July 15 to work on a longer-term extension.

Williams has 246 tackles, 13 interceptions, one interception return for a touchdown, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack in 60 regular-season starts for New Orleans.

• Saints running back Alvin Kamara isn’t a fan of the new 17-game schedule apparently.

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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 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 [email protected]
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Ron Potter
Ron Potter
1 year ago

Regarding Kamara’s comment, it’s hard to relate as a fan to these football players. I get that a lot of coaches can utterly rob the joy of going to work as a football player, but I also understand that there are some players who just don’t want to put in the work. As PR has said before, “There are players and there are playa’s.” Seems that Bruce Arians and his staff are one of the best in the NFL who have a good handle on how to work and how often… when to ramp things up, when to slow things… Read more »