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27 Feb 2006

Four Downs: NFC South

by Darrel Michaud

(Ed. note: Please welcome Darrel Michaud, one of the FO interns, for this edition of Four Downs. Michaud is a Saints fan and a student at Louisiana-Lafayette. He also gets the task of sorting through the FO mailbag, so he knows who's been naughty and who's been nice.)

Atlanta Falcons

What happened last year?

Atlanta started the year 6-2 and ended the year 2-6. However, if you think they fell apart starting with their Week 10 loss to Green Bay, you might be surprised to learn that signs of Atlanta's collapse started to crop up somewhere around Week 5. The 3-1 Vickless Falcons lost to the New England Patriots, despite a valiant effort from backup quarterback Matt Schaub. Weeks 6 and 7 saw Atlanta play horribly in wins against New Orleans and the Jets.

After the bye week and a 17-10 victory in Miami, the 6-2 Falcons hosted and lost to the 1-7 Packers in Week 10. Vick played well, completing 20 of 30 passes for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but as usual he wasn't the reason the Falcons won or lost.

From that point on, Atlanta won only twice: once on Thanksgiving against Detroit, and once in New Orleans where the Saints, at that point, either had stopped trying or were so bad they just looked like it.

The last five losses came in two varieties: heartbreaking, and downright awful. Carolina and Chicago dismantled the Falcons three times total, and outscored Atlanta by a combined 64 points. The two losses against Tampa Bay, on the other hand, were only by a field goal apiece.

The Saints-like collapse left many fans criticizing the coaching staff, the defense, and surprisingly to some people, Mike Vick. While the Falcons sell out both home and road games thanks to the entertainment of Vick, if the Falcons can't begin to win games again, Vick might become a joke in the vein of Kordell Stewart.

Who's leaving?

The most important player leaving the Falcons is left tackle Kevin Shaffer. This season's free agent crop is weak, but Kevin Shaffer's a top tackle and made Michael David Smith's Every Play Counts All-Pro team. With the contract he's likely to get on the market, Shaffer will probably end up elsewhere for 2006, which will undoubtedly hurt the pass protection for Michael Vick.

Also leaving the Falcons is safety Keion Carpenter. Carpenter does not play well in run support, a problem that contributed to Atlanta's horrible run defense. Atlanta should be able to upgrade this position.

Other Falcons unrestricted free agents include kicker Todd Peterson and wide receivers Brian Finneran and Dez White. White is just horrible, but Finneran made some big plays in 2005 -- no surprise to readers of Pro Football Prospectus 2005, which argued that Finneran was Atlanta's best receiver and deserved a larger role in the offense. Finneran has now led all Falcons receivers in both of FO's advanced stats, DVOA and DPAR, for three straight seasons. He would be an excellent replacement should Troy Brown retire in New England, or Ricky Proehl in Carolina.

Whom should they sign?

The major need for the Falcons should be clear: Atlanta needs to upgrade its run defense. While inside linebacker Edgerton Hartwell's return from injury should help, Atlanta has to upgrade at safety and tackle. Atlanta should look to replace Carpenter with a physical safety who can be an intimidating presence in the box. A perfect fit could be Tennessee's Tank Williams. At defensive tackle, pickings are slim for a top run-stopper, but someone like Green Bay's Grady Jackson could help shore up the middle of the defense.

On offense, While Kevin Shaffer's departure should hurt pass protection, don't look for Atlanta to sign a free agent tackle. Atlanta, like Denver, typically drafts smaller, more athletic linemen that, with the help of legendary line coach Alex Gibbs, become phenomenal run blockers. The Falcons are nearly entirely built for running the ball, anyway.

Atlanta could also use a better receiving threat. Although previous attempts to gain one, such as Peerless Price, have not gone well, Joe Jurevicius could replace Brian Finneran as the 6' 5" white guy that catches everything thrown in his direction.

Carolina Panthers

What happened last year?

The Panthers started off slowly but exploded late in the season, largely on the shoulders of their defense and the most valuable receiver in the league. The team made it deep in the playoffs, but ultimately faltered when its defense couldn't stop the best offense in the league.

Sound familiar? While some of the details are different, Carolina's 2003 and 2005 stories are remarkably similar.

While the Panthers made the NFC Championship Game in 2005, the results of that game and their win over Chicago the week before should disturb Carolina fans. In Chicago, Carolina won a shootout. For those following at home, if Chicago scores enough points on you to constitute a “shootout,� you're doing something wrong on defense. Still, thanks to Steve Smith and only Steve Smith, Carolina advanced to the NFC Championship game.

Seattle's defense was too good to be beat by only Steve Smith, who silenced the receiver nearly the whole game. But Carolina's defense couldn't hold, as Matt Hasselbeck shredded the Carolina secondary like Enron's financial statements. These two games showed that a one-dimensional offense ultimately cannot win in the NFL, no matter how good that one dimension is.

Who's leaving?

Ricky Proehl is a free agent and will probably retire. Proehl was set to retire last year, but John Fox convinced him to stay for one more year. Hopefully Proehl sticks around, because he's one of the few players left from Tecmo Super Bowl. (In case you're wondering, and you're probably not, Sean Landeta's the only player left from the original Tecmo Bowl).

Most importantly, linebacker Will Witherspoon should be in high demand for teams with holes at linebacker. More specifically, Jack Del Rio's Jaguars are interested in the Will, who played under Del Rio when he was the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Re-signing Witherspoon is definitely the top priority for the Panthers, but if he's not signed by the time free agency hits, the presence of Thomas Davis on the roster and other pressing needs could mean Witherspoon will sign elsewhere.

Chris Weinke will also leave Carolina. Weinke won his NFL debut in 2001, before the Panthers went 1-15. Weinke's only other positive contribution to his team in his career came when he led the Panthers to a comeback victory over the Lions earlier this season.

Starting punter Jason Baker is also a free agent. Very few people noticed that Baker's solid punting was even better than Todd Sauerbrun's in Denver.

Whom should they sign?

Rumors are linking the Panthers to former Packers defensive tackle Grady Jackson. Jackson would presumably provide insurance against Kris Jenkins' going down for the season for the third year in a row. Brentson Buckner is aging at 34, and Jordan Carstens disappeared at times. The 33-year-old Jackson, as often is the case with tackles of his size, can't play the full game with a high motor, but he has the ability to rotate in at the line and provide great run defense.

Of course, the top priority for the Panthers should and will be adding a second offensive playmaker to take the pressure (and seven defenders) off Steve Smith. The Panthers could do this by acquiring a new receiver (whom Jake Delhomme will never throw at anyway) or running back.

If Carolina goes looking for a receiver, they'll find that this isn't a bad crop of wideouts. Good receivers on the market include Antwaan Randle El, David Givens, Nate Burleson, and Joe Jurevicius. One of these guys, coupled with the possible emergence of Drew Carter, could make Carolina a much more dangerous passing team.

The Panthers tagged DeShaun Foster with the transition tag but might look to improve there as well, as the transition tag leaves plenty of flexibility for the team. Carolina was rated 29th in rushing DVOA, better than only Green Bay, Baltimore, and Arizona. MVP Shaun Alexander has stated interest in going to Carolina if he can't re-sign with the Seahawks, but Edgerrin James, who doubles as a receiving threat, is also on the market. If the Panthers don't sign either of them, a healthy Eric Shelton might make a good committee back.

New Orleans Saints

What happened last year?

In a word? "Meltdown." After the Saints upset the division rival Panthers in Carolina, a combination of bad luck and bad decision making on and off the field led to a train wreck of a season, giving the Saints a 3-13 record and the second pick in the draft.

Hurricane Katrina obviously affected New Orleans like nothing the NFL had ever seen. Katrina forced New Orleans to play their home games elsewhere - one in New York, three in Baton Rouge, and four in San Antonio. Furthermore, the Saints had no permanent training facilities, which forced them to become creative; creativity definitely is not the strength of the New Orleans Saints.

More than just displacement, the NFL and Tom Benson's handling of the situation left many fans and players bitter. Benson's never been loved much in the Crescent City, but fans felt that Benson was not up front with his plans and the decision to play half of the home games in San Antonio rather than LSU made fans feel as though they had been betrayed.

The players, too, spoke out. After the Week 2 "home" game in New York, Joe Horn and Aaron Brooks publicly criticized Paul Tagliabue. Brooks also criticized Tom Benson's hesitation to decide where to play the New Orleans home games during Week 14.

On the field, let's look at some of the greatest moments of incompetence in 2005.

Week 2: Despite crossing midfield six times against the Giants, New Orleans managed to score only 10 points, losing 27-10. At one point, the Saints kicked a field goal from three yards out; at another, Joe Horn fumbled the ball through the end zone for a touchback.

Week 3: Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions after tallying zero touchdowns and eight interceptions the previous two weeks.

Week 5: Deuce McAllister, having been rewarded a humungous contract for average play the previous off-season, tore his ACL against the winless Packers. The Saints, already down 42-3 by that point, lost 52-3.

Week 6: With Aaron Stecker and Antowain Smith sharing the running back duties, the Saints rushed for 211 yards on the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints still managed to lose when Todd Peterson kicked a field goal to win the game 34-31 as time ran out. Peterson missed his first attempt, but defensive end Tony Bryant was flagged for holding on the play. Peterson, of course, nailed his second try. Haslett called the penalty "a flat-out [redacted] call."

Week 7: Leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter, the Jamie Martin-led Rams score 21 unanswered points to win 17-28. With the score 17-21, Mike Furrey intercepted an Aaron Brooks pass and returned it 67 yards to seal the game. Anyone with a set of functioning eyes could see that Ernie Conwell was down whenever the ball was taken from him, but New Orleans had no more timeouts and could not challenge the play.

Week 16: Down 10-9 late in the fourth quarter at Ford Field, Todd Bouman led the Saints on a 70-yard drive culminating in a field goal with 1:52 left to play. With no timeouts, Joey Harrington took the helm and marched the Lions downfield on the strength of two plays. The first was a completion to Roy Williams for 40 yards on fourth-and-17. The second, also to Williams for 15 yards, put the Lions in field goal range with time dwindling. Jason Hanson and the kicking team raced onto the field and kicked the ugliest winning field goal in football history.

All of this led to a complete overhaul of the coaching staff in New Orleans. Out went Haslett and his staff and in came Sean Payton, a former assistant coach to Bill Parcells in Dallas. Still, all of this seems like a secondary story to just where the Saints – if they'll be the Saints for long – will end up in the future.

Who's leaving?

Aaron Brooks is probably the first player people think of when talking about who's leaving New Orleans. The Saints benched Brooks after a loss in Week 14 to the Falcons. Brooks also made himself no friends with his criticism of Tom Benson's handling of the situation.

The best player leaving New Orleans is undoubtedly Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley. Bentley started his NFL career at guard and promptly dominated Warren Sapp and other defensive tackles unfortunate enough to line up against him. Bentley has since switched back to his college position of center. Some observers feel that Bentley plays better as a guard, but he would rather stay at center. He also would rather play anywhere not New Orleans. Most people speculate that Bentley will end up in his home town of Cleveland, as there has been interest from both sides.

Also leaving is defensive end Darren Howard. Howard, once the best player on the Saints defense, has been made replaceable by the man many now consider the defense's best player, Will Smith.

WR Az-Zahir Hakim and CB Fakhir Brown are both unrestricted free agents. Both of them were expected to be contributors but had injury troubles. What else do they have in common? Well, aside from the erroneous H's in their names, neither of them can catch the ball.

Whom should they sign?

Trying to determine the biggest need for the Saints is like trying to determine the best quarterback of all time. You can read what other people have to say and you can look at numbers, but in the end you just have to conclude that there are many of them and they're all great.

There are two major problems with the Saints and free agents. First, the Saints have so many holes that even if they were to somehow magically acquire Steve Hutchinson and Will Witherspoon, the team would not likely be competitive. Second, and more importantly, who in his right mind would want to play for New Orleans right now? The best option for New Orleans would be to just blow up the roster and start over with fresh talent at every position.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What happened last year?

Cadillac Williams exploded out the box, but injuries slowed him down after Week 3. Michael Clayton redefined sophomore slump. Brian Griese went down in the middle of the year.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Tampa Bay won the NFC South.

Things looked grim after the Week 7 bye, with Griese out for the year. Chris Simms stepped in and promptly dropped games to San Francisco and Carolina. It looked bad in Washington, too, until Simms led the Bucs on a game-winning drive culminating in a controversial call on a 2-pt conversion.

From then on, Tampa Bay lost to only New England and Chicago, beating Atlanta and New Orleans twice and winning in Carolina.

Still, Tampa Bay dropped the Wild Card game at home against the Redskins. As exciting as the regular season was for Tampa Bay fans, the Bucs won six of their games by a touchdown or less despite playing, like the rest of the NFC South, one of the easiest schedules in the league.

Who's leaving?

It seems as though Tampa's biggest weakness every year is its offensive line. Losing tackle Kenyatta Walker to free agency won't help things.

Michael Pittman's contract contains a $200,000 buyout clause. Look for Pittman to exercise it and hit the free market looking for one final good contract. Pittman provides a receiving threat that Cadillac doesn't.

Mike Alstott also might leave. Even though he's technically a free agent, he might return to the Bucs for one last season. Reportedly, Alstott's looking for a contract that gives him about $1.5 million and $1 million in signing bonuses. If both Alstott and Pittman leave, Cadillac will need a backup, either a free agent or a draft pick.

Dexter Jackson will soon end his second run with the Bucs, and may be replaced by young safety Will Allen.

Brian Griese will find himself elsewhere once again, because Tampa simply doesn't have the cap space to pay a backup quarterback $7 million. Other players rumored to get the ax include Shelton Quarles, Greg Spires, Jeff Gooch, Derrick Brooks, and Simeon Rice. The Jags are reportedly interested in Rice, but Tampa may not have the luxury of working out a trade because of its need to clear space.

Whom should they sign?

It's going to be hard for Tampa to actually sign many people. Barret Ruud and Will Allen will likely step into roles opened for them by cap casualties. Other needs, like offensive line, cornerback, and backup running back should be addressed in the draft. If Tampa makes any moves in free agency, look for them to be small moves for depth purposes, or gambles on low-cost players with upside.

Wednesday: NFC West by Mike Tanier

Posted by: Guest on 27 Feb 2006

42 comments, Last at 10 Apr 2006, 12:08am by ski

Comments

1
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 7:27pm

Welcome Darrel,
I didn't even know FO had an intern.

It might be painful but you should add the Patriots game to the list of Saints meltdowns.

Nice Tecmo reference... was Tom Tupa in that game as a backup QB? He still is punting for Washington...

2
by PDBIP (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 7:37pm

I'm going to have to bust out my Nintendo to scroll through rosters in Tecmo Super Bowl. I wonder who else is still playing?

3
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 8:23pm

But Carolina’s defense couldn’t hold, as Matt Hasselbeck shredded the Carolina secondary like Enron’s financial statements.

That is just harsh Arron, true but harsh

4
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 8:25pm

oops!!!

sorry i thought Arron had contributed to this article as well. Sorry Darrel.

And yes welcome to the Wide Wide world of Sports by the numbers :-)

5
by Stereochemistry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 8:46pm

Nice read, have been looking forward to the NFC South breakdown. Just a few minor corrections:

"Losing tackle Kenyatta Walker to free agency won’t help things. Last year, Tampa overwhelmingly ran better on runs to the left than anywhere else."

Walker was the RT this season. Anthony Davis played LT.

"Michael Pittman’s contract contains a $200,000 buyout clause. Look for Pittman to exercise it and hit the free market looking for one final good contract. Pittman provides a receiving threat that Cadillac doesn’t."

Pittman has now gone on record as saying he won't be using the buyout clause. The Bucs could still decide to cut him, but Pittman wants to return.

"Dexter Jackson will soon end his second run with the Bucs, and may be replaced by Will Allen, who will be leaving the New York Giants as a free agent."

I think you may be confusing Will Allen, former CB of the NY Giants with Safety Will Allen, 2004 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Bucs, who filled in for both Jackson and Phillips when they were injuried and is probably seen as ready to take over the starting position.

6
by TheWedge (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 8:55pm

See link for a (outdated) discussion of Tecmo players still in the league.

7
by admin :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 9:15pm

Ha! That was my mistake as editor on the Will Allen thing.

8
by Kachunk (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 9:17pm

"Losing tackle Kenyatta Walker to free agency won’t help things. Last year, Tampa overwhelmingly ran better on runs to the left than anywhere else."

As our friends in Seattle have taught us this isn't necessarily an indicator that that side of the line is better. Subjectively judged Seattle's left side is stronger, but they run better to the right. So unless everyone's sure that's an anomaly, perhaps that isn't a good metric to use.

9
by Darrel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 10:14pm

“Michael Pittman’s contract contains a $200,000 buyout clause. Look for Pittman to exercise it and hit the free market looking for one final good contract. Pittman provides a receiving threat that Cadillac doesn’t.�

Pittman has now gone on record as saying he won’t be using the buyout clause. The Bucs could still decide to cut him, but Pittman wants to return.

Ah, the downside to having editors. When I wrote this a couple days ago, he was using it. On the plus side, you don't get to see me mangle the English language.

Apologies on the Kenyatta Walker mixup.

10
by Just Another Falcons Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2006 - 10:49pm

I'm surprised you didn't comment on Atlanta's need for a DE. Brady Smith spent most of last season injured and is a candidate to be a cap casualty. The DTs drafted last year (Babineaux, Shropshire) could get better on the inside, but neither will succeed as a DE.

Safety could be filled in the draft,

11
by Vince (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 12:11am

Atlanta's defense needs a space-eating defensive tackle, a solid defensive end, two competent safeties and a good corner. Other than that, they're in good shape.

12
by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 1:23am

As a long time Saints fan, I assure you blowing up the roster would be futile. They need to move, get a new name, and then maybe we can start winning.

Who do you think we should take first in the draft?

13
by Darrel (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 3:08am

does it really matter who they take first? let's be honest. (subjective angry Saints fan talking) Tom Benson needs to go. Until that happens this team isn't going anywhere except LA.

14
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 3:23am

Re 10: Atlanta is one of the teams I've been targeting for the John Abraham sweepstakes. Atlanta’s #1 is at a decent spot in the draft, and I could see the Jets willing to take lower- say, next year’s #1, or maybe a two and a three, provided Matt Schaub was thrown into the deal.

15
by Darrel (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 3:41am

PS: Link for my writeup of TSB. I think everyone from the list of players around from TSB will be gone, except maybe Sean Landeta who was revived last season.

16
by Guy Poland (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 7:11am

Meltdown? --- I thought for something to melt down there has to be something in the first place ???

17
by Guy Poland (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 7:12am

Meltdown? --- I thought there has to be something being able to melt down in the first place ???

18
by Guy Poland (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 7:19am

Sorry for the double post ... @ Darrel: No offence ment ;-)

19
by asg (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 10:54am

It looked bad in Washington, too, until Simms led the Bucs on a game-winning drive culminating in a controversial call on a 2-pt conversion.

This happened in Tampa Bay, not Washington.

20
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 10:56am

Jon, your Saints fanhood is revoked.

Real Saints fans don't want our team to leave NOLA.

Oh, and Happy Mardi Gras.

21
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 11:00am

Oh, and I agree with Darrel that Benson needs to go, but you can't fire owners. You might be able to plan to have them assassinated, but that would be illegal and impractical. SO, the order of business is just to suck it up and support your team.

I think that the Saints will take Leinart.

22
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 11:34am

It's very hard to fire owners, but you can broke the team. But, if you are a supporter how could you want it to bankrupt?! It's hard...

23
by Reginald Ross (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 4:27pm

Tecmo Bowl?? Man that's good stuff. Tecmo Bowl was the reason a lot our four-year programs in college turned into five-year programs. I believe Chris Gardocki (UGA alum) is still in the league. I believe he was a player in the first Tecmo Bowl? If not, definitely Tecomo II. Hey Darrell. Why were the black players on the Redskins in Tecmo Bowl so black? True gamers would laugh out loud!! Anyway, Good write-up on Brian Finneran, he's definitely the Falcons go two guy and should start opposite of Roddy White. Eric Moulds would be a great veteran pick-up who's not too old.

24
by empty13 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 7:00pm

ATL needs a run stuffer. They are small up front on defense and need to play with the lead. If they fall behind early, the game can end quickly. Luckily for them, if Vick is healthy and likes the offense he is running, there is a lot of running by ATL, and few incomplete passes. The ATL D then gets a lot of rest.

Then again, if playing CAR in 05 or KC in 04, they dont.

25
by GaryS (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 7:05pm

As a Bills fan, I would be happy to have the Falcons sign Moulds afer he is cut, and the Bills sign FA Finneran. I would be very happy if the Bills signed FA Shaffer too, as he would be a big improvement over Mike Gandy (but then again, even I would be an improvement over Mike Gandy).

26
by empty13 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 7:14pm

Whoever gets Joe Jurevicius will be very happy. All he does is block hard, catch balls, run over DBs and go to super bowls... NYG... TB... SEA...

27
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 9:02pm

The Falcons should either trade a 1st round pick for Eric Moulds or use the pick to draft a receiver.

28
by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 9:19pm

I didn’t even know FO had an intern.

There are dozens of us. DOZENS!

29
by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 10:31pm

Sophandros, you are right. I don't want the Saints to leave NOLA, I pretty much want them to let go of me, I don't even live in Lafayette anymore and can't stop getting upset on Sundays. I am cursed with this love for underacheiving season after season. I believe that still makes me a fan if I like it or not.

I give the go ahead for the 'Benson plan'

I hope they take Cutler instead, I got a bad feeling about Lienhart(Danny Wuerffel)

30
by Vince (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 11:18pm

The Falcons should either trade a 1st round pick for Eric Moulds or use the pick to draft a receiver.
:: rk — 2/28/2006 @ 7:02 pm

At the risk of sounding like a jerk, this made me want to punch you.

There's a Falcons messageboard I visit with a whole thread devoted to what fans will do if Atlanta drafts another WR. My favorite is "beat Rich McKay to death, then light myself on fire."

31
by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/28/2006 - 11:27pm

Vince, that almost made Dr. Pepper come out of my nose, thanks

Happy Mardi Gras eveybody!!!

32
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 12:25pm

Regarding the collapse of the Saints, don't forget that at one point of the season, they had to practice in a parking lot, did not have NFL weight facilities, etc.

I watched the Tulane football team this season struggle with not having the training table meals, lack of weight facilities, etc, and it turns out that their linemen lost a LOT of weight and the emotional strain was way too much to expect a great deal of success. That said, both the Saints and the Wave (LSU was not as effected in comparison) played hard and close for stretches in most their games, but then were worn down. I would expect more from the Saints this season, if only because their situation is a lot more stable, which is saying a lot considering that they are going through a coaching transition.

33
by Lindsay (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 1:55pm

Re. 27
The Falcons can't trade for Eric Moulds. we're already over the cap as is, and Moulds is on the bill for ~10mil. Besides, we have confidence in Roddy White and Mike Jenkins. But I too hope that Finneran returns. It's not often that you find a 6'5 receiver that is willing to be a role-player and catches a ton of first downs.

34
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 3:56pm

Lindsay, I hope that the Falcons wouldn't trade a 1st round pick for Moulds even if they were $20M under the cap. It was meant as a jab at the front office for the Peerless Price debacle.

35
by Jon (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 12:09am

Yes the Saints collapsed. But of course they will do better, any worse and we only win two. Our schedule next year is one of the toughest, so expectations aren't too high. There will be a lot of close ones, but when is there not. The Saint's need to be on the opposite side of the spectrum...not winning 20 percent of the games decided by less than a touchdown but 80, then we can be proud like I was of our defense back in the days of Swilling, Mills, and Jackson.

36
by jc (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 10:16pm

This just in... Carolina now has no defense... I repeat, Carolina now has no defense... If the theory is to get rid of guys who play every game(Spoon, Buckner) in favor of guys who play oh, whenever they feel like it (Morgan, Jenkins), then we should be at the top of our game this year... sarcasm...

37
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 11:00am

"Matt Hasselbeck shredded the Carolina secondary like Enron’s financial statements" Heh. That's pretty good.

38
by kleph (not verified) :: Sun, 03/05/2006 - 2:50pm

a michaud from lafyaette penning FO articles! awesome! i demand more references to chris' po boys, dwyers cafeteria and drive through daiquiri shops.

39
by AJ (not verified) :: Sun, 03/05/2006 - 7:05pm

I really hope the salary cap doesn't go away, if it does, than Carolina is doomed. Also, I can't understand why they got rid of buckner instead of Jenkins, but I'm ok with them getting rid of Davis who is getting up there in age and is injury prone.

40
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 03/07/2006 - 5:09pm

38: Good call.

41
by Eric Moulds (not verified) :: Tue, 03/07/2006 - 6:25pm

Eric Moulds might be 32 years old, be the second best receiver on his team, average 8 yards per catch and have a really high cap number, but I think he's well worth the money, after all this is an even years, and he always goes over 1000 in even years...odd years? I gotta go

42
by ski (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 12:08am

Perhaps the least active team in free agency, the Buccaneers signed only Vikings guard Toniu Fonoti. Lack of cap space will leave the division winners looking mostly the same.

This has probably already been pointed out but none of the above is true.

Bucs signed Torrin Tucker and Jamie Winborn, in addition to Fonoti. Also, it has been reported the Bucs are about $10M below the cap.

But hey, good job on the McNeill pick.