After the first week of the NFL’s Free Agency period, let’s breakdown the moves that were made and how the NFC South shapes up pre-draft for the 2020-21 season.
– Atlanta Falcons (2019-20 Record: 7-9 / 2nd in Division) –
Gained: DT- Tyler Davison, DE- Dante Fowler, RB- Todd Gurley, TE- Hayden Hurst
Lost: RB- Devonta Freeman, TE- Austin Hooper, OT- Ty Sambrailo, OG- Wes Schweitzer, DE- Adrian Clayborn, LB- De’Vondre Campbell, OLB- Vic Beasley, CB- Desmond Trufant, S- Johnathan Cyprien
The Falcons are in a very weird spot, as you can see by the amount of turnover in their offseason transactions. They have a veteran team that doesn’t have much cap space available, so they were forced to make decisions to shake things up in the Matt Ryan / Julio Jones era.
Parting with Austin Hooper / Devonta Freeman and replacing them with Rams’ Todd Gurley and Ravens’ Hayden Hurst was an interesting chain of events, but we’ll have to wait and see how they work in an offense that was involved in a ton of shootouts last year.
Speaking of shootouts, Atlanta’s defense was downright putrid in 2019. Vic Beasley, Desmond Trufant, Adrian Clayborn, and De’Vondre Campbell are some of the names that will not be returning to the Falcons, as it looks like ownership wants a clean overhaul to begin the 2020 season.
While it seems like they’ve done a lot to improve the team on the offensive end, I’m just not sure that the Falcons will be able to defend against division opponents with flamethrower offenses in New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
We have released Todd Gurley.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) March 19, 2020
– Carolina Panthers (2019-20 Record: 5-11 / 4th in Division) –
Gained: WR- Robby Anderson, QB- Teddy Bridgewater, WR- Pharoh Cooper, G- John Miller, LT- Russell Okung, WR- Seth Roberts, QB- P.J. Walker, DE- Stephen Weatherly, LB- Tahir Whitehead
Lost: QB- Cam Newton, QB- Kyle Allen, WR- Chris Hogan, TE- Greg Olsen, OG- Trai Turner, OG- Greg Van Roten, DT- Dontari Poe, LB- Luke Keuchly, DE- Mario Addison, DE- Vernon Butler, DE- Bruce Irvin, DT- Kyle Love, CB- James Bradberry, CB- Ross Cockrell, S- Colin Jones, S- Eric Reid
Wow. What an overhaul in Carolina. Not only did they shake up all personnel on the coaching staff, their roster did almost a complete 180 from just 3 months ago. As of today, Thursday, March 26th, Cam Newton has officially been released from the Carolina Panthers. A city that once called the former MVP ‘Superman’ is now without a starting job in the NFL. I do think he goes somewhere else in need and proves that he can be successful, but the Panthers have decided to put full confidence in Saints’ backup Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater proved himself mightily that he can still play, going undefeated when filling in for Drew Brees last year. Pair Bridgewater with Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, newly signed Robby Anderson, and this team starts to look like a competitive squad.
After Luke Keuchly’s sudden retirement, the Panthers were suddenly forced to completely overhaul the defense, letting go of their entire defensive line (Dontari Poe, Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Bruce Irvin, Kyle Love). They also let go of practically their entire secondary (James Bradberry, Ross Cockrell, Colin Jones, Eric Reid).
Things may not be pretty in Carolina this year, as it seems like a first year HC and QB relationship could stumble out the gates a little, but the new core for the Panthers is now here.
The new-look Panthers offense:
QB: Teddy Bridgewater
RB: Christian McCaffrey
WR: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel
TE: Ian Thomas
Explosive and fast group that will be really, really good after the catch.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 24, 2020
– New Orleans Saints (2019-20 Record: 13-3 / 1st in Division) –
Gained: S- Malcolm Jenkins, WR- Emmanuel Sanders, S- D.J. Swearinger
Lost: QB- Teddy Bridgewater, WR- Ted Ginn Jr., OLB- A.J. Klein, CB- Eli Apple, CB- P.J. Williams, S- Vonn Bell
The Saints will look to run things back once again, as they continue to hold onto key pieces that create a championship-contending roster. Drew Brees and Taysom Hill will stay with the team, while backup Teddy Bridgewater will stay in division and head to Carolina to play for the Panthers. New Orleans elected to let a few key pieces of the defense go (Eli Apple, A.J. Klein, and Vonn Bell) but did a decent job in replacing the secondary with Malcolm Jenkins and D.J. Swearinger.
Another key piece that will fit in nicely with the Saints already supercharged offense is the signing of 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Watching Sanders line up opposite of Michael Thomas and next to guys like Jared Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Tre’Quan Smith is music to anyone’s ears. They are currently the favorites to win the division and up at the top of the list to head to the NFC Championship.
Emmanuel Sanders is heading to the Saints per source.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 21, 2020
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019-20 Record: 7-9 / 3rd in Division) –
Gained: QB: Tom Brady, OL- Joe Haeg, LB- Kevin Miller
Lost: QB- Jameis Winston, QB- Blaine Gabbert, RB- Peyton Barber, WR- Breshad Perriman, OT- Demar Dotson, DE- Carl Nassib
The Bucs had a feeling it was their offseason, and indeed it was. After two decades of playing for the New England Patriots, 6-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady will be leading the huddle for a different team. Tampa is excited, and they should be. While they let go of Jameis Winston, Breshad Perriman, and Peyton Barber, they still the most elite wide receiver duo in the league in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Pair that with Ronald Jones, OJ Howard, and a solid offensive line, and it looks like Tom Brady has everything he needs to make this offense successful.
Defensivley, not much changes here. Edge rusher Carl Nassib will not be returning to the Bucs, but Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul both restructured their contracts to stay with a revamped Buccaneers offensive squad.
Bruce Arians and the city of Tampa Bay have their guy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they give the Saints a run for their money in the NFC South.
Tampa Bay’s current No. 12, Chris Godwin, said today he will defer to new Bucs’ QB Tom Brady about who gets to wear No. 12.https://t.co/wjUxy0VEay
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 21, 2020