NFC South hot spots (non-playoff edition)

We already covered mailbag questions on the Falcons in a previous post. But there still were plenty of questions on the Saints, Buccaneers and Panthers. Let’s go ahead and look at some of those.

Jim in Boston asks about the possibility of the Bucs pursuing Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency.

Pat Yasinskas: Although the Bucs haven’t been big players in free agency in recent years, I wouldn’t rule this one out. As I pointed out earlier, the Bucs should have a ton of salary-cap room for 2011. They’re in a youth movement, but signing a free agent or two would help that process along. Putting Asomugha with Aqib Talib would give the Bucs two top-notch cornerbacks. With Ronde Barber nearing the end of his career, a move like this would make a lot of sense.

Joe in Royal Oak, Mich., asks if the Panthers should make one last attempt to approach Andrew Luck and try to talk him into entering the draft.

Pat Yasinskas: Well, I believe the deadline for entering the draft is sometime this afternoon or evening. But time isn’t the issue here. The NFL and NCAA have rules against teams talking to underclassmen. The Panthers can’t have any discussions with Luck, who already said he’s staying at Stanford.

Santos in Anchorage, Alaska, asks if it’s time for the Saints to re-tool their backfield to have a combination of finesse and power.

Pat Yasinskas: Santos says he sees Reggie Bush filling the finesse role, but doesn’t see Chris Ivory or Pierre Thomas as the power guy. I’m not sure what the Saints see as Bush’s future because of his big salary. But I do think the Saints have to upgrade their backfield this offseason. The lack of consistency in the running game was a problem last season. Ivory had some bright moments, but I’m not sure he’s ever going to be an elite runner. It doesn't seem like the Saints are high on Thomas and may let him walk as a free agent. The Saints are so good everywhere else on offense that I think they should go out and get a workhorse back in free agency or the draft.

Tim in Clayton, N.C., (and a bunch of others) asks if the Panthers should pursue a trade with Philadelphia for quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Pat Yasinskas: Ron Rivera still has to hire his offensive staff and the organization needs to sit down and decide what it wants to do at quarterback. I don’t know what the conclusion of that will be, but I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go right out and trade for Kolb. Make him the starter right off the bat. Let Jimmy Clausen sit and learn. If Kolb struggles, then give Clausen a chance. But I think Kolb would bring some instant respectability to an offense that desperate needs it.

Dennis in Wilmington, N.C., says he’s been seeing talk of the Panthers moving to Los Angeles on various message boards and blogs and asks if there is any truth to that.

Pat Yasinskas: Not sure what blogs or message boards you’ve been reading, but I’d make it a point to find more credible ones. I’ve gotten similar notes from other readers, so I know the rumor is out there and that’s very sad. I can tell you with certainty that rumor is absurd and let's put an end to it. Jerry Richardson still owns the Panthers. He’s deeply committed to the Carolinas. He is not moving that team anywhere.