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Around the NFC South

Time for a look at some of the top headlines from around the NFC South.

New Orleans guard Carl Nicks says he would like to remain with the Saints. But the potential free agent is skeptical about the chances of that happening because quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Marques Colston, cornerback Tracy Porter and some others also are no longer under contract. There is virtually no doubt Brees will re-sign. But who else stays remains to be seen. Nicks seems to have his doubts, but I’m guessing he’s the next priority after Brees. Nicks is in his prime and might be the best guard in the league. He also is one of Brees’ main protectors. The Saints are going to invest huge money in Brees. I suspect they’ll be willing to invest huge money in protecting him, even if it means making Nicks the NFL’s best-paid guard.

Mark Cook takes a look at some potential candidates to become offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. New coach Greg Schiano has yet to announce any staff hires and getting an offensive coordinator might be the most important move he’ll make. The Bucs need someone who can help quarterback Josh Freeman bounce back from a disappointing season.

The Buccaneers reportedly are talking to Pittsburgh defensive assistant Jerry Olsavsky about becoming their linebackers coach.

A stellar rookie season by Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is opening lots of doors. Newton has picked up another endorsement deal, this one with Gatorade.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith said the offensive playbook is nearly complete. The Falcons have new coordinator Dirk Koetter and I’m sure there are some new plays. But I don’t think the playbook has been completely overhauled. A lot of what previous coordinator Mike Mularkey did was because it was what Smith wanted and quite a bit of it worked. Koetter’s bright enough to know he doesn’t have to start from scratch. He just needs to make some tweaks to make the offense more consistent.

Charlie Campbell has his updated mock draft. He has the Bucs taking cornerback Morris Claiborne in the first round. Makes sense because we don’t know if veteran Ronde Barber will be returning and Aqib Talib faces a March trial on an assault charge. Campbell also has the Panthers taking Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still with the No. 8 or 9 pick (the exact spot will be determined by a coin flip). That also makes sense because the middle of the defensive line has been a problem spot for the Panthers in recent years. But I also could see Carolina using its first-round pick on a receiver or a cornerback.