Around the NFC South

Let's take a look at the top Tuesday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

As the Falcons get ready to head off to the combine, D. Orlando Ledbetter has a list of players they should keep an eye on. He starts off with tight ends, which is a logical spot because Tony Gonzalez can’t play forever. But the Falcons also better keep an eye on defensive ends and offensive tackles.

Roy Cummings writes that the agent for guard Jeremy Zuttah is optimistic a long-term contract can be worked out before the start of free agency. Zuttah’s stock is high right now. He can play guard or center. He also has history with new coach Greg Schiano. Zuttah played for Schiano at Rutgers.

The Saints still don’t have a deal done with quarterback Drew Brees. Bradley Handwerger writes that the team may have to use the franchise tag, which would cost $14.4 million, on Brees. If a deal can be reached with Brees before the start of free agency, the Saints could tag guard Carl Nicks or receiver Marques Colston.

Carolina linebacker Jon Beason said anything less than a Super Bowl appearance will make for a disappointing season. Beason always has been an upbeat guy and he’s aiming very high. But I don’t think his goal is totally unreasonable. With a healthy Beason returning to the lineup and a few more personnel tweaks, the Panthers should have an improved defense to go with an offense that already is good.