Time for a quick trip through the headlines around the NFC South. This version will be heavy on the Saints and the scandal around their “bounty program."
Former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams reportedly will meet in New York on Monday with NFL investigators about the bounty program. Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, already admitted to and apologized for running the bounty program for the Saints. I’d imagine he’ll get plenty of questions about if the program was used at his other NFL stops -- and reports say it was. I’d also admit Williams will be questioned about details of what went on in New Orleans, particularly when and how much coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis knew about the program.
Saints radio play-by-play man Jim Henderson weighs in with his thoughts on the situation. In addition to harsh penalties from the NFL, Henderson says Payton and Loomis could face severe repercussions from owner Tom Benson, who might not have been told the truth by his owner and general manager.
Former Atlanta linebacker Coy Wire said the Falcons do not have a bounty program. But Wire played for Williams when he was head coach in Buffalo and said the program was in place for the Bills.
The agent for Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes said his client has no plans to sign the franchise tag at this time. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said he plans to discussions with the goal of getting a long-term deal done with Grimes. That would make sense for both sides. Grimes will cost more than $10 million while he’s carrying the franchise tag. With a new contract, he can get long-term security and likely some guaranteed money over several years, but the team can get his cap figure for this year knocked down by several million.
The Buccaneers reportedly are close to re-signing offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah to a contract extension that would prevent him from becoming a free agent. Makes sense. Zuttah was one of the few bright spots last year, he’s still young and he has versatility. He also played for new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano in college at Rutgers.
The Bucs reportedly have found a quarterbacks coach for Josh Freeman. It’s Ron Turner, who last held the same position in Indianapolis and is a veteran NFL assistant. Turner’s brother, Norv, is coach of the San Diego Chargers. Although the move comes late, this is a significant one for the Bucs. Getting Freeman back on a positive track is a top priority for the new coaching staff and Turner and new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will be the two assistants given the responsibility of helping Freeman.
The Panthers aren't likely to use the franchise tag by the deadline at the end of Monday. Joseph Person writes that's because none of Carolina's potential free agents are big enough factors to warrant the tag.