- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Friday's NFC South chat was loaded with talk about the Saints' bounty program. But we also talked a lot about free agency and a little bit about the draft. Let's take a run through the highlights.
MJ (Palm Beach, FL): Pat, I know that no one can really predict the punishment outcome for this bounty scandal but how about this scenario. Everyone feels that suspensions are coming but how's your take on this punishment for the players. Regardless of the team's record for the 2012 season the Saints are eliminated from play-off contention!!!
Pat Yasinskas: I'm guessing some players will face suspensions. But, exactly which players, we don't know yet. Could be some that are no longer with Saints.
Carter (Atlanta): Excluding Super Mario, who else will the Falcons pursue?
Pat Yasinskas: Love to see them get a left tackle. Maybe Marcus McNeil?
Mitch (NC): Pat, I read an article about Thomas Davis and how excited he is to get back on the field and how he wants to be the first effective player to have three surgeries on the same knee. He knows the Panthers will have to restructure his contract in order to play for them, do you see him being more than willing to restructure?
Pat Yasinskas: I think TD will do whatever it takes and I think Panthers will work with him. Hope it works out for him. Good guy and a very good player if healthy.
Sean (Vegas): Brees has obviously built up a ton of goodwill in the gulf region since he arrived in NO. With the contract situation playing out the way it did, I can now envision a scenario where Brees doesn't sign the tag before OTA's begin and may sit out until the season starts. Would Brees actually go this route? Seems like Condon and Loomis are really going to the mattresses with this negotiation.
Pat Yasinskas: Hard to imagine Brees skipping OTAs. But both sides are playing hardball so far, so anything is possible.
Rich (Albany, NY): Hey Pat, given the Saints current situation with bountygate, Brees' contract and other related salary cap issues, and no 1st round pick and possible reduction of other picks. Would you say this team is looking at a strong decline?
Pat Yasinskas: Possible, because they're going to lose some key free agents and could be without their coach for a bit. Also could have some players suspended. However, as long as they have Brees, they'll be competitive.
Tim (Athens): Pat, who do you think will be the starting RB for the Bucs on opening day?
Pat Yasinskas: Someone not currently on the roster.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area): I know it's Florida and all, but do you think the Bucs might have a hard time getting free agents to sign there because of the huge step backwards they took last year, and the new coaching staff,etc.?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, I think Schiano will have to sell himself to free agents. But I think if he can do that, Bucs can impress free agents. Show them the facility, one of the nicest in league. Great grass field and stadium. Nice weather. And don't underestimate this when you're talking about millions of dollars -- no state income tax.
Vinnie (ATL): Why is Lofton on his way out of Atlanta? Is his asking price too high? I think Lofton is a good player and great locker room guy. I would hate to see him go.
Pat Yasinskas: I feel the same way. But it sounds like Nolan may view him as a two-down player and I think Curtis wants to be an every-down guy.
Here’s the complete transcript of Friday’s NFC South chat.