- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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We covered all sorts of ground -- mostly what has and has not happened so far in free agency -- in Friday’s NFC South chat. Let’s take a run through some of the highlights.
Eddie (Atlanta): Will Atlanta pursue Marcus McNeill
Pat Yasinskas: I would hope so. We all know they need a LT. Only thing there is they better have their medical people do a very thorough check on him.
Adam (Ocala, Fl): Hey Pat, as a Bucs fan I think that the Glazers sent a huge signal that they are in fact committed to this team. What is your opinion. and do you think the signings will lead to fewer blackouts this year? Thanks
Pat Yasinskas: I could definitely feel some excitement in Tampa this week. Not sure this solves the sellout issue right away. They might need to win a few games first to really bring attendance back. But, hey, it's a good start.
Trey (Charlotte, nc): was letting Travelle Wharton go a good move for the panthers?
Pat Yasinskas: Was personally sad to see it because Travelle's a good guy and was a solid player for a long time. But, it's a business and they needed the cap room. He's older and his cap figure was high.
Trey (Charlotte, nc):Do you think Ron Rivera will play a bigger role on defense this year?
Pat Yasinskas: He has said he will and I suspect that will come true. Last season, he was adjusting to being a head coach. Plus, I think Panthers will have better defensive personnel this year, especially with Beason and Edwards back from injuries.
Jeff B (CT): Pat, has free agency in the NFC South been surprising to you so far? Seems like you expected to see a little more action from ATL, and a little less from TB and NOR than what we've seen so far?
Pat Yasinskas: Definitely expected at least one fairly big move from Falcons. Surprised the Saints have been able to do as much as they have given their cap situation, although the Brees situation seems to be something of a powder keg, unless or until they get him signed to a long-term deal. I'm only slightly surprised by Bucs. We knew they'd be active. Just didn't think it would be two major guys and another solid one on the first day of free agency.
Ty (Nashville):Pat. Thanks again for the chat. So have you heard if the Saints are close to signing any of the multitude of LB's they have been bringing in? Personally I like Hawthorne the best. What's your take?
Pat Yasinskas: No, I think they're doing their due dilligence -- bringing them all in for visits and comparing price tags. Personally, I like Lofton, but I may be biased because I've known him and watched him for four years. Think he's a very good MLB and a great leader. True, he's not great in pass coverage, but I don't think he's horrible in it either and, if you scheme things right, you can keep him from being a liability.
Kenneth (Salisbury): I'm not well-versed in NFL salary cap, but how about signing Steve Smith to an extension? How much cap room do moves like that usually free up?
Pat Yasinskas: I think that's something they need to look at. Steve's cap figure is around $11 million this year. If they extend him a few years, they easily could free up 5-6 million.
Here’s the complete transcript of Friday’s NFC South chat.