Just like they’ve dominated the news all week, the New Orleans Saints (and their punishment for running a bounty program) were the main focus of Friday’s NFC South chat.
But that wasn’t all we talked about. We touched quite a bit on free-agent linebacker Curtis Lofton, the future of left tackle Sam Baker in Atlanta, the upcoming draft, Carolina’s backfield and a bunch of other topics.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:
Richard (Ann Arbor, MI): The Saints have prematurely been written off as a total non-entity for the coming season. This is still a team that will challenge for the NFL's #1 offense again, and will be playing with the biggest shoulder chips that anyone has ever had.
Pat Yasinskas: I agree with you somewhat. I don't think you can write off any team that has Brees. But I want to see what happens with player suspensions before drawing any conclusion about how they'll be impacted on the field. Also, their cap situation is not good and they still need to make some moves to get guys to fit Spags' style of defense.
Joel (NC): From everything I've read, the Saints signing Gregg Williams was the epitome of "signing a deal with the devil." In some ways, it's hard to say it wasn't worth it for New Orleans with them winning a Superbowl, but those types of deals always come with a hidden price tag.
Pat Yasinskas: I think you summed up the Williams hiring pretty accurately. They did get their Super Bowl. Is it tainted? Maybe in some ways and in some eyes. But, in the Super Bowl itself, I can't recall any plays that looked like they were part of a bounty program.
Patrick (The Great State of Mecklenburg): With all the signings the Saints have had recently how could they give Brees the $18 million they initially offered before the season or even an amount that would match what Peyton just signed for?
Pat Yasinskas: Right now, they couldn't do the deal without it putting them over the cap. When they do it, they'll have to release players. Several candidates I can think of. Start with Vilma and Will Herring and there are other possibilities. Also might have to restructure some contracts.
Kent (Melbourne): Pat- Even with Barber resigning and the Talib situation still to come, should Bucs go after Claibourne if still there at the 5th pick?
Pat Yasinskas: Yeah, think it's entirely possible. You need three starting CBs these days because it's such a passing league. Plus, you can't look at just one year. You have to look ahead and realize that Barber's going to retire at some point and Talib is heading into final year of his contract. So it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.
Adam (Raleigh NC): Does the signing of Tolbert give the Panthers the best backfield in the NFL? I can't think of a more talented offense. Stay healthy on defense and I think you have an argument that they take the division.
Pat Yasinskas: I think you could make that argument that it's the best backfield in the NFL. But am not completely convinced that Williams and Stewart will both be there when season starts. Still think one of them could be traded.
Brock (Aspen, CO): Was there any truth to the rumor that the Falcons were working on restructuring/extending Matt Ryan's contract?
Pat Yasinskas: Have not heard that, but it wouldn't surprise me. It would make sense to lock him up and also would create some cap room to allow them to make some moves.
panther fan (charlotte, nc): Pat, when is the Carolina Chargers signing going to stop?
Pat Yasinskas: Hey, that's not unusual. Coaches often bring in players they know from their past. It's usually a good thing.
Sharell (Raleigh, NC): Yasinskas, why is Sam Baker still on our roster?
Pat Yasinskas: I wish I could answer that one for you, my friend! I'm as perplexed as you are on that. I'll ask Smith and Dimitroff next week.
Kyle (South Carolina): I realize Nolan said Lofton is only a 2-down linebacker but how do you just let the leader of your young defense leave and think an injury prone linebacker can do the job? I know we have Dent but he is not proven.
Pat Yasinskas: Like I said, Lofton might not be out the door just yet.
Here’s the complete transcript of Friday’s NFC South chat.