Different look at NFC South free agency

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
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We already showed you my assessment of how the NFC South teams have fared so far in free agency.

Now, let’s turn to another view. Check out this Insider post by Matt Williamson, who grades how every team has done in free agency. Overall, Williamson gave out pretty good grades to the NFC South teams.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got an A-. They signed receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright. Williamson slightly questions giving Wright so much money and says he wishes the Bucs had added a veteran leader or two. But those are about the only knocks anyone can come up with on what Tampa Bay has done.

Williamson gives the Saints a B, which I think is about right. They lost Nicks, receiver Robert Meachem and cornerback Tracy Porter. But I think they were expecting to lose all three after putting the franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees and re-signing Marques Colston. Given the fact that he had almost no salary-cap room to work with, general manager Mickey Loomis did a pretty remarkable job in signing guard Ben Grubbs, linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley.

The Falcons graded out at a C+. That may seem a little high to fans who are angry that the Falcons really didn’t bring anything from outside. But Williamson is generous with his grade because he recognizes the importance of keeping your own players. The Falcons did a nice job of that. The only thing they really lost was Lofton. That is a loss, but the Falcons only wanted him back at the right price and they stayed behind the line they drew in the sand.

The only team that got a bad grade was the Carolina Panthers. They got a D, which tied them (with Arizona) for the lowest grade in the league. I think this one might be a little harsh. Yeah, I realize the Panthers didn’t do much in free agency. But the bright side is, they really didn’t lose anything. The signing of running back/fullback Mike Tolbert was a bit curious because Carolina already was loaded in the backfield. But I think we could end up seeing Jonathan Stewart or DeAngelo Williams getting traded. Even if the Panthers keep all their running backs, that’s not a bad thing. They don’t run the ball as much as they did back in the John Fox days. But look at how New Orleans, a pass-happy team, was able to work in four quality running backs last season.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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