- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's take a look at some of the day's top headlines from around the NFC South.
Some very strong comments from Sean Gilbert, the last franchise player to sit out a season, on the Drew Brees situation. If, for some reason Brees becomes unhappy with his agent, he might want to hire Gilbert. The retired defensive tackle made a very passionate case that Brees should be paid no matter the cost and emphatically mentions how the Saints became an elite team once the quarterback arrived in town. Gilbert also has a message for those fans who say Brees should “take one for the team’’ and give the Saints a hometown discount. Gilbert said Brees has earned the right to set his family up financially for the long term.
A Louisiana lawyer has helped set up a trust fund to ensure Brees gets paid. That’s a generous idea, but this situation isn’t about charity. Owner Tom Benson and the Saints have enough money to pay Brees. But the main reason no deal already has been done is because the Saints haven’t been able to figure out a way to work Brees under the salary cap for the long term. That’s highly important. In calculated moves, the Saints let Carl Nicks, Tracy Porter and Robert Meachem leave as free agents this year. If the Brees deal isn’t structured properly, the Saints could lose a lot more key players in future years.
Cornerback Asante Samuel, recently acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, had two interceptions in his first on-field practice with the Falcons. I’d call that a good omen.
After losing Eric Weems in free agency, the Falcons are looking for a return man. Cornerback Dominique Franks said he wants to earn that job. That’s wise thinking on the part of Franks. With Samuel, Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes ahead of him on the depth chart and some others that might earn playing time at cornerback, Franks’ best chance to stay on the roster come if he wins the return job.
Speaking of job security, Tampa Bay tight end Luke Stocker said he’s looking forward to more playing time in his second season. He’ll get that opportunity. The Bucs brought in veteran Dallas Clark as a short-term solution as a pass-catcher, but Stocker should get plenty of playing time as a blocker this year and that could lead to him being an all-around tight end down the road.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said he was a bad teammate last year. He said he pouted and moped and needs to mature next season. We’ve got a message into San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith seeking comment on Newton’s skills as a teammate.