A look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.
- Chris Mortensen reports that the NFL Players Association has asked an arbitrator to officially determine if New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has been hit with the franchise tag for a second time. Brees carried the franchise tag in San Diego in 2005, but the union wants to know if that counts after a new collective bargaining agreement was reached last summer. Brees currently is carrying this year’s franchise tag. The decision as to whether this is his first or second tag is fairly significant going forward because it could be the difference between a 122 percent and 144 percent increase in compensation if it turns out that Brees is hit with a third franchise tag in 2013.
- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson wrote a letter to the owner of the Times-Picayune (and copied the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of the city) asking the company to reconsider its decision to publish the newspaper only three days a week and focus on the digital side of its business. Seems like the Saints are appealing everything these days. As someone who spent a lot of years working for newspapers, I’m sympathetic to Benson’s basic idea. But, from a business standpoint, I don’t think Benson’s plea will make a bit of difference. The business model for daily newspapers hasn’t been working for a long time. Expressing emotion for loyalty and civic pride is nice, but businesses aren’t going to keep doing something that doesn’t make money. Benson might be better off using his time figuring out a way to get Brees signed to a long-term deal.
- As we’ve noted several times in the past, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has spent the offseason adding some bulk. That’s not a bad idea. The Falcons have been talking since last offseason about how they’d like to throw more deep balls. A bigger and stronger Ryan might be able to buy a little more time in the pocket. Then again, better play by the offensive line wouldn’t force a quarterback who isn’t all that mobile to begin with to add more weight.
- Brees’ contract situation isn’t the only item with roots to the labor agreement that’s impacting the NFC South. Carolina coach Ron Rivera said he’s being forced to tell players to leave the building. According to the agreement from last summer, players aren’t allowed to spend more than six hours a day at the team facility this time of year. Rivera isn’t the only coach running into this issue. It’s become a big deal around the league because players are trying to gain a competitive edge. But the rules aren’t going to change anytime soon. When players agreed to the new deal, they pushed for less offseason work and the rules were put in place for 10 years.
- The Panthers have signed tight end Nelson Rosario. He is not related to former Carolina tight end Dontae Rosario. Nelson Rosario is a UCLA product and is known much more for his receiving skills than his blocking ability.
- Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recently received the Pop Warner Inspiration to Youth award.