Time for a look at the highlights of Friday’s NFC South chat.
Joe (ATL): You stirred up some anger within in the Falcon?s community with the 2008 Draft Class article. Seems like you focus a lot on what the Falcons do wrong and not what they do right. 2008 was a great year for us, because we took such a giant step in the right direction following Vick/Petrino (yes I remember fondly as I had season tickets that year). I don?t think there were intentions to be viewed as a one-hit draft year, rather a collection of drafts and FA to become a winning team year after year. But I will agree that this is the year to make a deep post season run and put the doubters in check.
Pat Yasinskas: Yeah, well, the part you agree with was basically the whole point of the column. I wasn't saying it was a bad draft class by any means. Was just saying all of those guys are at a point in their career where they need to take the next step -- kind of the same story for that entire team.
Robert (Ocean Isle, NC): You and Saints fans seem to think Payton being gone for the here won't be more than a speed bump on their way to another winning record. Isn't that odd considering the 4 weeks he was merely off the sidelines the Saints went 2-2 vs. Indy, StL and TB twice (a combined record of 12-52) and now he won't even be in the building all year?
Pat Yasinskas: It's obviously far from ideal. But I believe the Saints are a very talented and experienced team and they can handle it. Not saying they're going to cruise straight to the Super Bowl. It's not going to be easy, but I think they can still have a pretty successful season.
Ken (NY): Pat I don't understand why you agree with Alex Smith. The panthers where rarely down at halftime. Also if it's true that if a team is behind means that the QB will throw for 300 yards a game then where is Alex Smith's 300 yards games in his first six seasons when the 49ers would consistently lose games?
Pat Yasinskas: I don't totally agree with him. He's wrong on his facts. But I do see his point, which is basically that wins are more important than stats. But I think that could be moot after this season because I think Cam will have a good amount of wins, combined with good stats.
Big D (CT): Has there been any update on Aqib Talib, has he been at OTAs or is he preparing for his court date
Pat Yasinskas: He was out there the two days they've had media access so far. His trial isn't until after they finish minicamp and all their offseason workouts, so I suspect he'll stick around for all of that.
Brandon (Arkansas): Just curious why everyone is so adamant that you give Brees a blank check? I'm a diehard fan and love Brees. His contribution to Saint's nation is unquestioned, but there is the salary cap to consider. If we invest over 1/6th of our available funds on one player for the next 5-6 years...what kind of team are you going to be able to surround him with? I want him there as much as anyone, but not at the expense of losing seasons for the next decade!
Pat Yasinskas: Valid point. They have to be very careful how they structure that deal, especially for future years. If they don't do it right, they'll end up losing a lot more than they did this offseason when they let Nicks, Porter and Meachem walk.
Matt (Smyrna): How do you justify Steve Smith as the best receiver in the NFC? In the last two years he has 90 less catches than White, 737 less yards and 9 less touchdowns. Colston paved the way to the Super Bowl, had more touchdowns and receptions than Smith last year. He?s older, has less wins and more fumbles than both White and Colston combined. Come on Pat, you can?t rank WR?s based on what you think they?ll do next year. Remember Alex Smith: stats don?t give you wins.
Pat Yasinskas: I based that on last year and what I expect this year. Wasn't factoring in Colston's Super Bowl or White beyond last year. I thought Smith had a great year last year and should be even better this season as Cam continues to grow. But you are certainly free to disagree with me.
Joseph (Rockland): Do you have any confidence in the Saints defensive ends behind Smith and Jordan? (Galette, McBride, Romeus, and Wilson)
Pat Yasinskas: I think Galette and Romeus have some potential and Spagnuolo could really help them. McBride's decent. Not sure on Wilson as a DE yet. Have to see him play there a little bit first.
John (Tampa FL): Do you think Dallas Clark can return to 2009 form this season with the Bucs? Do you think he is an upgrade in any capacity over K2? He certainly fits the new mold of the "Buccaneer Man", but beyond that?
Pat Yasinskas: Not sure he'll catch 100 passes, but I don't think Bucs are expecting that. I think he'll fit in well in the locker room and may have some leadership skills that Winslow didn't. He might not even put up the kind of numbers Winslow did. But I think Clark is a better fit with the new regime.
JM (Charlotte): Hey Pat, now that it's June 1st, what is the Panthers' cap situation?
Pat Yasinskas: Ah, excellent question. They designated Travelle Wharton as a June 1 cut. Up until June 1, his full cap hit (think it was around $7.5 million) was counting on this year's cap. Now, they can spread that out between this year and 2013. They had been I think around $3.2 million uder cap. So if Wharton's hit is spread out equally, they just freed up half of the $7.5 million.
Tim (Athens): Pat, do you think Mark Dominik has less power as GM now with Schiano than when Morris was here? After Winslow was traded, I started to wonder about that. Thanks.
Pat Yasinskas: Maybe Dominik also wanted to unload Winslow. There could have been some cap implications there as well. Go back and look at post I did on that -- I think it was a day or two after Winslow was traded. They have to start thinking about next year's cap because they're already pretty close to it.
Here’s the complete transcript of the NFC South chat.