NFC South afternoon update

Time for a run through some odds and ends from around the division:


In this Insider post, Matt Williamson has his grades for how teams have fared in free agency so far. He gives the Falcons the highest grade in the NFC South. No argument here. They’ve added Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora and kept most of their own free agents. At this point, Atlanta certainly looks like a favorite to become the first team ever to win back-to-back NFC South titles.


In the same post, Williamson has the Panthers tied for the lowest grade in the NFC. We knew going into free agency that the salary cap would keep the Panthers from being major players. But it’s hard to look at what Carolina has done so far and say decisively that this is a better team than it was at the end of last season. Improvement is going to have to come through the draft.


The team continued to tap into new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s past by signing defensive end Kenyon Coleman. He’s no superstar. But, like recently signed linebacker Victor Butler, Coleman knows Ryan’s system and that should help ease the transition to a new defensive scheme.


Although a lot of people have assumed that Eric Wright will be cut, Roy Cummings writes that the cornerback could stick around. It might happen, but probably with a restructured contract. Although it no longer is guaranteed (due to last year’s four-game suspension for violating the league’s rules on performance-enhancing substances), but Wright currently remains scheduled to make $7.75 million in base salary this year.

According to his agent, Brian Leonard has signed with the Bucs. Leonard can play fullback, H-back and tailback. He also played for coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Consider this one more sign that LeGarrette Blount will be traded or released.