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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
In the few hours since the Panthers released cornerback Ken Lucas, I've gotten a lot of questions in the mailbag about him.
Saints fans are asking if Lucas could end up in New Orleans. Bucs fans want to know if Lucas might be a fit in Tampa Bay. And Falcons fans are wondering if Lucas might be able to help the Atlanta secondary.
I see some merit to all those questions and I think there's at least a chance Lucas could end up staying in the NFC South. Keep in mind, Lucas turned down a trade to Detroit because he wants to play for a team that has a chance to win. The Bucs, Falcons and Saints are several notches ahead of the Lions and any of them could be contenders next season.
I'll examine each of these three scenarios and I'll go in order by which team I think might work best for Lucas.
It's no secret the Saints are working hard to overhaul their defense. They just signed Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter will be back from injury. But I think the Saints still would like to upgrade over Jason David and there's no guarantee that Mike McKenzie will return to full health. Lucas isn't the player he was a few years ago, but he's smart and could be a nice insurance policy. The Saints don't have a lot of cap room, but I don't think Lucas is going to command big money at this time. Plus, keep this in mind, coming to New Orleans would be a bit of a homecoming for Lucas, who is from Mississippi.
I know Atlanta fans may not be excited about the cornerback crew of Chris Houston, Von Hutchins, Brent Grimes and Chevis Jackson. But the coaching staff likes each of those guys. That said, it wouldn't hurt to have an experienced corner like Lucas. He's not the type of guy who would be a locker-room leader, but he could be a mentor to some of the younger cornerbacks. Lucas may not be a starter anymore, but he could be a nice third or fourth cornerback for a year or two.
Tampa Bay has spent most of its offseason getting rid of older players and Lucas doesn't really fit their youth movement. He also isn't a real fit in the bump coverage coordinator Jim Bates plans to use. But, then again, veteran Ronde Barber doesn't seem to fit that mold either. In fact, at the current time, I'm thinking there's a chance Lucas might be better than Barber.