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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
In an attempt to stay ahead of the mailbag traffic, I've decided to do a Thursday afternoon edition. We won't do team-by-team mailbags today -- just a quick trip through the whole NFC South.
Chris in New Orleans writes: Pat, I appreciate the great coverage on the Saints recent transactions. My question is: Charles Grant and Will Smith, are they still facing a four game suspension from the league and do you feel this may effect the Saints draft picks and future free agengy this year? Thanks
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, it still is a possibility that Charles Grant and Will Smith could be suspended. That's up to the NFL and we, like the Saints, have to wait to see what's decided. But I think the Saints already have done some preparation already for this possibility. The recent signing of defensive end Paul Spicer, who also has the ability to play defensive tackle, gives them some solid, veteran depth. They already have Bobby McCray as their third defensive end. Not saying that will totally stop the Saints from getting a defensive end in the draft, but I don't think they're in a situation where they absolutely have to go out and get one. Spicer and McCray are good enough to get you through a few games as starters.
Mike in Eden NC writes: Hey Pat, Is there any possibility of sending Peppers to Denver for Cutler?? This would take care of our QB struggles and take all the Peppers stress out of the situation.
Pat Yasinskas: That's a popular question with Carolina fans. But I'll say, again, I don't see a trade of Julius Peppers for Jay Cutler, although I can see the logic behind the idea. But I don't think Marty Hurney and John Fox -- or the Broncos for that matter -- see the same thing we do. This situation is a lot more complicated than just swapping one disgruntled player for another. There's the matter of compensating Peppers, who probably is looking for a deal that will make him the best-paid defensive player in the league. There's also the possibility Cutler might want a new (in other words, big) contract if he lands with a new team. Not saying it's right or wrong, but Fox and Hurney have a lot of loyalty to Jake Delhomme. I just don't think this move fits their profile.
Ed in Cape Coral, FL writes: Pat - I am real worried about the Bucs defense, I've asked you about LB, CB and safety. Now what about DT? It was never more apparent how important Haye and Hovan were those last 4 games when they were both either out or playing injured. I loved Wilkersons play last year whenever he came in or on special teams, and I thought Sims did a great job when he was called upon. Neither did well on a fulltime basis in place of Haye or Hovan. So what will they do?
Pat Yasinskas: Agreed -- defensive tackle remains a major issue for the Bucs. Jovan Haye left through free agency and Chris Hovan's not getting any younger. Jimmy Wilkerson and Ryan Sims are backups. I'm quite sure the Bucs aren't done at this position. New defensive coordinator Jim Bates likes to have at least one big, run-stuffing tackle. I'm pretty sure you'll see that come in either free agency or the draft, perhaps even early in the draft.
Hesaidwhat in parts unknown writes: Hey Pat. Does the media attention Peppers has got latley help the draft picks panthers get for him?
Pat Yasinskas: Unique and original question. Like it and hadn't thought about it in those terms before. After pondering it a little bit, I think the reports and speculation of the New England Patriots perhaps wanting to trade a second-round pick to Carolina for Peppers could help his value. If other teams see that and have an interest in Peppers, they might think they can get him with a slightly-better deal, like maybe a first-round pick.
Nikolas in London ON writes: Big fan of your blog. Im a buccs fan and I seem to be one of the few that actually loved the house cleaning that Tampa did, i think it was an a good decision what about you?
Pat Yasinskas: I'm liking Tampa Bay's housecleaning more now that I see the rest of the plan unfolding with signings like linebacker Angelo Crowell and running back Derrick Ward and the trade for tight end Kellen Winslow. I still think the Derrick Brooks situation was not handled as well as it could have been. But, as far as letting guys like Joey Galloway and Warrick Dunn go, I think the Bucs were getting rid of some older players and that's understandable. We're still seeing the whole second half of that equation playing out.
H.E. in Chattanooga writes: Pat, I've really enjoyed your coverage of the NFC South. But being a Falcons fan, my only concern is with their defense. In early mock drafts, people have predicted the Falcons going after the Utah Safety Smith. Now they are predicting the Falcons going after the Georgia Tech DE Johnson. What are your predictions and what do you think of the aforementioned options? Thanks!
Pat Yasinskas: With the Falcons sitting at No. 24, it's hard to make an exact prediction right now. But I agree there are needs at safety and in the pass rush. I subscribe to the theory that you don't take a safety in the first round (unless it's somebody really special and you have a top 10 pick). I think the Falcons can wait on this need. I definitely could see them going for a defensive end, like Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson. They don't have much of a pass rush besides John Abraham and Johnson would be a popular pick in Atlanta. Also, don't rule out an outside linebacker, such as Southern California's Brian Cushing or Clay Matthews.