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Saturday, April 9, 2011
Hitting the NFC South hot spots

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Let’s take a look into the NFC South mailbag and hit on some of the questions that seem to be on a lot of minds.

Justin in San Francisco wrote to say, with talk of teams cutting staff members due to the lockout, how many people does an NFL team employ beyond players and coaches?

Pat Yasinskas: Very good question, because a lot more people behind-the-scenes are being affected by the lockout. To the best of my knowledge, the NFC South teams seem to be doing a pretty good job of protecting most of their employees so far, and I don’t know of any major cuts within the division. With coaching staffs and players alone, you’re generally talking about 80 people. Then, you have to throw in personnel people and scouts. After that, there are all sorts of people ranging from business executives to groundskeepers and people in the equipment department, and we won’t even go into the part-time people who are brought in for game days. There is no exact number for full-time employees because it varies from team to team. But I would say 300 is probably somewhere close to the average.


Michael in Baltimore asks why no one is talking about the Carolina Panthers bringing back Matt Moore next season.

Pat Yasinskas: Michael also points out Moore played better than Jimmy Clausen last year, and I don’t disagree with that. But Moore’s contract is up, and I don’t think the Panthers will bring him back. They’re probably going to draft a quarterback, and they might even bring in a veteran to mix with Clausen and Tony Pike. Those two were drafted by the Panthers last year and are still under contract. Harsh as this may sound, Moore got his shot last year, however brief, and things didn’t fall into place. I know that wasn’t entirely his fault by any means. But I think he’ll probably move on and try to land a backup job somewhere else.


Dan in Houston wrote to say he read our post about Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl bid and said he agrees with my suggestion on rotating Super Bowls among Miami, Tampa, New Orleans and Arizona, but wonders why I didn’t include Houston on the list.

Pat Yasinskas: Good point. I’ll be totally honest and admit that Houston slipped my mind. I’m glad you reminded me. I was covering the Panthers for The Charlotte Observer when they played in the Super Bowl hosted by Houston after the 2003 season. Can’t say I got to spend a lot of time out on the town because that was a hectic week. But that Super Bowl seemed to go off very well, Reliant Stadium is first-class and Houston’s weather rarely gets too cold that time of year. I’ll add Houston to my list.


Stan in Thomaston, Ga. wrote to ask why Atlanta isn’t bidding for the 2015 Super Bowl and if the city would have a chance if it bid on that or any future Super Bowl.

Pat Yasinskas: As far as I know, Atlanta hasn’t entered the mix for the 2015 Super Bowl, which is expected to be awarded in the fall. We all know the Falcons are seeking a new, outdoor stadium, and Atlanta may be awaiting the outcome of that before pursuing any future Super Bowls. But I’m not sure the idea of an outdoor stadium works in Atlanta’s favor when it comes to getting another Super Bowl. The last Super Bowl in Atlanta didn’t go off that well, even though the game was played indoors in the Georgia Dome. That wasn’t the fault of the people in Atlanta or the people running the logistics for the Super Bowl. It just so happened that week was exceptionally cold, and Atlanta got hit hard by an ice storm that caused many problems. It was very similar to what happened in North Texas this year, and I think the NFL is going to be a little more cautious about going to cities where there’s the potential for bad weather when awarding future Super Bowls. As I’ve said before, it’s not just about game day. The week leading into the Super Bowl is all part of the event, and weather can cause problems with that. If Atlanta gets an outdoor stadium, that could make future Super Bowls a tough sell.


Charles in Metairie, La. says he’s disappointed in the people who are down on Drew Brees because of his involvement in the labor situation. He adds that Brees always has been a leader and is simply following through on that.

Pat Yasinskas: No argument here. Brees accepted his role on behalf of the players four years ago. I would expect him to handle that the same way he handles everything else -- by doing his job to the best of his ability.


Brandon in Houston asks if Lynell Hamilton is still in the plans for the Saints.

Pat Yasinskas: He hasn’t been forgotten. He scored some points with the coaching staff before last year’s injury and there’s still hope for him. That said, Chris Ivory emerged last season, Pierre Thomas got a new contract and the Saints have made it sound like Reggie Bush is staying. There’s plenty of speculation the Saints could draft another running back, and I don’t disagree with that. But, even if someone is added in the draft, Hamilton still has a shot. All the injuries at running back last year showed the Saints the importance of depth at that position.


Michael in Perry, Ga. wrote to say he thinks many in the media are wrong for portraying Carolina as a team with no talent.

Pat Yasinskas: I agree. It's not the typical 2-14 team. Now, there still are some questions to play out as far as free agency, possible trades and possible contract extensions once the lockout is over. But you look at Carolina’s roster right now, and it includes guys like Jordan Gross, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Charles Johnson and Jon Beason. Heck, if healthy, you might be able to include Thomas Davis and Jeff Otah on that list. Those are guys most people would qualify as “core players,’’ and the Panthers aren’t that far off other teams in terms of core players. What they need, however, is a quarterback and some spark on offense. If they can add that, I see no reason why this team can’t instantly be a lot more competitive than last season.


Tyler in Florida wrote to say he knows players can’t be traded during a lockout, but wonders if draft picks can be exchanged.

Pat Yasinskas: Teams can still trade draft picks in a lockout. But there can’t be any transactions involving current players until the lockout is resolved.