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Friday, February 10, 2012
Film of the NFC South chat

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

We are in one of the quietest times of the NFL offseason. But Friday’s NFC South chat was anything but quiet.

In fact, the pace at which your questions were coming in was right up there with a typical regular-season week. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

Kasy ( Hattiesburg): Hey pat, could you clarify what role a senior offensive or defensive assistant is?

Pat Yasinskas: Excellent question, in light of the Butch Davis situation. Technically, it's a non-coaching position and more of an advisory position. Not sure exactly how Bucs are structuring this one, but there have been lots of examples in the past. To name just a couple, Tressell as a consultant with Colts last year. Ricky Proehl as an offensive consultant with Panthers last season.

Mike (Panama City, FL): Do you believe Drew Brees will continue having record breaking and just flat out phenomenal seasons? Or is he on the downward slope of his career. Also on that note when should New Orleans start looking for a replacement.

Pat Yasinskas: I don't see Brees slowing down immediately. He's got a good five years in him -- at least that's my guess.

Cameron (Atl): Do you think the Falcons will be significant players in free agency this year? Any ideas who they'll go after?

Pat Yasinskas: History shows they usually go after one big player a year. Obvious needs are DE and LT. As I said earlier, I'd take DE in the second round. Left tackle might be the spot they go for in free agency. There's not a lot out there, but Marcus McNeill should become available. His health might be a question. There are some other LTs that also could come available.

John (pa): Is it time for smith and ryan to go. Watching atlanta in the playoffsis like watching a marty shothiemer coach team and carson palmer at qb. there i said ryan has topped out never going to be a frachise qb just a very good one like carson palmer was in his prime.

Pat Yasinskas: Think you're a little premature on that. They've had four straight winning seasons. But you are correct that the pressure now is turned way up. They need to start winning playoff games.

Richard (Ann Arbor, MI): Will Smith came back from suspension and was instantly the Saints' best D-lineman, despite missing time, and he has to know that. That seems to complicate matters with regards to what to do with him.

Pat Yasinskas: Yep, that one is a very tough call. His cap figure is outrageous. But he's their best pass rusher up front and that becomes even more important because Spags relies mostly on front four for pressure. Could save a lot of cap room by letting Smith go. But it's not like they are loaded with other pass rushers. Best approach might be restructuring his deal and knocking that cap figure down.

Robert (Shreveport, LA): Do you think Cameron Jordan will improve next season? And if he doesn't how long do you see the Saints giving him before they go out and try and replace him?

Pat Yasinskas: I think having Spagnuolo running the defense should help him considerably. But I don't know that Jordan ever will be one of those guys that will go out and give you 12 or 15 sacks in a season.

Andrew drace (one buc place,): have you heard how the bucs are doing on ticket sales? are season tickets up or down? i was hoping for excitement with a new head coach.

Pat Yasinskas: I have not heard anything on that. I'll ask. But I didn't see any big lines outside the ticket office last few times I drove by the stadium. Their hire wasn't the kind that will generate instant excitement. Going the Schiano route means he'll have to come in and win before they really see results at the box office.

Dan (Charlotte, NC): Do you think the Panthers would really draft a OT in the first round this year instead of going defense?

Pat Yasinskas: I'd say defense is priority, obviously. But you're sitting there with a top 10 pick, which in general terms is the one place where you can get a sure-fire LT. Gross is getting older. They might not have a top-10 pick again for a long time, so I think they at least have to consider it.

Here’s the complete transcript of Friday’s NFC South chat.