Friday, March 9, 2012
Around the NFC South
By Pat Yasinskas
A look at the Friday morning headlines from around the NFC South.
Jeff Duncan takes a look at the curious relationship between Mike Ornstein and the New Orleans Saints. A convicted felon, Ornstein does not hold any official title with the Saints. But he’s been a fixture around the team and coach Sean Payton devoted a chapter of his book “Home Team’’ to detailing how Ornstein set up logistics for the team in Miami the week of the only Super Bowl win in franchise history. Ornstein’s name also has surfaced in the NFL’s investigation of the Saints’ bounty program.
Although there were early reports the Saints could find out their punishment for the bounty program before the NFL meeting at the end of March, there now appears to be no definitive timetable. The league may proceed slowly as the NFL Players Association begins an investigation of its own.
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers is making a pre-draft visit to the Panthers. Ordinarily, I'd say don’t read too much into these visits because lots of teams have lots of different players in. But it seems very possible the Saints take a defensive tackle at No. 9 and Brockers certainly appears to be a strong candidate.
Free-agent cornerback Cortand Finnegan reportedly has been lobbying free agent receiver Vincent Jackson to join him in a package deal, perhaps in Tampa Bay. If the Bucs could land those two, it would be a major coup. It at least seems like a possibility because Finnegan and Jackson are likely to be two of the most sought-after free agents on the market and the Bucs have plenty of salary-cap room. Tampa Bay hasn’t been a popular spot with free agents in recent years, but that’s mainly because the Bucs hadn’t been spending much money. They say they’ll open the checkbook this year and that should make Tampa Bay a desirable destination. Throw in warm weather and no state-income tax and the Bucs should be able to land almost any free agent they want, as long as they're serious about spending money.
Georgia’s Orson Charles, who grew up in Tampa and is considered one of the top prospects at tight end in the NFL draft, reportedly has been charged with driving under the influence. There has been speculation Charles could be a second-round target for the Atlanta Falcons.
Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis said he can’t wait to play the Saints next season. Although Davis missed almost all of last season with a knee injury, he said he felt disrespected when the Saints left their starters in until the fourth quarter and ran up 45 points on the Panthers late last season.