Sunday, March 18, 2012
Around the NFC South
By Pat Yasinskas
It appears we’ve hit a little lull after a fast start to free agency through most of the NFC South. But I’m not expecting it to last. I expect another wave of signings in the coming days. They might not be as big as the early ones, but several NFC South teams are hosting free-agent visitors this weekend and deals could be worked out soon. Let’s take a look at the headlines from around the division.
The New Orleans Saints had free-agent defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley in for a visit. Aubrayo Franklin and Shau Rogers are free agents and the Saints need to add a run-stuffing tackle to play next to Sedrick Ellis. The Saints also are looking at several linebackers. They don’t have much salary-cap room to work with, but could release players or restructure contracts to clear some room.
The Panthers hosted a visit with San Diego running back Mike Tolbert. Presumably, he would replace Mike Goodson as Carolina’s third back behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but it’s also possible the Panthers could look to trade one of the two if Tolbert is added. Stewart is more likely to be used as trade bait because Williams signed a huge contract last season and other teams aren’t likely to want to take on his deal. Coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski also are familiar with Tolbert from their time together in San Diego. There also have been some reports that Tampa Bay might have interest in Tolbert.
The Bucs still have issues in the front seven of their defense, particularly at linebacker. Although the team says it is focusing in on the April draft after an early splash in free agency, I still would be surprised if there is some movement at linebacker. The Bucs are monitoring the situation with Curtis Lofton and could get more involved if his price tag drops. The Bucs also could look for help at outside linebacker.