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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

Time for a quick run through the headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

D. Orlando Ledbetter writes about how the Falcons will continue to build through the draft. He also mentions that the Falcons have had internal discussions about possibly pursuing free agents Osi Umenyiora and Dwight Freeney. The Falcons aren’t likely to have enough salary-cap room to be big players in free agency, and their main focus will be on improving through the draft. Still, general manager Thomas Dimitroff usually pulls off one or two moves a year from the outside. Freeney and Umenyiora could be possibilities, but the Falcons could have their eye on someone else.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

A recurrent theme has developed out of coach Ron Rivera. He keeps saying he wants to bring in players that can help quarterback Cam Newton and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly be successful. Nothing wrong with that, because Carolina's previous two first-round picks are looking like core players. To help Newton improve, the Panthers could add some depth at wide receiver. A big defensive tackle might allow Kuechly to roam more freely. But that help almost certainly will have to come through the draft, because the Panthers aren’t going to have enough cap room to do much of anything in free agency.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Mike Triplett ranks the Saints’ defensive players heading into 2013. I don’t think it’s a real good sign that Roman Harper is No. 5, Will Smith is No. 6 and Jonathan Vilma is No. 9. These are high-priced guys with a lot of mileage. Their salaries and their value to the team don't match up. I know there have been reports that the Saints want to restructure the contracts of Smith and Vilma. But I think there is still a chance they could be among the veterans released as the Saints work to get under the salary cap.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Coach Greg Schiano said he got much more out of this year’s combine. That makes sense. Last year, Schiano was a first-time NFL head coach and had only been hired a few weeks before. I think it’s safe to assume a lot of things will be easier for Schiano the second time around.