Friday, April 5, 2013
Eight in the Box: Under the radar
By Pat Yasinskas
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A look at the top under-the-radar move made by each NFC South team thus far this offseason:
Atlanta Falcons: Most of the attention has gone to the additions of running back Steven Jackson and defensive end Osi Umenyiora. But the re-signing of safety William Moore might have been just as significant. Moore is coming off his first Pro Bowl season and is just hitting his prime. He should only continue to get better. He and free safety Thomas DeCoud have a chance to become one of the best safety tandems in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers: The salary cap has prevented the Panthers from making any significant moves in free agency. But they’ve been active in signing some role players. One addition who should be a nice fit is linebacker Chase Blackburn. New general manager Dave Gettleman knows him well from their time together with the New York Giants. The Panthers are set with Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Jon Beason as their starting linebackers. But Blackburn will give them a top-notch backup, which is important because Davis and Beason have had injuries in the past. He also is likely to be a regular on special teams.
New Orleans Saints: Most of the moves this offseason have been focused on the defensive side of the ball. But the Saints quietly made a move that should make a great offense even better when they signed veteran tight end Benjamin Watson. They already have one of the game’s best tight ends in Jimmy Graham. But Watson also is a good pass-catcher. Coach Sean Payton is an innovator, and I have no doubt he’s going to have a lot of sets in which he’ll use both tight ends to create nightmare matchups for opposing defenses.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The signing of safety Dashon Goldson was Tampa Bay’s biggest move of the offseason, but the Bucs have done a nice job of bringing in role players. One of them is running back Brian Leonard. He’s a jack of all trades and should fill the role as the third-down back. Leonard played for Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers. The Bucs are so confident in Leonard that they released D.J. Ware, who was the third-down back last year.