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Thursday, March 18, 2010
NFC South mailbag

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Time for another edition of the NFC South mailbag.

Matt in Calhoun, Ga., writes: If Deon Grant came cheap enough, is that a veteran player the Falcons could possibly bring in to add depth and experience to the defensive backfield?

Pat Yasinskas: Only if the price tag is really cheap. The Falcons spent a big chunk of their free-agent budget on cornerback Dunta Robinson. They really are committed to building through the draft. They also have safety William Moore coming back after missing most of last season with an injury. Grant would be nothing but depth, and I suspect there would only be interest if his price tag is very low.


Kyle in Chapel, Hill N.C., writes: Now that the Panthers have re-signed Tyler Brayton, do you believe they will sign a DT in free agency or go for one in the draft to fill the holes at that position?

Pat Yasinskas: I think you might see them do both. They need more than one defensive tackle. I think they’ll sign some mid-level free agent and also use one of their earlier picks on a defensive tackle. Last year showed the importance of depth at that position.


Lee in Columbia, S.C., writes: Charlotte now has two pro sports teams owned by locally grown former players. I know the Bobcats are the first NBA team to be owned by a former player, are any other NFL teams owned by former players?

Pat Yasinskas: Good trivia question there. Jerry Richardson is the only former player to be a majority owner in the NFL. Warrick Dunn just joined the Falcons, but that is as a limited partner. Prior to Richardson, the last former player to be a majority owner was George Halas.


Kyle in Bossier City, La., writes: Can you explain why some restricted free agents are worth a draft pick and some are not? Example: Mike Bell v. Anthony Hargrove?

Pat Yasinskas: Sure. As restricted free agents, players receive tenders from their current teams. It’s up to the team to decide the tender and it’s tied to price. Bell received the lowest tender and no draft-pick compensation comes with that tender, but the Saints do have the right to match any offer he receives elsewhere. Hargrove received a higher tender and the compensation would be a third-round pick, the same round he came out of in the draft. The Saints also can match any offer he receives. There are five different tenders this year and the compensation can go as high as a first- and a third-round pick.


Maurice in Charlotte writes: The other day I was at the airport and I saw the Philadelphia Eagles jet. Could this have some significance given the Michael Vick rumors or is it common place?

Pat Yasinskas: Don’t get too excited. Not sure that it was the actual team plane. Having lived in Charlotte and knowing it’s a USAirways hub, I’ve seen lots of planes at that airport with logos for the Eagles, Panthers and Steelers. They’re just regular passenger planes, but USAirways has marketing deals with some teams and uses their logos.


Keith in Schafter, Calif., writes: Do you think there is any truth to the rumors that the Browns are paving the way for John Fox to be head coach in 2011 (more likely '12)? Some are suggesting recent personnel movements, particularly the signing of QB Delhomme, indicate Eric Mangini is no longer in charge. Also, I understand Fox, Jake Delhomme and Mike Holmgren all have the same agent.

Pat Yasinskas: I think you’re getting way ahead of the game there. If Fox wins this year, he could get a long-term deal with the Panthers. If Mangini wins, he suddenly is very safe in Cleveland. Besides, do you really think Fox would be anxious to take a job where Delhomme at 36 or 37 is his quarterback? Also, it’s true Fox and Holmgren have the same agent. But Delhomme has another agent with no ties to Fox or Holmgren.


JP in Inverness, Fla., writes: I know that the Bucs just signed Sean Jones and we may still get some secondary help in the draft, but with the Bears releasing Nathan Vashar, might we take a look at him? I worked in restaurants for a time and am one of those that when you’re starting out (rebuilding) you hire everyone you can and then weed through them. What do you think?

Pat Yasinskas: Like your philosophy. Haven’t heard anything about the Bucs showing interest in Vasher at this point. You never rule anything out, and Vasher played for Lovie Smith, who runs a defense similar to Tampa Bay’s. But the Bucs are pretty committed to building through the draft, and I think that mainly will be where anymore secondary help comes from.


Mark in Orlando writes: I saw that Raheem Morris was in attendance for Tim Tebow’s pro day do you know what that is about or was he just there for late-round prospects like Riley Cooper?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, but don’t read too much into Morris showing up. Florida had a lot of other prospects working out and I’m sure Morris was there mainly to watch them. Morris got his quarterback, Josh Freeman, last year.