NFC South: Geoff Schwartz

NFC South evening roundup

March, 16, 2012
Let’s take a Friday evening cruise through some odds and ends from around the NFC South.

The Carolina Panthers reportedly have agreed to terms with former Minnesota linebacker Kenny Onatolu. He was mostly a special-teams player with the Vikings and the Panthers are sure to use him in that capacity. But they did need to add a little linebacker depth after former backup Dan Connor signed with Dallas.

Tampa Bay linebacker Geno Hayes reportedly will visit with the Denver Broncos. I don’t think the Bucs have a lot of interest in bringing back Hayes, who was a starter on the outside last season. The Bucs will be making some moves at linebacker either elsewhere in free agency or in the draft. Although there had been some talk about moving Mason Foster to the outside, general manager Mark Dominik recently said the coaches may leave him in the middle.

Former Carolina guard Geoff Schwartz is scheduled to visit with the Vikings on Monday.

Former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris was close with Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. New coach Greg Schiano has started to build a friendship with Maddon.

Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff doesn’t agree with the perception that the Falcons are being inactive. He points to the team keeping cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive end John Abraham and also made significant changes to the coaching staff. He’s got a point. I’ll also throw in the fact the Falcons were very active on the personnel front last year. You can’t make big splashes in free agency and the draft every year.

NFC South evening roundup

March, 13, 2012
We’ve touched on the major news already that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to terms with wide receiver Vincent Jackson and have New Orleans guard Carl Nicks coming in for a visit.

But let’s catch up on some smaller news from around the division.
  • New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter appears ready to leave the Saints as a free agent. He’s drawing early interest from the St. Louis Rams. The Saints have prepared for Porter’s exit by drafting Patrick Robinson and Johnny Patrick the past two years.
  • The Bucs are interested in David Carr as a backup for Josh Freeman. This makes lots of sense because Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was Carr’s quarterbacks coach with the Giants and the Bucs seem to want a veteran to pair with Freeman. They also seem prepared to let go of last year’s backup, Josh Johnson, via free agency. But don’t put Carr on the Bucs’ roster just yet. I’ve heard he’s happy in New York and would return to the Giants if all things are equal. In other words, the Bucs probably will have to overpay if they want Carr, which they may. Even if it’s not Carr, look for the Bucs to add a veteran quarterback.
  • Although he didn’t have the four accrued seasons to initially qualify for unrestricted free agency, the Saints did not make a tender to linebacker Ramon Humber. Without the tender, Humber becomes a free agent and still could be re-signed for a minimal salary.
  • Former Carolina offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who was not offered a tender, will visit with the Detroit Lions.

Panthers give tenders to two

March, 10, 2012
The Carolina Panthers have placed tenders on two of their exclusive-rights free agents.

Cornerback R.J. Stanford has been tendered at $540,000 and tight end Richie Brockel at $465,000.

The Panthers have not placed tenders on restricted free agents Geoff Schwartz, Jason Phillips, Seyi Ajirotutu, or exclusive-rights free agent Thomas Williams. Theoretically, they still could tender any of those players, but it’s not likely.

Panthers: First look at free agency

January, 31, 2012
Let’s continue our NFC South look ahead to free agency with the Carolina Panthers.

We'll take a look at Carolina’s potential free agents. They’re all unrestricted unless noted as restricted free agents or exclusive-rights free agents.

Quarterback Derek Anderson, linebacker/defensive lineman Antwan Applewhite, offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau, linebacker Dan Connor, linebacker Omar Gaither, cornerback Cletis Gordon, offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner, long-snapper J.J. Jansen, receiver Legedu Naanee, linebacker Jordan Senn, tight end Jeremy Shockey, receiver Seyi Ajirotutu (exclusive rights), tight end Richie Brockel (exclusive rights), cornerback R.J. Stanford (exclusive rights), linebacker Thomas Williams (exclusive rights), linebacker Jason Phillips (restricted) and guard Geoff Schwartz (restricted).

There’s not a single guy on that list that the Panthers absolutely have to have back. That's good because the Panthers are going to be tight against the salary cap. But there are several players they’re likely to have interest in retaining at the right price. They liked what Senn and Applewhite showed in 2011. Shockey seemed to fit well in tandem with Greg Olsen and could return for a one-year contract. The offensive line is in pretty good shape, but the Panthers likely will keep either Schwartz or Hangartner as a starting guard.

Iron men of the NFC South

October, 11, 2011
Seven NFC South players were in a pretty exclusive club in 2010. Carolina’s Ryan Kalil and Geoff Schwartz, Atlanta’s Justin Blalock, Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl and New Orleans’ Jahri Evans and Carl Nick played every one of their team’s offensive snaps.

According to league-wide play counts from last year that are used for calculating incentives in contracts and performance-pool pay, those players were among a group of 37 around the league to play 100 percent of their team’s offensive or defensive plays.

Safety Eric Berry was the only defensive player to take part in all of his team’s plays. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Sam Bradford and Joe Flacco also were on the field for all their team’s plays. Aside from those four, the other 33 to play 100 percent of the plays were all offensive linemen.

Carolina tackle Jordan Gross just missed joining the club. He came in at 99.99 percent. He sat out one of Carolina’s 989 offensive plays. Same for former Tampa Bay linebacker Barrett Ruud who took part in 1,024 of 1,025 defensive snaps.

Here’s a look at some other NFC South players who were among league leaders at their positions in 2010:

Panthers firm up offensive line

September, 5, 2011
The Carolina Panthers now have two legitimate options for the starting job at right guard.

The team has signed Geoff Hangartner, who spent the past three seasons in Buffalo. Prior to that, Hangartner was with Carolina from 2005 through 2008. He primarily was a backup at center and guard, but got some starts due to injury.

He departed for a big free-agent contract with Buffalo in 2009, but the Bills recently released him. The Panthers likely will choose between Hangartner and Max Jean-Gilles, who also has been signed.

Those are two decent veteran options after the position was decimated by injury. Expected starter Geoff Schwartz suffered a season-ending injury early in the preseason. Garry Williams was supposed to replace him, but he also suffered a season-ending injury.

Although Carolina’s coaching staff has changed since Hangartner last played for the Panthers, he could have the advantage. He was a popular locker-room figure and has familiarity with most of the other members of the offensive line.

Around the NFC South

September, 5, 2011
Time for a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.

Jeff Duncan has a good column about how Thursday night’s game between the Packers and Saints will be a chess match. Some of the best minds in the game will be squaring off when New Orleans coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams go up against Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers. With a bunch of cerebral players on both sides, I think this game has the potential to, at least temporarily, silence the talk about how the lockout will impact the quality of play.

We’ve heard a lot about how the Falcons plan to throw the ball downfield more this season. Quarterback Matt Ryan talks a lot about that and says he needs to be more accurate in those situations.

Anwar S. Richardson writes about how Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is riding a wave of popularity. Kind of ironic because Morris was not a very popular choice when he was hired to replace Jon Gruden in 2009.

The Saints don’t have to issue an injury report until later Monday, but defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (knee) and defensive end Cameron Jordan (knee) were talking like they’ll be ready for Thursday.

Looks like the Panthers have found the veteran help they were looking for at right guard after losing Geoff Schwartz and Garry Williams to injuries. They’ve signed former Philadelphia guard Max Jean-Gilles. They released Sean Considine to clear the roster spot.

Gary Shelton writes a fine tribute on Lee Roy Selmon. In it, he has a message for Josh Freeman, Gerald McCoy and all the other young stars in pro sports in Tampa Bay. He says it would be wise for them to act like Selmon. That also would help fill the void that now exists in Tampa Bay.

Panthers clean up waiver wire

September, 4, 2011
As expected, the Carolina Panthers are not sitting still a day after trimming their roster to 53 players.

The Panthers hit the waiver wire hard Sunday, claiming five players at positions of need.

The Panthers claimed wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu from San Diego, defensive back Stevie Brown from Oakland, nose tackle Marcus Harrison from Chicago, defensive end George Selvie from St. Louis and defensive back Josh Thomas from Dallas.

To make room for them, the Panthers waived defensive end Everette Brown, guard Bryant Browning, receiver David Clowney and defensive end Thomas Keiser. The Panthers also released veteran safety Kevin Payne.

Stay tuned, because it’s likely the Panthers are not done yet. They still have a big need at right guard after losing Geoff Schwartz and Garry Williams to season-ending injuries. They likely are in the market for a veteran at that position.

Wrapping up NFC South preseason

September, 1, 2011
The Panthers, Buccaneers, Saints and Falcons each completed their preseason Thursday night.

Not a lot of starters played, so let’s sum it all up with some quick observations on each team.

  • Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris sat most of his starters in a 29-24 loss at Washington. But he did a smart thing to get his backups ready. Morris showed his team the film of last year’s fourth preseason game and reminded the players that safety Corey Lynch, who had interceptions in the game, wouldn’t have made the roster without that kind of performance. Some of the “bubble’’ guys who appeared to get the message was defensive back D.J. Johnson and receivers Preston Parker and Ed Gant.
  • Tampa Bay second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers, who had been quiet much of the preseason, made a splash Thursday night. Bowers picked up a fumbled handoff on Washington’s first possession.

  • It wasn’t difficult to figure out that Atlanta coach Mike Smith was sending a message to his defense in the Falcons' 21-7 preseason finale loss to the Ravens. Although most of the offensive starters sat out, most of the defensive starters played. Undoubtedly, to fire up the defense and build some momentum for the start of the regular season. It seemed to work. Brent Grimes came up with an early interception and defensive end Kroy Biermann, starting in place of veteran John Abraham, produced a sack on a play where Ray Edwards also generated some pressure. Speaking of the pass rush, rookie Cliff Matthews also produced some pressure, which might help him secure a roster spot.
  • The one Atlanta offensive starter who did play a lot was rookie receiver Julio Jones. He was still playing in the second quarter and had a nice run on a reverse. He also got a nice block from quarterback Chris Redman. I’m sure part of the reason Jones got playing time was because he missed the normal offseason. But I also suspect the Falcons want to give opposing defensive coordinators some headaches as they watch film of Atlanta’s offense. Speaking of the offense, one reserve who stood out was running back Antone Smith, who might have secured a roster spot.

  • The Saints rested most of their starters, but two members of their recently-shuffled offensive line got to start in a 32-9 loss to the Titans. Those were tackles Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief. On defense, it was more of the same, but cornerback Tracy Porter got lots of playing time. Porter missed much of the preseason and camp with an injury and this was a chance for him to catch up to his teammates.
  • Although the Saints appeared to be loaded at running back with Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles, Joique Bell has had such a strong preseason that it’s going to be difficult to cut him. If Bell does somehow hit the streets, Tampa Bay, which doesn’t have a lot of depth in the backfield, should do anything possible to get him.

  • One of the best signs for Carolina was the presence of right tackle Jeff Otah. He had missed some time with a knee injury, but it looks like he’s healthy. Otah could be the difference between Carolina having a mediocre offensive line and a very good one.
  • One of the worst signs for Carolina was when right guard Garry Williams went down with a knee injury in the second quarter of the 33-17 loss to Pittsburgh. The Panthers already lost starter Geoff Schwartz to injury and Williams had been the heir apparent. The Panthers don’t have lots of depth on the line and may have to go out and find someone off the waiver wire or in a trade.
We mentioned some Carolina transactions in the earlier item on the Saints releasing defensive end Alex Brown. But the Panthers just sent out their official list of transactions, so let’s get them all on the record for posterity.

The Panthers reached an injury settlement with quarterback Tony Pike. They also waived (injured) guard Duke Robinson and released long-snapper Chris Massey.

The Panthers also placed tight end Gary Barnidge, guard Geoff Schwartz, center Zack Williams and receiver David Gettis on the injured reserve list. That puts the roster at 80 players. The Panthers and the rest of the league have until Saturday evening to get down to 53 players.
Surprising news out of New Orleans. Defensive end Alex Brown, who has worked with the first team throughout the preseason, sent out a tweet saying he’s been released.

Consider that a sign that the Saints are pleased with the progress of first-round draft pick Cameron Jordan. Brown had been starting opposite Will Smith, who could serve a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance in 2008. Even though there is uncertainty about Smith’s situation, the Saints must feel good about Jordan and some of their other defensive ends.

Veteran Jeff Charleston has been a steady backup, and the team likes what Turk McBride has shown in the preseason. The release of Brown could also help Junior Galette’s chances of staying on the roster.

The release of Brown comes with no salary-cap implications. He was scheduled to make $3 million in base salary and had no outstanding roster bonus pro-rations. His release clears up $3 million in cap space.

Teams have to have rosters down to 80 players by the end of the day and there have been some smaller moves around the division.

The Carolina Panthers released second-year quarterback Tony Pike and offensive lineman Duke Robinson. The Panthers also placed guard Geoff Schwartz and tight end Gary Barnidge on the injured reserve list.

The Saints haven’t announced any official moves yet, but receivers John Chiles and Jarred Fayson reportedly have been released.

Earlier in the day, New Orleans safety DeAndre McDaniel tweeted that he had been released.

Stay tuned. We’ll update you with any official announcements from teams as they come. But Saturday is the main day for roster cuts. That’s when teams have to go from 80 players to 53.

Around the NFC South

April, 17, 2011
Time for a trip through the headlines around the NFC South.

We’ve heard plenty of stories about what NFL players are doing during the lockout. Chad Ochocinco is playing soccer and others are boxing or taking part in mixed-martial arts. Other guys are working out on their own or in groups and some are doing it in the towns where they went to college or in their hometowns. But here’s a story about one member of the Carolina Panthers, who is doing something very different. Carolina offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz is working as the pitching coach for a high school baseball team in South Carolina.

Speaking of football players in different settings, Atlanta defensive tackle Corey Peters is one of the players featured in a documentary about guys who weren’t first-round picks trying to make it in the NFL.

And staying with that theme, Tampa Bay defensive end Stylez G. White is breaking into the field of sports talk radio.

Mike Triplett takes an in-depth look at how and why the Saints chose Deuce McAllister with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2001 draft. They didn’t have running back as a high need because they already had Ricky Williams. But they thought McAllister was one of the top players in the draft and they didn’t pass him up. He turned into one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Makes you wonder if we could see something similar if Alabama running back Mark Ingram is sitting there at No. 24 in this year’s draft.

Joe Fortenbaugh writes that the Carolina Panthers might be setting up a smoke screen as just about every draft guru has them taking Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick. You always have to wonder about teams playing games at this time of year, and it’s possible the Panthers are trying to entice another team to trade up and get Newton. But there are two reasons why I don’t think this is the case on this one. First, it’s going to be very difficult to find any team willing to trade up to No. 1. Second, Carolina general manager Marty Hurney is a no-frills guy, who doesn’t have time for games. I can assure you, Hurney is not calling up select media members and saying “Do me a favor. Write a story that we’re going to take Newton and maybe that will convince some other team to want to trade up’’.

Bradley Handwerger reports that New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas is out of the walking boot he had been wearing since his ankle surgery.

Donald Penn having Pro Bowl season

December, 29, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. -- During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Tampa Bay offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood provided fodder for an automatic weekly post. When ESPN Stats & Information would send out the updated list of false start penalties, I’d scan it and do a quick update on where Trueblood stood among the league leaders, mainly because Trueblood always was among the league leaders.

That’s not the case this year and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that Trueblood has started only seven games. He only has two false start penalties this season. But the more amazing thing might be that Tampa Bay left tackle Donald Penn, who was snubbed in Pro Bowl voting, does not appear anywhere on the list of the 144 guys around the NFL who have been called for at least two false starts.

It’s pretty amazing when a starting left tackle can go this far into a season with less than two false starts. I had the Bucs check with their coaches and they said Penn has been called for one false start. They even gave a little bit more evidence of how strong a season Penn has had. He’s been called for only one holding penalty and has given up three sacks.

Throw in the facts that, despite a slew of injuries across the rest of the offensive line, Penn has protected quarterback Josh Freeman and paved the way for rookie running back LeGarrette Blount to emerge as a force and I'm willing to say Penn should be in the Pro Bowl.

Actually Atlanta left tackle Sam Baker doesn’t appear on the list either. That’s nice, but I’m not ready to put Baker anywhere near Penn in any other category.

As a division, the NFC South has fared pretty well when it comes to false start penalties. The league leaders are Ryan Diem and Michael Oher with eight false starts and there are a bunch of guys with seven.

The NFC South leader is New Orleans left tackle Jermon Bushrod with six and Carolina’s Geoff Schwartz has four.

James Lee, who sometimes has replaced Trueblood as the starting right tackle, has three false starts and that ties him with Carolina left tackle Jordan Gross and Carolina tight end Jeff King.

The NFC South players who have been called for two false starts are Carolina center Ryan Kalil, New Orleans guard Jahri Evans, Carolina fullback Tony Fiammetta, Atlanta tight end Justin Peelle, Carolina receiver David Gettis, Carolina guard Travelle Wharton and Tampa Bay guard Davin Joseph.

Hitting the NFC South links

October, 22, 2010
Time for a quick trip through the NFC South headlines.

Coming off their bye week, the Panthers are shaking up their offensive line. They’re sliding Geoff Schwartz from right tackle to right guard. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who had been starting at right guard, will go to the bench. Second-year pro Garry Williams will take over as the starter at right tackle, at least for the short term. That’s Jeff Otah’s position, but he’s been sidelined with a knee injury all season.

If you’re looking for a bright spot in what’s been a dismal Carolina season, turn to strong safety Charles Godfrey. He’s the NFL leader in interceptions.

D. Orlando Ledbetter has a feature on Atlanta’s inconsistent offense. The encouraging thing here is the Falcons recognize they have to start faster and get better in the red zone. If they can take care of those things, they’ll be fine.

My friends at The Times-Picayune have their weekly video preview on the Saints.

With the Bucs considering every possible solution for their woes in the running game, Joe Henderson takes a look at running back LeGarrette Blount.

Carolina inactives and lineup changes

October, 10, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As expected, the Panthers will be without injured receiver Steve Smith, safety Sherrod Martin and offensive tackle Jeff Otah.

Those three highlight Carolina’s list of inactives, which also includes running back Tyrell Sutton, linebacker Jamar Williams, center Chris Morris and defensive tackle Andre Neblett.

David Gettis will start in Smith’s place and Geoff Schwartz will start for Otah. The Panthers have not announced who will start in Martin’s spot at free safety, but it’s likely to be rookie Jordan Pugh.