NFC South: J.J. Jansen
Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, the captain for the team Rivera and his Carolina staff will coach, picked Panthers center Ryan Kalil and fullback Mike Tolbert during Tuesday's first-ever Pro Bowl draft.
That gives Rivera the perfect place to start up the middle if he decides to gamble on fourth-and-1 as he did so many times during the season to earn the nickname "Riverboat Ron.''
"Very happy,'' Rivera said during the draft televised live on the NFL Network.
Rivera had a chance to take Carolina long snapper J.J. Jansen, but instead took Indianapolis' Matt Overton. Colts coach Chuck Pagano, paired with Hall of Fame captain Deion Sanders, in turn took Jansen.
Or maybe letting Jansen go to the opposing team was part of Rivera's strategy.
"It's one of those things where J.J. will do the right thing,'' Rivera said with a wry smile during the broadcast.
Rice will have a shot at four other Panthers on Wednesday night as the draft continues. Joining Kalil, Tolbert and Jansen in Honololu are quarterback Cam Newton, left tackle Jordan Gross, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Greg Hardy.
Wouldn't it be fun to see Hardy, aka "The Kraken,'' go after the quarterback he can't touch in practice? Or to see Kuechly stuff Tolbert on a "Riverboat Ron'' dive up the middle?
With the addition of Steven Jackson to the Falcons' roster, backup Jacquizz Rodgers maintains a positive attitude toward his potential playing time. “When I get in the game, I’m going to try to make my plays and try to get my number called more often,” Rodgers told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ll try to make every carry and every catch count.”
Rookie cornerback Robert Alford says he's a versatile player who is willing to play anywhere in order to get the Falcons a Super Bowl ring.
Since joining the Falcons in the offseason, Osi Umenyiora has shown the rest of Atlanta’s young defensive ends what it means to be a professional pass-rusher, writes Daniel Cox of the team's website.
J.J. Jansen "understands if fans don’t know his name. He plays a position with little clout: long-snapper," reports the Charlotte Observer's Ben Weinrib.
Undrafted rookie safety Robert Lester accepted the Panthers' free-agent offer, and as the Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person writes, "if Lester’s showing at the team’s three-day minicamp is any indication, it was a decision that could prove to be mutually beneficial."
New Orleans Saints
The Saints need new cornerback Keenan Lewis to stop the big plays, and former Steelers teammate Ike Taylor offers high praise for Lewis and his abilities. SB Nation's Canal Street Chronicles breaks down film on Lewis.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune continues its top 25 players on the Saints series, kicking off Monday with No. 20 defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley.
QB Drew Brees takes to Twitter to calm fears over a fake news story that he'd broken his legs in a car accident.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Unwanted faxes could create a $270M headache for the Buccaneers, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Peter Jamison.
While the Bucs' new defensive backs coach has been afforded some significant luxuries in CB Darrelle Revis and S Dashon Goldson, Tony Oden still has a sizable workload on his hands.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has focused on his diet in the offseason, dropping 20 pounds.
With that in mind, let’s take one of our periodic looks at where each NFC South team stands in terms of what it has committed to the 2012 salary cap since there's been a little change in some of the numbers recently. We’ll use figures for the top 51 cap numbers for each team because that’s what will be used from the start of the league year until just before the regular season starts and all cap numbers start to count.
The Carolina Panthers remain above the cap and obviously have some work to do. After signing long-snapper J.J. Jansen to a four-year contract last week, the Panthers are sitting at $128.1 million.
The New Orleans Saints, who are trying to get a deal done with quarterback Drew Brees and hope to follow that up with new contracts for guard Carl Nicks and receiver Marques Colston, are at $102.2 million and likely will have to release some veterans or restructure some contracts to make everything fit under the cap.
The Atlanta Falcons are at $100.4 million. They have a few free agents they want to keep, starting with linebacker Curtis Lofton and cornerback Brent Grimes. But the Falcons have enough room that they should be able to make some moves in free agency.
This may come as a shock to fans, who like to rip on Tampa Bay for being frugal. But the Bucs only have a slight bit more cap room than the Saints and Falcons. The Bucs are at $98.6 million and should be over $100 million by the start of the league year because they’re likely to re-sign a few of their own free agents. Still, the Bucs have room to make a little noise in free agency.
The deal averages $901,250 per year and included a $500,000 signing bonus.
Jansen will make $615,000 in base salary and carry a $765,000 salary-cap figure in 2012. In 2013, his base salary jumps to $715,000 and his cap figure rises to $865,000.
Jansen’s 2014 base salary will be $830,000 and his cap figure will be $980,000. In 2015, his base salary will be $845,000 and his cap figure will be $995,000.
Jansen also can earn a $25,000 bonus each offseason by taking part in an unspecified number of workouts.
- Reserve offensive lineman Andrew Jackson said new offensive line coach Pat Hill will bring passion to the Falcons. Jackson should know. He played for Hill at Fresno State.
- The Panthers signed long-snapper J.J. Jansen to a four-year contract extension. They also re-signed linebacker Jason Phillips to a one-year deal.
- Former Carolina Panthers defensive line coach Sal Sunseri talks about what he hopes to accomplish as defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee. Sunseri had been the linebackers coach at the University of Alabama since leaving the Panthers.
- Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant lobbied Georgia legislators to educate young athletes, parents and coaches about the dangers of concussions.
- Here’s a look ahead at New Orleans’ situation at wide receiver in 2012. Interestingly, the speculation is that the Saints will keep their receiving corps pretty much intact. That might be a bit difficult from an economic standpoint since Marques Colston and Robert Meachem both are free agents.
- Roy Cummings addresses Tampa Bay’s perceived struggles in finding assistant coaches and says we don’t know that’s really the case. Good point. Yes, the Bucs have been blocked from interviewing some candidates from other teams. But we won’t know for sure about the quality of Tampa Bay’s new assistant coaches until the team announces its full list of new assistants.
But all we know about those guys at the moment is they’re not under contract for 2012. We’ll do much more on free agency as it gets closer but I’ve got the complete list of every NFC South player presently not under contract for 2012.
I’ll list them by team here and we’ll only go with the guys who have at least four years of service and can become unrestricted free agents. We’ll deal with restricted and exclusive-rights free agents at another time.
Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez, tight end; Reggie Kelly, tight end; Todd McClure, center; Mike Peterson, linebacker; John Abraham, defensive end; Joe Zelenka, long-snapper; Chris Redman, quarterback; Kirk Chambers, offensive line; Kelvin Hayden, cornerback; Brett Romberg, offensive line; James Sanders, safety; Jason Snelling, running back; Kroy Biermann, defensive end; Thomas DeCoud, safety; Harry Douglas, receiver; Brent Grimes, cornerback; Curtis Lofton, linebacker; Eric Weems, receiver.
Carolina Panthers: Jeremy Shockey, tight end; Reggie Wells, offensive line; Derek Anderson, quarterback; Geoff Hangartner, center/guard; Omar Gaither, linebacker; Cletis Gordon, cornerback; Legedu Naanee, receiver; Antwan Applewhite, linebacker; Mackenzy Beranadeau, offensive line; Dan Connor, linebacker; J.J. Jansen, long-snapper; Jerome Felton, fullback; Jordan Senn, linebacker.
New Orleans Saints: John Kasay, kicker; Drew Brees, quarterback; Shaun Rogers, defensive tackle; John Gilmore, tight end; Aubrayo Franklin, defensive tackle; Marques Colston, receiver; Pat McQuistan, offensive line; Courtney Roby, receiver; Leigh Torrence, cornerback; Jeff Charleston, defensive end; Turk McBride, defensive end; Robert Meachem, receiver; Jo-Lonn Dunbar, linebacker; Carl Nicks, guard; Tracy Porter, cornerback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronde Barber, cornerback; Earnest Graham, running back; Sean Jones, safety; Connor Barth, kicker; Geno Hayes, linebacker; Josh Johnson, quarterback; James Lee, offensive line; Corey Lynch, safety; Elbert Mack, cornerback; Frank Okam, defensive tackle; Micheal Spurlock, receiver; Jeremy Zuttah, offensive line.
But we haven’t done much on restricted free agents. So let’s run through the list of NFC South restricted free agents now. Restricted free agents are players with fewer than four years of service who received qualifying offers before the lockout. Teams have the right of first refusal if a restricted free agent receives an offer from another team. Depending on the tender, they also can receive compensation if a player leaves as a restricted free agent.
Atlanta has two -- cornerback Brent Grimes and receiver Eric Weems. If Grimes leaves, the Falcons get a first-round draft pick. If Weems leaves, they get a second-round choice.
Carolina’s restricted free agents are receiver David Clowney, long-snapper J.J. Jansen and linebacker Jordan Senn. If Clowney leaves, the Panthers would get a fifth-round draft pick. There would be no compensation for Jansen or Senn.
New Orleans has only one restricted free agent. That’s guard Carl Nicks and he would bring a first-round pick as compensation.
Tampa Bay has six restricted free agents. Kicker Connor Barth and tackle James Lee would bring second-round draft picks if they leave. Defensive tackle Frank Okam would bring a fifth-round pick and safety Corey Lynch would bring a sixth-round pick. Cornerback Elbert Mack and receiver Micheal Spurlock come only with the right of first refusal.
NEW ORLEANS -- I’ve arrived at the Superdome, where it’s very quiet right now.
The only people on the field are the SaintSations (cheerleaders) warming up and four members of the Panthers. They’re not in uniform yet, but I can pick out reserve quarterback Matt Moore playing catch, and long-snapper J.J. Jansen also is out there.
I’ve got the Atlanta-Washington game on the television by my spot in the press box and will keep a close eye on that one. I’ll also try to check out Tampa Bay’s game.
I’ll be back with a lot more on the Saints and Panthers as we get closer to game time. I’ve got some radio duties and a few housekeeping things to take care of in the next little bit. But I’ll also be jumping in on NFL Nation Live from time to time.
Posted by ESPN.com staff
- Are the Falcons destined for the NFC title game this season?
- Does former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick deserve a second chance at playing in the NFL?
- A lot has been said/written about the offseason acquisitions made by the Falcons. But the Panthers filled some holes, too.
- Long-snapper J.J. Jansen talks about his opportunity to land a roster spot.
- Former Saints kicker Martin Gramatica is working at bringing affordable housing to the 9th and 7th wards and Gert Town.
- Saints fans are beaming with excitement, and dreaming of a playoff run in 2009.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
That could mean the end of Jason Kyle, who had been the team's long-snapper since 2001. Kyle has been one of the league's steadiest snappers, but he's 36 and the cap-strapped Panthers would have trouble paying him even the veteran minimum.
Jansen, who also plays tight end, played collegiate at Notre Dame. The exact nature of the draft pick the Panthers are giving up isn't known, but it's likely to be a conditional late-round choice for 2010. Conditional choices for 2009 already have been determined.