NFC South: Jim Haslett

Around the NFC South

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
8:15
AM ET
Let's take a quick look at the early-Tuesday-morning headlines from around the NFC South. As you might expect, many of them include the New Orleans Saints and their various problems.
  • Free-agent defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who spent last season with New Orleans, visited the Falcons on Monday. I’d say this one is just due diligence and, if anything is going to happen, it will come after the draft. Atlanta needs some depth in the middle of the defensive line, but isn't desperate. The Falcons have Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry. Peters has had a very nice first two seasons. Babineaux had a quiet 2011; Jerry has never come close to his potential since suffering a knee injury early in his rookie season. Franklin has some history with new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, so he could be an option if the Falcons aren’t satisfied with their situation at defensive tackle after the draft.
  • The Saints and general manager Mickey Loomis are denying a report that he had the ability to eavesdrop on opposing coaches from 2002 through 2004. But, John DeShazier writes, the news causes another distraction for a franchise that already has plenty of them as a result of what the NFL says was a three-year bounty program.
  • Here’s a statement from Loomis in which he emphatically denies the report.
  • Jim Haslett, who coached the Saints during the period in which Loomis allegedly had the ability to listen to opposing coaches, said he had no knowledge of Loomis actually doing so.
  • Mike Triplett writes that the news on Loomis probably won’t get the general manager fired. He might be right. Saints owner Tom Benson has stood by Loomis through the Vicodin scandal a couple years ago and through the bounty program that’s dominated the headlines for more than a month. There haven’t been any indications the latest allegations will change Benson’s mind.
  • Ron Green Jr. writes that Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly could make an instant impact if the Panthers take him at No. 9 in the NFL draft. No argument here. Kuechly had a highly productive college career and comes with very few questions. It’s rare that you can say that about a prospect near the end of the top 10. Plus, Carolina owner Jerry Richardson and general manager Marty Hurney really like guys that come with no obvious questions.
  • Tampa Bay’s coaching change affected more than the Bucs. It also affected the football team at Tampa’s Plant High School, which has been a state and national power in recent years. With former tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts joining the Colts, his son, Austin Roberts, a top college prospect at tight end, is leaving Plant’s program. But the Panthers are getting receiver/defensive back Tristan Cooper. His father, Ron Cooper, is the new defensive defensive backs coach for the Bucs.
Former NFL executive Bill Polian said he doesn’t understand how New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis got any competitive advantage from allegedly having the ability to listen to opposing coaches communicate during games.

“There’s something missing here,’’ said Polian, who is now an ESPN analyst. “I don’t know what kind of competitive advantage you can get. Mickey would have to know the verbiage of every other opposing team in order to translate it, and then he would have to do it instantly and find some way to communicate with his coaching staff and get it down to the field in time for it to be useful. That would be very difficult to do in my opinion.’’

That all makes a lot of sense. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for Loomis to tip off his coaching staff to what opposing coaching staffs were saying seconds before the snap. It also would have been pretty much impossible for those coaches to let players know quickly enough what play was coming.

It also is extremely important to note that Loomis had the alleged ability to listen to other coaches only from a span from 2002 through 2004. That’s when Jim Haslett was coaching the team. Hurricane Katrina hit before the 2005 season, and the Saints had to play their home games in other locations that season. The report says the listening device was destroyed by the hurricane, and there are no indications it was put back into place. Haslett was fired after the 2005 season, and if Loomis was listening to play calls by opposing coaches, Haslett's record doesn't suggest it provided much of advantage.

Sean Payton was hired to replace Haslett in 2006. So you can’t tie Payton to this issue. But I still don’t see how this can mean anything positive for the Saints.

The NFL already has suspended Payton for a full season for a bounty program the league says lasted three years. Loomis also will be suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season for not stopping the bounty program.

The NFL reportedly was not aware of Loomis allegedly having had a listening device until the report came Monday afternoon and the team has denied the allegations. Loomis might not have gained any competitive advantage from allegedly having a listening device, and the allegations are from long ago when a different coaching staff was in place.

But these allegations sound a lot like Spygate, which also was something that happened in the past. The NFL -- particularly commissioner Roger Goodell -- didn’t take that situation lightly, and fined the New England Patriots $750,000. If this had come out a few years back, the Saints might be in line for a punishment similar to New England’s, if the NFL had found them guilty of the allegations.

But that was just one situation. This is different. This is coming on top of the whole bounty program.

Competitive advantage or not, this could convince Goodell to throw the book at the Saints -- even more than he already has.

Tuesday’s news that Baltimore Ravens running back Ricky Williams is retiring comes with a bit of an NFC South angle.

Williams once was the biggest thing to ever hit the New Orleans Saints. Remember the 1999 draft, when the Saints traded away all their picks from that year, plus a couple more for the following year, for the right to draft Williams?

Yeah, it made headlines all over the place because it was one of the most daring trades ever -- we’re talking way more daring and dangerous than what the Falcons gave up to get Julio Jones or what the Saints gave up to get Mark Ingram in the 2011 draft.

It was the biggest deal coach Mike Ditka made and (along with a 3-13 record that season) it led to the end of his coaching career.

When coach Jim Haslett arrived the next season, Williams had some success. He had two 1,000-yard seasons, but there were issues. Williams was a unique personality. He didn’t interact a lot with teammates and often conducted interviews behind the shield of his helmet.

"Ricky's just a different guy," former New Orleans receiver Joe Horn once said. "People he wanted to deal with, he did. And people he wanted to have nothing to do with, he didn't. No one could understand that. I don't think guys in the locker room could grasp that he wanted to be to himself -- you know, quiet. If you didn't understand him and didn't know what he was about, it always kept people in suspense."

Haslett was in suspense or, at the very least, never quite could figure out Williams. That’s part of the reason Deuce McAllister was drafted. By the end of the 2001 season, in which Williams rushed for 1,245 yards and caught 60 passes, Haslett was pretty clear that Williams didn’t fit his long-term plans.

In the spring of 2002, the Saints traded Williams to the Miami Dolphins. They were able to get back some of what they initially gave up for Williams by getting four draft picks, including two first-round choices, in return.

Williams’ career would go on to have all sorts of twists and turns. He had success at times in Miami. He also retired from football in 2004, only to return in 2005. Williams was suspended by the NFL in 2006 and wound up playing for Toronto in the Canadian Football League.

Williams returned to the Dolphins in 2007. He finished his career with Baltimore and ended up with 10,009 rushing yards and 74 total touchdowns (66 of them on the ground).

Not a bad career, especially when you consider all the interruptions.

Would it have somehow worked out better if things had been handled differently and Williams spent his entire career in New Orleans? It’s impossible to say for sure.

Williams’ track record suggests he might have encountered some of the same, or different, problems if he had been with the Saints the entire time. Things worked out all right for him. They also worked out for the Saints, aside from the initial price tag to get Williams. McAllister ended up having a very nice career.

Reggie Bush came in and did some nice things at certain times. Along the way, the Saints also added Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, who have done some pretty nice things at running back.

Draft Watch: NFC South

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC decision-makers: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: decision-makers.

Atlanta Falcons

General manager Thomas Dimitroff has final say and this guy has a strong background as a scout and personnel evaluator that has shown through in his first two drafts. Dimitroff is a true student of the game and watches countless hours of film. Coach Mike Smith also is heavily involved in the process, but Dimitroff has the strongest voice here.

Carolina Panthers

General manager Marty Hurney prides himself on saying there really is no “final say" in Carolina. He and coach John Fox make decisions together and the scouting department is heavily involved. Usually, this approach brings a consensus. Hurney says if there is strong disagreement on a player the team steers clear of that guy and moves to the next one on the list.

New Orleans Saints

General manager Mickey Loomis is the ultimate voice here, but it’s interesting to note how much better his track record has been since coach Sean Payton arrived. Loomis may have more power now than he did when Jim Haslett was coaching. He certainly has a better relationship with Payton than he did with Haslett, who might have been the driving force behind some bad personnel decisions.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

General manager Mark Dominik makes the final call or the Buccaneers. Much like Dimitroff, he came up through the ranks in the personnel department and has a strong scouting background. Coach Raheem Morris also has a strong voice in the room and was instrumental in the team selecting quarterback Josh Freeman last year. Dominik and Morris have collected 11 picks in this draft and know they need to succeed on most of them to really kick their rebuilding program in the right direction.

NFC South mailbag

March, 13, 2010
3/13/10
4:14
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Jeff in Charleston, SC writes: Great article on Warrick Dunn and his limited partnership with the Atlanta Falcons organization. You put this whole confusing situation into perspective and gave us fans a great story about one of our all-time favorite Falcons. In your mind, what does this say about the organization that a classy, philanthropist and former player like Dunn would embark on this journey with the Falcons.

Pat Yasinskas: It was a fun story to do. I covered Dunn when he came into the league with the Bucs as a very shy and private kid. The guy I interviewed on the phone the other day was an extremely polished businessman and that was very cool for me to see. Dunn had a great career and we all know about the great things he does off the field. This move says a lot about the Falcons. Arthur Blank thinks the world of Dunn. Blank also has grown as an owner. He’s been burned in the past by some players with off-field issues, but he’s learned from that and tightened up the ship. Bringing on a guy like Dunn only makes the ship more elegant. By the way, I want to emphasize this isn’t some token role. Dunn is very serious about learning the business side of football and said he dreams of being a majority owner of a franchise someday.


Jason in Jacksonville, FL writes: Need a little help figuring out some of my fellow Carolina fans. If I recall last year about 90% of us were screaming “WE WANT (Matt) MOORE! WE WANT MOORE!’’ .Then we got Moore and he went 4-1 as a starter and only threw 1 INT. Now all I see anywhere is bring in Michael Vick, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn etc.

Pat Yasinskas: Very true. I guess the best way to put it is that’s the nature of the beast and it’s not unique among Carolina fans. Quarterback is the glamour position and the easiest thing in the world to point at. The backup always seems to be the most popular guy in town when things aren’t going well. I can remember fans screaming for Casey Weldon and Scott Milanovich when I covered the Bucs and fans yelling for Brett Basanez when I covered the Panthers. Let me assure you, John Fox and Marty Hurney aren’t basing their decisions on public opinion. They plan to at least give Moore a shot to win the job. They may bring in someone to compete with him, but it won’t be Vick.


Peter in New York writes: Now that the Falcons have addressed the CB position in Dunta Robinson and have a wealth of young talent on the defensive side of the ball, what do you rate the possibility of them drafting another offensive weapon in the first round? If a C.J. Spiller or a Dez Bryant happened to be available, will they pull the trigger?

Pat Yasinskas: It’s possible. But I think there still are needs on the defensive side, mainly at defensive end and maybe at outside linebacker. Mike Smith is a defensive coach and I think the Falcons already have pretty good weapons at the offensive skill positions. My guess is they go with defense.


Da Truth in Woodbridge, VA writes: Pat, I've been blogging in your "How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch" article. One Panther fan seems to think they and the Saints are the team to beat this year and that the Falcons did nothing to improve their defense. Even to go as far and say Dunta Robinson is not really an upgrade--just an overpaid, tackle-after-the-fact CB. Of course I'm a Falcon fan and him being a Panther fan we're both biased toward our teams. From an unbiased point of view, who do you think will be in the better position to challenge NO for the division title and the playoffs?

Pat Yasinskas: At the moment, I think the Falcons are the team most likely to challenge the Saints. I think Atlanta has improved so far this offseason. Don’t see any way you can say the same about Carolina right now. But there still is time in free agency and the draft and I’m anxious to see what Fox and Hurney have up their sleeves.


Wes in New Orleans writes: As always, you do a great job, but your note about Jake Delhomme contained a fairly noticeable factual error. Aaron Brooks' draft status was not the reason Jim Haslett was obligated to keep him at starter. He was drafted by Green Bay and was traded to New Orleans for a draft pick. His contract had much more to do with it.

Pat Yasinskas: You are absolutely correct. Thanks to you and a few other New Orleans fans for pointing out my error. I’ll go back and fix it. Brooks was Haslett’s guy and the Saints put a lot of money into him. That’s why Delhomme never really got a fair shake in his first stint with New Orleans. By the way, he was supposed to visit the Saints on Saturday, but that got delayed because of problems with his flight schedule. Delhomme now is scheduled to visit the Saints on Sunday.
TAMPA, Fla. -- I’m on my way to see a New York Yankees spring training game (weather permitting) tonight. But I had to pull over to give you a little update on Jake Delhomme.

Delhomme

Delhomme

The former Carolina quarterback visited the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, but, as we’ve been saying all along, there remains a real possibility of him staying in the NFC South. There are reports Delhomme’s next visit will be to the New Orleans Saints.

We’ve even heard from a reliable source in New Orleans that coach Sean Payton was heard publicly praising Delhomme earlier today.

This one makes sense on a lot of levels. Payton tried to get Delhomme to Dallas when he was an assistant coach there. He also currently is in the market for a backup quarterback because Mark Brunell is a free agent or could be heading for retirement. Delhomme would be an upgrade over Brunell because he’s younger. He also would be a good extra pair of eyes for starter Drew Brees and is a good guy to have in the locker room.

Then, there’s Delhomme’s history. He grew up in Louisiana and loves it there. He began his career with the Saints and was a fan favorite. That was back at a time when former coach Jim Haslett was obligated to “franchise’’ quarterback Aaron Brooks because of his large contract. Delhomme never had a shot to compete with Brooks.

In the current climate, Delhomme also would be a backup because nobody’s going to take Brees’ job anytime soon. But Delhomme may be at a point in his life and his career where he can be content with that. Plus, he’d be back home.

We’ll see what happens over the next few days.

AP Photo/Mark HumphreyOn Monday in the Dolphins' media room, Drew Brees reflected on how he almost signed with Miami in 2006.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Drew Brees stood under a Miami Dolphins logo Monday and talked about playing in the Super Bowl.

Funny, but that's exactly how it was supposed to be just about four years ago. It's funny, but just about everything about Brees and Super Bowl XLIV is soaked in irony several times over.

It was totally by accident that Brees wound up talking in the auditorium at the Dolphins' practice facility Monday evening. The Saints arrived at Miami International Airport near noontime and were supposed to have a practice at the University of Miami.

But heavy rains ruined that and left the league and the Saints scrambling for alternatives. They wound up calling on the Dolphins, who have a practice bubble at their complex.

"That bubble wasn't here when I was here, but everything else brought back memories of that free agency period and 2006,'' Brees said.

Brees almost landed with the Dolphins, instead of the Saints. History might have been altered on many levels when Brees made that decision back in 2006. Had it gone the other way, maybe Nick Saban still would be coaching the Dolphins, maybe the Saints still would have Aaron Brooks and a losing record and nothing else going for them.

Truth be told, the Dolphins were very much in the mix for Brees when he was a free agent coming out of San Diego. The Chargers had turned Brees loose because he had surgery on his throwing shoulder and they already had Philip Rivers waiting to take over.

There's a story that's been told for years about how Saban called Brees at 12:01 a.m. on the day free agency started. Turns out that's not true.

"He probably called me before that,'' Brees said with a laugh.

Saban's free and clear from a rules violation because he's back coaching in college after a disappointing tenure with the Dolphins.

It's almost laughable now, but the Dolphins and the Saints really were the only teams showing any interest in Brees back then. Brees has talked before about how the Dolphins told him their medical personnel thought there was only a 25-percent chance of his shoulder being healthy enough to play in the NFL again.

He didn't go through that story on Monday and had nothing but nice things to say about the Dolphins, in addition to the Saints.

"I have great respect for both organizations,'' Brees said. "In the end, I felt New Orleans was my calling, not only to play football but to help that whole region rebuild. It goes way beyond football.''

(Read full post)

As I do periodically, I just took a trip over to SportsNation to take a look at the latest NFL Coach Approval Ratings.

No surprise that New Orleans’ Sean Payton continues to be the most approved coach in the league. He’s at 95 percent, which begs the question, is Jim Haslett really doing five percent of the voting?

Nobody’s even close to Payton. Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis and Minnesota’s Brad Childress are next at 85 percent.

Appropriately, there’s a big drop off between Payton and the other NFC South coaches. Atlanta’s Mike Smith is at 70 percent. Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris is at a respectable (relatively speaking) 40 percent, which could be a sign the potential Josh Freeman is showing might be winning over some fans.

Then, there’s Carolina’s John Fox at 12 percent, which is only better than his season-low 10 percent in Week 7.

Haslett takes shots at Bucs

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
3:49
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

One thing I always admired about Jim Haslett when he coached the New Orleans Saints was his willingness to truly say what was on his mind.

It sometimes got Haslett in trouble, but you have to appreciate his confidence and his honesty. Those qualities surfaced again as Haslett, now coaching the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League, took what seemed to be a few shots at the Buccaneers.

Talking about former Bucs kicker Matt Bryant, Haslett said "I don't understand why he's not still playing with the Bucs.''

Haslett continued with a few more shots.

"I think he's an excellent kicker, but there's a lot of things that go on in the NFL,'' Haslett said. "Why did the Rams trade Will Witherspoon? Why do you hire Raheem Morris? It's endless in the NFL right now. I'd like to have our team play a couple of those teams, to be honest with you.''

Mailbag: New Orleans Saints edition

October, 17, 2009
10/17/09
9:05
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

The New Orleans Saints are up in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Paul in Boulder, Colo. writes: Hey Pat, Great recent article about Drew Brees and the upcoming NFC showdown in the Superdome. But, what I really want to hear from you, is your honest opinion: not CAN the Saints this take one, as I'm sure even some G-men fans believe that the Saints are good enough to win, but do you think they WILL win? Additionally, what proves the tipping point? Is it being in the 'Dome? Is it coming off the bye? Or shall we pin it on poor play from the Giants? Or, do you simply expect a great battle between two NFC front-runners, and the game could go either way? (I realize I'm giving you a way out with the last one, but know that I'm only looking for your honest, educated answer!)

Pat Yasinskas: Paul, appreciate your effort to get me to make a prediction, but I don’t make predictions on games. We’ve got enough other people on this site and on our television side that do that and they’re probably better at it than me. However, I will honestly tell you I like the Saints’ chances against the Giants. First, the Saints are a very good and very complete team, which I don’t think everyone realizes just yet. Second, they’re coming off the bye. I know their recent history coming off the bye isn’t impressive, but I think that’s a fluke. The bye should be an advantage. The Saints are healthier now than they’ve been all season and it didn’t hurt that Sean Payton and Gregg Williams had an extra week to game plan for the Giants. Finally, I think playing in the Superdome can be a huge boost for the Saints. When things are going well for the Saints, and they sure are right now, the Superdome can be as loud as any stadium in the league.




Ross in Boston writes: Pat, from your blog it is obvious the Saints have had trouble winning after the bye week. Any insight into whether or not they have stepped up intensity this week?

Pat Yasinskas: As I said in the answer to Paul, I think the losing streak off the bye is just a fluke. Can’t see any common pattern to it and it’s not just during Payton’s era. The Saints lost some week-after-the-bye games during Jim Haslett’s days. I think playing the Giants coming off a bye is nothing but a positive thing for the Saints. They’re healthy and they’re rested. Payton gave them a little extra time off last week and I’m sure this week’s practices were intense. Just having an undefeated team like the Giants coming to town should be enough to fire up any team.




Curtis in New Orleans writes: The NFC South is quickly turning into a two horse race. The Saints and Falcons aren't infallible so it stands to reason that they will lose a game or two down the line, affording Carolina and Tampa Bay an opportunity to right the ship and get back into the division race. What do you think the Bucs, and Panthers have to do to get back into the division race if the opportunity arises?

Pat Yasinskas: I think we can scratch the Bucs. They’ve got too far to go and they’re too far behind to get back in it this year. Carolina can’t be written off yet. Yes, the Panthers are 1-3, but they’ve got Tampa Bay on Sunday and Buffalo the following week. That could get them to 3-3 and give them some momentum. The Panthers have plenty of talent and could make a run if they can get back to .500, especially if they can win their two games against the Saints and the one remaining with Atlanta. But, realistically, I think this is a two-team race between the Saints and Falcons and a lot is going to depend on what happens in their two head-to-head meetings.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

A warning to those who hit the mailbag with complaints every time the NFC South blog posts an item about Michael Vick: Turn your head because the NFC South blog is about to post another item on Michael Vick.

If you're still reading, I want to claim Vick about as much as Arthur Blank wanted to. The difference is Blank had a choice. I don't. Until Vick signs with another team, outside the NFC South, he's still part of my job. I'll make this as quick and painless as possible and follow up quickly with another post so this item doesn't spend much time at the top of the blog.

The hook here is that the United Football League announced its inaugural schedule Thursday. If Vick ends up in this league, which looks more possible each day, his first game probably would be Oct. 10. As a player released by an NFC South team, Vick's rights would fall to the Florida franchise that is headquartered in Orlando. Coach Jim Haslett already has made it clear he'd welcome Vick.

The Florida team opens at home against the New York franchise. Here's the complete UFL schedule, complete with information on what network will televise each game.

Oct. 8 S.F.-Las Vegas 9:00pm Versus
Oct. 10 N.Y.-Florida 7:00pm HDNet
Oct. 14 Florida-Las Vegas 9:00pm Versus
Oct. 17 N.Y.-S.F. 9:00pm HDNet
Oct. 22 S.F.-Florida 7:00pm Versus
Oct. 29 S.F.-N.Y. 7:00pm Versus
Oct. 30 Las Vegas-Florida 7:00pm HDNet
Nov. 4 Las Vegas-N.Y. 7:00pm Versus
Nov. 12 Las Vegas-S.F. 9:00pm Versus
Nov. 14 Florida-N.Y. 7:00pm HDNet
Nov. 19 Florida-S.F. 9:00pm Versus
Nov. 20 N.Y.-Las Vegas 9:00pm HDNet
Nov. 27 Championship 3:00pm Versus

What does future hold for Vick?

June, 12, 2009
6/12/09
11:10
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

For months, it's been premature to speculate on Michael Vick's football future. Now that he's been released by the Atlanta Falcons, it's time to start.

 
  Howard Smith/US Presswire
  The new United Football League remains an option for Michael Vick.

Keep in mind, Vick still has to finish the home-confinement portion of his legal sentence. Also, he has not been reinstated by the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he won't reinstate Vick unless he believes the quarterback is truly remorseful. Even if Goodell reinstates Vick, that doesn't mean there will be a large parade of teams lining up for him.

We'll tell you right now Vick won't end up in the NFC South. The Falcons are glad he's finally behind them. Carolina owner Jerry Richardson wouldn't touch a player with Vick's past. Despite speculation the Saints might view Vick in a Wildcat role, they don't. They've got a real quarterback in Drew Brees and aren't going to take the ball out of his hands. Tampa Bay just spent a first-round pick on Josh Freeman and has declared him the franchise quarterback.

Look around the rest of the league and the options may be limited for Vick. Go ahead and speculate about Dallas and Oakland because the Cowboys and Raiders always seem to be willing to take chances on guys with a troubled past. There might be another team or two out there willing to take a chance on Vick.

But I also think, even if Vick is reinstated, NFL teams may take a collective pass in part because they might not want to deal with the controversy and protests that are sure to follow Vick.

That's why I'm going to say the most likely landing spot for Vick is the new United Football League. Officials and coaches in that league have been hinting Vick is welcome. Makes sense. The league needs a name and Vick needs a place to play.

I'll say Vick ends up with the Orlando franchise. First, Orlando has geographic first rights to any player cut by an NFC South or AFC South team. Second, Jim Haslett is the coach of the Orlando team. Haslett's on record saying he'd be interested in Vick and that Orlando would be a good place for him to restart his career. Haslett's also very familiar with Vick from their days playing against each other in the NFC South.

I say Vick spends this season in Orlando and returns to the NFL in 2010.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

There's been some speculation about Michael Vick ending up in the new United Football League. Several of the league's coaches have implied they would take Vick if they get the chance, but it's likely only Orlando's Jim Haslett actually would have the chance.

The league is using a geographic principle when it comes to players who have been with NFL teams. Orlando gets first crack at any players who last played in the NFC South or AFC South. If the Falcons release Vick, it's not likely Haslett will pass on him. The two have NFC South ties from their days when Vick was playing for Atlanta and Haslett was coaching in New Orleans.

"I know Michael personally, playing against him and spending time with him and I think he is a pretty good kid,'' Haslett recently was quoted as saying. "Obviously, his values were a bit different than mine or yours. To make a long story short, out of the four cities, I think this would be the city that would be the best to accept him and give him that second chance.''

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Former New Orleans coach Jim Haslett is going to be a head coach again. This time it will be in the United Football League.

Haslett was one of four former NFL coaches to be officially announced as UFL coaches on Wednesday. Former head coaches Dennis Green and Jim Fassel and longtime NFL assistant Ted Cottrell were the other three.

Haslett's going to coach the Orlando franchise. He was St. Louis' defensive coordinator at the start of last season and was promoted to interim head coach. There was some strong sentiment by Rams' players who wanted Haslett to stay as the head coach, but that didn't happen.

Haslett had some success in his early days in New Orleans, but was fired after a 3-13 season that was disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. Even under those difficult circumstances, with the Saints practicing in San Antonio and playing in Baton Rouge, Haslett drew wide praise for the way he handled the situation.

Going to Orlando might turn out to be a good career move for Haslett. Nobody knows how the new league will fly, but Haslett has always had a reputation for being popular with players and for being a straight shooter. A little success in the new league could help put him back into a head coaching job in the NFL down the road.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

All indications are it's a very quiet day on the NFC South coaching front.

Look for the Panthers to move very methodically (in other words, slowly) to fill pretty much their entire defensive staff. They've got a list of possible coordinators, which could include Jim Haslett, Herman Edwards and others, and they want to work through it.

Tampa Bay might act a little more quickly in filling its offensive coordinator job. They've already done some interviews and indications are Chan Gailey could be a strong candidate. Wouldn't be surprised if the Bucs make their move early next week when the national media is in town. The Bucs are pretty sharp when it comes to publicity and they could make a nice splash during Super Bowl.

All remains quiet in Atlanta and New Orleans, where the staffs are in place and working to evaluate their own players and potential free agents.

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