NFC South: Justin Drescher

Around the NFC South

March, 14, 2013
Time for a morning run through some odds and ends from around the division:
  • Jason Cole reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so far, have been unwilling to include their first-round pick in this year’s draft in a potential trade with the New York Jets for Darrelle Revis. I’d be hesitant to part with that pick too. It’s the No. 13 overall pick in the draft. The Jets seem to want to unload Revis before he’s due a bonus on Saturday and it doesn’t seem like they have a lot of other potential suitors. Their price tag may come down.
  • Pittsburgh cornerback Keenan Lewis, a New Orleans native, is visiting the Saints on Thursday. The Saints had shown some interest in Derek Cox, but he signed with San Diego.
  • The Saints have re-signed long-snapper Justin Drescher to a four-year deal.
  • The Buccaneers have signed former New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Casillas. At best, Casillas could be a candidate to start if Quincy Black doesn’t return from injury. At worst, he’s a decent back and special-teams player.
  • Former Carolina tight end Gary Barnidge has signed with the Cleveland Browns, where he’ll play for head coach Rob Chudzinski, who previously was the Panthers’ offensive coordinator.

Reviewing NFC South free agents

March, 7, 2013
We’ve shown you the lists of potential NFC South free agents before. But let’s do it again because there have been some minor moves and the free-agency period is getting ready to start Tuesday.

Here’s the list of potential free agents for all four NFC South teams:

Atlanta Falcons. Tony Gonzalez, Brent Grimes, Sam Baker, William Moore, Will Svitek, Mike Cox, Todd McClure, Luke McCown, Christopher Owens, Mike Peterson, Garrett Reynolds, Lawrence Sidbury and Vance Walker all can become unrestricted free agents. Michael Palmer can become a restricted free agent.

Carolina Panthers. The potential unrestricted free agents are Derek Anderson, Antwan Applewhite, Gary Barnidge, Dwan Edwards, Ben Hartsock, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Louis Murphy and Mike Pollak. Richie Brockel can become an exclusive-rights free agent. Andre Neblett, Nate Ness and Jason Phillips are scheduled to become restricted free agents.

New Orleans Saints. Jermon Bushrod, Jonathan Casillas, Chase Daniel, Sedrick Ellis, Devery Henderson, Ramon Humber, Elbert Mack, Turk McBride, Will Robinson, Courtney Roby and Scott Shanle can become unrestricted free agents. Brian De La Puente, Justin Drescher, Junior Galette and Chris Ivory are scheduled to become restricted free agents. Eric Olsen and Michael Higgins can become exclusive-rights free agents.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ronde Barber, Dallas Clark, Michael Bennett, E.J. Biggers, Andrew Economos, Roy Miller, Roscoe Parrish, Sammie Stroughter and Jeremy Trueblood can become unrestricted free agents. LeGarrette Blount, Jacob Cutrera, Corvey Irvin and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim are scheduled to become restricted free agents.

Around the NFC South

March, 1, 2013
Let's take a quick trip through the headlines from all four NFC South precincts:


Jeff Schultz writes that University of Georgia products Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree both seem to have their stock falling after the combine. Both could be available at No. 30 when the Falcons draft. Would Atlanta take either one of those guys? I’d say it’s a long shot. Ogletree has had some off-field problems and Jones comes with health issues.


Joseph Person writes that defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, a potential free agent, wants to return to the Panthers. I’m pretty sure the Panthers want to re-sign Edwards, who was a pleasant surprise last season. Carolina has cap issues, but the Panthers should be able to clear enough room to keep Edwards. If they can re-sign Edwards and draft a defensive tackle fairly early they should be able to stabilize the middle of their defensive front.


Bradley Handwerger has a summary of how the Saints have put themselves within striking distance of getting under the salary cap. But he brings up a good point when he mentions that the Saints also are likely to need room to make tenders to restricted free agents -- center Brian De La Puente, long-snapper Justin Drescher, defensive end Junior Galette and running back Chris Ivory. The Saints aren’t done with their cap moves yet and we’re still waiting to see if they restructure or release veterans Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith.


In his latest mock draft, Scott Reynolds has the Bucs taking Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson in the first round. That runs counter to the popular belief that the Bucs will go with defense. But this scenario makes some sense. The Bucs might not be able to get a defensive player they really want in the middle of the first round. Johnson could come in and provide an instant upgrade over Demar Dotson at right tackle and could be the eventual successor to Donald Penn at left tackle.

Looking at New Orleans' free agents

February, 11, 2013
Time to continue our look at the NFC South’s potential free agents with the New Orleans Saints.

Their list includes left tackle Jermon Bushrod, linebacker Jonathan Casillas, backup quarterback Chase Daniel, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, receiver Devery Henderson, linebacker Ramon Humber, cornerback Elbert Mack, defensive end Turk McBride, tackle Will Robinson, receiver Courtney Roby and linebacker Scott Shanle. Center Brian De La Puente, center Justin Drescher, defensive end Junior Galette and running back Chris Ivory can be restricted free agents. Safety Rafael Bush, guard Eric Olsen and tight end Michael Higgins can be exclusive-rights free agents.

The big names are Bushrod, who has made himself into a Pro Bowler, and Ellis, a former first-round pick. Although the Saints have major salary-cap issues, they are likely to at least make an attempt to keep Bushrod. But it’s important to remember the Saints aren’t like most other teams when it comes to their philosophy on paying offensive linemen. They have a history of paying more to guards (see Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs) than they do to tackles and Bushrod could get big money on the open market.

Ellis never has lived up to his draft status and, with the Saints switching to a 3-4 defense, I’m not sure he’s a good fit for the scheme.

Henderson and Shanle used to be key players. But age started to catch up to them last season and I don’t see the Saints making a big push to keep them.

Around the NFC South

February, 29, 2012
Time for a look at Wednesday morning's top stories from around the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints continue negotiations to get quarterback Drew Brees signed to a new contract, but nothing is done yet. The Saints also have the option to put the franchise tag on Brees before Monday’s deadline, but that’s only a last resort. The Saints would rather complete a deal with Brees so that they would have the franchise tag available for guard Carl Nicks.

D. Orlando Ledbetter has his offseason depth chart for the Falcons. It’s fine as it stands right now, but changes will be coming in free agency. I’d be shocked if the chart looks like it does now in September and has Sam Baker and Will Svitek as the top two options at left tackle. He also doesn’t include free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. I’ve got a hunch the Falcons will find a way to keep both of them.

The Saints have signed exclusive-rights free agents Jonathan Amaya and Justin Drescher to their tenders.

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said the fact the Bucs hired Ron Cooper from LSU to coach their secondary doesn’t mean it’s automatic the Bucs will draft LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. No, it’s not a given, but I think Claiborne is at least a possibility with the No. 5 overall pick.

Although he had some off-field issues earlier in college, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins is on Carolina’s radar when it comes to the No. 9 overall pick. Jenkins had a fine showing at the combine and did a good job answering questions about the problems that got him kicked out of Florida earlier in his college career.

Saints: First look at free agency

January, 31, 2012
No NFC South team faces a more challenging period between now and the start of free agency than the New Orleans Saints.

They have to find a way to re-sign quarterback Drew Brees, and there are at least a couple other players that it’s essential the Saints retain. They’ve also got some important role players and will need to find ways to keep several of them despite a difficult salary-cap situation.

Let’s take a look at New Orleans’ potential free agents. They’re all unrestricted, unless noted otherwise:

Brees, defensive end Jeff Charleston, receiver Marques Colston, linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, tight end John Gilmore, tight end Tory Humphrey, kicker John Kasay, defensive end Turk McBride, offensive lineman Pat McQuistan, receiver Robert Meachem, guard Carl Nicks, cornerback Tracy Porter, receiver/return man Courtney Roby, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, cornerback Leigh Torrence, safety Jonathon Amaya (exclusive rights), receiver Adrian Arrington (exclusive rights), center Brian de la Puente (exclusive rights), offensive lineman Justin Drescher (exclusive rights), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (restricted), quarterback Chase Daniel (restricted) and linebacker Ramon Humber (restricted).

Whatever deal Brees signs, it’s likely he’ll take up somewhere around $15 million of the 2012 salary cap. But the Saints will have to continue to spend big money. It’s imperative they keep Nicks. He might be the best guard in the league and he’s Brees’ top protector. Keeping Colston also would seem to be a top priority because he’s one of Brees’ favorite targets.

Once the accounting is done on Brees, Nicks and Colston, the Saints will have to make some tough financial decisions. Porter and Meachem are important role players. But they could have market value elsewhere. The Saints might not be able to afford to keep them. That would hurt, but it might not be disastrous because the Saints have good depth at receiver and cornerback.
It’s been a fairly busy afternoon for transactions in the NFC South. A lot of that has to do with the calendar.

The deadline for restricted free agents to sign their tenders is Tuesday. Also, teams are about to conclude their offseason programs and players, coaches and front-office workers soon will be taking time off. So let’s round up what’s happened this afternoon.

New Orleans safety Roman Harper has signed his tender as a restricted free agent. That will guarantee him $2.5 million for this season.

Tampa Bay left tackle Donald Penn has refused to sign his tender. By not signing, Penn forfeits $100,000 of his potential salary.

The Falcons announced they’ve signed two of their draft picks. Center Joe Hawley, a fourth-round pick, and cornerback Dominique Franks, a fifth-round choice, have signed. The Falcons also released Dominique Daniels, Justin Drescher, Garrett Lindholm and Trey Bryant.

The Panthers reportedly have signed sixth-round pick David Gettis and seventh-round pick R.J. Stanford.