NFC South: mailbag 0406
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the final stop on our tour of team-by-team mailbags.
Chris in Harrisburgh writes: Hey pat, i was just wondering, if Heywerd Bey is still available at 19 when the Bucs pick, do you think they may look to trade down with a team like the Giants, who have two 2nd round picks and a need for a WR?
Pat Yasinskas: Anything is possible when it comes to trading down, especially if it gives the Bucs a second-round pick. They are without their own second-round pick because it was traded to Cleveland in the Kellen Winslow deal. Although the common belief is the Bucs will take a quarterback or a defensive player in the first round, I would not be at all surprised if they stayed put at No. 19 and drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey. I think the Maryland receiver could give the Bucs a downfield threat and a nice complement to Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton.
Nick in Tampa writes: Pat, is the new coaching staff in Tampa content with Ronde Barber remaining a starter next year? He is the only older vet on the defense who survived the purge and the team hasn't made any moves to bring in a FA to replace Buchanon.
Pat Yasinskas: Well, the Bucs did sniff around Jabari Greer and a couple of other cornerbacks in free agency and they still could draft one early. But it seems like the general thinking among the coaching staff is that Barber will be the starter. Keep a couple of things in mind here. First, new coach Raheem Morris previously coached defensive backs and he believes Barber has something left in the tank. Second, Barber is angry at media and fans who have suggested he's washed up. That should provide some good motivation for a guy who has a lot of pride.
Steve in Toronto writes: Who is going to be playing buffalo in toronto? I hear it down to tampa or new orleans, i hope its the bucs being a huge fan, i don't think it will be new orleans because there a dome team, but that will give the bucs two games out of the u.s. Who has the better chance of playing in toronto?
Pat Yasinskas: All indications are the NFL's complete regular-season schedule will come out next week. We'll find out for sure then. But the Bucs already have a game scheduled in London. I think the NFL will be hesitant to make them travel outside the country twice.
Tony in Philadelphia writes: Pat, who do the bucs start on kick-offs and punt returns week 1? Do you think it's still Smith even with him being more involved in the backfield? Thanks!
Pat Yasinskas: I think Clifton Smith will remain as the primary return man after a great rookie season. Yes, the Bucs may look to get him involved in the offensive backfield. But, with Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and possibly Cadillac Williams, I think Smith will be a situational player in the backfield. If Smith ends up carving a bigger niche, things could change. As disappointing as Dexter Jackson was last year, I could see him getting another shot as a return guy. He has great speed and the coaching change might give him a fresh start.
Pat Yasinskas: I think that's something the Bucs at least would explore if Cleveland really does put one of those two quarterbacks on the trade block. I think either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson would be nice competition for Luke McCown. The Bucs have made it clear they still plan to bring in another quarterback. There's not much left in free agency. Not sure if they would take Josh Freeman at No. 19 because he might be a year away from being ready to start. I could see them making an attempt to trade up for Mark Sanchez, but that could be costly. Of all the scenarios still out there, I like trading for Anderson or Quinn the best.
Andrew in Boston writes: I know that summer practices without pads don't really matter, but how did Josh Johnson look during the latest mini-camp while you were there?
Pat Yasinskas: The coaches and players were singing Johnson's praises during the minicamp and I think their scouting reports are probably better than mine. That's encouraging, but I still think Johnson is a project. He also has to learn an offense that's dramatically different than last year's.
Charlene in Tampa writes: Could you please tell me if you have heard anything about Derrick Brooks? If we lose him, Tampa will be crushed..Most people would like to see him retire here, rather than go to another team! Thank you Charlene
Pat Yasinskas: Once the Bucs released Derrick Brooks in February, that ended any chance of him playing in Tampa Bay again. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of him coming back to the Bucs in an administrative or coaching role. But I think Brooks still wants to play and is waiting until after the draft to see what type of opportunities he gets elsewhere.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The New Orleans Saints on our team-by-team mailbag tour.
Hendrik in Koblenz, Germany writes: Hey Pat, it's great to have the opportunity to ask some questions.. I wonder wether the Saints are going to give Jahri Evans a contract extension. Hes is arguably the best young guard in the NfL and should be kept around to keep Drew upright. And i too wonder why there are so many experts expecting Beanie Wells to be the pick because i think Pierre Thomas did a great job and showed he can deliver and i think the Saints just need a better option at Sam or Will and they will be a Superbowl contender.. WHO DAT NATION!!!!Pat Yasinskas: I know the Saints were at least talking about the possibility of a long-term deal with Jahri Evans during the season last year and I strongly suspect they'd still like to do that. They've got a good offensive line in place and it makes sense to keep it together. As for the running back question -- and I'm getting that one from lots of readers -- my gut says the Saints can make better use of the No. 14 by drafting a defensive player. That's not a knock on Beanie Wells. But I like Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush has his positives. I don't think it makes sense to use a first-round pick on a guy you're going to use as a short-yardage back. I think the Saints can find that later in the draft. Or maybe they've already got that in Mike Bell.
KC in parts unknown writes: I think one of the most under the radar signings was the signing of Rod Coleman. He was a BEAST during his career before the last two season with the Falcons. Now that he is on a team with depth at the DT position and he should stay healthy due to the rotation, do you think this could be the sleeper pick up of the year for the Saints?
Pat Yasinskas: I like the move as well. Not sure that Rod Coleman will be the player he was with the Falcons, but I don't think the Saints are expecting him to be that. He's getting up there in age and could be a nice part of the rotation. Coleman said his body needed a year off from football. In a situational role, I think he could help the interior pass rush. Putting him and Sedrick Ellis together in the middle could also help defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant become more productive as pass rushers.
EddieC Cape Coral Fl writes: Since everyone believes we are taking Malcom Jenkins or Beanie Wells. What would you think the best fit is? Our defense is or biggest problem down the stretch and running game isn't to impressive with Reggie Bush being a dud.
Pat Yasinskas: I'm with you. I say the Saints should take Malcolm Jenkins. He can play cornerback or safety. I know the Saints already have made some moves to their secondary with Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper. But I think last year showed the importance of having depth in the defensive backfield.
Sam in Lafayette writes: Pat, after hearing all the news about the Saints meeting with Rashad Jennings, I'm compelled to believe that the Saints will try to trade down for more picks with hopes of picking him up in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Do you see this happening, and which teams do you think would make the trade?
Pat Yasinskas: I like your idea about trading down and perhaps getting Rashad Jennings -- or some other power runner -- in the second or third round. As far as what teams might be interested in trading for New Orleans' first pick (No. 14 overall), we probably won't know until the Saints are on the clock. But I think it's a realistic possibility that the Saints could trade down to somewhere in the 20s, get one of the defensive players they like and add an extra pick.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
We'll go in alphabetical order (by city) today and start our series of team-by-team mailbags with the Atlanta Falcons.
OG in Ft. Lauderdale, FL writes: I see a lot of people mocking Brandon Pettigrew to be drafed by the Falcons. Don't you think LB and DT (i think there are no first round Safeties) would be a more pressing need, ala Clay Matthews, Evander Hood, Brian Cushing, or Peria Jerry? From my perspective, TEs like Shawn Nelson, Travis Beckum, and Chase Coffman will be available in the later rounds while there is more of a dropoff in LBs and DTs after round 3. In my opinion, wouldn't it be better to draft LB, then S, then DT or DT, then S, then LB and pickup a TE in round 4 or 5?
Pat Yasinskas: I know there are a fair amount of people thinking Brandon Pettigrew will end up with the Falcons. But I'm with you and I don't think it will happen. That's no knock on Pettigrew. He's the best tight end in the draft. But I just can't see the Falcons taking a tight end in the first round. Like you said, they've got bigger needs on defense. Also, I just don't see them changing Mike Mularkey's offense to make the tight end a huge part of the passing game. Yes, they might want to get a little more out of their tight ends as receivers, but they can find a guy who can help in that area in the middle rounds.
Allen in New York writes: Hey Pat, do you think the Falcons should get another cornerback in free agency. There seems to be too many holes to fill in the draft and there seems to be a decent market still out there for corners. I just dont see Chris Houston as a No.1 and I like Chievus Jackson, but I dont know if he is ready for a starting role. Im hoping Atlanta tries to sign a veteran. What are your thoughts?
Pat Yasinskas: Not sure you'll see the Falcons add a cornerback in free agency. If anything, it might happen in the draft. That's just the way the Falcons are operating now -- building through the draft. I agree, there is some uncertainty at cornerback. But Mike Smith and his staff might be higher on Chris Houston and Chevis Jackson than the rest of us are and they see those guys every day in practice. They've also got Von Hutchins returning from injury and Brent Grimes back. Not a desperate situation, but I would like to see the Falcons add one more cornerback to the mix.
Carter in Virginia Beach writes: Does the Atlanta coaching staff feel confident in the linebackers they already have or do you think they will try to add one in the draft or late in free agency?
Pat Yasinskas: I think it's very possible the Falcons use their first pick on a linebacker such as Clay Matthews or Brian Cushing. The coaching staff is sold on middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and probably will make him an every-down player. The Falcons signed Mike Peterson, who has a history with Smith in Jacksonville and he appears to be set as one of the outside linebackers. There are also high hopes that Stephen Nicholas can step into a starting role or be a key backup. But I think you'll see the Falcons add a linebacker somewhere early in the draft.
G Falcons in Miami writes: I'm hearing tony scheffler the tight end from the broncos wants a trade do you see us the falcons being interested in him and why are not signing free agents such as tank johnson or other DTs to help us at the line?
Pat Yasinskas: I don't think either truly fits the profile of what the Falcons are trying to do. They want to build through the draft.
Pro from College Park, GA writes: Pat, keepp the good work! Every year the Falcons say they are going to use Norwood more in the running game but all seem to use him about the same which is not alot. Do you think we will see more of him this year in a 2 back system, especially after the year Turner had. Or more of the same?
Pat Yasinskas: I think it's critical that the Falcons get Jerious Norwood more carries this year. Michael Turner is a workhorse, but the Falcons pushed the envelope by running him so much last year. They know that and they know they've got to lighten his load a bit. I believe they'll work on getting Norwood more playing time this year.
Jeff in Atlanta writes: Hey Pat, why have the Falcons not given Roddy White a contract extension yet? Is there any logic in waiting until the closing weeks of next season? I don't see any, and I think I speak for the majority of Falcons fans when I say: If the front office doesnt get him re-signed there will be riots in Atlanta. - Thanks
Pat Yasinskas: I think the Falcons are quietly working toward getting Roddy White locked up for the long term. In fact, I think that's a priority and part of the reason they've kept a decent chunk of salary-cap room open. I think you could see something happen with White before the season starts.