NFC South: Rich McKay

Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) will be a part of the cost of the Atlanta Falcons’ proposed stadium, but the cost to fans won’t be as high as it was at some other recently opened stadiums.

That was the message from team president Rich McKay on Thursday night as he addressed fans during the team’s State of the Franchise event.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that we do believe PSLs will be part of this program,’’ McKay said. “You all know (team owner) Arthur (Blank) and what he stands for, his values and how he wants to deliver this stadium. We will not be at the levels that were done in Dallas, done in New York and done in other places. Ours will be a much more modest program.’’

McKay had a lot more to say about stadium matters, and you can check it all out in this video.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Because of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, there are a lot of bridges in this area.

A new one opened Thursday. This one doesn’t span water. Instead, it covers the history of an NFL franchise.

That’s the picture I got as Ronde Barber posed for photos at the conclusion of his retirement news conference. There was one in particular that struck me.

It came with Barber flanked by Greg Schiano and Tony Dungy on one side and Jerry Angelo and Mark Dominik on the other. The present, the past and the future -- and everything else in between -- all mixed perfectly into one snapshot.

No one but Barber could bridge all of the gaps that are represented in that photo.

[+] EnlargeRonde Barber retirement news conference
Photo/Tampa Bay BuccaneersRonde Barber, center, poses with Greg Schiano, Tony Dungy, Jerry Angelo and Mark Dominik during Barber's retirement news conference.
"Over the last 16 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes," Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said. "We’ve seen a new stadium go up. The uniforms have changed. Coaches, we’ve seen different players come and go. We’ve seen change upon change upon change. But over those years, there has been one constant here in Tampa. A true professional in every sense. What I consider the definition of greatness on and off the field. When we talk about Buccaneer Men, I say if you could put a picture on the wall and say, 'True Buccaneer Man,' it would be Ronde Barber."

Actually, the photo represented more than the 16 years Barber played defensive back for the Buccaneers. It represented the entire history of the franchise. It dates back to 1976 and extends way into the future.

Let’s start with the past. Angelo worked in the personnel department back in the days of Ray Perkins, Richard Williamson and Sam Wyche when the Bucs were piling up double-digit losses most years, wearing those Creamsicle uniforms and trying for the better part of their first two decades to grow out of the expansion phase. Dungy is the coach who came in and finally got the team on the right track.

One year into Dungy’s tenure, he, Angelo and former general manager Rich McKay drafted Barber in the third round out of the University of Virginia.

The rest is history that you already know, so we’ll keep it short. Barber became a perfect fit in the Tampa 2 defense. Along with Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and John Lynch, Barber was a central figure in a defense that turned the fortunes of the franchise.

Angelo left in 2000 to become general manager of the Chicago Bears. Dungy was fired after the 2001 season because his offense didn’t produce nearly as well as his defense.

Barber just kept on playing at a high level.

Jon Gruden came in and won a Super Bowl in his first season, with Barber providing the signature moment of his career (and of franchise history) with an interception return for a touchdown against Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game.

Gruden and the Bucs bobbed up and down for the next six seasons. After Gruden was fired and Raheem Morris was hired, Barber just kept on playing at a high level.

When Morris was fired after three rocky seasons, Barber just kept on playing at a high level.

That brings us to Schiano and Dominik. Schiano is getting ready to enter his second season as coach of the Buccaneers and Dominik is entering his fifth season as general manager.

They’re also the coach and general manager who made it clear they wanted Barber back for a 17th season. But Barber, 38, said he woke up one morning about a month ago and decided it wasn’t worth it to go through another offseason program and training camp.

"I love football, but football is not who I am," Barber said. "I’m ready to move on, ready to do what’s next."

Barber said the next likely step will be a career in broadcasting. But he has no plans to leave Tampa.

"I’m not going anywhere," Barber said. "I’ve got nowhere else to go."

Barber’s influence still will be felt in Tampa Bay’s young locker room by his former teammates.

That brings us to the future of this franchise -- and the past. As Barber talked about the teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, he talked about how there was an "imminent feeling of success."

Barber said he walks away with a similar feeling about the current Buccaneers. Maybe the Bucs will go out and do something special this year.

Whatever happens, Barber will be a part of it in some way.

He still will be the bridge that spans every generation of the team’s history.
I’ve been a regular visitor to the Georgia Dome since I started covering the NFL in the mid-1990s. I’ve always thought it was a good stadium.

But when you see and hear the plans the Falcons have for their proposed retractable-roof stadium, it makes you realize that the Georgia Dome might be antiquated by NFL standards. According to the information that’s coming out about what the Falcons have planned for their new stadium, it could be on a par with, or better than, Cowboys Stadium, which is the most spectacular NFL stadium I’ve been in.

I’d expect nothing less from owner Arthur Blank and team president Rich McKay. They think big, and they’ve been thinking about this project for several years.

Part of the plans include seats that vibrate when there’s a big play, and a 100-yard bar. The Falcons are hoping to have the stadium built and ready to open in time for the 2017 season.
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: After coming up 10 yards short of the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons will enter the 2013 season as a media darling. They’ll have five nationally televised games, including Sunday night games with the Patriots (Week 4) and at Green Bay (Week 14), Monday night games with the New York Jets (Week 5) and at San Francisco (Week 16), and a Thursday night game with New Orleans (Week 12). The Falcons will be under the microscope from the start, and that’s partly because they’ll open their season against the rival Saints in New Orleans in a game that will mark the official return of coach Sean Payton from a suspension. The Falcons are generally known as a dome team, and that’s a good thing. They will play 11 games indoors but could run into weather issues in late-season road games at Green Bay and San Francisco.

Complaint department: Team president Rich McKay chairs the NFL’s competition committee, but he apparently doesn’t have much influence with the schedule-makers. This will mark the fourth straight year the Falcons have opened their season on the road. The Falcons also have another quirk in their schedule. They play only one NFC South opponent after Thanksgiving, and that’s Carolina at the Georgia Dome in the regular-season finale.

Going international: The Falcons will make franchise history Dec. 1 when they play the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Falcons have made preseason appearances in Tokyo, but this will be the first time they’ve played outside the United States during the regular season.

Welcome to the NFL: The Cardinals and Bills both have first-time NFL head coaches. In his five seasons in Atlanta, Mike Smith is 11-0 against first-time head coaches.

Falcons Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Miami, 4:05 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, New England, 8:30 p.m.
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 7, N.Y. Jets, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Seattle, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 21, New Orleans, 8:25 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Buffalo, 4:05 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Monday, Dec. 23, at San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Carolina, 1 p.m.

Darrelle RevisThearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesCornerback Darrelle Revis certainly has the star power that would get Bucs fans fired up.
With each day that passes without the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trading for Darrelle Revis, the more convinced I become they will trade for the cornerback.

New York Jets general manager John Idzik and Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, the guys who used to brew the coffee and make copies when Rich McKay, Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell ran Tampa Bay’s personnel department, are holding a very public staring contest.

For more than a month, we’ve been hearing rumors about Tampa Bay dealing for Revis. You can throw out the ones that were floated to try to get Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez involved. But I think everything else -- such as the various compensation packages that have been discussed and the Jets hitting the “pause button" -- is based, at least somewhat, in truth.

The Jets almost have to get rid of Revis because he is headed into the final year of his contract and New York has no intention of giving him a massive long-term extension. That alone, I used to think, gave the Buccaneers the upper hand.

But now I’m not so sure. I’m thinking the closer it gets to next week’s NFL draft, the more the Jets have the upper hand.

Quite simply, the Buccaneers have set themselves up for (perceived) failure if they don’t trade for Revis.

They’re sitting there with more than $30 million in salary-cap room. They’re the only team in the NFL with the room to pay Revis, and it’s widely believed they’re the only team with interest in trading for a guy who might be the best cornerback on the planet but is coming off a major knee injury.

I get it that Dominik is playing the waiting game because he doesn’t want to give up too much of his team’s present or future as compensation. That’s smart and the prudent thing to do. But there’s going to have to come a point very soon where Dominik has to make the deal.

[+] EnlargeGreg Schiano
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsWith Darrelle Revis, Bucs coach Greg Schiano should see heavy improvement in a pass defense that was the NFL's worst in 2012.
Anything less than Revis in pewter is going to cause problems in Tampa Bay. There already is a large segment of the fan base that thinks the Glazer family, which owns the team, doesn’t spend enough money. Presumably, that thinking has played a role in the Buccaneers having trouble selling out Raymond James Stadium in recent years.

There are other reasons for the attendance issue. This franchise has been lacking in star power for a long time. There was sizzle when Jon Gruden was the coach, Derrick Brooks was tackling everything that moved and doing it with class, and the likes of Keyshawn Johnson, Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice were as entertaining off the field as on it.

These days, the Bucs are coached by Greg Schiano. He might be a good coach, but the flashiest thing you can say about Schiano is that he once held an office in the same building as former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice.

The Bucs have some nice young players (Doug Martin, Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy and Josh Freeman) and some talented veterans (Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks). Perhaps it’s because Schiano prefers his players to stay out of the spotlight, but Tampa Bay’s current roster is dull.

Revis would change all that. The guy would be the biggest star to walk into One Buccaneer Place since the day Brooks was shown the door. Heck, Revis could end up being bigger than Brooks.

First off, Revis would go a long way toward fixing a pass defense that was worst in the league last year. I know some fans out there think the Bucs would be better off not giving up several draft picks when no one is sure how healthy Revis’ knee is.

But let’s say the Bucs stay put at No. 13. They’ll have to draft either Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes or Washington’s Desmond Trufant if they want a cornerback. Or maybe they’ll get really daring and trade up into the top five to get Alabama’s Dee Milliner.

I’m not saying any of those three guys are bad players, but they’re not as good as a healthy Revis. And when it comes to flash, they would bring about as much excitement as last year’s first-round pick, safety Mark Barron, who is one of the quietest guys on the roster.

That’s why the Buccaneers need to go ahead and make the Revis trade. If they don’t, they’re going to look really bad to their fans, who have been waiting for this deal for weeks.

Even after spending big money on Nicks and Jackson in free agency last year and safety Dashon Goldson this year, ownership still needs to convince fans that it’s willing to pay whatever it takes to put a winning product on the field.

Revis would make the Buccaneers a better football team, bring some national attention and put people in the stands.

If the Buccaneers somehow don’t pull off a deal that has looked like a sure thing for a long time, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do to a fan base that doesn’t want to hear anything but that Revis is coming to Tampa Bay.
The big storylines for the Atlanta Falcons this offseason have been the addition of running back Steven Jackson and what will happen at defensive end and cornerback.

Ryan
Ryan
But there’s something else on the horizon. That’s getting quarterback Matt Ryan signed to a long-term contract extension.

"From my point of view, we all know that Matt Ryan is going to be the quarterback for a long time in the Atlanta Falcons organization," coach Mike Smith told the media at the NFL owners meeting Wednesday. “He undoubtedly, in my mind, is an elite quarterback. He's played that way through his first five years.’’

It’s going to be costly and there will be salary-cap implications on the rest of the roster for years to come. Ryan is likely to get a deal that puts him on a pay scale similar to Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

Smith didn’t say if negotiations have started on an extension, but it’s clearly a priority.

“In terms of the timing and all that, I don't concern myself with it,’’ Smith said. “That's something that (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and (team president) Rich McKay and his representatives have to talk about. But I know this is going to be our quarterback for a long, long time.''

I highly doubt the Falcons will let Ryan go into the final season of his rookie deal without a new contract. I’d look for them to get through the rest of free agency and the NFL draft and then focus on locking up Ryan for the long term.

Around the NFC South

February, 28, 2013
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Time for a morning look at the top headlines from around the NFC South:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Tim Tucker points out that teams with stadiums with retractable roofs have played 66 percent of their games with the roofs closed. But Falcons president Rich McKay said the team would keep the roof open as much as possible if it gets a new stadium. Weather is unpredictable, but I can remember several days last season when I walked into the Georgia Dome thinking it was a perfect day to be watching a game outdoors.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Wide receiver Steve Smith said the Panthers should take Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in the first round of the draft. I’m with Smith on this one. It looks like Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd will be gone before the Panthers get on the clock. But Richardson is in the same class as Floyd and the Panthers need to take him to solidify their defensive line.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

While restructuring contracts is getting the Saints close to the 2013 salary cap, Larry Holder points out the Saints are adding to their cap commitment for future years. That’s the downside of restructures. The Saints are getting themselves out of cap trouble this year, but they’re going to have to do it again next year.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Greg Schiano sounds like he’s more comfortable with his coaching staff heading into his second year. That’s logical because Schiano had to throw together a staff last year after most staffs around the league already were filled and he didn’t always land his first choices. But, this year, Schiano has brought in guys like special teams coach Dave Wannstedt and quarterbacks coach John McNulty, that he has worked with in the past.

Around the NFC South

February, 14, 2013
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Time for a run through the top headlines from around the division.

ATLANTA FALCONS

The latest in the quest for a new stadium had team president Rich McKay telling the Atlanta City Council that the Falcons will look to the suburbs if they can’t reach a deal for a new stadium downtown. McKay said team owner Arthur Blank wants to make things work downtown. But, if the city isn’t going to help with the funding, the Falcons may have to look to the suburbs. I think that will only come as a last resort because Blank seems intent on a downtown stadium.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Mel Kiper Jr. has the Panther taking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in the first round of the draft. But Kiper said this draft class is deep at the position and the Panthers still could get a quality defensive tackle in the second or third round.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Kiper also made it sound as if there’s a good possibility the Saints go with a defensive tackle in the first round and pointed to Florida’s Sharrif Floyd as a candidate. But there is some debate about whether Floyd is better-suited for the 3-4 scheme the Saints are switching to or a 4-3 system.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Roy Cummings writes that the Bucs are well-positioned to make a big splash in free agency for the second straight year. I think the Bucs will be active in free agency, but the splurge might not be as big as last year when the team signed Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright. The Bucs have about $30 million in cap space, but that number will be chopped down a bit if the team re-signs defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Roy Miller.

Falcons to L.A. a very long shot

January, 30, 2013
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There’s a sudden stream of speculation that the Atlanta Falcons could be moving to Los Angeles. I’m not buying it.

Maybe you never say never, but I see this one as an extreme long shot. I see it simply as another step in the negotiating process to get a new stadium built in Atlanta.

Owner Arthur Blank reportedly has let local leaders know that he’s received overtures from business leaders in Los Angeles. But it doesn’t sound like that’s something Blank is extremely interested in.

“Arthur Blank has never played that card and I give him credit for that,’’ Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said.

The fact is the Los Angeles thing is going to come up any time a team is looking for public help for a new stadium or renovations. It already has come up in Charlotte, where Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is looking for public money to help with renovations for Bank of America Stadium.

It’s come up elsewhere and will continue to come up in other spots until Los Angeles does get a team.

But I don’t think the Falcons really are in play for Los Angeles. First off, Blank and team president Rich McKay already have several years of talks with local leaders invested in getting a new stadium built. I don’t think the talks have suddenly fallen apart.

I also don’t get any sense that Blank is looking to get out of Atlanta. He has some pretty deep roots there and it’s a huge market that may be just starting to fully embrace the Falcons for the first time in franchise history. A lot of work has gone into that and I don’t think Blank wants all of that to go to waste. I also don’t think the NFL would want to give up a market like Atlanta.

Blank wants a new stadium in Atlanta and I think that still is likely to happen. There also has been some talk that a stadium could be built in the suburbs if a deal can’t be worked out to make it happen downtown.

I see the Los Angeles option only as a last resort if Blank simply can’t get a new stadium built in Atlanta or anywhere near the city. Until a deal is reached, the rumblings about Los Angeles probably will continue.

I think there are some owners out there who might be eager to move their team to Los Angeles or sell it to someone who will take it to California. But I don’t think Blank is one of those owners.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- There are two sides to every story and we’ve only heard the New Orleans Saints’ version of what has sparked controversy about the “Rebirth’’ statue that was unveiled outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last week.

The statue depicts Steve Gleason’s legendary punt block against the Atlanta Falcons in the first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Falcons had refused to allow the Saints and the statue’s sculptor to use their logo in the statue. The other figure in the statue is former Atlanta punter Michael Koenen. But the statue contains none of the Falcons’ trademarks.

Falcons president Rich McKay just explained the Falcons’ side of things and said this was not a case of spiting a division rival. There were other issues involved, McKay said.

“The first thing that happens in a request for marks is that it has to go to the league because we don’t own the marks,’’ McKay told ESPN.com. “The league does for anything outside of our market. When they brought it to us, we discussed it with them and we came to the conclusion that, obviously the fact they're honoring the moment is fantastic. We were all there. It was an incredible moment for the city. It was not something that we wanted to memorialize the game. So we kind of looked at it as though we didn’t want necessarily a statue in front of the building that had our marks. Albeit, we all understand how important the moment was for the city and what they had gone through. We all lived in that moment and it was a pretty special thing. Even losing, it was still a pretty special thing. But it was just something that when we talked to the league about it, we said we didn’t think it was appropriate to put the marks on it. Everybody knew what the game was. Everybody knew what the moment was.’’

McKay said he received a letter from the league months ago and a decision was made quickly. The initial report said the Saints tried to appeal to Falcons owner Arthur Blank for permission to use the logo. McKay said Blank was not involved in the process. McKay said after the decision was made he never heard another word about the statue until the report came out last week.

“We never intended to offend the New Orleans fans and we certainly didn’t intend to make light of the moment, which was truly special,’’ McKay said.

Replay system evolving nicely

July, 4, 2012
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At NFL stadiums this fall, fans will get a look under the hood.

Consider that the latest step in the evolution of the league’s replay review system, which upon further review, has worked out a lot better than the NFL’s first attempt at merging technology and officiating.

The current system was implemented in 1999 and it has gone through tweaks. A couple more will be revealed this season. One change will be that all turnovers will be subject to review by the replay booth. The second will be much more obvious -- and probably enjoyable -- to fans in stadiums. All NFL stadium video boards now will show the exact same replay the lead official is viewing under the hood on the sideline video monitor.

“They’ll see the exact same angles at the exact same time as he does,’’ Atlanta Falcons president and NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay said.

That’s a positive for fans because they didn’t always have that vantage point. Prior to this year, it was up to individual home teams to show as much or as little replay as they wanted. I’ve been in some stadiums where it seemed like replays weren’t shown if a first glance suggested further review could work against the home team. I’ve been in other stadiums where a favorable angle has been shown repeatedly, perhaps in an effort to influence the on-field official’s ultimate call.

“I think this is another example of the league listening to its fans about what they want from the in-game experience,’’ McKay said. “I think throughout this edition of replay, the league, the teams and our broadcast partners have done a nice job of using the available technology to make the game better and make the experience better for the fans.’’

It wasn’t that way the first time around. The league first instituted a replay system in 1986 and pulled it out in 1992.

“It just didn’t work,’’ McKay said. “It was slowing the game down way too much and we couldn’t get the calls right. The right calls were being made only about 80 percent of the time.’’

But the league brought back another replay system in 1999 with an emphasis on getting calls right and keeping replays from dragging out games much longer than three hours. That’s worked well and McKay is confident the system only will continue to get better.

Last year, the rule was changed to make every scoring play reviewable by the replay booth. McKay said last year’s games averaged only about one second longer than in 2010. The average time of a game last season was about 3 hours, 5 minutes.

“We were fearful going in about how we could pull it off,’’ McKay said. “I give the league a lot of credit for pulling it off the right way.’’

McKay also said a review of all of last year’s replays showed that the right call was made close to 99 percent of the time.

That’s great, but McKay said the competition committee and the league will continue to seek ways to fine-tune the replay process. That will be done with accuracy and what fans want in mind.

“The biggest question over time is, are we ever going to move all decisions upstairs?’’ McKay said. “College football feels very comfortable with their decision upstairs. But I don’t see that in our near future.’’

That’s the best approach. The NFL has a replay system that’s working quite nicely. Enhance it here and there, but keep the games short, get the calls right and you’ll keep the fans happy.
Soon after news of the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program broke, the NFL asked all 32 teams to sign a pledge that they would never run a bounty program. Part of the agreement also urged teams to promote player health and safety and do it beyond their own buildings.

The Atlanta Falcons appear to be the first team to be stepping forward publicly on this initiative. The Falcons announced they will team up with the NFL to hold a health and safety forum April 19 at 6 p.m. at Wynbrooke Theme School in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Team president and CEO Rich McKay, fullback Ovie Mughelli, kicker Matt Bryant, wide receiver Kevin Cone, offensive lineman Andrew Jackson and former Atlanta linebacker Coy Wire will represent the Falcons. They’ll be joined by NFL medical personnel, several neurosurgeons and a representative from the Centers for Disease Control.

The panel will address safety matters facing youth athletes with more than 100 local parents, 60 youth football commissioners and coaches from around Georgia.

Here’s a link where you can learn more about the NFL’s efforts to promote health and safety at all playing levels.

Around the NFC South

February, 15, 2012
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Time for a look at Wednesday morning’s top headlines from around the NFC South.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have about $60 million in 2012 salary-cap space, in part because they’re carrying over unused cap room from 2011. General manager Mark Dominik pledged the team will be more active in free agency than last year when punter Michael Koenen was pretty much the only player brought in from outside. But I don’t think fans should be expecting a complete frenzy in free agency. Yes, the Bucs are going to be active, but that doesn’t mean a complete overhaul. They’ve started a process of building with young players and they’re not going to completely abandon it. They’re going to look to supplement those young players.

Speaking of free agents, the Saints already have brought in one for a visit. That’s linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who isn’t subject to the March 13 start of free agency because he sat out last season. Tatupu was a star in Seattle before injuries caught up to him. He plays middle linebacker like Jonathan Vilma, who is coming off a season that was interrupted by a knee injury. Vilma is carrying a high cap figure and the Saints could be exploring possible replacements or they could just be looking at Tatupu to add depth. But there’s no indication the Saints offered Tatupu a contract. They may have been gauging his health as they prepare to move forward in free agency.

Atlanta’s Thomas Dimitroff was named to the NFL’s general managers advisory committee. The Falcons have plenty of clout on high-ranking league committees. Team president Rich McKay is the chairman of the competition committee. The NFC South is particularly powerful on the general managers advisory committee, with Carolina’s Marty Hurney and New Orleans’ Mickey Loomis also as members.

NFC South weekend mailbag

September, 17, 2011
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Before I hit the road for Atlanta, let’s take a look through the NFC South mailbag.

Josh in Houston asks if Adrian Arrington will get increased playing time for the Saints with Marques Colston out for a few weeks with a broken collarbone.

Pat Yasinskas: I think that’s a safe assumption. Even if Lance Moore, who is questionable for Sunday, is able to play, you might see a fair amount of Arrington. Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson each fit the profile of speed receivers. Arrington is a bigger receiver, like Colston, and could be used over the middle. The Saints have kept Arrington around and didn’t go shopping for a receiver after Colston’s injury, so they must think he can help them.


Bryan in Athens, Ga., asks how long Matt Ryan will remain the Falcons “guy’’ if he doesn’t win a playoff game in the next two years.

Pat Yasinskas: The Falcons like Ryan tremendously and I don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon. Yes, he has lost two playoff games, but they weren’t entirely his fault. I know the Falcons had a tough time in their opener, but I think they’ll bounce back. They went out and got receiver Julio Jones and defensive end Ray Edwards to upgrade some weak areas. Give them a little time and we’ll see if they make a difference.


George in San Francisco says we should slow down on the Cam Newton hype because all he’s done so far is have one nice game.

Pat Yasinskas: Agree that a career isn’t made by one game and Newton has to prove it over the long haul. But let’s give Carolina fans a little something to get excited about. They’ve had a rough couple years and Newton’s debut was pretty impressive.


Matt in Camden, N.J., said he likes the fact the Bucs are building through the draft. But he wonders if they’ve taken it a little too far and need to mix in a little bit of help from free agents.

Pat Yasinskas: I hear you. I also believe in the building-through-the-draft philosophy. I watched it work when I covered the Bucs in the Tony Dungy and Rich McKay days and the Panthers through most of the time John Fox and Marty Hurney were together. Going wild in free agency doesn’t always work -- just ask the Redskins. But I think the Bucs were a little extreme in sticking with their philosophy this year. They really didn’t change much from last year’s team, other than the players they picked up in the draft. Yes, last season’s 10-6 record was encouraging, but I think there was room to upgrade the overall talent level of the roster. I’m not talking about anything huge, but a couple of free agents who still are relatively young might have been a good way to help the youth movement along.

Falcons promote Rich McKay to CEO

September, 1, 2011
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The Atlanta Falcons just gave Rich McKay another job. He’ll remain as team president, but he also has added the duty of chief executive officer.

“Since joining the Falcons in 2003, there is no doubt that Rich has been a valuable leader of our club,” Falcons owner and chairman Arthur M. Blank said. “Beyond his day-to-day duties as president of the Falcons, Rich has led a good number of key initiatives for us. In addition, he is increasingly enlisted by the league as someone who can be counted on to lend his experience, expertise and dedication to solve problems or generate new ideas. This promotion is in recognition of Rich’s many contributions to the Falcons and the NFL, as well as recognition of his professional accomplishments along the way.”

McKay came to the Falcons as general manager in 2003 after serving in the same capacity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McKay became team president after the 2007 season, when the Falcons restructured their operations and brought in general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith prior to the 2008 season.

Although Dimitroff runs football operations, McKay has remained very involved in contract negotiations and salary-cap management. McKay’s main duty is handling the day-to-day business operations of the Falcons, but he also is in charge of the team’s effort to get a new stadium.

McKay also is the Falcons’ chief connection to the league office. He is the chairman of the league’s competition committee and also played a key role in the recent labor negotiations.

“Of all of the club executives, Rich had the most sustained and substantial involvement,” said Jeff Pash, the NFL’s general counsel, in a recent report published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We had a lot of club people who were involved in many phases of our planning, but Rich had the most direct ongoing involvement in the negotiations.”

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