NFC South: T.J. Houshmanzadeh
Pat Yasinskas: I think you almost certainly will see the Saints make some sort of move to get a linebacker. They might fill the need by signing someone who’s been released by another team. But, if they really want someone off another roster, they’ve got enough depth at wide receiver that they could spare one. Not sure who it would be, but they’ve got a bunch of receivers that other teams would like to have.
Andy in Wilmington, N.C., writes: I realize I'm asking you to be a bit of a mind reader about one of the most guarded organizations in the NFL, but give it a shot: Do John Fox, Marty Hurney, and Jerry Richardson view this as a rebuilding year in Carolina? I ask because of the possibility of signing a receiver like T.J. Houshmanzadeh. Watching the Panthers in the preseason, their defense has easily outperformed expectations, and I'm hoping the run game comes back to life in the regular season (I see no reason it shouldn't). It seems the only big question mark, outside special teams, is the second receiver position. I feel like an improved passing game easily makes Carolina a postseason contender. I know they like to build from the ground up and don't sign flashy free agents, but if they thought Houshmandzadeh would help them win this year, would they sign him?
Pat Yasinskas: Tons of Carolina fans are asking about Houshmandzadeh, and I’ve got no indication right now that the Panthers are interested. Your points all make sense, and a proven No. 2 receiver like this could be just what the Panthers need. But the Panthers seem pretty committed to their youth movement. My best guess is, if they pursue Houshmandzadeh, they will only do it if the price is very low.
Rob in Houston writes: If not Houshmanzadeh for the Panthers, what do you think are the chances of them signing Michael Clayton now that the Bucs have let him go?
Pat Yasinskas: The price tag might be cheaper for Clayton. Now, he hasn’t been as productive as Houshmandzadeh, but he could be a nice fit in Carolina’s offense. I’m not saying Clayton’s as good as Muhsin Muhammad was in his prime, but he reminds me of Muhammad in terms of size and blocking ability. But, again, I just don’t know if the Panthers will bend their rules on sticking with youth. We’ll see.
Yasha in parts unknown writes: Just for the sake of completeness, the Saints also have K.C. Asiodu on the roster at LB. Most likely will play primarily special teams, but he is a LB. Thanks for all the great posts & articles.
Pat Yasinskas: Yep, you are correct. Asiodu is a linebacker, but I left him off the list because I don’t think he’s a real candidate to start. I think he’s a special-teams player.
Chris in Knoxville, Tenn., writes: What are the chances Carolina trades Dwayne Jarrett to Seattle for T.J. Houshmanzadeh?
Pat Yasinskas: I’m not going to totally rule this one out. The reports say Seattle is ready to trade or cut Houshmandzadeh and Jarrett hasn’t made himself a centerpiece in the Carolina receiving corps. But I think this one is a long shot for several reasons. Trades are easy to talk about, but don’t happen all that often in the NFL. Bringing in an aging wide receiver doesn’t exactly fit with Carolina’s youth movement and there must be a reason Seattle is ready to part with Houshmandzadeh. Also, what makes anyone think any team is going to give up something for Jarrett? Yeah, I know he played for Pete Carroll at USC, but it’s not like he’s shown anything since he’s been in the NFL.
Bhavik in Atlanta writes: What do you think of the Falcons signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh? He's getting old, which is something against the Falcons philosophy but he can have a solid year.
Pat Yasinskas: I’m having a tough time figuring out why so many Atlanta fans think there’s a big need for help at wide receiver. Roddy White’s a very good No. 1. Michael Jenkins is a role player at No. 2 and the Falcons are excited about having a healthy Harry Douglas in the slot. Eric Weems and Brian Finneran provide solid depth and Troy Bergeron may even make the roster. I know a lot of Atlanta fans are down on Jenkins because he doesn’t put up big numbers, but that’s not really his role in this system. His role is to be a safety valve as a possession receiver and a blocker in the running game and he does those things well. With tight end Tony Gonzalez, it’s almost like the Falcons have an extra wide receiver. Gonzalez and White are going to be the main targets in the passing game and I don’t think the Falcons want someone cutting into their opportunities.
Todd in Indianapolis writes: I'm going to be the first to ask,what are the chances the Bucs go after TJ Housh? .f not Carolina probablyy will and we can’t have that!!!
Pat Yasinskas: I really don’t see that one, Todd. It just doesn’t fit with Tampa Bay’s plan. The Buccaneers are going with youth. They drafted Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams this year and Sammie Stroughter last year and they traded for Reggie Brown with five years remaining on his contract. That gives them four young receivers and the plan is to let them grow up with Josh Freeman.
Kenneth in Boston writes: Do you think the Saints could possibly think about switching to a 3-4? Junior Galette seems like the perfect man for an outside linebacker/pass rush specialist and the team can use all their depth, especially to stop 4 receiver sets. Casillas is a great start, but I'd like to see the Saints use more of their young LBs and Clint Ingram in some mixes. Also, Tony Hargrove could definitely play a defensive end in a 3 man front, lined up next to Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis. Your thoughts?
Pat Yasinskas: You may see Gregg Williams throw a 3-4 front out there now and again just to confuse other teams. But the Saints are a 4-3 defense at heart and they’re not about to switch from that. Their personnel is set up for the 4-3 scheme. Besides, I wouldn’t go projecting too much of a role for Ingram. I think there’s a decent chance he won’t even be on the roster by the end of today.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
White is at the top of the league when it comes to a crucial receiving category. On third downs where the offense needs seven or more yards, White has come through with more catches than any receiver in the league this season with 12. (We're not going to get into Sunday's fourth-quarter non-catch against Denver right now because that's been addressed already). Baltimore's Derrick Mason and Pittsburgh's Hines Ward have 10 each, and Cincinnati's T.J. Houshmandzadeh has nine.