NFC South: Thomas Dimtroff
Jason in St. Marteen writes: Are the Saints going to make any free agent moves (other than trying to resign Sharper/Fujita/etc)? Is the lack of transactions/targets a product of the Super Bowl party hangover or do they not feel they need to make any? I think Loomis and Payton do a great job evaluating talent, especially in the draft, but I'm curious as to whether they like the team how it is or if they are a little unprepared?
Pat Yasinskas: The Saints are playing by different rules than most of the league in this uncapped year. Since they were a final four team, they’re not allowed to sign any unrestricted free agents unless they lose one of their own at a comparable salary. So it’s going to remain quiet as far as them bringing in unrestricted free agents.
Abe in Hartford writes: Hey Pat, Does you think the insistence of Falcons management to build the team through the draft hurts the team? I understand the logic behind the strategy when you have a salary cap, but there currently isn't one. We may well see a lockout in 2011. Given that the owner has the money and that the future is unknown, why not open up the wallet, get a free agent linebacker or end or both, and use the draft for depth?
Pat Yasinskas: No, I think the way Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith have built this team is very smart and they’ll stay on that path. They’re finalizing a deal with cornerback Dunta Robinson now and that’s going to be their one big splurge in free agency. I like that move a lot because it solidifies the secondary. It also allows them to focus on defensive end and linebacker in the draft. We don’t know what will happen with the labor situation, but I think the Falcons have set themselves up well for the long haul.
Justin in Shelby, NC writes: The Panthers have let Julius Peppers go and have failed to make many offseason moves in past years. With the lackluster season last year, what much-needed offseason moves will the Panthers make?
Pat Yasinskas: That’s the question on the minds of many Carolina fans right now and only Marty Hurney, John Fox and Jerry Richardson know what really is up the Panthers’ sleeve. Friday’s purge of players definitely weakened the roster – at least in the short term. Right now, the Panthers probably have the weakest defensive line in the league and lots of other holes. But let’s wait to see what the flip side of all this is. But I don’t anticipate Richardson will allow a spending spree in free agency.
Aaron in Louisville writes: With Charles Grant being cut, does that count as losing a player in the final four plan making the Saints a player to sign a player equal to his salary?
Pat Yasinskas: No, cutting a player doesn’t do the trick. The Saints would have to have one of their unrestricted free agents (Darren Sharper and Scott Fujita are the most prominent) signed by another team for them to be able to turn around and sign an unrestricted free agent. However, they can sign players who have been released by other teams.
Tim in Hayden, Ala. writes: You seem to be ignoring the Falcons in your mail bags. A ton of questions about the Saints, Panthers and Bucs and hardly anything about the Falcons. Us Falcon fans are feeling a little left out.
Pat Yasinskas: Glad you took the time to notice. Please send some Atlanta questions. I can only work with what I get in the mailbag.
Jonathan in Honolulu writes: Any chance Carolina might take a look at Terrell Owens, or are there too many character flaws for him to come play along-side Steve Smith?
Pat Yasinskas: I’ll guarantee you right now you’re not going to see Owens (or Michael Vick) in Carolina.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Final stop on the team-by-team mailbag is the Atlanta Falcons.
Wjeri in Augusta writes: How can the falcons enternain trading Vick without a backup quarterback,not only that ,with this new wildcat system Vick would fit perfect in ATLANTA,and he will pack the house and the N.F.L.Even murderers and child molesters are given a chance vick is no better or no less.He has done his time now it's time to be prime.
Pat Yasinskas: Let me start by saying I believe Michael Vick will play in the NFL again ... elsewhere in the NFL. In other words, not Atlanta. That's the last place he'll play. Forget all the legal stuff and just look at reality. What possible sense would it make to have Vick (and his huge contract) as a backup? The Falcons have a ton of money invested in Matt Ryan and, if you didn't notice, he was phenomenal last year. The Falcons don't need to run the Wildcat much, if at all. If they feel the urge, they can snap the ball to Jerious Norwood. Besides, I think defensive coordinators around the league might come up with some ideas to stop, or slow, the Wildcat next season.
David in Pendleton, Oregon writes: I heard the Raiders released Gibril Wilson what do you think the odds are of the Falcons picking him up?
Pat Yasinskas: Like the idea a lot. Gibril Wilson is only 27, and that's eight years younger than Lawyer Milloy, who the Falcons have said they will not re-sign. Wilson was released by the Raiders last week and that makes him a free agent before free agency even starts Friday. I think there are a fair amount of teams that will show interest in Wilson. He didn't have a great season with Oakland last year, but few of the Raiders did. Before that, Wilson was a pretty solid safety for the Giants. The one thing that could get in the way of the Falcons pursuing Wilson is the price tag. If that stops them, I still expect them to pursue some less-expensive free-agent safeties.
Steve in Eugene, OR writes: Pat, I read your article on Brooking with interest. Reports have been that he achieved some trigger in his contract making 2010 a voidable year. On which end is it voidable, Brooking's or the Falcons'? Is he technically not under contract to the Falcons right now, or would have actually have to be cut? As always, thanks for the work you do.
Pat Yasinskas: Steve, this situation appears to be a little hazy. As I understand it, Keith Brooking did trigger something that made 2009 a voidable year -- and it's the Falcons who hold the right to void the year. The assumption is they will void it, if they haven't already. But there are indications Brooking and the Falcons have been talking in recent days. You could see a deal reached where he stays around at a lower salary and with the understanding that he might be a backup.
Chris in Dacula writes: Pat, Was wondering what you think about the falcons schedule next year. Do you think its possable that we could have a better team but a worse record. Also i wanted to know how you would grade matt ryan on his rookie proformance. thanks
Pat Yasinskas: Well, that's always a possibility, especially when you consider the up-and-down history of the NFC South. But I like the way Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff have built this team. They've got a very good core in place. Sure, there's some touching up to do, but I think the Falcons should be a playoff contender for a long time to come. And the biggest reason I say that is Ryan. I give him an "A" for his rookie season. Yeah, maybe he wore down and wasn't quite as effective at the end of the season. But this kid is very good and he's going to keep getting better.