NFC South: Todd Carter

Hitting the NFC South links

September, 15, 2010
The multi-talented D. Orlando Ledbetter uses his interpretation skills to figure out that Atlanta coach Mike Smith wants improvement across the board. I don’t think Ledbetter’s going out on any limb here. Smith can remain calm and cool, but you could tell he felt the Falcons lost a winnable game to the Steelers.

As expected, the Panthers re-signed kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd. They released Todd Carter, who was supposed to replace Lloyd, but injured his back.

Green Bay signed running back Dimitri Nance off Atlanta’s practice squad. The Falcons filled the spot by signing center Rob Bruggeman, who had been cut from the 53-man roster earlier this week.

After Aqib Talib served his one-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct code, the Buccaneers have placed him on the active roster and he’s expected to practice today. To clear a roster spot, the Bucs released Erik Lorig.

NFC South mailbag: Haynesworth

April, 7, 2010
Judging by the mailbag, it appears to be Albert Haynesworth Day here in the NFC South. Going on a quick glance, I believe I saw multiple questions about the possibility of Haynesworth landing with each of the four NFC South teams. There was even an inquiry about the Tampa Bay Storm bringing in Haynesworth to play both ways and one about him possibly taking on catching duty for the Braves (that last part’s only a joke).

Before we get into the questions, let me start with a little blanket statement. I know it’s very easy to sit out there and think of trade scenarios on this one and I do it, too. But to actually pull off a deal for Haynesworth would be very complicated and expensive. I know the Washington Redskins already are on the hook for a large chunk of Haynesworth’s existing contract, but the thing was so huge that there’s still a lot left. In case you haven’t noticed, NFC South teams haven’t exactly been spending much money this offseason. Plus, most of the teams in the division really aren’t looking to give up any of their draft picks. Also, keep in mind that although Haynesworth has been a very good –- dominant at times -– defensive tackle, there have been a few things that make you question his character. Again, character is a hot-button issue with most of the NFC South teams right now, so that could scare some suitors off.

With that said, let’s move on to some of the Haynesworth questions and we’ll move address some other issues further below:

GPM in Toronto writes: What are your thoughts on the idea of the Bucs going after Haynesworth? Could they swing a trade for him by offering a couple picks?

Pat Yasinskas: I’m not going to say that would be a good or bad move by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’ll just say I don’t think you’ll see it happen. Although Tampa Bay reportedly made a huge offer to Haynesworth last year, I think that was before coach Raheem Morris, general manager Mark Dominik and ownership really grasped what the idea of the youth movement they came up with was really all about. Not saying they have knocked it out of the park yet or ever will, but it seems like they now have a common vision that the way they want to build is through the draft. Dominik and Morris keep pointing to the 11 picks they’re holding and I don’t see them letting go.

Brian in New Orleans writes: I know this is a pipe dream, but I can’t help but think about an Albert Haynesworth for Jammal Brown/draft-pick trade. Both obvious needs and would help both sides.

Pat Yasinskas: Pipe dream, probably. But I’d say it’s less of a pipe dream with the New Orleans Saints than Tampa Bay. For that matter, I’ll go ahead and say New Orleans is the only team in the division I think would even consider something like a Haynesworth move. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is focused on the labor situation so I can’t see him taking on Haynesworth’s contract -- no matter how much of it has already been taken care of by the Redskins. Besides, coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney never have been big on quick fixes. They weren’t there at the time, but they still are haunted by the ghost of Sean Gilbert. Sort of the same for the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons made their move for this year (Dunta Robinson) and they’re focused in on the draft. Back to New Orleans -– I know a lot of fans think Brown is expendable because the Saints won a Super Bowl with Jermon Bushrod playing in his place. But they did that with a lot of smoke and mirrors. You really think the Saints want Bushrod protecting Drew Brees’ blind side for the long term? Yes, Haynesworth would be a nice addition to the defensive line. But if the Saints put a decent draft pick or a mid-level free agent next to a healthy Sedrick Ellis, there’s no glaring need.

JM in Charlotte writes: In your opinion, what position will the Panthers draft first? Could it be wide receiver or defensive line/end?

Pat Yasinskas: All right, we now will move past the Haynesworth stuff. Tough call to single out a position for the Panthers because they don’t have their first pick until the middle of the second round. I’d really like to see them get a wide receiver, but given Fox’s system and history, I have a tough time seeing a rookie receiver come in and make an instant impact. Fox’s back is clearly against the wall this season. When you’re in that situation, you go back to basics. Fox is a defensive coach at heart. I see him pushing for a defensive end or a defensive tackle. I’d lean toward a defensive tackle because the Panthers think Everette Brown and Charles Johnson might step up on the outside. They’ve got some very ordinary guys in the middle, but nothing to build around.

Mike in Atlanta writes: I really enjoy reading your blog. I have a very pedestrian but important question-who is going to be the Falcons' kicker this year? Is the team settled on Matt Bryant or are they looking for other options?

Pat Yasinskas: Agree with you because that is an important question for Atlanta because the kicking game was an issue last year.Matt Bryant’s going to get the first crack at the job and hopes are high. Bryant had some injury issues when the Bucs let him go. He’s healthy now and the Falcons would like to see him win the job. But last year showed they can’t afford to sit back in this area. I’m sure they’ll bring another kicker to camp and will continue to scour what’s available in case they don’t like what they see in the preseason.

Ryan in Boston writes: I was wondering what you think the signing of Todd Carter means for the Panthers. Is he just another kickoff specialist like Rhys Lloyd, or do you see him eventually taking over for John Kasay? I think holding a roster spot for a kickoff specialist proved pretty detrimental to the Panthers' depth last season.

Pat Yasinskas: For the moment, the Panthers are just hoping Carter can do what Lloyd did the last couple years -– kick off. But Carter has visions of someday being a field-goal kicker and Kasay can’t go on forever. This is a chance for Carter to get his foot in the door, but he’s got to show he can kick off and make the roster first. By the way, earlier today, I spotted what has to be –- and probably will continue to be unless he kicks his way to the Hall of Fame –- the most extensive story ever written about Carter.

Around the NFC South

April, 7, 2010
Linebacker Barrett Ruud, who has been looking for a contract extension for more than a year, said he now is approaching the 2010 season as his final one with Tampa Bay. That’s really the only way Ruud, currently a restricted free agent, can handle this right now. It also would help his case tremendously if he goes out and has a big year. Ruud might have been in line for a huge contract last season if he had made some big plays. He didn’t, but that wasn’t really his fault. If the Bucs could add anything close to a quality defensive tackle in the draft, that should free up Ruud to roam and make some plays.

The Falcons sent out a release a bit earlier with the dates and times for all of their preseason games. But they quickly called back to ask that we hold off a bit on the announcement because one of the games was not fully finalized. As soon as we know it’s official, we’ll let you know.

Former Carolina defensive tackle Damione Lewis officially has signed his new contract with New England.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper gives a slight edge to Ndamukong Suh over Gerald McCoy as the top defensive tackle in the draft. I tend to agree with that, but I think the Bucs would be happy to get either one.

Wide receiver Damian Williams reportedly will have a private workout for the Falcons on Saturday. Atlanta’s brass might want to ask Carolina’s brass about receivers from USC before getting too serious on this one.

The Falcons also reportedly will have workouts with defensive linemen Brian Price and Everson Griffen this weekend. Remember, these are just workouts. This doesn’t mean the Falcons are going to draft all these guys.

The Panthers signed kicker Todd Carter. He’s there as a kickoff specialist. If he shows enough leg, the Panthers might let him handle the void left by Rhys Lloyd’s departure. If not, punter Jason Baker is a fallback option to handle that duty.

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the team was wise to get quarterback Josh Freeman in last year’s draft rather than waiting until this year to take a quarterback. Completely agree, and as Carlson also points out, Freeman is way ahead of anyone in this year’s draft.