One day into the legalized tampering period across the NFL, and the NFC South may be the quietest division in all of football. The most notable deal was the New Orleans Saints agreeing to another contract with backup QB Teddy Bridgewater. Will there be any major free agency moves to come in the NFC South?
New Orleans Saints
Free Agents: The Saints could lose a valuable piece of their offense, as free agent RB Mark Ingram is not expected to re-sign with the team. The franchise’s all-time rushing-touchdown leader has totaled 50 TDs on the ground, along with more than 6,000 yards in eight seasons. Outside of Ingram, the Saints have a few interesting free agents. Could the team make a play to bring Dez Bryant back? Kicker Will Lutz should work out a deal with New Orleans as well.
Possible Targets: Of course, the Saints brought in Bryant halfway through the season because the team was thin at receiving depth. They have one of the best wideouts in football in Michael Thomas, but Drew Brees needs more than one option. All has been quiet on the Golden Tate and Cole Beasley fronts. Could New Orleans land one of those top wideouts? If they plan to replace Ingram in free agency, Jay Ajayi or Latavius Murray would make a lot of sense.
Free Agents: The Atlanta Falcons were a big disappointment in 2018. A lot of that had to do with yet another injury suffered by RB Devonta Freeman. And that’s what makes this upcoming free agency period potentially so tough for the Falcons. They will likely lose Tevin Coleman, who has been one of the best number two backs in the league. Coleman is looking for a starting job, and should find one on the open market. Veteran DB Robert Alford is already gone; he signed a three-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Possible Targets: Replacing Coleman on the cheap is definitely possible via free agency. The perfect player could be former Jaguar T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon excels as a pass-catcher. He caught 55 balls for four TDs last season. He also added more than 400 yards on the ground. Yeldon has stepped in to start when Leonard Fournette can’t go, so it’s easy to see him doing the same if Freeman goes down. Add in the fact that Yeldon is only 25 years old, and the fit is too good to deny.
Free Agents: The Carolina Panthers face a ton of uncertainty heading into next season. Will Cam Newton be healthy and ready to go? Plus, is Riverboat Ron finally on the hot seat after failing to reach the playoffs in two of the past three seasons? WR Devin Funchess will be departing for Indianapolis, receiving a large, $13 million deal for one season of play. Longtime stalwart LB Thomas Davis is not expected back with the club either.
Possible Targets: Without Davis on the field, the Panthers have several options to replace him. All of a sudden, Justin Houston is a free agent. Even at 30, Houston can still perform at a high level. The Packers have gobbled up two of the better OLBs, Preston and Za’Darius Smith, limiting the field for Carolina. It’s certainly a drop-off in talent, but the team could kick the tires on either K.J. Wright or Shaq Barrett.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Free Agents: It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the Buccaneers could lose their safety blanket in backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Jameis Winston’s constant struggles, Tampa has relied heavily on the Amish Rifle. If you don’t believe in Fitzpatrick’s hype, check out these statistics: if Fitz and Winston were one player, they would have led the NFL in passing yards last season (5,358). Their combined 36 TDs would have ranked third in the league. Tampa would be wise to bring Fitz back.
Possible Targets: The team’s prized free agents, Adam Humphries and Kwon Alexander, took deals in Tennessee and San Fran, respectively. That leaves Tampa with holes in the slot and ILB. Beasley’s contract demands could be too high, but Chris Hogan or Randall Cobb could come cheap. The Bucs could make a run at Jamie Collins to replace Alexander.