For the past few weeks, there have been loads of speculation and rumors on what is going to happen once the league year starts March 18. The media has discussed what else the Saints have to do to get to the Super Bowl, how the Panthers will look under Matt Rhule, what to make of the Atlanta Falcons, and who will be the Buccaneers starting quarterback next season. But no one has talked about what teams shouldn’t do this offseason. It is important to note what teams shouldn’t do this offseason if they want to fulfill their mission of either becoming a playoff team/Super Bowl contender or start their rebuild correctly. This is a list of what teams in the NFC South shouldn’t do this offseason.
Atlanta Falcons: Break down the foundation of the team
As hectic and dysfunctional as the Falcons’ season was, they only ended the year 7-9 after dealing with injuries to many stars across their roster. If the Falcons didn’t end the second half of their season extremely well by going 6-2 during that stretch Dan Quinn would not still be the head coach of the team. He will have one of the hotter seats entering next season, but the Falcons should give Quinn a legitimate chance to show that he can keep the Falcons competitive. The only way of doing this is by keeping veterans on this roster.
The Falcons have drafted extremely well throughout recent years, building the roster only solely through the draft. The Falcons have lost or could lose a good amount of their veterans including Devonta Freeman, Vic Beasley, De’Vondre Campbell, Austin Hooper and Desmond Truant. The Falcons are bottom three in the league in cap space with only $4.1 million free, so retaining most of those guys will be difficult. Freeman and Trufant have been released which boosts their cap up to $11 million. If the Falcons can find a way to keep a guy like De’Vondre Campbell in house, while replacing the others in the draft or via trade like they did acquiring Hayden Hurst, it might put the Falcons in a better position for the playoffs or do enough to keep Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff in house.
Carolina Panthers: Mask their rebuild as a retool
The Carolina Panthers have been in a state of limbo for a couple of years now. Their Super Bowl hangover seems to still be lingering over the team. They have only been to the playoffs and had a winning record once since their Super Bowl 50 loss. Five years later, the Panthers have let go of Ron Rivera and are looking to hit the restart button under Matt Rhule. Especially after the retirement of former All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, it is time for the Panther to start the rebuild.
The biggest questions coming into the offseason were about the future of former MVP quarterback Cam Newton who is on the last year of his deal and veteran free agents like James Bradberry, Mario Addison, Gerald McCoy and Tre Boston. The Panthers do have $24 Million in cap space. James Bradberry and Mario Addison did sign elsewhere, but the Panthers can likely re-sign their other free agents and bring in veterans to help fill out their roster. Tre Boston is one of those free agents that the Panthers decided to resign. But the Panthers should not try to fill their voids with other big-name free agents that will take up their salary cap.
The Panthers need to commit to the rebuild. They didn’t bring in Matt Rhule as head coach to win next year. Rhule is the type of coach that over a couple years will rebuild a foundation of a team and create a new identity and culture for the organization. Regardless, the Panthers need to move Cam Newton after signing Teddy Bridgewater. They should be able to get a third-round pick in return when they move him. The Panthers likely won’t make the playoffs next season, but do have a nice foundation for the future of their team.
New Orleans Saints: Overvalue fan-favorite Taysom Hill
For the third year in a row, the Super Bowl-bound New Orleans Saints have failed to make the big game. Many have argued that the first two was not their fault, but rather bad luck or officiating. But this past year they got upset by a worse team in the Minnesota Vikings. There is an argument that Kyle Rudolph did push off the defensive back in the end zone on the game-winning touchdown, but at the end of the day, the Saints should not have been in that position to begin with.
Due to limited cap space and a low amount of draft picks, it is fair to say that the New Orleans Saints will not have a very active offseason. Their biggest storylines revolved around their quarterbacks. When will Drew Brees re-sign, Where will Teddy Bridgewater sign, and What to make of Taysom Hill’s free agency?
With Bridgewater gone, speculation has started about fan-favorite gadget player Hill potentially being the future starting quarterback after Drew Brees eventually retires. It is important remind fans that he has more receiving and rushing yards than passing, is going to be thirty years old before next season and has never thrown a touchdown pass. Now it is important to note that Hill is very talented. He is a multi-tool or swiss army knife-like player who can pass, rush, catch, block and even return kicks. But he is not a starting quarterback. No matter how creative Sean Payton is as a play-caller, he cannot have a winning football team under Taysom Hill. The Saints gave Hill a first-round tender worth just under $5 million. He is an important piece of Sean Payton’s offense, but is not a starting quarterback and the Saints should look elsewhere if they want to prepare for the post-Brees era.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not go all-in after signing Tom Brady
Bruce Arians took over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even though they only finished 7-9, they had a top-five passing offense and top two run defense. Byron Leftwich’s offense turned Jameis Winston into an explosive passer and Todd Bowles’ defense got the most out of the young defensive talent Tampa Bay has. Around the league the consensus is that the Buccaneer believe that most of their losses are on Winston’s shoulders or his arm. Winston threw a league-high 30 interceptions and led the league with seven pick-sixes. Arians made a comment this offseason saying “we can win with another quarterback”. They did get another quarterback, a six-time Super Bowl Champion in Tom Brady.
The Buccaneers have two number one receivers, two big play tight ends, a fantastic head coach and a young defense filled with playmakers. But the Buccaneers need to bring to a lot more to ensure a playoff spot. For starters, they need a reliable running back. Ronald Jones is good but is not a number one running back. They could trade for Todd Gurley who is rumored to be on the trade block or sign a veteran like Melvin Gordon or Devonta Freeman to share the backfield with Jones. They also need a right tackle, as Demar Dotson is 34 years old and a free agent. They could bring him back at a discount or sign a guy like Daryl Williams, but they might need to address that in the draft.
Finally, they need help on the defensive line. Ndamukong Suh was great for the Buccaneers this season, but he might not return. Damon Harrison, Derek Wolfe, Michael Bennett and Mike Daniels are all realistic options that cold take a discount to play on a Tom Brady lead Buccaneers team. Also there is a bunch of defensive line options in the draft. The Buccaneers got the most desired quarterback to hit the market. But they have a few more moves to make in order to put them into the Super Bowl conversation.