The New Orleans Saints made a big splash by signing linebacker Victor Butler, but Sean Payton and Co. aren’t the only team in the NFC South making headlines as they prepare to make a run at the division and more in the 2013 NFL season.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan filled a need with the signing of pass-rusher Victor Butler, who played under Ryan during his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys. Butler has recorded 11 sacks and five forced fumbles in the last four seasons, but had to play second-fiddle to DeMarcus Ware in Dallas.
In New Orleans, Butler will have a chance to compete for a starting job with the likes of Martez Wilson and Junior Gallette. According to Alex Restrepo, that’s all he’s asking for—a chance to compete.
Nakia Hogan of The Times Picayune writes that Butler was swayed not only by the chance to play for Ryan again, but because of a sit down he had with General Manager Mickey Loomis. Per Butler:
“Lunch with Mickey was phenomenal,” Butler said in a press release. “I know it was a business lunch, but it was more of a personal talk. Mickey asked about my family, my background and how I liked New Orleans so far. He really took the time to get to know me as a person and I respect that. When you bring somebody into an organization you want to know what kind of person they are.
“I know Rob Ryan well and I am familiar with his scheme, but after sitting down and talking to Sean Payton and the other guys I felt it was a great fit. “
Butler On Rob Ryan:
“I like Rob Ryan’s system because he puts players in position to make big-time plays,” Butler said in the release. “He knows so much about this game and the opponent that we were going to play the next week. From week to week, he is doing his homework and really helping us in our film sessions. He wants you to be the most prepared you can be on Sundays. That’s what I like about him.”
It appears the two sides had a mutual interest in each other, so the Saints got their man. In turn, this opens up the draft opportunities for New Orleans in the first round.
– The Saints had a major presence at LSU’s pro day recently. Sean Payton and most of his staff were present to evaluate prospects such as cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Kevin Minter. Per the Saints official site:
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, special teams coordinator Greg McMahon, secondary coach Wesley McGriff, assistant secondary coach Andre Curtis and tight ends coach Terry Malone all organized specific drills for their respective position groups.
Mingo and Minter are potential first-round selections for the Saints, although the team could look elsewhere now with the signing of Butler. The team could also look to grab Mathieu in the third round, especially if the coaching staff liked him on a personal level when they met with him. His on-field play is well-known, it’s the off-field issues he would have to prove are behind him before the Saints draft him.
The Falcons landed a major upgrade to its defense recently with the signing of former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who will fill the void left by the recently released John Abraham (who has yet to find a new home himself). The news was broke by Jay Glazer:
Umenyiora is a frightening addition to one of the NFL’s most talented rosters, and he even went so far as to say it’s the most talented team he’s ever been a part of (h/t ProFootballTalk), high praise considered he’s won a Super Bowl with the Giants.
It’s bad news for the Saints, as the team is still searching for an answer at the offensive tackle position.
It’s been all quiet on the Carolina front this offseason outside of the major re-signing of cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. Most recently, veteran offensive linemen Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil restructured their contracts to help the franchise with its iffy cap situation (per The Charlotte Observer). Now both will be playing for less guaranteed money and are treating every year as if it could be their last, a scary prospect considering the two led one of the NFL’s best run-blocking lines a season ago.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs reached an agreement on a four-year deal with offensive lineman Demar Dotson (per NFL.com), a man who started 15 games for the team last year. He’s a crucial piece of the offensive line, which is now mostly back to 2012 form.
Gregg Rosenthal goes on to speculate that the front office in Tampa Bay is merely biding its time before it makes a move on New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. The team has been the only one linked to Revis since the start of free agency, and has more than enough ammunition between cap space and draft selections to make a move possible. So far, the Bucs are only bidding against themselves for his services.