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NFC South Free Agency Moves

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Has the first week of free agency changed the landscape of the NFC South?

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NFL free agency officially began one week ago. Although many big names were quickly snatched off the market by new teams or re-signed by their current ones, some interesting names remain on the market. Most rosters have had at least a minor facelift, to be continued at the NFL draft in April. Let's have a look at some of the major roster changes within the NFC South division.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Re-signed:

LT- Donovan Smith, LB- Kevin Minter, K- Cairo Santos, RB- Peyton Barber, DT- Ricky Jean-Francois, DT- Rakeem Nunez-Roches, QB- Ryan Griffin, CB- DeVante Harris

Lost:

LB- Kwon Alexander (49ers), WR- Adam Humphries (Titans), WR- DeSean Jackson (trade, Eagles), QB- Ryan Fitzpatrick (Dolphins), CB- Brent Grimes (unsigned), DE- Vinny Curry (unsigned)

Added:

G- Earl Watford, WR- Breshad Perriman, LB- Shaquile Barrett, LB- Deone Bucannon, S- Kentrell Brice, RB- Andre Ellington

The Buccaneers lost one of the league's most underrated and athletic linebackers in Alexander, but are hoping to replace his athleticism and production with Barrett and Bucannon, each of whom have flashed potential in their careers. Re-signing Smith at tackle was a team priority, and they feel that they bolstered their interior line with the signing of Watford at guard. Tampa Bay's deep receiving corps took a hit with the trade of Jackson and loss of Humphries, but hopes are that the disappointing Perriman can finally realize the potential that made him a 1st round draft pick in 2016 by the Baltimore Ravens.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Re-Signed:

S- Eric Reid

Lost:

LB- Thomas Davis (Chargers), DE- Julius Peppers (retired), WR- Devin Funchess (Colts), OT- Matt Kalil (unsigned), CB- Captain Munnerlyn (unsigned)

Added:

C- Matt Paradis, DE- Bruce Irvin

The Panthers said goodbye this offseason to Kalil and Funchess, two players who often drew the ire of their fans. Unfortunately, they also lost two of the best players in franchise history in Peppers and Davis. The re-signing of Reid was key, he played well down the stretch after being signed last season. Irvin should provide an adequate pass rush of the edge defensively, and Paradis is a solid an underrated interior blocking addition for the offensive line. Carolina still has major questions along their offensive line and receiver, both of which they will likely try to answer in April's draft.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Los Angeles Rams v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Re-signed:

TE- Logan Paulsen, CB- Blidi Wreh-Wilson, DE- Steven Means, OL- Ty Sambrailo, LB- Bruce Carter

Lost:

RB- Tevin Coleman (49ers), CB- Robert Alford (Cardinals), CB- Brian Poole (Jets), CB- Justin Bethel (Ravens), LT- Ryan Schraeder (unsigned), G- Ben Garland (unsigned), G- Andy Levitre (unsigned), DE- Brooks Reed (Cardinals), DE- Bruce Irvin (Panthers)

Added:

G- James Carpenter, RB- Kenjon Barner, G- Jamon Brown, TE- Luke Stocker

The Falcons also placed the franchise tag on star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to ensure that a talented defensive front remains intact. Their secondary, though a disappointment in 2018, lost three defensive backs and must count on a few young players for improvement. Offensively, they retained Paulsen at tight end but lost a playmaker in Coleman at running back, hoping that the veteran Barner can produce. Atlanta's offensive line remains in flux as well, with the release of tackle Schraeder and guards Levitre and Garland still on the market. They did ink Carpenter to fill one guard spot, and re-signed Sambrailo at tackle. Offensive line and secondary depth will likely be addressed by Atlanta in the draft.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

NFL: AFC Championship Game-New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Re-signed: K- Wil Lutz, QB- Teddy Bridgewater, LB- Craig Robertson, DB- Chris Banjo, DB- Justin Hardee, OT- Michael Ola

Lost:

RB- Mark Ingram (Ravens), C- Max Unger (retired), DE- Alex Okafor (Chiefs), CB- P.J. Williams (unsigned), S- Kurt Coleman (unsigned), DT- Tyeler Davison (unsigned), LB- Manti Te'o (unsigned), DT- Jay Bromley (unsigned), WR- Tommylee Lewis (Lions)

Added:

RB- Latavius Murray, DT- Malcom Brown, DT- Mario Edwards, G/C- Nick Easton

The Saints, back to back South champions, still look to have the division's most talented roster. New Orleans lost two longtime contributors and locker room leaders in Ingram and Unger. They hope to replace the on-field production with Murray and Easton, but the delicate nature of team chemistry may be worth watching. The continuity of special teams coverage and depth was addressed quickly with a flurry of re-signings, including locking up Lutz at kicker. Brown and Edwards replace Davison and Bromley inside defensively, as the team braces itself for being without injured DT Sheldon Rankins to begin 2019. A huge hole at tight end has yet to be addressed, despite flirtation with Jared Cook. Expect that, along with potentially depth at wide receiver, to be addressed in next month's draft.

Poll

Which NFC South team improved themselves the most (on paper) during free agency?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    New Orleans Saints
    (374 votes)
  • 4%
    Atlanta Falcons
    (17 votes)
  • 3%
    Carolina Panthers
    (16 votes)
  • 4%
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    (18 votes)
425 votes total Vote Now