NFC South Thursday mailbag

Robert in Dallas writes: I was just wondering with all the "drama" surrounding Albert Haynesworth, have you heard or do you see the Bucs making a move to try and trade for him this year? I know they made a strong push during the free agency period last year to get him, but it looks like the Redskins may take anything for him? What are your thoughts?

Pat Yasinskas: It’s true the Bucs made a strong run at Haynesworth last year. They offered him more money than the Redskins and not getting him turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I don’t think the interest will be there from Tampa this time around. First off, last year’s interest came before the Bucs had really embraced the whole youth movement concept. Now they’re serious about going with young players. They just drafted defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. Haynesworth doesn’t fit Tampa Bay’s profile.

Dan in New Orleans writes: I just read your response to John Clayton's article about Matt Ryan being an elite QB. My question is this: why did Drew Brees have to win a Super Bowl before anyone even dared to mention him as elite, but we're already calling this kid who hasn't even won his division yet elite? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Pat Yasinskas: A solid point. A lot of people wouldn’t consider Brees among the elite until he won a Super Bowl and I don’t really know why that was the case. Maybe because Brees’ height would seem to make him something less than the stereotypical franchise quarterback? I don’t know why that was. But I do know for sure Brees now is an elite quarterback. I think Ryan’s on the way to that, but I think there remains a big gap between Brees and Ryan.

Al in Washington, D.C., writes: I know I'm chiming in late on this one, and I don't have too much of a gripe with Sean Payton pulling down #2 on your list of greatest coaches in the NFC South, but is important for everyone to remember that Brian Billick (and to a lesser extent) Jim Fassel were both riding pretty high after their first four years as head coaches. Now they can't even get head coaching interviews (in the NFL).

Pat Yasinskas: Point taken, one of the reasons I didn’t choose Payton over Tony Dungy is because Payton’s only coached four years, still is coaching and we don’t know what his legacy will look like. But, so far, it’s looking pretty darn good.

Craig in Mechanicsville, Va., writes: As a proud fan of the New Orleans Saints. I was wondering about the Saints either having re-signed or have under contract 21 out of the 22 Starters of the Super Bowl. Do you recalled any other team that have done that before? If there was another team that have done that before what did they do the following year?

Pat Yasinskas: I’m just going off the top of my head here because I’ve got a recent example from within the NFC South. This team didn't make

> the Super Bowl, but the 2008 Carolina Panthers went 12-8 and won the division. They spent the 2009 offseason bragging about how they were returning 21 of 22 starters. Sounded like a great thing at the time, but the Panthers hadn’t really addressed depth and some of those starters got old or hurt. They ended up taking a huge step back last year, so keeping your roster the same isn’t always the right move.