Hitting the NFC South hot spots

Let’s take a look into the NFC South mailbag.

Dan in Omaha, Neb., says the Panthers need to draft a defensive tackle with the first pick in the draft and give quarterback Jimmy Clausen a chance.

Pat Yasinskas: You really want the Panthers to go into a season with Clausen as their starting quarterback without adding a viable alternative? I do think there’s upside with Clausen and he could develop into something with better coaching than he had last year. But Carolina’s got to compete with three NFC South teams that have true franchise quarterbacks. I don’t think they can afford to count on Clausen suddenly turning into one.

Pat in Tampa says I referred to Tampa Bay landing Nnamdi Asomugha as a pie-in-the-sky dream and wonders why. He points out the weather in Florida and California is similar and the Bucs are a team on the rise.

Pat Yasinskas: True, the Bucs are very much a team on the rise and I’ll take the weather in Tampa Bay over the other Bay Area any day. Also, there’s no state income tax in Florida and that’s always appealing to free agents. But there’s going to be a bidding war for one of the game’s best cornerbacks and lots of teams are going to be involved. I’m not sure if the Bucs, who are accused by their own fans of not spending enough money, will go all out on this one. We'll have to wait and see.

Robbie in Murphy, N.C., asks why I wrote that Cam Newton has more potential than Blaine Gabbert.

Pat Yasinskas: Um, mainly because I think Newton has way more potential than Gabbert. Yes, there also could be downside with Newton, and Gabbert has less downside. But I think Gabbert’s best-case scenario is that he ends up being someone like Mark Sanchez. Newton’s best-case scenario is a lot better than that. Yes, Newton may come with risks. But the Panthers are doing their homework and might be willing to take some risks on the guy with more upside.

Zain in Tampa writes: “There's a reason we hate the Glazers so much around here. But let's make something clear, it is the sons we hate, not the father. The father has been a great owner in his time. He got it, period. The sons? They have no business running a sports franchise.’’

Pat Yasinskas: Malcolm Glazer obviously was a very astute businessman and that’s how he assembled a huge fortune. But the fact is, he never was heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the Bucs. Yes, he was available for consult and ultimately signed off on major decisions. But, since the day the Glazer family bought the team, sons Bryan and Joel have run the day-to-day operations and youngest son, Ed, joined them a bit later. The only thing that’s changed in recent years is that Malcolm Glazer has had some health problems and has even less to do with the day-to-day operations. Truth is, part of the reason Malcolm Glazer bought the team in the first place was because his sons were huge football fans. Malcolm Glazer didn't follow the game all that closely. In fact, there's a legendary story about one of the few news conferences he ever took part in. It was to announce a contract extension for Warren Sapp and the plan called for him to make a joke about how the contract meant Sapp better produce a lot of sacks. Before the news conference started, a Bucs staffer had to take Malcolm Glazer aside and explain what a sack was.

Russell in Asheville, N.C., writes that Drew Brees’ involvement in the labor situation shows the New Orleans quarterback is greedy. Russell says 99 percent of fans now hate Brees and that this should be pointed out to Brees.

Pat Yasinskas: Brees took a stand by taking an active role and putting his name on the lawsuit against the league. But I don’t think Brees is acting purely on his own behalf. I think he’s trying to get what’s best for all players. He is, after all, a player. And I think your estimate on the percentage of fans who “hate’’ Brees is off by a lot, at least in New Orleans. Brees is the most beloved figure in that city. Once the labor situation is resolved, I think any resentment against Brees that might be out there will be forgotten very quickly.

Tom in Cambridge, United Kingdom, writes that it sounds like Aqib Talib was defending his sister in the incident in which he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. He wonders if Talib doesn’t end up in prison if this whole situation might be handled with a four-game suspension and some anger-management classes.

Pat Yasinskas: I get the whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing and understand it’s one of the basic rules of the legal system in this country. But we’re not just talking one incident with Talib. We’re talking a lengthy track record that dates back at least to when he was in college. Several incidents have been very public since he joined the Bucs and there have been plenty of other behind-the-scenes issues involving him that have been handled behind the scenes. In fact, I’d be willing to make a guess that the Bucs or the NFL already told Talib to work on the anger-management issues. Fact is, I think the Bucs already would have cut Talib if the league wasn’t in a lockout. I think they will cut him as soon as it’s over. Talib was down to his last chance -- and there are some people who already think he was past it even before the latest incident. The mere fact that a gun was involved in this latest incident gives the Bucs the right to cut Talib before the legal system plays out. Even if he’s not found guilty, the fact that he put himself in a precarious situation when he already was on a short leash with the team and the league doesn’t reflect well on him. The Bucs have taken their share of criticism on the character issue in the last year or so. Talib has made it easy for them to come out and make a strong statement by parting ways with him. The Bucs can make a statement to the community and their fans that they are serious about character issues. They also can show receiver Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount, who have had some problems in the past, that they better stay on the straight and narrow because even the best players aren’t going to get too many second chances.