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Around the NFC South

Time for a Tuesday morning run through the top headlines from around the NFC South.

Carolina middle linebacker Dan Connor reportedly is high on Philadelphia’s list of potential free-agent targets. This makes lots of sense. Connor is from suburban Philadelphia and it seems like he wants out of Carolina. With Jon Beason returning from injury, Connor is out of a starting job with the Panthers.

A record 21 players were given the franchise tag, including Atlanta’s Brent Grimes, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Tampa Bay’s Connor Barth.

Former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the man who seems to be at the center of the scandal in which the Saints allegedly used a bounty program to injure other players, met with league officials in New York on Monday. Williams, who now is with the St. Louis Rams, declined to speak with the media. Williams previously issued a statement in which he admitted to organizing the program and apologized for his involvement.

John DeShazier writes that the Saints might not have won any public-relations wars with fans or Brees by using the exclusive-rights franchise tag on the quarterback. But he says it was the smart business move. He’s right. With the two sides reportedly far apart on a long-term contract, the Saints simply had to make sure there was no way Brees could walk into free agency.

This column says Williams didn’t invent the use of the bounty system, which almost certainly is true. But it says his big mistake was keeping such detailed records. No doubt about that. The NFL says it has 50,000 pages of evidence, including 18,000 emails.

With Falcons coach Mike Smith in attendance, Georgia tight end Orson Charles had disappointing times in the 40-yard dash during his pro day workout Monday. A strong wind might have played a factor. The slow times might be good news for the Falcons. They might help keep Charles out of the first round. The Falcons have a second-round pick and could be looking for an eventual successor to Tony Gonzalez.