Time for a Monday morning run through the top headlines from around the NFC South.
We’ve been hearing a lot of rumblings that we could find out the punishments for the New Orleans Saints for their role in the bounty program this week and that seems likely to remain true. We could hear something as soon as Monday. But here’s a little twist. Although we could hear of fines and potential lost draft picks for the Saints and suspensions for general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton and former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williiams, there now is speculation we might not hear everything this week. There’s speculation that it could take longer to get news on player suspensions. More than 20 players were reportedly involved in the program and the league still could be figuring out the involvement of each or working on a way to stagger suspensions so the Saints aren’t sitting the majority of their defense at the same time.
The Panthers have San Diego running back Mike Tolbert in for a visit and already have begun contract talks. Don’t be surprised if Tolbert signs with Carolina by the end of Monday. When the Panthers are serious about a free agent, their goal usually is to make sure he doesn’t leave the building before signing a contract.
What happens if the Panthers do sign Tolbert? There is speculation they could put incumbent running backs DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart on the trading block. I think the Panthers would have a hard time getting anything for Williams because teams would be hesitant to take on the huge contract he signed last summer. Stewart would be much more appealing in a trade. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract that’s not nearly as big as Wiliams’ deal. The Panthers also might be wise to get something for Stewart now rather than losing him as a free agent next year.
Although a civil lawsuit has been filed against Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib following a traffic accident, no criminal charges were filed and no police report was written. Tampa police now are saying the lack of a police report is because the department changed its policy four years ago to save man hours and officers aren’t required to write reports on what they consider minor accidents. In a separate matter, Talib is scheduled to face trial on an assault charge in Texas next week. On that charge, he could face prison time and disciplinary action by the NFL or the team also is possible.
Sad news out of Atlanta. Legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist Furman Bisher has died. He was 93. Bisher was a contemporary and close friend of my mentor, The Tampa Tribune’s Tom McEwen, who passed away last June. Like McEwen, Bisher played a big role in making what is now the NFC South important.
New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter continues to make the free-agent rounds. He’s expected to visit the Oakland Raiders in the next few days.