Let's take a look at the Monday evening headlines from around the NFC South.
The Tennessee Titans could be waiting until the last minute to make a move on New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Casillas, a restricted free agent. The Titans previously had Casillas in for a visit and now there is a report that they plan to talk to him again. Friday is the deadline to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets. The Saints would have the opportunity to match any offer, but have very little salary-cap room to work with. If Casillas ends up elsewhere, the Saints would not receive any compensation. The Saints have added depth at linebacker this offseason, by signing free agents Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain.
But the Saints didn’t necessarily sign those players to take the place of Casillas. There has been speculation that middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma could face a suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program. It now has been reported that Vilma is bracing for a suspension that could last anywhere from two to eight games. The league has said at least 22 players took part in the bounty program over the course of three seasons. The NFL is expected to announce disciplinary action for players before the draft.
I know there are a lot of New Orleans fans that feel the Saints already have received too severe a punishment with coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt each drawing suspensions. But here’s one significant reason why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down so hard. There is a growing number of lawsuits that claim the NFL hasn’t done enough to protect players from concussions. The latest lawsuit specifically mentions the Saints’ bounty program. If Goodell didn’t act harshly, lawyers could use that against the NFL.
Check out this Insider post that says there’s a growing buzz that Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly could end up being a top-10 pick. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now to keep an eye on him when Carolina picks at No. 9.
The Panthers made only slight tweaks to their jersey when Reebok took over as the NFL’s uniform manufacturer. But the asking price for a standard jersey has jumped from $85 to $100.
Roy Cummings writes that Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith could be a target for the Buccaneers, perhaps with their second-round pick. The Bucs need to add some safety depth after releasing Tanard Jackson. Some project Smith as an outside linebacker. The Bucs also need help there. Plus, if you know anything about the Bucs, you know that general manager Mark Dominik really likes drafting guys who were captains in college. Smith was a two-time captain at Notre Dame.