Around the NFC South

Time for a run through the NFC South's top Thursday morning headlines.

  • The latest reports say that the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees are $10 million apart on guaranteed money as they attempt to work a long-term contract. That might sound like a daunting gap. But, while attending the ESPYs, Brees said he remains confident a deal will get done before Monday’s deadline. Brees goes on to cite Monday’s deadline as something that could prompt negotiations to start moving in a positive direction. He’s right. Both sides have taken their time on this one. But they now are facing the sense of urgency that frequently leads to a deal.

  • The NFL has filed a grievance against the NFL Players Association in an attempt to keep New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell out of court. Vilma has been suspended for the season for his role in the Saints’ bounty program, and Goodell has upheld an appeal of the suspension. But Vilma appears intent on using every legal means available to fight the suspension. Getting a court injunction might be the only way for Vilma to avoid -- or at least delay -- the suspension.

  • The Falcons will place single-game tickets on sale July 27. The team says tickets for the games with the Broncos, Saints, Cowboys and Giants will be very limited.

  • Scott Fowler takes Cam Newton to task for an upcoming session in Charlotte in which the Carolina quarterback will sign autographs for some pretty steep prices. Yeah, that might not be the best public relations move for a guy that generally signs a lot of free autographs. But Newton has a right to cash in on his name, and I don’t see anything wrong with one of the NFC South’s lowest-paid quarterbacks earning a little extra money.

  • Atlanta coach Mike Smith said he doesn’t agree with the common opinion that New Orleans’ turbulent offseason makes the Falcons the favorite to win the NFC South. The Falcons have had a calm offseason and have a talented roster. But, as long as Brees gets a new contract, I think the Saints have a shot to repeat as division champions. Carolina and Tampa Bay also appear to be teams on the rise.