NFC South mailbag

Time for another edition of the NFC South mailbag.

Ian in Metairie, LA writes: With Anthony Hargrove visiting the Lions, if he were to sign there with the Saints tendering him as a 3rd round draft pick would that draft pick be this year's draft or a draft pick to be determined at a later year?

Pat Yasinskas: This year -- it would be a third-round pick in the 2010 draft.

Jesse in Trezevant, TN writes: Who was the better Super Bowl team both statistically and in your judgment: the 02 Bucs or the 09 Saints? If they could play today, who do you think would win?

Pat Yasinskas: Hmm, you must have mind-reading abilities. There is something planned for the future on this. Can’t reveal all the details now, but that question will be answered on the blog in June.

Luke in Tampa writes: The Bucs have laid out their plans for the next 12-14 months pretty clearly. Loaded draft this year, keep all picks and draft as much as possible. Loaded free agency next year when they will be much more active trading picks for proven talent. Am I the only one who thinks this is a good plan that makes perfect sense? Still, all I hear is complaining from the fans.

Pat Yasinskas: You’re not alone. I can see what the Bucs are doing and I think it makes sense, especially given the climate with the economy and the uncertainty over the labor situation. They’ve got a long-term plan in place, which is more than they ever had in the Jon Gruden days. Still, it’s human nature for fans to want drastic measures to make their team good immediately. I understand that. But the plan is in place and all the yelling and screaming by fans isn’t going to make the Bucs suddenly change their plan.

Chris in Charlotte, NC writes: We have watched the Panthers release several players in the off-season. Granted, some cuts were deserved, some unavoidable, and at least one - Brad Hoover - is just befuddling. Now, on top of the cuts, the Panthers have announced they are raising ticket prices. Fans have speculated that Jerry Richardson is just trying to insulate himself financially from a lockout. What are your thoughts?

Pat Yasinskas: A little disclosure here, Chris and I went to elementary school together in Pennsylvania many years ago. Maybe that’s part of the reason why we think alike. I think insulating himself from a lockout in 2011 is exactly what Jerry Richardson is doing. I also think he’s sending messages to his players and the league-wide union that the gravy train is coming to an end. Although he’s had some major health issues, I think Richardson remains very involved in the negotiations with the union and carries a lot more clout in this area than most people realize.

Patterson in Atlanta writes: Do you think that the Falcons would consider going after Dexter McCluster or Montario Hardesty in the draft due to the history of Michael Turner's high ankle sprains?

Pat Yasinskas: As I’ve said before, I think the Falcons will go defense -- end or outside linebacker -- with their first-round pick. But I won’t totally rule out the possibility of them taking a running back there or with one of their other picks. Turner’s health definitely is a concern after last year. Jason Snelling did some good things, but Jerious Norwood never has fulfilled his potential. I’d like to see the Falcons add a quality running back at some point, but I’m thinking that probably comes after the first round.

Carlos in Panama City writes: Does the Sean Jones signing for the Bucs mean that, if hypothetically both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy were gone from the board, they wouldn't draft Eric Berry?

Pat Yasinskas: In that situation, I still wouldn’t rule out Berry completely. He’s a top-flight prospect. I like the Jones signing and think it’s definitely an upgrade over Sabby Piscitelli. But Jones never has been an elite safety. Berry has that potential. If the Bucs draft Berry and Jones ends up being a backup and special-teams player, they’d have good depth at safety. Still, the Jones signing gives the Bucs some flexibility. If they can’t get one of the defensive tackles, they don’t have to go with Berry if there is someone they like better at another position.