Time for an Easter edition of the NFC South mailbag. Happy holiday to all.
JC in Salina, Utah, writes: Reports say that Washington really loves Sam Bradford? If the Rams pass him up do you think it’s possible for Tampa to draft him and trade him to Washington for a very unhappy Albert Haynesworth? Tampa has the cap space and the obvious need of dominant DT.
Pat Yasinskas: First off, there is no salary cap this season. But I do see some logic to your scenario. If the Rams pass on Bradford, that probably means the first two picks in the draft will be used on defensive tackles. That would leave the Bucs in a tough spot. In that scenario, I could see them trying to trade down until a good bit later in the first round. Would they trade down one spot for Haynesworth? I’m not so sure. Remember, the Bucs tried very hard to sign Haynesworth as a free agent last year. Although they reportedly offered more money than the Redskins, Haynesworth turned them down. He made some comments about there being too many distractions in Tampa for his liking. If he’s unhappy in Washington, he might be even more unhappy in Tampa.
Will in New Orleans writes: The Saints have looked at a couple of free agents in their quest to replace Mike Bell, any idea who they might look to in the draft to fill his spot? Bell took more carries than any other Saints back last year and Sean Payton never goes into training camp without a lot of depth at running back so even if Lynell Hamilton's the guy, Payton's going to want another running back.
Pat Yasinskas: I agree. The Saints aren’t done at running back and they’ve sniffed around some free agents. I could see them using a mid-round draft pick on a running back. But I also think there’s a good chance you’ll see them sign a running back that gets cut from someone else’s roster. Remember, the Saints are limited in signing unrestricted free agents because of the Final Eight plan. But they can sign someone that’s been cut from another roster.
Jonathan in Montreal, Canada, writes: I'm curious about local product Carlton Mitchell from South Florida. I know that you went to the USF pro day, and I'm curious to know what you think about him (he's a freakish athlete, fast 40-time, big frame), and maybe the Bucs potentially drafting him early in the 3rd round?
Pat Yasinskas: Mitchell really impressed me at pro day. Kind of strange that I didn’t know a lot about him even though the USF campus is almost literally in my backyard. But with the Bucs struggling so much last year, I had to travel just about every Saturday and didn’t get to watch much of USF. Anyway, Mitchell is all the things you mentioned and more. He’s also a high-character guy. I think Mitchell’s workout probably has pushed him into the second round. The Bucs have two picks there and I think he’s a possibility. I think he also could be a possibility for Carolina.
Jeff in Charleston, S.C., writes: What is your take on LT Sam Baker? From what I've seen, he can be solid one game, then the next whiff on multiple blocks, or worse get injured. Is Thomas Dimitroff sold on him as the answer for protecting Matt Ryan's blindside for the next decade?
Pat Yasinskas: The Falcons have a lot invested in Baker. Has he shown he’s a franchise left tackle? No. Injuries have set him back and you have to worry if he’ll be injury prone for the rest of his career. But he’s done some good things when healthy and I don’t think the Falcons are anywhere near ready to give up on him. They’ll continue to try to coach him up and hope he can stay healthy for a full season.
Jordan in New Orleans writes: My question is about recently released Alex Brown. I know you addressed a question about him going to the Panthers in your last mailbag, but what about him coming down to play for the black and gold? Obviously, even before Charles Grant was released DE was thought by most as a position of need. Brown's a proven player, who just happened to be on the wrong end of the Julius Peppers bonanza. I think he would be perfect for the Saints and would save us from using a high draft pick on a DE. What's your take?
Pat Yasinskas: Definitely keep an eye on this one. I suspect the Saints and Panthers will show some interest in Brown. A lot of Atlanta fans have asked about him, too, but I’ve heard no rumblings about the Falcons being interested. I like your logic on the Saints. Brown wouldn’t be terribly expensive, he’s probably an upgrade over Grant and getting him would allow the Saints to focus on other areas in the draft.