Time for the Friday edition of the NFC South mailbag.
James in Austin, Texas, writes: Do you think by the Bucs signing Sean Jones, he is just a 'safety' net because both Tanard Jackson and Jermaine Phillips didn’t play the full length of the season? Does it mean they are not going to draft Eric Berry? Instead they could draft Jason Pierre-Paul who would be crucial in the Tampa 2.
Pat Yasinskas: I think the best way to summarize the Sean Jones signing is that he gives them flexibility at safety and in the draft. I don’t think you can rule out the possibility of them taking Berry at No. 3 if the two defensive tackles are not available. But I think the arrival of Jones means the Bucs don’t have to absolutely draft a safety early.
Dave in Valdosta, Ga., writes: Any chance on the Bucs looking at T.O. for their receiver? It seems he did a really good job for the Bills. He seemed to be a team player. This way the Bucs could draft a good WR but not have to throw to him in on every play. I know the Bucs are trying to get younger but sign him to a 1-year contract. What do you think?
Pat Yasinskas: I just don’t think Terrell Owens fits the plan in Tampa Bay. Sure, he’s a talented receiver, but he’s older. Also, it’s all about Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay. Yes, Owens can help a quarterback, but he also has the ability to ruin a quarterback. I think the downside is too much here.
Neil in Jackson, Miss., writes: You mentioned that the Saints don't have to lose a free agent to sign Justin Fargas because he was released by the Raiders. But couldn't we sign him anyways because of the Scott Fujita signing? Surely we aren't planning to pay Justin Fargas more than we were willing to pay Scott Fujita.
Pat Yasinskas: The Saints could sign Fargas and it would have nothing to do with them losing Fujita. As part of the final eight, the Saints can only sign an unrestricted free agent when they lose one. Yes, they have lost Fujita and that clears the way for them to sign a free agent at a similar price. But Fargas is not a true unrestricted free agent because he was released by the Raiders. There are no limitations on the Saints signing players released by other teams.
Mario in Panama writes: I put a lot of importance on a position people don't: fullback. In my view, Heath Evans was on its way to a Pro Bowl season when he went down, and Saints overall offensive production incidentally went down, after that. What do you think about it and how is his recovery going?
Pat Yasinskas: Agree totally. Thought Evans was a great addition to the Saints and there was a visible drop-off in the offense in the first few games after he got hurt. Everything I’ve heard is that he’s on track for a full recovery.
Ned in parts unknown writes: Since the Falcons don’t have a second round pick, do you think packaging John Abraham and Jamaal Anderson into a deal for a team’s second-round pick would pay off for the falcons?
Pat Yasinskas: If some team were willing to make that deal, I’m sure the Falcons would jump on it. Fact is, Abraham and Anderson aren’t going to get you a second-round pick. They simply don’t have that kind of value. Abraham is old and Anderson never has played up to his potential.
Al in Washington, D.C., writes: I'm intrigued by your take on the Panthers' DTs. I feel good about a starting rotation of Louis Leonard, Tank Tyler, and Ed Johnson. Corvey Irvin is a project with a lot of upside, which would give us 4 guys. Ron Meeks likes to move DTs inside anyway, and Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson can handle that. Granted, I wouldn't like to see Nick Hayden and Derek Landri pressed into significant service at this point, but I won't be upset if this is our opening day roster. Am I putting too much faith in those first three, or undervaluing experienced depth?
Pat Yasinskas: In my opinion, Leonard, Tyler and Johnson aren’t guys I’d want to count on as the definitive starters. Yes, they have some good qualities. But the John Fox defense always has been built around the defensive line. Right now, the Panthers have “just guys’’ at defensive tackle. I think they need to add one quality defensive tackle.
Randy in Hampton, Va., writes: I know the Falcons organization is turning itself around and looking for quality "good" character guys. Do you think that the Falcons would release Jonathan Babineaux given his off-field trouble, or is it safe to say that with the D-line being so bad they wouldn't?
Pat Yasinskas: I don’t think Babineaux is going anywhere. He is the best defensive lineman the Falcons have. Yes, he had some trouble off the field last year. But I think that has been dealt with and Babineaux has been told that can’t happen again.