NFC South mailbag

Nate in Rock Hill, S.C. writes: Do you see the Panthers going after John Henderson? It's not looking like he's getting much interest on the FA market. Do you think they could ink him to a short, relatively cheap deal and see what happens? I know Jerry Richardson isn't writing checks this offseason, but isn't worth the small risk for a formerly dominant DT for a team that needs help at the position?

Pat Yasinskas: I follow your logic and it makes sense. But it’s not going to happen and it’s not just about money. The Panthers are very serious about going with youth. Besides, I think general manager Marty Hurney still has nasty flashbacks to when George Seifert made him work contracts for Reggie White and Eric Swann.

Donny in Jacksonville, Fla. writes: Up to this point, I agree that Dwayne Jarrett has been a major bust for Carolina. However his whole time had been with Jake Delhomme at QB and we all know he only locked on to Steve Smith and forced it or took a sack if he wasn't open. Do you think that with Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen at QB he has a chance to at least do a little something? Moore has shown the willingness to spread the ball so theoretically it could happen (I'm not counting on it though).

Pat Yasinskas: I saw a story somewhere the other day about Jarrett and the theme of it was how this might be his breakout year. Funny, but it seems like that story gets written every year and I know I’ve written a time or two. Is this year any different for Jarrett? It might be. Your point about the quarterback switch is a good one. More than anything, I think the coaching staff needs to turn Jarrett loose and give him a chance. There are some people with the Panthers who believe Jarrett is talented, but has been held back by a coaching staff that’s too conservative to allow him to just go out and play.

Scott in Covington, LA writes: Thanks for posting about Alex Yoncak from Saintsreport.com. I didn't personally know the guy, but he was a friend to everyone on that site, including me. He was a true Saint. The fact that you took out time from your busy schedule to share his story with the world means a ton to his family, and all of his friends and e-friends. You are a true class act Pat.

Pat Yasinskas: Alex was the class act on this one. I didn’t know the man either. But I got emotional reading Jeff Duncan’s outstanding column about a very dedicated Saints’ fan, who had done a lot of great things in his life. Alex also lived in an area of Pennsylvania very close to where I grew up, so the story hit close to home. I thought it was a story worth sharing with all NFC South fans.

Evan in Long Beach Miss. writes: What do you think the future holds for Pierre Thomas? I noticed that he has yet to sign his waiver and did not show up to training camp. Do you think there is a reasonable chance that he won't be wearing the Black and Gold next year, do you think he will sign his waiver, or do you think he might get the bigger deal he's hoping for? Do you think he deserves it?

Pat Yasinskas: I’m not sure this little holdout is really in Pierre Thomas’ best interest. I understand he wants a long-term contract and his performance last season probably earned him a nice raise. But the rumblings are he’s looking for a contract that will make him one of the league’s top-paid running backs. Let’s be realistic here. Thomas is a good running back, but not one of the best in the league. I can see the Saints playing hard ball with him. They’ve got Reggie Bush and Lynell Hamilton. If Thomas’ demands don’t drop some, I could see the Saints letting him go and going with Bush and Hamilton and adding another running back from somewhere else.

Keaton in Myrtle Beach S.C. writes: With the suspension of Quinn Ojinnaka of the Falcons coming so soon, does this mean that Jonathan Babineaux will get away with a 'slap on the wrist?' I hope so given that Ojinnaka was accused of arguably a harsher crime than Babs.

Pat Yasinskas: Still waiting on that. I think there still remains a chance the league will discipline Babineaux, but nothing’s happened yet. By the way, not sure Ojinnaka even makes the team. The Falcons used a couple of draft picks to build up there depth on the offensive line and Ojinnaka was on the bubble even before the suspension.

Tripp in Washington, D.C. writes: Love your blog and frequently posted mailbags, Pat. Keep up the great work. I am baffled by the idea that Tampa Bay's metropolitan area population exceeds 2.7 million people, yet has trouble selling out eight home games...this is pathetic. The Greater New Orleans area barely contains 1.1 million people, and every last seat of every game is sold out ad infinitum. I understand they just won the Super Bowl and that their popularity is at an all time high; but still, NOLA has faithfully sold out every game since at least 2006, when the team was coming off years of mediocrity. Get it together Tampa! Lest you want your team to move to LA.

Pat Yasinskas: Technically, Tampa Bay has sold out every game since Raymond James Stadium opened, but team officials are bracing for local television blackouts this season. That will be reminiscent of the bad old days of the 1980s and ‘90s. Tampa Bay is a unique market. I live here now and have spent about half my life here. Any Florida city is going to have lots of transplants from up North, who hold onto their allegiances. The weather also presents lots of opportunities to do other things on a Sunday. This isn’t New Orleans where children are born and raised to be Saints fans. The Bucs have a great crew of die-hard fans. But the nature of this market means there also are a lot of fringe fans and they show up only when the Bucs are playing well and going to games becomes trendy. Even then, this is a tough market. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re having a great season, but Tropicana Field doesn’t draw huge crowds.