Robbie in Murphy, N.C., writes: Originally the plan for RB Mike Goodson was to split him out as a slot receiver. He was a playmaker for Texas A&M and I would love to see him step up for us. He made some noise last year as a rookie in training camp but had a very limited role last year. I know that with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, the kid is not going to see much action at RB. Can you find out if the Panthers are still planning on using him as a slot receiver?
Pat Yasinskas: We all know John Fox isn’t going to reveal anything about strategy before he has to, so we won’t really know until we see the Panthers in training camp. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Goodson get some time in the slot. I think we’re going to see more use of the slot receiver by the Carolina Panthers than we have in recent years. The Panthers are aware they need more production from receivers other than Steve Smith and using the slot guy more would be one way to achieve that.
Ray in Norfolk, Va., writes: All the talk about Brandon Marshall being available for a trade; the Bucs have 11 picks in the draft. Couldn't they package something together for Marshall? One of our 2nd rounders and a future pick? A 2nd rounder and a 5th rounder and a future pick or player? I just don't hear anyone talking about the Bucs as an option that needs a receiver.
Pat Yasinskas: I think it’s painfully obvious the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need help at receiver. But, you are right that their name hasn’t come up in connection with any of the Marshall stuff. Maybe that will change as we get closer to the draft. But, so far, there are no indications the Bucs are interested. Why not? I can only guess that the cost (both salary and what they’d have to give up in a trade) is more than the Bucs want to give and they may be hesitant to take on the baggage that comes with Marshall.
Micky in Leitchfield, Ky., writes: Love your coverage of the NFC South. I have a question- what is the deal with Atlanta pampering Jamaal Anderson? The guy has 2.5 sacks in three seasons and anyone else would have cut him long ago.
Pat Yasinskas: A very valid question. If the salary cap was in place this year, Anderson might be gone. But the uncapped season might be a big reason why the Atlanta Falcons are keeping around a former first-round pick that never really has produced. There still is talent there, but I don’t think the Falcons are counting on the light suddenly going on. In fact, I think there’s a chance they might be giving Anderson one last training camp to show something. If he doesn’t, he could be gone.
Jane in Chapel Hill, N.C., writes: There was a lot of talk at the end of the season about the Saints losing Gregg Williams in the offseason. Is that still a threat?
Pat Yasinskas: Not right now. The talk was about Williams possibly getting a head coaching job. That didn’t happen, so it looks like he’ll be with the New Orleans Saints for at least another year.
Nathan in Cary, N.C., writes: I see that there have been Panthers fans pulling for a switch to the 3-4, but I could not disagree more. First off, the defense was actually pretty good last year after they brought in Hollis Thomas, who is far from a stud DT. Secondly, their personnel is not geared for a 3-4. At all. Both Jon Beason and Thomas Davis - now the 2 best defensive players - are too small to play in a 3-4, and would not be able to separate well from offensive guards. Or gain 15-20 pounds. Most of their ends are way to small to play the 3-4 as an end, and Brown was ruled as too stiff to play the rush OLB in the 3-4 (he cannot drop into coverage, ever). I know the grass is always greener, but a switch to the 3-4 would be an absolute disaster for the Panthers.
Pat Yasinskas: I’m with you on that. It would be a disaster for all the reasons you state. Plus, why would anyone think John Fox, who is a total creature of habit, would make a dramatic move like this?
Russell in Spartanburg, S.C., writes: Can you please give me some explanation as to why Carolina is so apparently disinterested in free agency when the team has so many obvious holes? It seems like every time a legitimate free agent appears on the radar it is reported that the Panthers are not interested. It’s frustrating. (Examples: DE Alex Brown, QB Jason Campbell, QB Derek Anderson, the list goes on).
Pat Yasinskas: This year, in particular, it’s money. Owner Jerry Richardson is very concerned about the labor uncertainty and he’s not giving out big contracts. But this course of action really isn’t anything new in Carolina. The Panthers didn’t sign a single unrestricted free agent last year. They haven’t been major players in free agency for quite some time. They’ve been a team that believes in building through the draft. Their last major plunge into free agency came the year they signed cornerback Ken Lucas and guard Mike Wahle. Those moves gave them a short-term boost, but neither player stayed with the Panthers for very long. Part of the reason for that was there were a lot of unhappy players in the locker room who wondered where their money was when Lucas and Wahle were getting so much.