Time for a weekend trip into the NFC South mailbag.
Daniel in New Orleans asks if teams ever contact players leaving as free agents to say "We loved having you here, good luck," that kind of thing.’’
Pat Yasinskas: Excellent question, and Daniel’s note referred specifically to Scott Fujita, who left the Saints last offseason. Yes, this kind of thing happens a lot. In Fujita’s case, there was definitely a strong bond between him and the Saints. New Orleans had an interest in keeping him, but the Browns offered much more money than the Saints were willing to pay. The Saints publicly and privately thanked Fujita for his contributions, and warm feelings remain between the player and the organization. Two other prominent NFC South players come to mind with this question. Muhsin Muhammad left the Carolina Panthers for the Chicago Bears, and Warrick Dunn left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Atlanta Falcons on very good terms. Both situations were similar to Fujita’s. Both players were liked very much by their former teams, but they got huge offers to go elsewhere. They left and, later in their careers, Muhammad returned to the Panthers and Dunn returned to the Bucs. That’s why it’s best not to burn bridges. On the flip side, there can be bitter endings. For instance, I don’t see Julius Peppers ever returning to Carolina.
Ed in Cape Coral, Fla. asks if I’ve heard anything about the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, being close to selling the Manchester United soccer team.
Pat Yasinskas: Rumors have been flying about this possibility for a long time. The Glazers repeatedly have said Manchester United is not for sale. I haven’t heard anything lately that would lead me to believe otherwise, but I’m not really plugged into the soccer world.
John in Viera, Fla. asks if the Panthers have any serious interest in Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Vince Young or Carson Palmer.
Pat Yasinskas: I had a good conversation with Carolina general manager Marty Hurney on Friday. Like any executive, he’s not going to lay out any top-secret plans in public, and with a new staff just coming together, the labor uncertainty and the various scenarios in which the guys you mentioned could be available, I don’t think the Panthers have a firm plan yet. I think that’s still being formulated. But the one thing Hurney was clear on was that the Panthers have to do something at quarterback. He still has hope Jimmy Clausen can develop into a solid starter, but Hurney is very aware he has to have a viable alternative. I think any or all of the guys you mention will at least be considerations.
Hank in Illinois asks if there is any chance of the Falcons moving up in the draft to take a defensive end.
Pat Yasinskas: It’s at least a possibility. General manager Thomas Dimitroff can be aggressive when the Falcons really see someone they want. They’re sitting at No. 27, and most early mock drafts have the top tier of defensive ends gone slightly before Atlanta’s pick, so moving up could make sense. But we’ve got more than two months before the draft, and the stock of some defensive ends will rise and fall. This also is a draft that’s considered very deep at defensive end, so there is a possibility the Falcons could sit still and get the guy they want. There also is the possibility they might go in a different direction with their first pick and get a defensive end later in the draft or through free agency.