NFC South mailbag

Just jumping into the mailbag after taking a couple of true days off for the first time since July, although the Julius Peppers news last night kind of kept Monday from being a true day off. Anyway, lots of questions in there, so let’s get at it.

Karl in Hampton, Ga., writes: Hey Pat, I read your blog all the time and I see you make predictions from this and that. How about you put together a mock draft picks for the NFC South? I've seen several mock drafts and don't fully agree for a main reason is the people aren't hands on with the teams. You know the NFC South better than the so called mock draft experts, and I think it would be interesting to see a NFC South expert’s point of view.

Pat Yasinskas: Karl, you’ve got a deal. I’ll do a mock draft for the NFC South teams soon, but let’s wait until after this week’s scouting combine. I think we’re only spinning our wheels until after teams get to see players work out.

Bluto in Blacksburg, Va., writes: Pat, can you explain why the Panthers are letting Peppers walk? It seems like a team with some obvious needs and no 1st round pick might want to get some value out of him.

Pat Yasinskas: I covered part of this in a column Friday about why Peppers and the Panthers have come to this point. The other aspect in all of this is that I think owner Jerry Richardson is making a statement that he’s not going to spend huge money at a time when there is so much uncertainty about the labor situation. I’m sure there are some people in the organization who would like to see the Panthers franchise Peppers for more than $20 million and, then, turn around and trade him. But Richardson is the owner and he calls the shots.

Brian in Tampa Bay writes: There are a lot of rumors floating around about the Bucs being in talks with the Rams to send their 3rd and 1st round picks, along Josh Johnson, to the Rams for the 1st overall pick. Is this just a load of you-know-what or is there actually some truth in these rumors?

Pat Yasinskas: Rumors are rumors and my bosses have rules against us doing too much speculating in this turf. But let me just say this: Who really thinks Josh Johnson has any trade value?

Phillip in Metairie, La., writes: Since the Saints are in the top eight and basically can't sign any free agents, do they even waste their time studying them or do they concentrate on the draft?

Pat Yasinskas: Excellent question. The Saints are in a unique situation -- they can’t sign an unrestricted free agent unless they lose one at a similar price. Every team in the NFL will tell you that they scout and have a file on every player in the NFL. I’m sure the Saints will say that, too, and I’m sure it’s true. You never know how things will play out. But the reality is, the Saints can probably go ahead and focus on the draft more than most teams at this point. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. That just shows how good of a job Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have done putting this roster together.