NFC South Notes: Saints, Bailey, Panthers

Not many football players can say they played every regular-season snap of their career — pee wee league, junior high, high school, college and NFL — within two hours of his home, but longtime Panthers offensive lineman Travelle Wharton can, writes David Newton of Wharton’s 115 games played and 111 starts rank second among Carolina offensive linemen and he’ll be remembered fondly for the versatility that allowed him to start at left guard and left tackle. “It was an awesome experience playing in the NFL,” Wharton said earlier today as his retirement was officially announced. “But to do it at home was amazing.” More out of the NFC South..

  • It wouldn’t be a shock to Greg. A Bedard of MMQB if cornerback Champ Bailey doesn’t make the Saints‘ roster. Bailey, he argues, is extremely average at this point as he has lost a step, is much stiffer in the hips, and is relying even more on his mind to make plays. Bailey has just $500K guaranteed on his contract and New Orleans has some promising young defensive backs like undrafted free agent Pierre Warren, who might have to be kept.
  • Panthers GM Dave Gettleman had a very matter-of-fact response when the Patriots plucked injured sixth-round pick Tyler Gaffney off waivers, but coach Ron Rivera admits that the loss of the rookie running back hurts. “Wow, that was a tough one,” Rivera said, according to the Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person. “It was surprising because we had him slated to have surgery and all that. New England, I knew they liked him coming out of the draft. So they made a move. I’m disappointed. You’d love to be able to keep him, but you had to make a move and that’s where we are.
  • New Saints safety Jairus Byrd claims he’s not feeling any pressure to live up to his six-year, $54MM deal, but Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune isn’t buying it. Byrd is now the second highest-paid man at his position behind Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and is coming off of a back surgery that caught many fans by surprise. Byrd, Holder writes, has to meet the expectations set by his previous five seasons on the field.
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