NFC South Notes: Saints, Brees, Falcons, Bucs

While extension talks between the Saints and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees haven’t yielded progress yet, the contract-year quarterback said Thursday that he harbors no ill will toward general manager Mickey Loomis (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Just to clarify, nothing is adversarial. I have a great relationship with Mickey Loomis and have for my entire time here,” stated Brees. “We’ll see how this shakes out over the next month and a half.”

Brees reiterated Thursday that the start of the regular season is his deadline for contract negotiations, so the two sides won’t talk again until the end of the campaign if they don’t reach an agreement by Week 1. To place the franchise tag on Brees next offseason would cost the Saints $43.2MM, so that probably won’t be an option. The only choice, then, would be a multiyear deal, and Brees, 37, believes he’s capable of lasting for a while longer. “I don’t see any reason why I can’t play at the highest level for the next five years minimum,” commented Brees, who threw for 4,870 yards and 32 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 2015.

More from the NFC South:

  • After failing to add an edge rusher through either free agency or the draft and losing Hau’oli Kikaha to a torn ACL, the Saints are left to hope at least one of Kasim Edebali, Obum Gwacham or Davis Tull emerges as a viable complement to Cameron Jordan, writes Larry Holder of The 26-year-old Edebali is the most proven of the three in terms of sack production, having tallied five last season, though his overall play earned him a 103rd-place ranking among 110 qualifying edge defenders at Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Gwacham impressively picked up 2.5 sacks in just 97 snaps as a sixth-round rookie. Tull, meanwhile, didn’t get into a game last year after the Saints selected him in the fifth round of the draft. The Saints’ woeful defense finished a bottom-of-the-barrel 25th in the NFL in sacks last season (31), and nearly a third came from Jordan (10).
  • The Falcons, who have three roster spots available, worked out some receivers Thursday and could sign one, according to Vaughn McClure of (on Twitter). McClure didn’t specify which wideouts tried out with the Falcons, though the free agent list isn’t exactly rife with appealing options at this point. Notably, the Falcons auditioned ex-Chargers practice squad member Donatella Luckett last month. The top of Atlanta’s receiver depth chart is all set with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy in place, but there are questions about the unit otherwise.
  • One reason the Falcons are looking for depth at receiver is because they released Devin Hester on Tuesday. General manager Thomas Dimitroff spoke about cutting the all-time great return man Thursday, saying, “He passed his (pre-camp) physical. It was a football decision for us in the end” (via Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution). Hester, 33, underwent toe surgery in January and missed all but five games last season because of the issue. He also failed to register a reception after pulling in 38 in 2014.
  • The Buccaneers auditioned free agent offensive tackle Caylin Hauptmann on Thursday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Hauptmann, 25, has garnered just one NFL appearance, which came back in 2013 as a member of the Seahawks. He has also spent time with the Browns and Patriots organizations.
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