NFC South Notes: Julio, Sweezy, Bucs, Saints

Julio Jones is unlikely to become the first wide receiver in NFL history to top the 2,000-yard mark, opines Jenna Laine of, noting that Jones was able to accrue his massive yardage total — 1,871, second-most in league history — because the Falcons didn’t have many other weapons for quarterback Matt Ryan to throw to.

Since last year, Atlanta has added fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu, signing the former Bengal to a five-year pact, and tight end Austin Hooper, selected in the third round of the draft. Plus, with center Alex Mack now on board, and running back Devonta Freeman hoping to excel again under second-year offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons might not have to rely on the passing game quite as much.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South.

  • The Falcons tried to lure guard J.R. Sweezy to Atlanta during the free agent period, but the price tag on the former Seahawk eventually got too expensive, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sweezy eventually signed with another NFC South club, inking a five-year, $32.5MM deal with the Buccaneers. The Falcons, meanwhile, will fill right guard with either veteran Chris Chester, who was re-signed over the offseason, or Mike Person.
  • The Buccaneers might not be done adding free agents, and Joe Kania of identifies three veterans — edge rusher Dwight Freeney, wide receiver James Jones, and guard Jahri Evans — who could be of interest to the club in the coming weeks. For what it’s worth, all three players were listed on PFR’s ranking of the best remaining free agents on offense and defense.
  • In their series of best and worst contracts, Pro Football Focus zeroes in on the Saints‘ backfield as having two of the five worst deals given to running backs. The analytics site rates C.J. Spiller‘s four-year, $16MM deal as its worst, with Mark Ingram‘s identical contract (in terms of length and overall value) slotting fifth. Although $4MM is cheap for a starting-caliber back, PFF argues Ingram doesn’t fit the profile yet. The site ranked the former first-round pick 33rd among running backs in 2015, a season that doubled as Spiller’s worst.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report

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