NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Nicks

The Falcons and Saints have each added former Cardinals edge rushers over the past 24 hours, as Atlanta agreed to terms with Dwight Freeney while New Orleans inked Matt Shaughnessy. Both defenses were among the worst in the league at generating pressure last season, and the Falcons and Saints will hope that their new additions will help them get after opposing quarterbacks. For more on the Falcons, check back in with PFR later tonight for a recap of the Freeney signing and the rest of Atlanta’s moves in our latest Offseason in Review.

Let’s take a quick spin around the NFC South:

  • The Panthers have a plethora of options at defensive tackle, and they’re so stacked at the position that they might be forced to release a talented player, as Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer writes. Kawann Short (who is engaged in extension talks), Star Lotulelei, and first-round pick Vernon Butler are guaranteed places on the roster, meaning Paul Soliai and Kyle Love will have to compete for the final tackle spot, unless Carolina opts to keep five interior defenders. The Panthers handed Soliai $3MM fully guaranteed less than five months ago, so it would be a surprise to see him get cut loose.
  • Hakeem Nicksone-year deal with the Saints is a minimum salary benefit contract and contains no guaranteed money, reports Nick Underhill of the Advocate. As such, Nicks is essentially joining New Orleans on nothing more than a tryout basis, and will seek to earn a role behind Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, and Brandon Coleman. Nicks reportedly stayed in contact with Saints head coach Sean Payton after a workout earlier this year, texting Payton on a weekly basis and sending along workout videos.
  • Former South Florida defensive back Jamie Byrd tried out for the Saints today, according to a source who spoke with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). In his senior season with the Bulls, Byrd posted 80 tackles and finished second on the team with 11 tackles for loss, and said earlier this year that he had “no answers” for not being selected in the draft or being offered a UDFA deal.
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