NFC South Notes: Freeman, Panthers, Oher

Devonta Freeman is staying patient with regards to his contract talks with the Falcons, as ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure writes. Freeman has already made a major mark on the franchise after becoming the first Falcons running back since Michael Turner (2010-11) to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. The Falcons obviously want to keep him in the fold beyond the final year of his rookie contract, but it may take some time for the two sides to come to terms. Freeman’s agent famously said that he wants him to be paid like an “elite” running back, but Atlanta would like to avoid going into Le’Veon Bell/LeSean McCoy territory with a new deal.

Here’s more out of the NFC South:

  • When asked about tackle Michael Oher, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’s preparing for camp with the 90 guys who will be on the roster, adding that the front office is “taking care of it,” (Twitter link via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer). Reading between the lines, it sounds like Rivera is not banking on having Oher with the team in 2017. Oher reported to Carolina’s minicamp this week, but he did not practice on the field with the rest of the team. As Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) notes, nobody has ever been in the concussion protocol as long as Oher and returned to play in the NFL.
  • Wide receiver Willie Snead remains optimistic and hopeful that he’ll sign a long-term deal with the Saints before the season starts, Joel Erickson of The Advocate writes. “I think the guys upstairs are working on it,” Snead said. “I’m hopeful, and I just have to keep worrying about myself and staying healthy and doing all the right things. I know it’s going to be a handled, it’s going to take time, but I feel like we’ll get it done sooner or later.” Snead was retained for this year via the $615K exclusive rights free agent tender.
  • The Panthers named Bryan Porter as the team’s new director of football operations. Porter has been with the team since 2001 and has gradually moved his way up the ladder.
  • The Saints intend to sign linebacker/defensive end Royce LaFrance before the start of training camp, Nick Underhill of The Advocate hears (on Twitter).
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