Andy Dalton

QB Rumors: Brady, 49ers, Purdy, Dalton, Eagles, Maye, Jones, Giants, Jackson, Ravens

Kyle Shanahan confirmed Brock Purdy‘s account that provided one final Tom Brady49ers connection. Shanahan alerted Purdy of his effort to lure Brady out of retirement during the younger QB’s rehab from UCL surgery. Brady passed, leading to the 49ers’ Sam Darnold signing.

I actually thought it was giving Brock the biggest compliment,” Shanahan said, via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I let him know he’s our guy long term. No question. And if Tom Brady wanted to come here and start for one year, that’s the only way you’re not starting when you’re healthy this year. That’s pretty cool. I wanted to assure him, ‘Don’t worry. You’re our guy. But how cool would it be if Tom Brady would be the quarterback here for one season? How cool would it be for you to learn from him?

I mean, if Brock never got hurt, this wouldn’t have been a consideration at all. I’d never have brought it up. But I’ve got to think about the team. What if he’s not ready in September?

Brady’s re-retirement has stuck, with the 46-year-old legend not playing in 2023. The 49ers passed on making a serious pursuit of the Bay Area native in 2020, sticking with Jimmy Garoppolo. Brady was connected to the 49ers in 2022 as well, but when the Buccaneers would not trade his rights during retirement No. 1, he came back to Tampa. The seven-time Super Bowl winner is en route to becoming a Raiders minority owner and FOX’s No. 1 analyst. Purdy, who was back by training camp and showed last season his post-Garoppolo work as a rookie was no fluke, is signed through the 2025 season. The 49ers cannot give him an extension until after this year.

Here is the latest from the quarterback scene:

  • Drake Maye will join Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels in not throwing at the Combine, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson. Widely expected to be a top-five pick, Maye is only scheduled to meet with teams and go through physicals. A light Indianapolis schedule is mostly available only to surefire candidates to go off the board early, but such prospects are taking advantage of the limited participation option.
  • Not nearly on the level of the Brady-49ers what-if transaction, the Eagles made a strong pursuit for Andy Dalton during last year’s free agency,’s Adam Caplan notes. A signing was close here, per Caplan, but Philadelphia pivoted to Marcus Mariota after Dalton chose Carolina’s two-year, $10MM ($8MM guaranteed) offer. The Eagles added Mariota on a one-year, $5MM deal. Barring a Mariota re-signing, Philly will need to add a new backup quarterback soon.
  • Daniel Jones‘ rehab continues to unfold smoothly. Giants GM Joe Schoen expects his starter to be ready for training camp and indicated the sixth-year veteran has begun throwing. Jones is not yet dropping back and throwing, but not yet four months after his ACL tear, the longtime New York starter is progressing toward his goal of a training camp return. Schoen reiterated (via’s Michael Eisen) at the Combine that Jones will be the Giants’ starter if healthy. The Giants are still expected to add a quarterback, though one of this offseason’s central storylines is whether that passer will be a first-round pick or merely a veteran backup for Jones. The Giants can get out of Jones’ contract with a modest dead-money sum in 2025.
  • Lamar Jackson did not sign his Ravens extension until draft day last year, stalling his start in new OC Todd Monken‘s system. That did not exactly slow the dual-threat superstar, who won his second MVP award. But the Ravens are giving Jackson more autonomy into the offense’s design this year, per John Harbaugh. The 17th-year Baltimore HC said conversations with Jackson about new offensive dimensions began soon after the team’s AFC championship game loss.

Panthers Likely To Make Aggressive Ben Johnson Pursuit; Team Considered Benching Bryce Young?

The Panthers made a push to hire Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this offseason, but the rising play-caller withdrew his name from consideration for that job or other HC positions. Despite Johnson turning down the Panthers in January, the team will be prepared to see if it can change the second-year OC’s mind.

Rumored to once again be targeting a coach with an offensive background, the Panthers will have their sights set on Johnson. Following the quick Frank Reich ouster, the Panthers look to be more interested in Johnson than they were earlier this year, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes.

Some around the NFL are convinced David Tepper will up the ante for the Detroit OC, La Canfora adds. Tepper’s increasingly polarizing reputation aside, the Panthers owner’s net worth sits behind only the Walton family in Denver among. Tepper made the comment about no salary cap being in place for coaches this offseason, when he added Ejiro Evero, Thomas Brown, Jim Caldwell, Josh McCown and Dom Capers to Reich’s staff.

But Johnson is on track to be a coveted commodity on the 2024 HC carousel. The Chargers have been linked to him as well, and he is expected to be interested in coaching Justin Herbert — a position expected to become available with Brandon Staley struggling in his third season — in 2024. Tepper’s reputation for impulsive decisions and meddling is also expected to make this search more complicated than those to replace Ron Rivera and Matt Rhule.

Tepper’s willingness to spend for coaches, as evidenced by Rhule’s seven-year deal worth $62MM, could certainly matter to a point. And a GM informed La Canfora the owner may be willing to keep GM Scott Fitterer on to help lure Johnson to Charlotte. Viewed as a GM not insistent on playing the lead role in personnel, Fitterer — who indeed operated as second-in-command during Rhule’s run — does not have experience working with Johnson. The latter has been with the Lions since 2019; he spent the previous seven years with the Dolphins.

It would certainly be interesting for the Panthers to keep a GM on staff in hopes he can lure a promising HC to town, and it would not exactly reflect well on the team’s situation for Johnson to turn the club down twice. Tepper hired Fitterer to work alongside Rhule, but a report last month suggested he joined Reich on the hot seat. With the Panthers starting 1-11, Fitterer receiving a fourth season in the GM chair might be a tough sell. But the Panthers are in an unusual spot, seeing their owner become the center of attention during this run of inconsistency on the sideline and at the quarterback position.

On the latter front, Bryce Young has continued to struggle, doing so as No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud has separated himself in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Tepper attempted to insist the Panthers were in full agreement regarding Young over Stroud, but the 5-foot-10 passer did not receive a good draw in Year 1. The Panthers have lost both starting guards for the season, and free agency additions Miles Sanders and Hayden Hurst — each securing the most guaranteed money at their respective positions this offseason — have not moved the needle much. These signings, of course, came after the Panthers included longtime No. 1 wide receiver D.J. Moore in the trade for the No. 1 pick.

Young’s rookie-year issues were evident early to some on staff, as The Athletic’s Dianna Russini adds multiple coaches on staff wanted to bench the former Heisman winner by Week 5 (subscription required). Viewing Young as requiring more coaching before he could be relied upon as a weekly starter, these coaches were ultimately overruled by a Panthers vision that placed a higher priority on long-term Young development rather than potential 2023 wins with Andy Dalton at the helm. The Panthers fired both McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley. Parks Frazier, who rose from assistant Colts QBs coach to offensive coordinator in the wake of Reich’s 2022 firing, is now coaching the Panthers’ QBs, the Charlotte Observer’s Mike Kaye tweets.

It is not known if McCown and Staley backed a Young benching, but Tepper has attempted to drive home the notion the staff was in agreement on the Alabama prospect. Reich was connected to being pro-Stroud early in the pre-draft process, though he said post-draft he was in alignment with Panthers scouts on Young. The Panthers remain hopeful regarding Young’s development, with one team staffer (via Russini) citing the shortcomings of the team’s offensive pieces around him.

Circling back to Reich, La Canfora offers one of the reasons Tepper cut the cord so early was the veteran coach’s lower-key demeanor. Reich, 61, is not known as an intense leader. Reich’s measured approach came up against two outspoken owners during his HC career, with Jim Irsay becoming increasingly involved as the former Super Bowl-winning OC’s Colts run progressed. Reich signed a four-year contract. While Rhule’s Nebraska contract moved the Panthers off the hook for much of the money remaining on his NFL contract, via offset language, Reich said he is likely headed toward retirement. In that event, the Panthers will be paying their former HC through 2026.

Panthers To Start Andy Dalton In Week 3

SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach Frank Reich confirmed on Friday that Young (who was again sidelined for practice) will indeed be incactive on Sunday, meaning Dalton will see his first action since joining the Panthers. Reich added, via Joe Person of The Athletic, that Young is facing a recovery timeline of one to two weeks. That could put him in line to return in Week 4, though the Panthers will no doubt proceed with plenty of caution before green-lighting him to take the field again.

SEPTEMBER 21: The ankle injury Bryce Young sustained is on track to keep him out of the Panthers’ Week 3 contest against the Seahawks. The No. 1 overall pick is expected to sit Sunday, Darin Gantt of writes. This puts Andy Dalton in line to start.

Young suffered the injury at some point during the first half of the Panthers’ Monday-night loss to the Saints. He has picked up two DNPs this week. While a return Friday would reopen the door to Young suiting up, the Panthers not rushing their prized investment makes more sense.

Carolina added Dalton in free agency, signing the veteran between the time it acquired the No. 1 overall pick and made the Young choice, and gave him the most guaranteed money among backup options this year. Dalton’s two-year, $10MM deal contains $8MM fully guaranteed. This contract dwarfs what Dalton made with the Saints — for whom he started 14 games — last season, highlighting the priority the Panthers gave to staffing their backup job.

One of the NFL’s most experienced players, Dalton has made 162 starts over the course of his 13-year career. Despite entering the 2020 and 2022 seasons in backup roles, Dalton logged 25 combined starts with the Cowboys and Saints. Dak Prescott sustained a season-ending ankle injury in 2020, while Jameis Winston initially exited New Orleans’ lineup due to injury but never received another chance to unseat Dalton after healing up. This is Dalton’s fifth team in five years, having made his way from Cincinnati to Dallas to Chicago to New Orleans to Charlotte.

Last season, Dalton averaged 7.6 yards per attempt — his highest mark since 2015 — and finished with his top passer rating since that ’15 Bengals slate as well. This came during a Saints season in which Michael Thomas played three games and Jarvis Landry battled injuries as well. Dalton, 35, threw 18 touchdown passes and nine interceptions during his Saints one-off. The team pivoted to a much bigger QB investment — Derek Carr — before the market opened in March. The Saints are not believed to have entered talks about re-signing Dalton, who played out a one-year, $3.5MM contract.

Young is off to a slow start, though given the makeup of Carolina’s offense, that should have been expected. The Panthers traded their No. 1 wide receiver (D.J. Moore) to obtain the top pick and played Week 2 without both starting guards. Brady Christensen is out for the season, and Austin Corbett resides on the Panthers’ reserve/PUP list. Through two games, Young’s QBR ranks 27th. The Panthers obviously are looking at their 5-foot-10 passer through a long-term lens, and it looks like he will some additional time to heal his ankle before resuming his first NFL season.

QB injuries have become commonplace for the Panthers, who have not seen their starter make it through a full season since Cam Newton did so in 2017. Newton’s shoulder and foot trouble led to his Charlotte exit. Sam Darnold battled injuries in both his Panthers seasons, and Baker Mayfield‘s low-quality showing featured an injury-driven interruption. Teddy Bridgewater did play 15 games in 2020, though Matt Rhule quickly backtracked on that contract and dealt him to the Broncos the following year.

Latest On Panthers’ QB Situation

Few developments during OTAs have long-term effects for teams, given the voluntary and non-contact nature of the spring practices. In Carolina, though, an expected change on the team’s quarterback depth chart recently took place.

The Panthers moved Bryce Young to the top of the QB pecking order during practice earlier this week, as detailed by Joe Person and Larry Holder of The Athletic (subscription required). The 2023 first overall pick took full first-team reps for the first time this offseason, having previously split them with veteran Andy Dalton. As confirmed by by both head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer, this switch was had been planned in advance and communicated to both signal-callers.

The move comes after the Panthers had taken a cautious approach with Young to begin his first NFL offseason, one in which he is widely expected to be confirmed as the team’s No. 1 for the season. The Alabama product was the target of the team’s trade-up to the top selection, and is thus in their plans as a franchise passer for the long-term future. To no surprise, though, Reich declined to use the depth chart promotion as a reason to declare Young the 2023 starter.

“Not yet,” Reich said when asked about a timeline on that front. “He’s showing everything you want to see. But this goes back to even the draft decision – you don’t make a decision until you have to make it. We’re just giving him and our team the opportunity to get better and to earn that starting role.”

Dalton, 35, signed with the Panthers on a two-year deal in March, continuing his moves around the league after the end of his Bengals tenure. The three-time Pro Bowler had one-year stints in Dallas, Chicago and New Orleans where he was brought in to serve as a backup, though he logged 29 starts over that span. After staying ahead of Jameis Winston on the Saints’ depth chart last season, Dalton confirmed his belief that he could handle QB1 duties in a different situation.

“I definitely think that I’m still one of the 32 [best] guys out there,” the former second-rounder said, via ESPN’s David Newton. “But I know that’s not the position I’m in. My whole goal is to kind of be the example and… not necessarily set the standard but show how it’s supposed to be done.”

Dalton posted a 6-8 record as a starter in New Orleans, tossing 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 66.7% of his passes. Those totals helped keep the Saints in playoff contention deep into the season, though they elected to retain Winston and add Derek Carr this offseason. Dalton could still be a trusted backup for Carolina, especially compared to third-stringer Matt Corral, who missed his entire rookie year in 2022 due to injury.

The Panthers face numerous questions heading into 2023, given the myriad changes which have taken place on and off the field and the sidelines, and the resultant expectations for improvement on offense. Young will no doubt be a focal point for attention in that regard, and his process toward being the starter has taken an important step. His progression through the rest of the offseason will remain a storyline to follow in Charlotte.

Latest On QB Bryce Young, Panthers’ Offense

The Panthers traded up and drafted Alabama’s Bryce Young No. 1 overall with the intention that he would be the team’s new starter at quarterback. Yet during organized team activities, head coach Frank Reich had presumed backup Andy Dalton running with the starters. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, this isn’t necessarily indicative of the true depth chart but more a practice in efficiency.

Of course, as a coach, you prefer not to hand Young the starting job on a silver platter. You’d rather he “earn” the job by performing better than the other quarterbacks on the depth chart. But expecting a rookie to be better prepared for an entirely new system, when veterans have mostly been at the facilities for five weeks now, is unrealistic.

As a head coach new to his team, Reich is intent on establishing his operation at an optimal, functional level. This early into Young’s tenure, he’s just not prepared enough to run the Panthers’ system to the level that Dalton can. Does this mean that Dalton would forever run with the first string? Likely, not. But until Young is up to speed and ready to efficiently run with the ones, having Dalton behind center has been the best way to implement Reich’s operation. In fact, a week after Breer’s report, David Newton of ESPN reported that, while Dalton is still taking the first snaps with the first team, Young is getting more overall snaps with the first string, indicating the progress that we expect from the top overall draft pick.

The system that’s being implemented is designed for Young, anyway. According to a different report from Newton, Reich is allowing new, first-time NFL offensive coordinator Thomas Brown to design a spread-formation system that meshes some of what Brown learned under Sean McVay in Los Angeles and what Reich ran with the Colts. Brown is building the offense with Young in mind, claiming that he doesn’t want to take away Young’s “superpower.”

Lastly, with Dalton and Young likely cemented in the first two slots of the depth chart, there were rumblings that last year’s third-round pick, Matt Corral, was on the trading block, and perhaps that he wanted to go. The most recent reports from this week, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt, indicate that Corral no longer desires an exit. Corral “made it clear (to the media that) he doesn’t want to be traded,” listing playing for Reich as a major reason for staying.

Panthers Expected To Sign Andy Dalton

The Saints have moved on to Derek Carr, and although Jameis Winston is staying in New Orleans, the team’s primary 2022 starter will not. The Panthers are bringing in Andy Dalton.

Dalton will sign with the Panthers, according to Adam Schefter of, who notes (on Twitter) the agreement is for two years and $10MM. The 13th-year passer will receive $8MM fully guaranteed on a deal that can max out at $17MM.

On a crowded market for stopgap- and backup-type QBs, Dalton fared better than he did last year. The Saints gave him a one-year, $3.5MM deal and turned their eyes to Carr this offseason. It appears Carolina is preparing a quarterback plan that includes Dalton as the bridge passer and its No. 1 overall pick — whomever that may be — as the project. While that leaves an uncertain runway for the veteran, Dalton’s fully guaranteed money should reveal some faith he may once again earn a Week 1 starting gig.

Dalton, 35, has been a Week 1 starter in 10 of his prior 12 NFL seasons. The one-time Carson Palmer heir apparent, amid the latter’s trade demand/retirement, started nine straight opening days with the Bengals and opened the 2021 campaign as the Bears’ first-stringer. Dalton did not emerge for the Cowboys until Dak Prescott‘s ankle injury midway through the 2020 season, and Winston started for the Saints last September. But Dalton quickly replaced Winston and did not give up the job, starting 14 games in 2022.

QBR placed Dalton 21st last season, though Pro Football Focus slotted the unlikely 14-game starter seventh overall at the position. The Red Rifle completed a career-high 66.7% of his passes — at 7.6 yards per attempt, the TCU product’s highest average since 2015 — for a Saints team that again saw Michael Thomas fade quickly from its aerial equation. Dalton still helped Chris Olave to a solid rookie season, but injuries often left him with little to work with outside Olave and emerging tight end Juwan Johnson.

The Panthers traded up from No. 9 to No. 1, parting with D.J. Moore in order to solve their years-long QB issue. While they now have a need at receiver, their quarterback plan is coming into focus. Carolina has trotted out a few veteran retreads — from Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Darnold to Baker Mayfield — since Cam Newton‘s injuries piled up ahead of his 2020 release. With Dalton set up as a stopgap, the team looks to have a clearer vision to start Reich’s tenure. Though, identifying which quarterback to draft will be rather important next month.

Saints To Retain HC Dennis Allen

Rumors about a quick Sean Payton New Orleans return emerged late last month, but Mickey Loomis squashed that prospect Friday. The longtime Saints GM said Dennis Allen is not going anywhere.

Allen will return for a second season as the Saints’ HC. While it was trending in this direction, despite the team’s first 10-loss season since 2005, Loomis confirming it adds finality to what had become a murky situation. Allen has been with the Saints for the past eight seasons, returning to New Orleans after a failed stint as a head coach in Oakland.

Although Payton’s potential interest in returning generated understandable attention, ownership is behind Allen — for at least as second season. The Saints have granted permission for Payton to speak with other teams — a Broncos interview is on tap for Tuesday — but Loomis said (via Nick Underhill of, on Twitter) compensation has not been finalized, citing different levels each of the interested teams are able to send.

Payton, who coached the Saints for 16 seasons, is believed to want to bring personnel staffers with him wherever he goes. As far as coaches, Loomis said (via Underhill) the Saints would probably block contracted staffers from leaving — so long as it is a lateral move, as rises to coordinator positions are unblockable. No GM interview requests have come in for Saints execs yet this offseason, and no New Orleans coordinators are on this year’s coaching carousel.

A report indicated the Saints and Broncos had agreed on a Payton compensation package — without Payton having agreed to terms to become Denver’s HC yet — that includes a first-round pick and then some. It is unclear if that will be the final price. No head coach has been traded since the Chiefs sent the Jets a fourth-round pick for Herm Edwards in 2006. It took just a second-rounder for the Seahawks to acquire Mike Holmgren‘s rights in 1999, though the Jon Gruden (2002), Bill Belichick (2000) and Bill Parcells (1997) trades all involved first-round picks.

As for Allen, he did have the Saints back in relative contention — since the NFC South was historically bad this season — late in the season. The Saints won three of their final four games to finish 7-10. Were it not for a late-game collapse in Tampa, New Orleans would have entered Week 18 with a chance to win the division. The longtime Saints DC-turned-Payton replacement oversaw fifth- and ninth-place defensive rankings (yardage, points), but New Orleans’ offense ranked 22nd in scoring its first post-Payton slate.

Loomis said the team has no plans to “blow things up,” so an Allen-overseen rebuild is not in the cards. The Saints are again in need at quarterback, with Andy Dalton‘s contract expiring and Jameis Winston having been benched. The team has not begun any negotiations with Dalton about a return yet, per Underhill (Twitter links). Dalton, 35, signed a one-year, $3MM deal but ended up usurping Winston early in the season. Dalton started 14 games for the Saints — his most starts since the 2017 season. New Orleans figures to be in the mix for a QB upgrade this offseason.

Latest On Saints’ QB Situation

The Saints had recently entertained the notion of making a quarterback change for the second time this season, but that move will be delayed for at least one more week. Head coach Dennis Allen confirmed on Wednesday that Andy Dalton will remain the team’s starter in Week 11.

The veteran has been in place as New Orleans’ No. 1 since Week 4, when he stepped in for an injured Jameis Winston. The latter entered the season fully recovered from his 2021 ACL tear and with a two-year deal in hand to continue where he left off last season. Back and ankle injuries have limited his availability during this campaign, however, and he struggled during his three starts.

Dalton remained atop the depth chart even after Winston was healthy enough to dress, given the team’s relative offensive success. Last month, Allen indicated that Dalton could take on the starter’s role on a full-time basis depending on his performance and Winston’s availability to recover. The 35-year-old’s first five starts saw the Saints put up no fewer than 24 points in each contest, quelling any potential controversy at the position.

In the two games which have followed, New Orleans has scored 23 total points in losses to the Ravens and Steelers. Allen endorsed Dalton in the former case, stating that he gave no consideration to a midgame QB change against Baltimore. Days ago, though, the door seemed to open to a Winston return as the Saints remain in search of a catalyst for their banged-up offense.

“[W]e haven’t been doing as well the last couple weeks,” Allen said earlier this week, via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, on the subject of a potential quarterback swap. “So, I think we’ve gotta evaluate that. I think that’s something that we need to look at.”

Allen said today (via Terrell, on Twitter) that Winston is still not 100% healthy. More worryingly, he added that it remains unclear if the former No. 1 pick will reach full health any time soon. For at least one more game, then, it will be Dalton under center as New Orleans hosts the Rams on Sunday as a pair of struggling teams aim for their fourth win of the season.

Andy Dalton To Remain Saints’ Starting QB

Last night saw the Saints deliver an underwhelming performance on offense during their loss to the Ravens. It invited questions about the team’s quarterback plans moving forward, but no changes are imminent on that front.

Veteran Andy Dalton made his sixth consecutive start in the 27-13 loss, one in which the Saints converted three of 11 third downs and were out-possessed by more than 15 minutes. Overall, the 35-year-old threw for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception. At no time during the contest, though, did head coach Dennis Allen consider making a switch.

“There was a lot that wasn’t good offensively tonight,” Allen said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk“There was a lot of dirty hands in that.” Taking a wider view of the Saints’ offense, he added, “whatever it’s been, five weeks, I think our offense has been pretty good… I’m looking at this as we had a bad day at the office offensively tonight” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell).

Dalton took over for an injured Jameis Winston beginning in Week 4. While the latter worked his way toward recovery from back and ankle ailments, Dalton had guided the team to two victories and three one-score losses heading into last night. The longtime Bengals starter, who has since become a journeyman backup, was said to have a relatively long leash last month based on his play.

Things took a turn on Monday, Dalton’s 20th loss in 26 career primetime appearances. Overall, though, the Saints have been more productive with him at the helm compared to Winston, who threw five interceptions and took 11 sacks in his three starts to begin the campaign. He was signed to a two-year deal this offseason to return to the starting role he had prior to last year’s ACL tear, but Allen’s remarks confirm that the situation is much different in 2022.

New Orleans’ QB plans are being made, of course, within the context of an offense which has been shorthanded throughout the campaign. The team’s much-improved receiving corps has not been at full strength, a situation which is likely to remain the case with Michael Thomas not expected to play again this year. Dalton – or, Winston, if another switch is made down the road – will remain in less-than-ideal circumstances for the duration, as the 3-6 team looks to regroup in the wide-open NFC South.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Brate

Even after the Panthers traded Robbie Anderson, they are still being linked to moving key pieces. The team still wants to keep its defensive core together, according to’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter). That said, Robinson adds that while the Panthers are not going to conduct a fire sale, they will likely aim to unload more players viewed as “Matt Rhule guys.”

This is interesting considering the two players who have been most closely linked to trades — Christian McCaffrey and Shaq Thompson — were brought in before Rhule arrived. Rhule did greenlight McCaffrey’s extension; Thompson’s deal came under Marty Hurney‘s leadership. Carolina’s Temple contingent remains strong, even post-Anderson. Matthew Ioannidis, Cory Littleton and P.J. Walker remain in key roles, though Rhule-backed players cannot only be limited to the ones he coached in college. Littleton and Ioannidis are on one-year deals, making them interesting trade candidates.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • David Tepper bought the Panthers in 2018. The two football-related storylines most closely associated with the owner are Rhule’s seven-year, $62MM contract and the team’s Deshaun Watson pursuit. With the Panthers not having a winning season during Tepper’s time, is safe to say the owner’s stock has dipped. In the wake of Rhule’s firing, multiple NFL personnel men did not speak highly of Tepper, whom they classify as emotional and “difficult” to work for, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones. Descriptions like these, along with Carolina’s quarterback situation, stand to make it harder for Tepper to hire his next coach. Then again, he could simply throw out another monster contract. Rhule was believed to prefer the Giants to the Panthers in 2020, but money certainly talked.
  • Although the Panthers designated Sam Darnold for return from IR, Steve Wilks said Walker will be his starter in Week 7. Jacob Eason will back up the former XFLer. Walker started in Week 6 and struggled, but the Panthers’ top three options (Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Matt Corral) are injured. Mayfield did return to practice Thursday, suggesting a possible Week 8 return is in play. But Mayfield and Darnold are set to wage another competition — several weeks after Mayfield prevailed in the training camp battle — following the former’s woeful start. The Panthers have three weeks to activate Darnold from IR.
  • The Saints will go with Andy Dalton again tonight. The 12th-year vet will make his fourth start this season, while Ed Werder of notes (via Twitter) Jameis Winston will be the emergency No. 3 QB. Dalton supplanting Winston as the Saints’ full-time starter entered the equation recently, though Dennis Allen said Winston is not yet fully healthy. Winston, whom Dalton initially replaced due to spine fractures, re-signed on a two-year, $28MM deal this offseason. The Saints guaranteed Winston $15.2MM; Dalton is making $3MM this year.
  • Cameron Brate left the Buccaneers‘ Week 6 game on a stretcher, but Todd Bowles provided relatively good news on the veteran tight end. Brate sustained a sprained neck and did not suffer any loss of feeling or nerve damage. It is not clear when the ninth-year Buccaneer will be able to play again. The Bucs drafted two tight ends — Cade Otton and Ko Kieft — this year before signing Kyle Rudolph. Otton, a fourth-round pick out of Washington, worked as Brate’s primary replacement against the Steelers.