Set to hold their rookie minicamp next weekend, the Falcons want to move quickly and get their entire draft class signed this week, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. The Falcons have informed the agents representing these rookies they want the class signed by Friday, per McClure. This would continue a pattern of expediency for the defending NFC champions. Atlanta was the first team to reach agreements with its entire 2016 draft class. The Falcons have not signed any of their six picks yet. Division rival Carolina, which held its rookie camp this weekend, beat them to the punch by signings its entire seven-man haul. With 20 teams set to hold their rookie camps next weekend, signings should soon accelerate since they’re no longer especially complicated negotiations.
Here’s the latest from the NFC South on the first rookie minicamp weekend.
- A Riley Cooper comeback is unlikely to commence with the Buccaneers, who allowed him to audition this weekend during their rookie camp. Tampa Bay is not expected not to sign him, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes (on Twitter). Cooper played six years with the Eagles and signed a five-year, $25MM extension during the Chip Kelly regime. But his Eagles career did not continue into the post-Kelly era, and the 29-year-old did not play in the NFL last season. Tampa Bay added DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin this offseason to their bolster a receiving corps that became quite reliant on Mike Evans in 2016.
- Stephone Anthony may not have an open-and-shut case for a Saints roster spot come training camp. The linebacker has not been able to stick at one position nor has he been the surefire starter the team envisioned when it invested a first-round draft pick in him in 2015. NOLA.com’s Josh Katzenstein, though, expects the Saints to give the former Clemson ‘backer to receive another chance in 2017. Katzenstein, while adding that Anthony has not shown an ability to play special teams, expects the former No. 31 overall pick to compete for the strong-side linebacker spot after being moved there from the middle last year. The Saints added UFAs Alex Okafor and A.J. Klein to their linebacking corps this offseason and used a third-round pick on Florida’s Alex Anzalone, complicating an Anthony ascent.
- Willie Snead has not signed his ERFA tender worth $615K yet, but he’s bound to the Saints for the time being. The fourth-year wide receiver caught in with the Saints’ practice squad in December 2014, after the Panthers cut him from theirs, and became a key contributor the past two years. The Saints run the risk of decreasing Snead’s desire to stay in New Orleans long-term by keeping him on the roster at that rate, Katzenstein writes, but the team doesn’t have any incentive to do a deal now. The writer expects a Snead pact at some point, though. The Saints were in the early stages of such a goodwill-based agreement in April, but nothing has transpired on that front since.
- Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane interviewed for the Bills’ GM vacancy this week.