Free Agency Recap — NFC South: Saints Land Carr

Social Navigation

Free Agency Recap — NFC South: Saints Land Carr, Panthers and Falcons Spend Big


Over the next week, we’re going to discuss the early returns for each NFL team in the free agency period. But first, a couple of notes about the structure and theme of these free agency recaps:

  • We’ll do these free agency recaps four teams at a time, grouped by division
  • These are early returns on the action that we saw between the start of the legal tampering period on March 13 and the end of the day on March 27.
  • There will be no arbitrary “grades” assigned.
  • If your favorite team didn’t get the love you expected, just know that I’m not sorry.
  • Let’s have some fun and talk some football.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

So long, Tom. And so, Long Tompa Bay. The Buccaneers are barreling toward a rebuild after Tom Brady’s age, and the salary cap caught up with them.

Notable Acquisitions

  • CB Jamel Dean (4 years, $52 million)
  • QB Baker Mayfield (1 year, $8.5 million)
  • DL Anthony Nelson (2 years, $11 million)
  • LB Lavonte David (1 year, $7 million)
  • RB Chase Edmonds (1 year, $1.2 million)


Tampa Bay was able to re-sign cornerback Jamel Dean and linebacker Lavonte David, but it won’t do them much good with the rest of the roster not good enough to contend. Unfortunately, much of their free agency recap consists of re-signs.

Baker Mayfield and Chase Edmonds, two backup-caliber players, were their key outside additions in free agency. Yikes.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons opened up the check book in free agency!

Notable Acquisitions

  • LB Lorenzo Carter (2 years, $9 million)
  • TE Jonnu Smith (trade)
  • OG Chris Lindstrom (5 years, $105 million)
  • DT David Onyemata (3 years, $35 million)
  • S Jessie Bates III (4 years, $64.02 million)
  • P Bradley Pinion (3 years, $8.6 million)
  • OT Caleb McGary (3 years, $35 million)
  • QB Taylor Heinicke (2 years, $20 million)
  • DL Calais Campbell (1 year)


Atlanta committed nearly $300 million in future money to the payers above, and they might have made themselves the favorite in the NFC South next season. Well, except for the fact that they still need a QB that can get them there.

Desmond Ridder might turn into something, but he’s not close as of now. So, neither are the Falcons, despite their free agency spending spree.

Carolina Panthers

Carolina traded DJ Moore and a bevy of draft picks to the Bears just days before free agency started, signaling they were ready to rebuild around a rookie QB. Except, they spent big in free agency?

Notable Acquisitions

  • S Vonn Bell (3 years, $22.5 million)
  • DT Shy Tuttle (3 years, $19.5 million)
  • QB Andy Dalton (2 years, $10 million)
  • TE Hayden Hurst (3 years, $21.7 million)
  • RB Miles Sanders (4 years, $25 million)
  • C Bradley Bozeman (3 years, $18 million)
  • S Julian Love (2 years, $12 million)
  • WR Adam Thielen (3 years, $25 million)
  • WR D.J. Chark (1 year, $5 million)


Andy Dalton will keep the seat of that rookie quarterback (whoever that ends up being) warm for the time being. When it’s time for that QB *cough* CJ Stroud *cough* to take over under center, Carolina has provided him with some new weapons.

Adam Theilen, D.J. Chark, Hayden Hurst, and Miles Sanders aren’t a bad start for the Panthers and their eventual franchise QB.

Carolina also added Vonn Bell and Julian Love to their secondary. I’m not sure what Carolina is doing now, but I’m not too fond of it as a Bears fan hoping for a top pick in next year’s draft. How rude.

New Orleans Saints

Like the rest of the NFC South, the Saints needed a QB. They got one in Derek Carr, and boy, did they pay a premium for his services.

Notable Acquisitions

  • QB Derek Carr (4 years, $150 million)
  • DT Nathan Shepard (3 years, $15 million)
  • DT Khalen Saunders (3 years, $14.5 million)
  • TE Juwan Johnson (2 years, $12 million)
  • DB J.T. Gray (3 years, $11.1 million)


Derek Carr comes to town on a new four-year, $150 million contract. Carr is good, but not great. Nevertheless, he could lead an excellent team on a deep playoff run, speaking in terms of the ceiling. Unfortunately for New Orleans, they’re not a reall good team. So, yeah. Good luck.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.