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NFC South notebook: Bucs on brink of losing Leftwich, Payton moves on from Saints

The biggest NFC South headlines from SB Nation blogs

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Press Conference Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look around the NFC South and check out the latest SB Nation news and notes revolving around each team, starting with our Carolina Panthers.

Carolina Panthers

In Charlotte, the Panthers officially brought on former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo. In doing so, the team is signalling a desire to rely on a more veteran offensive coordinator presence after disposing of the 32-year-old Joe Brady during the season. One Cat Scratch Reader writer questions just how effective the hire will be.

Meanwhile, we gave report cards to each of the offensive and defensive rookies. And as for next year’s rookies? We took a look at the new mock drafts from both Daniel Jeremiah and Pro Football Focus. Jeremiah suggested the Panthers draft Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner with their first round pick while Pro Football Focus chose a left tackle, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross.

Finally, the Panthers promoted director of player negotiations and salary cap manager Samir Suleiman to a newly created position — VP of football administration.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Over in Bucs Land, the team is reportedly about to lose offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who the Jacksonville Jaguars are set to hire as head coach.

Head coach Bruce Arians will be returning for 2022 but quarterback Tom Brady is still unsure. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is similarly taking his time on a retirement decision.

In the Antonio Brown saga, the former Buccaneers receiver and his lawyer Sean Burstyn went on “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on HBO. Burstyn shared that they have documented evidence of Brown telling head coach Bruce Arians about his injured ankle while on the sidelines of the New York Jets game. He claims General Manager Jason Licht interviewed Arians that evening following the Jets game and texted the receiver’s camp with notes of the discussion between Licht and Arians, which included Brown’s claims of telling the coach on the sidelines of his injured ankle.

“Both sides, at least privately, are in agreement that Antonio’s ankle was injured and he directly told the team about it,” Burstyn stated during the interview.

Atlanta Falcons

In Atlanta, the Falcons could be losing national scout Ruston Webster. He’s currently being interviewed by the Las Vegas Raiders for their vacant general manager position. Webster was the Titans general manager from 2012 to 2015.

Meanwhile, Dave Choate argues that the progress of the 2021 draft class is going to be instrumental to Atlanta’s 2022 success, which seems like a pretty fair argument. Chief among that argument would be the future play of talented tight end Kyle Pitts.

The 11-year-veteran blocking tight end Lee Smith is retiring while the team signed offensive lineman Rashaad Coward to reserve/future deal.

New Orleans Saints

Just one season after franchise quarterback Drew Brees hung up the cleats, Saints head coach Sean Payton has decided it’s time for him to move on, too. The longtime New Orleans boss decided to step away after 16 seasons as head coach.

With no starting quarterback or head coach at the moment, the Saints organization has a lot of big moves to make over the next few months.

Terry Kimble argues that the Big Easy is a top destination for NFL head coaches while Ross Jackson took a look at potential in-house candidates for the vacant job.

Payton’s departure also has some fans wondering how quarterback Taysom Hill will fare going forward. It’s fair to say that Hill benefitted significantly from Payton’s presence. Without the offensive guru, will be continue to be as effective?

To end off with a bang, let’s take a look at a memorable Twitter spat involving former Saints and Giants cornerback Eli Apple. Apple, a current corner on the Cincinnati Bengals, targeted his ire at fans of the Saints and the Giants. For that, fans and even a current Saints defender shot back at Apple.