These plans are best summed up by Tampa Bay columnist Martin Fennelly, who puts a Buccaneer twist on the state of the NFC South.
“The Bounty has sailed,” Fennelly wrote. “Sean Payton and New Orleans sleep with the fishes. There is blood in the water in the NFC South.”
While the Bucs aren’t the heavy favorite to take the NFC South, they were underachievers last year and have made a flurry of roster moves to right their ship, including bringing wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
The Falcons are the most likely contender to challenge the Saints for the NFC South belt as they ended up 10-6 last season despite their slow start. They return with their highly talented offense, primed with a new offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, who is expected to help Matt Ryan rise to the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks.
Finally, there are the Panthers and their prodigy, Cam Newton. While they only went 6-10 last season, it’s not as bad as it sounds considering they had a rookie quarterback. We saw Newton’s brilliance on the field last year and know it will only get better this season as the offense congeals around him. With that in mind, the Panthers are one of the most likely teams in the NFL to perform a 180 degree turn and jump from the bottom of their division to the top.
As long as the Saints have Drew Brees, though, the blood in the water could just be chum, luring opposing teams into a trap. So don’t get your hopes up on a changing of the guard in the NFC South just yet as those waters remain murky for all teams involved.
One thing is for sure: the course the Saints are about to embark on has never been charted before and with the carousel of player and coaching moves happening throughout the NFL right now, it is difficult to accurately plot the final destination.
Unfortunately for football fans, a season that promises to be more exciting and unprecedented than its offseason is still nearly a six months away. But in the meantime, stay tuned as the offseason juggernaut will likely offer a few more surprises to keep the NFL fanfare in a fever pitch.