In this installment of the bold free agent signings, the NFL Fan Blitz staff takes a look at the NFC South.
New Orleans Saints: WR Golden Tate
The Saints need more firepower on options to take some heat off of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Enter Golden Tate, a dynamic slot receiver who will turn 31 years old before the start of the season. Tate was traded to the Eagles by the Lions mid-season and when asked about his impending free agency, he was quoted as saying “I know what talent I have, and I know what I bring to the table, but at the end of the day, it’s about winning playoff games and getting Super Bowls, and that’s what I want to do.”
The Eagles would have the first crack at signing Tate to an extension and Philadelphia is definitely a team that should be in the playoff hunt next season, but the chance to pair up with a legendary quarterback in Drew Brees and a play-caller looking to scheme him open in Sean Payton might be too good for Tate to pass up. The Saints have limited cap space but the combination of Brees and Tate nearing the end of their careers could convince Tate to take a cheaper deal to allow him to compete for a Super Bowl in the 2019 season. The Saints acquired slot option Cameron Meredith in free agency last season but he was sent to IR in November 2018 and his health remains a question mark for the team.
– Luis Hernandez
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Le’Veon Bell
For the last four years, the Bucs have struggled in the running game and have been at the bottom of the NFL rankings in rushing. During the 2018 season, the Bucs averaged 95 yards per game on the ground which was good for 28th overall in the league.
The Bucs had just one game in 2018 where the running back rushed for 100 yards. That was done by Peyton Barber in a losing effort against the New York Giants.
Bell coming to Tampa would change that immediately. Not only would Bell be a threat running the ball, but he would also be a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield, something the Bucs did not have this past season. The combination of Barber, Ronald Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for just 65 catches out of the backfield.
Bell averaged 4.5 yards-per-carry in 2016-17 and had one hundred sixty catches out of the backfield those two seasons.
The Bucs would need to sign Bell to a contract that would pay him sixteen to eighteen million a season, a contract a little higher than that of Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants.
The signing of Bell would have a ripple effect as the team would gain a newfound respect and credibility around the league. This signing is also the kind that the Bucs could use as a recruiting tool to lure other potential free agents to Tampa.
If the Bucs can sign Bell to a contract, print your playoff tickets now.
– Tim Filler
Atlanta Falcons: DT Malcom Brown
Heading into this offseason, the Falcons top two defensive tackles are set to hit the free agent market. Games are fought for and won in the trenches and adding a solid DT with some ability to get to the passer would pay dividends for the back end of the defense as well. Grady Jarrett has a chance to be re-signed, but upgrading the position further would be a wise decision given the state of the Falcons defense. They finished in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed in 2018 at an average of 4.7 yards-per-carry, and despite Brown coming off arguably the worst year of his career, there could be value to be had as an obvious upgrade over Terrell McClain.
– Grant Morse
Carolina Panthers: OT Daryl Williams
The case for Daryl Williams is two-fold. The first being the collapse of the Panthers offensive line since letting Jordan Gross retire, and losing Andrew Norwell to the Jaguars in Free Agency last year. It has been an offensive line held together by a safety pin all season and the dam finally broke exposing the weaknesses in the pass protection and resulting in the Panthers’ entire QB depth chart receiving injury. The other case for Daryl Williams is how quickly he caught on and became a Pro Bowler at Right Tackle, helping the 2017 Carolina Panthers rush for over 100 yards for a streak of an astonishing 10 games and in that same time frame he only allowed three sacks the entire year. The 2018 Panthers could have definitely used that double-sided protection but multiple injuries forced Williams’ season to an early close. He will be tough to retain as he is considered the top Offensive Tackle in this year’s weak Free Agency Class.
– Joshua Outland