The offseason for the NFL has officially arrived, the combine has come and gone and free agency has begun. Teams around the league are looking toward the 2023 season hoping to win the Super Bowl.
For the teams of the NFC South, the theme for this offseason is winning the division. While for other divisions that is easier said than done, the NFC South is wide open for anyone to take.
The NFC South is coming off a terrible season, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the division with a record of 8–9. The rest of the teams were not far behind winning either as the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers all finished with 7–10 records.
Any of these teams could have won the division throughout the season as the Buccaneers did not clinch the division until they beat the Panthers in Week 17. Until that point, both the Saints and Panthers had chances to win the division.
Entering this off-season, though, the division is truly wide open after Buccaneers star quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement.
However, the lack of a quarterback is only one of their many issues.
To try and fill their quarterback position, the Buccaneers have signed Baker Mayfield to a one year, $4 million deal. Mayfield was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and brought them their first playoff victory since 1994 in the 2020 Wild Card.
They have also released running back Leonard Fournette after he led the league’s worst rushing offense, only managing a meager 679 yards and three touchdowns.
The Buccaneers have re-signed several defensive players to keep their defense competitive as their offense struggled to muster 18.2 points per game.
Cornerback Jamel Dean resigned on a four-year, $52 million contract, outside linebacker Anthony Nelson resigned on a two-year, $10 million contract, and inside linebacker Lavonte David resigned for a one-year deal at $7 million.
The Atlanta Falcons have been at work since the opening of free agency. One of the Falcons’ biggest issues in the 2022 season was their defense, which allowed an average of 22.7 points per game.
The Falcons have made a number of signings to fix this issue at almost every position. They signed Bengals’ safety Jessie Bates III to a four-year, $64 million deal, Saints’ defensive tackle David Onyemata to a three-year, $35 million deal, and Saints’ outside linebacker Kaden Ellis to a three-year, $21 million deal.
Along with the defensive signings, the Falcons have re-signed right tackle Kaleb McGary to a three-year deal. They have also signed veteran quarterback Taylor Heinicke to a two-year deal.
Carolina has made one of the biggest moves of the off-season so far, trading the Chicago Bears for the first overall pick in the draft. That pick did not come cheap as the Panthers traded two first round picks, two second round picks, and franchise wide receiver DJ Moore.
With the first overall pick, the Panthers are in the perfect position to draft their next franchise quarterback in either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud.
The Panthers with free agency have taken steps to build an offense to help this new quarterback as they signed Philadelphia Eagles’ running back Miles Sanders and Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst to multi-year deals. They have also re-signed center Bradley Bozeman and signed Texans’ guard Justin McCray.
The Panthers have also made splashes on the other side of the ball by signing Bengals’ strong safety Vonn Bell, Saints’ defensive tackle Shy Tuttle and Denver Broncos defensive end DeShawn Williams.
The final team to talk about is the New Orleans Saints, who just finished their first season with new head coach Dennis Allen and came into the off-season with the worst cap space in the division.
One of the first problems that the Saints dealt with was quarterback. They signed longtime Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to a four-year deal worth $150 million.
This signing sees the Saints acquire the best quarterback currently in the division, with the next best being Tampa Bay’s Baker Mayfield.
They have also added additional help on offense signing the rushing touchdown leader Jamaal Williams to a three year deal. Williams should prove to be a good pairing with Alvin Kamara.
The Saints have made signings on the defensive side of the ball with defensive end Nathan Shepherd and defensive tackle Khalen Saunders.
These additions should help bolster the Saints’ rushing defense which was one of the worst in the league last season.