The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been quiet in free agency so far, but the rest of the NFC South has been anything but. The Carolina Panthers have probably been the most active team in the NFL, while the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have all made their share of moves. Let's start with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons haven't signed any outside free agents yet, but they've been active in re-signing their own players. The Falcons have re-signed linebacker Stephen Nicholas to a five year, $17.5 million contract. Stephen Nicholas is comparable to Black, but Black cost the Bucs significantly more. Then again, Nicholas isn't necessarily the Falcons' starter, and Black is definitely a starter for the Bucs. The Falcons also re-signed LB Mike Peterson to a one-year deal, further solidifying their linebacking corps. In addition, the Falcons are supposedly trying to re-sign OT Tyson Clabo but facing stiff competition from the Buffalo Bills.
UPDATE: As soon as I post this, the Falcons reach an agreement with Clabo.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have been very active in free agency, signing multiple older players to boost their depth. It started with former Seahawk Will Herring, an unremarkable linebacker who should be in New Orleans for depth purposes. Then, they re-signed Lance Moore, one of Drew Brees' favorite options and a very reliable route runner. They also re-signed arguably their worst cornerback Leigh Torrence, who should mostly provide depth and special teams play. They then re-signed Jermon Bushrod as well, a below-average left tackle who is better than any other option they have. Then, they also re-signed Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Scott Shanle, Danny Clark and Chris Reis, as well as releasing Randall Gay.
After that onslaught of re-signing lower-end players, the Saints also made one bigger move: they traded away Reggie Bush to the Dolphins. It's not clear at this point what they got for him, though the deal supposedly included Jonathon Amaya, another lower-end player. The Saints made a lot of moves, but none of them big.
Contrast that with the Carolina Panthers, who have agreed to several huge contracts with players. The biggest of them all was retaining Charles Johnson, who had 12 sacks last year. The Panthers couldn't afford to lose a talented player like him, and they threw the bank at him: $78 million with $32 million guaranteed over six years. For someone who played well for one year. That's a ridiculous amount of money.
It didn't stop there, though. They also broke the bank for 28-year-old running back Deangelo Williams, while they still have Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson. I'm not sure how they plan to give the ball to three guys on one down, but we'll see. He got $43 million with $21 million guaranteed.
But they weren't done. They also re-signed linebackers James Anderson and Thomas Davis to solid contracts. Both linebackers have been good contributors, although Thomas Davis has been plagued by injuries. Comparing Black's contract to Anderson's, it continues to look like Black was overpaid.
The Panthers may have been terrible last year, but they're sure trying to turn it around very, very quickly.