With quarterback Tom Brady and center Ryan Jensen both returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers overnight, the pressure is now at an all-time high for NFC South rivals to do what they can to remain competitive in the division.
Of course, part of that conversation involves the future of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Especially with both the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers expected to be in talks to acquire him.
Until that gets figured out, smaller transactions won’t dominate headlines, but will certainly help to sort what happens in the division in 2022.
The moves started quickly once the clock hit noon eastern on Monday, even though none involved anyone with an expiring contract entering the new league year.
In Atlanta, the Falcons chose not to wait until offensive lineman Jake Matthews was set to become a free agent, extending him three more years on Monday.
That report coming from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
The #Falcons and LT Jake Matthews have agreed to terms on a 3-year extension, sources say. He gets $52.5M over the first three years. New money average of $18.5M and it gives ATL some much-needed cap space.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2022
Of course, insiders are busier than usual on days like these, and Rapoport also conveyed the Carolina Panthers are releasing pass rusher, Morgan Fox.
A short time later, it was reported Carolina has also released cornerback, A.J. Bouye.
Bouye is the player who might draw interest from the Buccaneers who are expected to lose cornerback Carlton Davis III in free agency.
Having already lost offensive lineman Alex Cappa to a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, losing more players is likely to come for Jason Licht and his staff, and how they respond and refit will be critical.
Bouye has had one Pro Bowl season and has seen his career trajectory take a sharp downward turn since signing a five-year $67.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017.
Seeking another new start, Bouye wouldn’t likely directly replace Davis, but could certainly help provide depth and experience to a unit that still remains one of the youngest on the team.
For more on this story and all things Tampa Bay Buccaneers, follow us here at Bucs Nation and listen to James Yarcho and David Harrison on the Locked On Bucs Podcast!