The NFC South is going to look mighty different in 2022. Tom Brady has retired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sean Payton is no longer the coach of the New Orleans Saints. The Carolina Panthers tried the Cam Newton Experience 2.0 and it crashed and burned. The Atlanta Falcons remained fairly stagnant from 2020 to 2021 so they will need to change something to compete in the division next season.
Free agency will produce considerably player movement as always, some teams will look largely the same. The published divisional odds from DraftKings Sportsbook provide a deeper look into the perceived hierarchy of each division and how much upside certain teams have within them.
Even without Brady, the Buccaneers are still one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL. But don’t be shocked if the odds for this division look drastically different in two months after the draft and free agency. Along with Brady’s departure, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin are both going to be free agents, potentially leaving the offense with a number of holes that need to be filled.
They will have 24 unrestricted free agents. From their main holes on offense, they will look to get younger on their defensive line while also looking to shore up the cornerback position. If they are able to get some speed to go along with Devin White in the linebacker room, they could win the battle of attrition that will be this division this year.
The Saints join the rest of the division in uncertainty with who will be under center. Sean Payton always had a weird fascination with Taysom Hill under center, but it remains to be seen who will; be the signal-caller for the Saints this year. Other than quarterback, the Saints are going to have two safeties to replace that are hitting free agency.
When it comes to the Saints' offense, it was ugly when the Saints didn’t have wide receiver Michael Thomas to boost their pass-catchers. As good as Alvin Kamara is, he can’t be the team’s entire offense. They need wide receiver help and they need the dominant tight end that we have become accustomed to seeing in this offense.
The Panthers have a question as to who will be under center this season. They are likely to take a quarterback with the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft if they find one that they like enough to spend the draft capital on.
Don’t look now, but the Panthers have a sneakily scary secondary and defense. Give them another defensive tackle and some depth at linebacker and if they can avoid the big injuries that they had in 2021, they could be competitive this season. In free agency, the Panthers need to build their offensive line and bring in an edge rusher to help whomever they add during the draft.
How long does Matt Ryan have left? That is the main question surrounding this team’s offense. With wide receiver Calvin Ridley stepping away from football and being uncertain about his own future in the league, the Falcons need to add wide receiver depth to help give Ryan more options in the offense.
Otherwise, the Falcons need a little bit of everything for their team. I feel like their organization is going to look like a Madden franchise where they simultaneously build for the future while trying to compete and get under the salary cap. One thing is for certain, it is going to be interesting what they pull off, but don’t be surprised if they are headed for mediocrity again in 2022.
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