How the first wave of free agency has reshaped the NFC South

NFCSouthFreeAgency

There have been some drastic changes to the NFC South since NFL free agency officially began on March 18.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added quarterback Tom Brady to their roster, and the Carolina Panthers parted ways with former NFL MVP Cam Newton. The Atlanta Falcons also made a few notable moves, seeking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2017.

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Free agency is far from over, but many of the top-tier moves have already been made. With the most notable wave of free agency behind us, let's take a look at how the NFC South has been altered.

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Atlanta Falcons

Key additions

The Falcons addressed some of the primary holes on their roster in pretty interesting ways during the first week of free agency. Headlined by the addition of former Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Atlanta added more big-name free agents than it has in recent offseasons. Dante Fowler should help add firepower to the Falcons' pass rush, although it's possible the team still decides to add even more in the draft. Atlanta traded for Hayden Hurst to help mitigate the loss of tight end Austin Hooper, and former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell should give the Falcons' receiver corps even more depth.

Key Losses:

  • LB Vic Beasley
  • P Matt Bosher
  • LB De'Vondre Campbell
  • DE Adrian Clayborn
  • DT Jack Crawford
  • RB Devonta Freeman
  • TE Austin Hooper
  • G Wes Schweitzer
  • CB Desmond Trufant

Some of Atlanta's key players from the past several seasons are no longer on the roster, including several former Pro Bowlers. While the Falcons have made moves to help replace players like Vic Beasley and Devonta Freeman, the losses of Desmond Trufant and De'Vondre Campbell could impact the way they approach the NFL Draft.

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Carolina Panthers

Key Additions:

  • WR Robby Anderson
  • QB Teddy Bridgewater
  • S Juston Burris
  • WR Pharoh Cooper
  • G John Miller
  • OT Russell Okung
  • LB Tahir Whitehead

The major addition for the Panthers thus far in the offseason was the signing of former Saints and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The former first-round pick was 5-0 during his starts with New Orleans in 2019 and seemed on his way towards become a franchise quarterback prior to a devastating knee injury in 2016. Around Bridgewater, the Panthers added to their group of receivers by bringing in Robby Anderson and Pharoh Cooper. It's unclear how competitive the Panthers will be in Matt Rhule's first year as head coach, but they've taken some steps to reshape their roster this offseason.

Key Losses:

  • LB Mario Addison
  • QB Kyle Allen
  • CB James Bradberry
  • DB Ross Cockrell
  • LB Bruce Irvin
  • LB Luke Kuechly
  • DT Gerald McCoy
  • QB Cam Newton
  • TE Greg Olsen
  • DT Dontari Poe
  • S Eric Reid
  • G Trai Turner
  • G Greg Van Roten
  • T Daryl Williams
  • WR Jarius Wright

Like the Falcons, the Panthers had a large departure of players who played significant minutes during their time with the organization. Players like Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly have been foundational members of the team over the past several seasons, and replacing them won't be an easy task. If Carolina does take a drastic step back in 2020, the losses the team has had in free agency will be something to point to.

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New Orleans Saints

Key additions:

  • FB Michael Burton
  • S Malcolm Jenkins
  • WR Emmanuel Sanders
  • FS D.J. Swearinger

The New Orleans Saints didn't make too many additions to their roster, but the ones they did make certainly are interesting. Bringing back safety Malcolm Jenkins shouldn't be discounted by any means, as he's been among the best players at his position throughout his career. Emmanuel Sanders also gives the Saints another dynamic receiver to pair with Michael Thomas, which should certainly make life easier for Drew Brees. The Saints have been among the most talented teams in the NFL, and they should enter 2020 once again looking to make a deep playoff run.

Key losses:

  • CB Eli Apple
  • S Vonn Bell
  • QB Teddy Bridgewater
  • WR Ted Ginn
  • LB A.J. Klein
  • FB Zach Line
  • CB P.J. Williams

The Saints said goodbye to some key players from the past couple of seasons like Vonn Bell, Ted Ginn and Eli Apple, but they've made moves to replace them and, in some cases, upgrade. There aren't too many holes on New Orleans' roster, and the Saints could likely fill them in the draft. New Orleans doesn't appear to have weakened any throughout free agency.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tosses the football on the sideline in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key additions:

  • QB Tom Brady
  • G Joe Haeg

Tampa Bay obviously scored the big signing of the offseason by landing Tom Brady, the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history. It will be interesting to see how he fits into a Bruce Arians offense that has historically liked to push the ball downfield. Regardless, Brady coming to Tampa Bay means the Buccaneers should by no means be overlooked. With an offense that features plenty of weapons and a defense that was arguably the most improved in the NFL last season, Tampa Bay could certainly be a playoff contender in 2020.

Key losses:

  • S Andrew Adams
  • DT Beau Allen
  • RB Peyton Barber
  • OT Demar Dotson
  • LB Carl Nassib
  • WR Breshad Perriman
  • QB Jameis Winston

The Buccaneers had a couple of notable departures in free agency, including Jameis Winston, but none that should critically set back the team. Tampa Bay's roster won't look drastically different next season, at least in terms of their top-tier players, and Brady won't put the defense in difficult situations as often as Winston did. Andrew Adams, Carl Nassib and Breshad Perriman became important role players for Tampa Bay, but they aren't irreplaceable. Keep an eye on the Buccaneers next season.

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