After the first week of 2020 NFL free agency and with the moves the NFC South made, this is clearly the division no team wants to be up against.
The superiority of divisions in the NFL ebbs and flows from year to year. At one time, the NFC South was feared due, in part, to their quarterbacks along with the talented rosters they came with. Things have shifted a lot since then. But after a hectic start to 2020 NFL free agency, it looks like the NFC South is getting back on track.
While the draft still looms, the moves made in free agency by the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and even the Carolina Panthers have the NFC South garnering a ton of buzz. And that makes sense given the severity of the additions or retentions that were made.
Last year’s NFC South champs, the Saints, haven’t been the most active participants in free agency. Of course, they started from the catbird seat and needed only to retain key pieces, re-signing Drew Brees, Andrus Peat and David Onyemata. However, adding Malcolm Jenkins and Emmanuel Sanders are two huge moves for the defending division champions.
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Maintaining their veterans while adding two more valuable contributors, one on each side of the ball, is good business for New Orleans. After going 13-3 last season, they needed supplementary pieces to get better. That’s what they’ve done in free agency.
As for the Panthers, they cost the Saints one of their biggest pieces that hit the market, inking Teddy Bridgewater to take the place of Cam Newton. Bridgewater now gets his chance to lead an NFL offense again while giving Carolina a fresh start. However, the Panthers weren’t done there. Recently, they added wide receiver Robby Anderson to the offense, which should strengthen that unit further. They still have holes on defense to fill but they could be a sneaky team in 2020.
The Falcons were not to be held quietly, although they were up against the salary cap at the start of free agency. Even if they were largely quiet, however, they made a few splash moves. Not only did they grab Todd Gurley, bringing the running back home to Georgia following his release from the Rams, but they signed another former Ram in Dante Fowler Jr. in hopes of bolstering the pass rush.
And of course, there’s the Buccaneers, the only team Tom Brady will have played for other than the Patriots starting in 2020. Brady replaces Jameis Winston on a team that went 7-9 a season ago. Now, with the six-time Super Bowl champion leading a young, talented roster — especially after retaining Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh — the Buccaneers are considered viable Super Bowl contenders.
With all of these major additions, it’s fair to say that all four teams in the NFC South have gotten stronger as they approach the 2020 season. And the NFL Draft could only further that as all four teams own their first-round picks and could make moves to add another game-changing player to the mix.
How the NFC South sorts itself out remains to be seen. Let’s face it, we’ve not seen these teams in their newest forms play just yet. Having said that, this division got a facelift and it’s fair to say that they could be a giant to the other 28 teams in the league, the division that no one wants to be up against in the forthcoming season.