NFC South Watch

March 20 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin play in the NFC South Division in 2002 along with their new division rivals—the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Buccaneer Magazine will continue to keep Club Insiders updated on Tampa Bay's new division opponents throughout the offseason.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin play in the NFC South Division in 2002 along with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Buccaneer Magazine will keep Bucs fans posted on what the Pewter Pirates' new division opponents have been doing during the offseason.
Atlanta Falcons

Home Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia

2002 Draft Pick No. 16 overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft

Last Season 7-9 record. Finished tied for third place in the NFC West Division.

Head Coach Dan Reeves (also calls offensive plays)

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips

Special Teams Coach Joe DeCamillis

How They Ranked Last Season

Offense 15th overall 16th rushing 17th passing

Defense 30th overall 21st rushing 30th passing

The Latest The Atlanta Falcons signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers free agent RB Warrick Dunn to a six-year contract in excess of $26 million. Tampa Bay wanted Dunn back in a pewter and red uniform, but they weren't willing to his asking price, which many feel was absurd.

If Dunn was indeed overpaid, it wouldn't be the first player Atlanta has thrown too much money at this offseason.. Many feel Atlanta overpaid Green Bay free agent CB Allen Rossum and OT Todd Weiner by at least $1 million each when they signed recently signed them.

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank is showing Falcons fans he is not shy about opening up his checkbook, but the Dirty Birds may be in serious cap trouble in two years due to their recent transactions.

Blank was also pursuing retired general manager Ron Wolf to fill a position in the same capacity with Atlanta. Blank had reportedly offered Wolf a four-year, $4 million deal, which would have made him the highest paid general manager in the NFL. But Wolf turned down Atlanta's offer, which means Blank will pursue Tampa Bay director of player personnel Tim Ruskell for the vacant general manager position, again.


Carolina Panthers

Home Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina

2002 Draft Pick No. 2 overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft

Last Season 1-15. Carolina finished with the worst record in the NFL last season and in last place of the NFC West Division.

Head Coach John Fox (Hired after Panthers 1-15 season. Former Giants defensive coordinator).

Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning (Former Jets Offensive Coordinator. Worked under Bill Parcells).

Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio

How They Ranked Last Season

Offense 30th overall 29th rushing 26th passing

Defense 31st overall 28th rushing 28th passing

The Latest In a move expected to upgrade their secondary, Carolina recently signed Tennessee free agent CB DeRon Jenkins

The Panthers have been quiet in the offseason, but other teams have been making noise by signing their free agents. In addition to WR Donald Hayes, who departed Carolina for New England, the Panthers lost TE Luther Broughton to the Bears, who signed Carolina's third-string tight end to a one-year contract.

The Panthers also lost DT Larry Chester in free agency to the Miami Dolphins. Chester signed a four-year contract.


New Orleans Saints

Home Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana

2002 Draft Pick No. 13 overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft

Last Season 7-9 record. Finished tied for third place in the NFC West Division.

Head Coach Jim Haslett (also serves as team's defensive coordinator).

Offensive Coordinator Mike McCarthy

Special Teams Coach Joe Baker

Offense 19th overall 18th(T) rushing 10th passing

Defense 16th(T) overall 14th rushing 10th passing

The Latest The Saints have not made any noise in free agency since they signed Vikings free agent WR Jake Reed and Denver free agent CB Dale Carter to a seven-year contract. Saints LT Willie Roaf is reportedly interested in leaving New Orleans and playing for the Denver Broncos.

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