HomeTrade RumorsUpdates on Fitterer, Mayfield, and the Saints in the NFC South

Updates on Fitterer, Mayfield, and the Saints in the NFC South

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With the Panthers bottoming out and David Tepper firing another head coach, it has seemed likely the team will move on from its GM as well. Given Tepper’s comments, it is worth wondering how much power Scott Fitterer has held since Matt Rhule‘s October 2022 firing. But Fitterer is clearly on a hot seat in Carolina. Following Frank Reich‘s ouster, the team should be expected to move on from its third-year GM, per the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora. Fitterer ran point on the decision to reject the Rams’ two-first-rounder offer for Brian Burns before the 2022 trade deadline, and his negotiations with Ryan Poles led to the March blockbuster for the Bryce Young draft slot.

Of course, it is widely believed Tepper drove the Panthers’ effort to select Young first overall. That process will lead to the Bears holding the Panthers’ 2024 first-round pick, which currently checks in at No. 1 overall. Fitterer hot-seat rumors surfaced before Reich’s firing, and although a November report pointed to Tepper keeping his GM around to help attract Lions OC Ben Johnson shed light on a possible lifeline for the ex-Seahawks exec, a 2024 housecleaning seems likelier given the events of 2023.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Baker Mayfield signed a one-year, $4MM Buccaneers deal in March, earning a starting job despite a rough 2022. Incentives exist in the sixth-year quarterback’s contract, and Fox Sports’ Greg Auman notes he has cashed in on some of those already. Mayfield has collected $500K by staying in the Bucs’ lineup, with Auman noting the team included $250K bumps for hitting the 55%, 65%, 75% and 85% snap rates. Mayfield staying healthy the rest of the way would lead to him adding $1MM in incentives. Additionally, Auman indicates a bonus exists for a Bucs playoff win. Although the Bucs are 6-7, they currently hold the NFC West tiebreaker. Mayfield is interested in staying with the Bucs beyond this season, though no known extension talks have occurred yet.
  • One of Mayfield’s current division rivals has not enjoyed a healthy season. Derek Carr has sustained two concussions and dealt with shoulder trouble, but the Saints‘ big-ticket QB addition has not missed a start. In addition to the head and shoulder issues, Carr has sustained three rib fractures this year, per NewOrleans.football’s Brooke Kirchhofer. In 10 seasons, Carr has only missed three career games due to injury. But his playing hurt has affected the Saints this season. While Carr’s completion percentage is up significantly from 2022, his QBR has dropped. Given a four-year, $150MM contract that includes $70MM fully guaranteed, Carr ranks 23rd in QBR through 13 games.
  • Michael Thomas has once again seen an injury take him out of New Orleans’ equation. The eighth-year wide receiver, who has dealt with persistent injury issues during the 2020s, is on IR with a knee injury. The former All-Pro will be eligible to be activated in Week 16, but NewOrleans.football’s Nick Underhill doubts he comes back until at least the Saints’ regular-season finale. Should that game not mean anything for the team, Thomas would have little incentive to return. The 30-year-old pass catcher’s 10 games this season are his most since 2019, but he has now missed 43 games since the 2020 season.
  • As Carr dealt with the first of his 2023 injuries, New Orleans attempted to sign a player off Denver’s practice squad. The Saints tried to add Ben DiNucci off the Broncos’ P-squad in September, per the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. DiNucci, who returned to the NFL after an XFL run, opted to stay where he was for continuity purposes. After DiNucci’s decision, the Saints added Jake Luton to their 53-man roster instead. DiNucci said the Broncos are expected to make up the difference he would have made as part of the Saints’ active roster. Denver elevated DiNucci in Week 13, allowing him to pick up a $48K game check. Doing so two more times would match the total DiNucci would have earned while on the Saints’ 53-man roster for the mandated three weeks.

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