Best 2024 NFL Offseason Move For Every NFC South Team

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think anyone would disagree that the NFC South is the worst division in football, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be very competitive in 2024.

After all, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the division with a 9-8 record last season, beating out the New Orleans Saints (who were also 9-8) via the tiebreaker. The Atlanta Falcons finished 7-10, but they were actually in contention for the division crown up until the last couple of weeks.

Then, there is the Carolina Panthers, who went just 2-15 and probably won’t be making a case for the NFC South division title this coming season. Still, even they may be interesting to watch.

There were certainly some interesting decisions made within the division this offseason, so let’s break down the best offseason move by each NFC South team.

Atlanta Falcons: Signing QB Kirk Cousins.

This one is kind of by default, because the Falcons didn’t really do a whole lot else other than also selecting Michael Penix Jr. in the first round of the NFL Draft.

I actually am not too crazy about the contract Atlanta gave Kirk Cousins, which was a four-year, $180 million deal featuring $100 million in guaranteed money. That’s a whole lot of money for a guy who is coming off of a torn Achilles and will be 36 years old at the start of next season.

But I also understand why the Falcons did it.

Atlanta spent the last couple of seasons in quarterback hell, and in 2023, the team was forced to shuffle between Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke.

Even if he isn’t 100 percent, Cousins is a massive upgrade over the preceding duo, and he should ultimately have the Falcons in playoff contention.

Carolina Panthers: Trading for WR Diontae Johnson.

Bryce Young had a miserable rookie campaign under center, but a big reason for that was because he had no reliable weapons outside of Adam Thielen.

That certainly changed this offseason, as the Panthers swung a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acquire wide receiver Diontae Johnson.

Johnson is very inconsistent and has actually been a considerable disappointment over the past couple of seasons, but he also has a Pro Bowl under his belt from 2021 after hauling in 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns.

He may be frustrating, but he is immensely talented, and he will join a suddenly intriguing Panthers receiving corps that includes Thielen as well as Jonathan Mingo and incoming rookie Xavier Legette.

Of course, much of this is dependent on Young’s development, not to mention the hopeful improvement of what was a horrendous offensive line in 2023.

New Orleans Saints: Drafting OT Taliese Fuaga.

The Saints entered the NFL Draft with a rather pressing need at offensive tackle, and they filled it by selecting one of the best offensive linemen in his class in Taliese Fuaga.

Fuaga actually played right tackle at Oregon State, but the expectation is that he will be playing on the left side for New Orleans in 2024.

Don’t get me wrong: the Saints’ offensive line still needs work. The unit was one of the worst in the NFL last season, and while adding Fuaga certainly helps, it doesn’t instantly solve every problem in the trenches.

That being said, nailing down your left tackle for years to come is a great start.

As for free agency, the Saints had severe financial restrictions and weren’t able to do all that much other than sign edge rusher Chase Young, who is hoping for a breakout year (we’ve been waiting a while).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Re-signing QB Baker Mayfield.

The Buccaneers were able to re-sign Baker Mayfield on a three-year, $100 million deal, which is actually a bargain contract when you look at some of the other quarterback contracts around the league.

Mayfield was terrific for Tampa Bay in 2023 and enjoyed what was probably the best year of his career. He even made a serious push to guide the Bucs into the NFC Championship Game by putting forth a great effort on the road against the Detroit Lions.

Buccaneers brass also did a terrific job keeping the band together, re-signing wide receiver Mike Evans as well as numerous key defensive pieces.

The connection between Mayfield and Evans is one of the most overlooked in the NFL heading into 2024, and Chris Godwin is in the mix, too.

Some still have questions about whether or not Mayfield can replicate his 2023 production next season, and deservedly so. After all, he was an afterthought in 2022 while splitting time between the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams. But it’s not like he isn’t talented, and he may finally have all of the right pieces around him in Tampa.

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