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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Around the NFC South | Brianna's Blitz

Recapping the previous two weeks during the busting offseason, a tour through the NFC South

AP Images around the south_

Bucs Release Donovan Smith 

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers released starting left tackle Donovan Smith. Tampa Bay will now look for a blindside successor in 2023. The Bucs have to be under the mandatory 2023 salary cap-limit by 4:00 p.m. ET on March 15 when the new league year begins, prompting several challenging decisions in building the roster. Originally a second-round draft pick in 2015 out of Penn State, Smith, went on to start 124 regular-season games for the Bucs - sixth most of any offensive lineman in the NFL from 2015 to 2022 and the 10th-most in franchise history. Smith manned the left side of the line for Tampa Bay's Super Bowl LV Championship team and was a member of a unit that ranked first in the league in fewest sacks per pass attempt (3.1%) over the previous three seasons (2020-22). 

"I want to thank Donovan for all that he has done for the Buccaneers on and off the field over the past eight seasons," said Bucs' General Manager Jason Licht. "He stepped in as our starter at left tackle in 2015 and his durability and dependability at one of the most important positions in football played a significant role in our offensive success during his time here."

Derek Carr Joins Saints 

On Monday, the Saints announced that they have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with quarterback Derek Carr. Carr joins an offense boasting talented skill players in Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave. Since entering the league in 2014, Carr ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards, seventh in passing touchdowns and his 3,201 completions through his first nine seasons rank second in NFL history. 

Carr was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders out of Fresno State. He spent the first nine seasons of his tenure with the Raiders. The California native completed 3,201-of-4,958 passes (64.6 percent) for 35,222 yards with 217 touchdown passes, 99 interceptions and a 91.8 passer rating, while totaling 845 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground in 142 career regular season starts. The signing reunites Carr with Dennis Allen, the man who drafted him while with the Raiders organization in 2014. The Saints have struggled to find a long-term solution at quarterback since the retirement of Drew Brees in 2020 and the club saw an opportunity to get one of the top names on the market. With Carr locked-up, the Saints will prioritize adding to his supporting cast in the draft. 

Falcons Release Marcus Mariota 

The Marcus Mariota experiment in Atlanta has reached its end. Last week, the Falcons released Mariota after one year with the team. Prior to arriving in Atlanta, Mariota served as the backup for Derek Carr in Las Vegas. After the Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Colts in March of 2022, the club agreed to terms with Mariota shortly after. Mariota's signing with the Falcons and reunion with Arthur Smith - who served as Mariota's offensive coordinator during his final year in Tennessee - acted as a bridge from the Ryan-era to the future. Although the Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder after Mariota's acquisition; the team provided Mariota the opportunity to prove himself as an NFL-caliber starting quarterback. Mariota threw for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 61.3 completion percentage for the Falcons in 2022. He surpassed 250 passing yards once while going 5-8 in 13 starts. While Mariota searches for a new team, the Falcons will move forward with Ridder or a pick-up in either free agency or the draft.

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