Each Wednesday, NFP will take a look at how one of the NFL’s eight divisions did in the offseason. Today, the NFC South.
Most improved team: Bucs.
They lost a couple of solid defensive linemen in Michael Bennett and Roy Miller. But the Bucs won’t need as much pass rush with the improvements they made in the secondary. They added one of the best safeties in the league in Dashon Goldson, the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis and one of the best cornerbacks in the draft in Johnthan Banks. Derek Landri also was signed to give the Bucs some interior pass rush and offset the free agent losses. On the other side of the ball, the Bucs made Josh Freeman’s seat a little hotter, and the depth at the quarterback position better, by drafting Mike Glennon. You could make an argument for the Falcons being the most improved as well, as their additions included Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora. But they suffered some losses, including John Abraham, Tyson Clabo, Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson.
Biggest veteran move: Darrelle Revis to the Bucs.
The trade that took forever finally got done, and the Bucs ended up with the best cornerback in football. It’s fair to question the move because Revis is soon to be 28, coming off a knee injury and very well compensated. But even critics have to concede Revis easily is the best cornerback in the NFL if he is what he was, or close to it. He has the capacity to change the Bucs defense and make a lot of players around him better. Given the way division rivals can throw the ball with receivers like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steve Smith and Marques Colston, Revis can tilt the power in the division.
Best draft addition: Desmond Trufant to the Falcons.
They needed a cornerback badly after losing Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes, and general manager Thomas Dimitroff pulled the trigger on a trade to move up seven spots to take Trufant. In Trufant, the Falcons have a tough corner with all-around skills who should be able to step in and play quickly.
Best under the radar move: Keenan Lewis to the Saints.
It was the Bucs’ acquisition of Revis that got all the attention, but Lewis in many ways is a perfect fit for the Saints. The former Steeler wasn’t overly pricey (the New Orleans native said he gave the Saints a hometown discount), he has good size and is physical and he doesn’t have a lot of miles on him. His presence in the New Orleans secondary should allow new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to let the blitzes rip.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.