Our sources have been hearing the following whispers from around the NFC South:
• FS Darren Sharper would like to return for a 15th NFL season, and we hear it's possible that he'll re-up with the Saints for another year. The Saints have only one safety under contract for next season — starting FS Malcolm Jenkins — and Sharper should come fairly cheap.
• The Buccaneers ran their version of the "Wildcat" formation with backup QB Josh Johnson under center during the season, and we hear the team would like to make that package a more frequently featured part of the offense next season. Johnson completed 14-of-16 pass attempts last season and averaged 9.8 yards per carry on his four rushing attempts.
• We hear new Panthers head coach Ron Rivera would like to have at least two members of the staff that served under his predecessor, John Fox, stay with the team, but Fox is also believed to be interested in having those coaches leave Carolina to work with him in Denver. The two assistants — offensive line coach Dave Magazu and WR coach Tyke Tolbert — both have expiring contracts and are free to leave Carolina.
• While the Falcons were still alive in the playoffs, head coach Mike Smith had said it wouldn't be right for him to spend any time thinking about the contract extension that is rumored to be coming his way this offseason, but C Todd McClure, the team's longest-tenured player, told PFW that Smith will have earned it if a new deal comes his way. "That'll all take care of itself," McClure said. "Is he deserving of it? Yeah, I definitely think so."