Saturday, February 25, 2012
Walker's weekend mailbag: More Manning
By James Walker
Let's see what’s in the AFC East mailbag this week.
Clinton Buckland from Little Rock, Ark., writes: If Miami lands a healthy Peyton Manning, what would your prediction be to them winning the AFC East, the conference, and even the Super Bowl next year?
James Walker: Whoa, whoa! Slow down, Clinton. It's too early for those kind of predictions. Let the draft, free agency and maybe even the preseason play out first. But it’s safe to say the Dolphins are a great quarterback away from being a contender. If Manning is healthy, and that's the key, he would make Miami a playoff contender. Whether the Dolphins can compete with the New England Patriots in the AFC East and the rest of the conference, let's see how things play out.
Ryan from Miami, Fla., writes: Miami won the coin toss and is entering the draft one spot ahead. But is that going to really change the price tag for trading up to the No.2 spot?
Walker: Yes, Ryan, but only marginally. Teams have a trade value chart that they use to determine the value of each pick. The No. 8 pick is worth more points than the No. 9 pick. That's simple math. But I don't see Miami going into the draft with a need at quarterback anyway. They will chase Manning first and Matt Flynn second. If Miami doesn't have a quarterback by then, the team is in trouble. There will be plenty of suitors for Robert Griffin III, and I don't think Miami will get him at No. 2.
Tony from Denver, Colo., writes: Where do you see Chad Henne ending up this next fall? It seems to me like he would be a solid backup somewhere, and could work on his consistency to try and become a starter sometime in the future.
Walker: My prediction is the New York Jets, Tony. New York is looking for an affordable backup who is good enough to push Mark Sanchez to be the best quarterback he can be, and Henne is a favorite of new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano from their days in Miami. It makes sense on a lot of levels. But there will be several teams with interest in Henne, especially as a backup.
Paul from Purcellville, Va., writes: Any chance the Jets will cut Bart Scott and use the cap room to pursue Johnathan Vilma?
Walker: Scott has been rumored to be on the chopping block, but I can't say for certain that will be the case. The Jets will have a lot of dead money by cutting some high-priced veterans. I think resructuring, like the Jets did with left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, is the way to go. Teams save cap space and keep the player. The salary cap is expected to go up soon anyway. So it makes sense to push the hit to future years. Vilma, interestingly enough, started his career with the Jets. But if New York spends on a linebacker this year, it will be more of an edge-rushing type.
PJ from Manasquan, N.J., writes: With extra cap room can the Jets sign Mario Williams or another high-profile pass-rusher?
Walker: I don't see it, PJ. Williams is arguably the best defensive free agent available. Teams will be lining up around the corner and throwing big dollars at Williams next month. The Jets don't have the chips to win that fight. I think safety, right tackle and wide receiver are bigger needs.
Nick from Daytona Beach writes: Since the Buffalo Bills might not be able to retain Steve Johnson, do you think the New England Patriots will pursue him as their deep threat?
Walker: Johnson is not the type of receiver the Patriots are looking for, Nick. Johnson isn't a deep threat or home-run hitter. Brandon Lloyd is more of the type of receiver New England wants. The Patriots need someone who can make big plays and take pressure of receiver Wes Welker and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski underneath.
Sayid from Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: Do you think its a possibility that the Patriots trade within the top five picks to secure the top CB in the draft?
Walker: The Patriots are much more likely to trade back, Sayid. But I do expect the Patriots to do something unexpected this time, although trading into the top five is not one of those things. New England could use both picks or even go after a player like Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace.
Matthew from Buffalo writes: All this talk about Steve Johnson, I feel any of us are forgetting Scott Chandler. What are the bills going to do with him? Will we try to upgrade or keep him?
Walker: Good question, Matthew. Chandler is a guy who is replaceable for Buffalo, but he has more value to the Bills than anywhere else. He's solid, but he's not a highly-productive player in terms of numbers. So there won't be teams out there giving Chandler a big contract. But the Bills know how well he fits in their scheme, so I expect them to make Chandler a decent offer.
Jeff in Boston writes: Question on the Bills: Does having cornerback Stanford Routt come first to Buffalo demonstrate that the Bills are serious about being players in this year's free-agency class?
Walker: Yes, it does, Jeff. But I think the bigger issue is will Buffalo's efforts be fruitful. Bills fans have emailed their dislike when I say it's hard to recruit free agents to Buffalo. Add in the fact the Bills do not have a winning program and it's even more difficult. This is not a shot at the town and the organization. I'm just pointing out the reality and something that's been proven over the years. Routt was the latest example. He visited the Bills, who pushed hard, and still went elsewhere. I like that Buffalo is trying, but it's going to take some extra effort (and money) to convince top free agents the Bills is the best place for them.
AFC East Hater of the Week
We don't have a homer, but we do have a big-time hater from our AFC East community this week.
Samuel from Rochester, N.Y., writes: Of course you wouldn’t want to see Manning go to the Jets because you are a writer in Miami. But let me tell you this: With the head coach Miami has now and the OC, that offense will be a West Coast offense. When have you ever seen Peyton play in a West Coast offense? I know you are going to be a hater because you’re a writer in Miami. But remember this: If the New York Jets get Peyton Manning you can kiss your Dolphins goodbye twice a year buddy! Best believe that Eli Manning will be pushing for his brother to come to New York too pal!
Walker: Samuel, I made five valid points why Miami is a great fit for Manning, and you didn't bother to detract any of them. Your comeback is I made those points because I live in Miami, a place that I moved to just five months ago from Cleveland? I'm not a homer for the Dolphins, just like I'm not a homer for the Patriots when I predicted they would win the AFC East (correct), the AFC (correct) and the Super Bowl (just missed). The West Coast offense is a nice point. But that won't stop Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland from pursuing arguably the best quarterback of our generation. The offense isn't in yet. If Miami gets Manning, the team will make the necessary adjustments with elements of the West Coast and things to make Manning comfortable. As for the Jets, unless Eli Manning can widen New York's salary cap and the Jets cut quarterback Mark Sanchez in the next couple of weeks, they have no chance of getting Peyton Manning. Your team is committed to Sanchez for at least one more year, Samuel. Miami, Washington and Arizona all have better odds for Manning. Congrats, Samuel, on being our AFC East "Hater of the Week."
If you have any other questions, comments or complaints, please send them to our AFC East inbox.