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Saturday, June 19, 2010
NFC North weekend mailbag

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

I once listened to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" for almost 24 consecutive hours. Long story. Not that interesting. But I think it pretty much describes what any football fan feels in the middle of June.

When I'm drivin' in my car

and a man comes on the radio

he's tellin' me more and more

about some useless information

supposed to fire my imagination.

I can't get no, oh no no no.

Hey hey hey, that's what I say.


I can't get no satisfaction,

I can't get no satisfaction.

'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.

I can't get no, I can't get no.


Express your own dissatisfaction through the mailbag portal, Facebook or Twitter.

Onward...

Via Facebook, Donald writes: I am curious about Albert Haynesworth. Do you think Jim Schwartz or Lions brass would have interest in either trading for him (at a reduced rate) or claiming/signing him after he is released? I think he and Ndamukong Suh would be two unstoppable forces upfront for the Lions.

Kevin Seifert: Like many teams, I'm sure the Lions are conflicted about Haynesworth. When his head is right, Haynesworth can be a rare player. Schwartz built his scheme with Haynesworth playing defensive tackle at Tennessee, and I'm sure he could figure out a way for Haynesworth and Suh to play next to each other.

From a financial standpoint, many teams would jump at committing a relatively small total of $9 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. That bargain would come courtesy of the Redskins, who have already paid him $32 million.

Schwartz and the Lions would have to consider Haynesworth's well-deserved history of troublemaking and decide if he's worthy of insertion into their rebuilding process. After all of that, the hardest part of this decision is finding out how to pry Haynesworth away from the Redskins.

There is some thought that interested teams should wait for Haynesworth's eventual release, especially if the Redskins are successful in their efforts to capture part of his signing bonus. But if the Lions wanted to trade for him, and the Redskins just want to be done with this situation, it's worth revisiting a possibility we first broached in April.

Former Green Bay contract negotiator and current National Football Post columnist Andrew Brandt hatched a trade idea that would give the Redskins financial relief in another way. It calls for Haynesworth to keep all of the Redskins' money while the acquiring team takes on the expensive contract of another Redskins veteran -- namely, running back Clinton Portis.

Portis is due to make $7.2 million in 2010, of which $6.43 million is guaranteed. The Redskins would get some financial relief, and the new team would have to guarantee a total of $15.43 million for Haynesworth and Portis combined. The Redskins already have veteran running backs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson on their roster, while the Lions could surely use some backfield depth while Kevin Smith rehabilitates his knee injury.

You don't often see moves like this in the NFL. But you don't often see players demanding a trade from a team that has paid them $32 million over the past 15 months, either.


Neal of Eau Claire, Wis., writes: Who do you think has the best 5-year plan in the NFCN? As a Packers fan, I constantly hear Ted Thompson discuss "building for the future," which is how I came to think about this topic. Having Aaron Rodgers alone I think (in my very biased opinion) puts the Pack at or near the top, but being one of the youngest teams in the NFL helps also (Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, Greg Jennings, etc.).

I have to say that having Matthew Stafford on offense (who I believe showed great leadership and character in the win last year in which he dislocated his shoulder) and Suh (also seems to have great character) on defense bodes well for the Lions. I think even the Bears are in a better position than the Vikings given that the Vikings have no plan at QB and Adrian Peterson will be out of his prime in a couple years.

What do you think?? Obviously hard to say and maybe impossible to predict, but gives us something to talk about in the month of June.

Kevin Seifert: I like your thinking, Neal. If the most important long-term position is quarterback, then the Packers are ahead of, well, the NFC North pack. The Bears could soon be in a comparable position with Jay Cutler if he settles down this season, and with Stafford, the Lions have their most important building block in place as well.

Aside from quarterback, I think the Vikings have done a solid job in flushing young talent into their offense. Receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are 23 and 22, respectively. Rookie tailback Toby Gerhart is 23. Two younger players, center John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt, assumed starting jobs on the offensive line last season.

Defensively, however, the Vikings' best players are aging. Nose tackle Pat Williams is 37. Cornerback Antoine Winfield will turn 33 next week. Linebacker Ben Leber is 30. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams turns 30 in August. They'll need to accelerate their replenishing process on that side of the ball.

On a relative scale, the Packers might well have the best five-year outlook among NFC North teams. But let's not equate average age with the total youth of a roster. There are key players on both sides of the ball who will need replacements soon, from receiver Donald Driver (35) to tackles Chad Clifton (34 next week) and Mark Tauscher (33) to cornerback Al Harris (35). That list includes some of the Packers' most reliable players over the past decade.

But overall I would agree with you, Neal, and put the Packers at the top of this list.


Jay of the Bay Area writes: Is Brad Childress losing control of his team? Every week, there seems to be some story about a player doing something that Childress is either unhappy about or naive about or something. The issues with Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway strike me as instances in which the players feel they're running the team ... and don't even get me started on the Favre situation and the precedent that set (and is setting).

Kevin Seifert: Jay, I actually don't think the situation is quite that dramatic. I think it's a bit worrisome that an All-Pro tailback has been disconnected for much of the offseason. And my conspiracy radar went up when Childress and Greenway provided conflicting explanations for why he didn't practice during minicamp.

But I really don't think that Favre's special circumstances have bled into the rest of the locker room. I've not sensed that anyone else believes they are entitled to Favre's offseason vacation, and I would be surprised if Peterson ever cites that as a reason for his absence.

Childress does have a veteran locker room, and he needs to give them a certain amount of leeway. That's a long way from losing control of a team, and I don't think I've implied that in anything I've written. Unless you've read the blog like our next reader:


John of St. Paul writes: You embody everything that is vile about the media. Stop being so doom and gloom over melodrama. It's freaking pathetic. Your hyperbolic description over the Vikings offseason is obviously an overcompensation to appear impartial. It comes off as forced. Just write, dude.

Kevin Seifert: Funny, I was voted "Most Vile" in high school? It all makes sense now. Semi-seriously, John, you've introduced a concept I haven't even considered: The Jedi mind-trick of criticizing the Vikings to fool readers into thinking I'm not secretly their biggest fan. Brilliant! But as we all know, there is no try. You either do or do not. And I do not.


Monsterdfence76 of Shamokin, Pa., writes: What is Chicago's offensive line looking like? Who is going where? I know it is early! But if you had to say, who's where?

Kevin Seifert: I think we can all agree that Chris Williams will be at left tackle, Frank Omiyale at right tackle, Olin Kreutz at center and Roberto Garza at right guard. Kreutz hasn't practiced this spring after having foot surgery, but every indication is that he will be ready for training camp.

That leaves left guard, the position the Bears hoped to fill with Omiyale last year. As ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson pointed out last week, first-year player Johan Asiata has caught the Bears' eye and was working exclusively with the first team during organized team activities. But the Bears have been known to reconfigure their personnel between OTAs and training camp, so let's not hand Asiata the job yet. He's a New Zealand native who didn't play football in high school and spent part of last season on the practice squad.

The unanswered question is what the Bears will do with Josh Beekman, who has started 20 games at left guard over the past two seasons but has been working exclusively at center in Kreutz's absence this spring. When Kreutz returns, will the Bears shift Beekman back to left guard? Or will they leave him at center as a long-term heir apparent?

We might not know the answer to those questions until training camp. But I can tell you that offensive line coach Mike Tice likes big guards. He had success with another big New Zealand native in Minnesota (David Dixon). The Asiata option appears to be legitimate.