Mailbag: Draft, free agency and more

February, 26, 2009
2/26/09
11:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mike from Washington, D.C., writes: Hey Mike, Love the blog, all your hard work is really appreciated, especially for those of us not in an NFC West city. After taking a look at the 'Hawks draft choices, I can't help but think that despite the recent height and health concerns of Michael Crabtree, he is clearly the Seahawks' best pick (assuming he is available). He seems to me to be the guy with the most superstar potential and gives us a playmaker who could score on any play and bolster a receiving core that was a huge weakness last year.

I also don't think any of the other potential top 5 picks make much sense:

  • Stafford/Sanchez - not sold on either of these guys being a franchise QB. Would prefer the Hawks to take a flier on a QB in a later round.
  • Monroe/J. Smith - Our O-line clearly needs to be upgraded this year, but i think it is the interior of the line that has a more urgent need. Wouldn't like the idea of leaving one of these guys at G for a few years, and none of the G or C are worth taking at 4.
  • Curry - he likely wouldn't start ahead of Tatupu, Hill, or Peterson and thus wouldn't be worth the investment. Plus I think he'll be gone by 4.
  • Jenkins - too slow, possible project safety, too much invested at the position, and think we have adequate talent at CB if we can upgrade the pass rush.
  • Raji - character problems and only a one year producer. Not a Ruskell guy.
  • Orakpo - some size concerns, looks more like a mid-first round guy.
  • Moreno/Wells - An upgrade at RB would be great, but seems like the hawks are of the philosophy that we can plug guys like JJ and TJD into our new blocking scheme and be successful. Would love your thoughts, thanks.

Mike Sando: You make a convincing argument and I also see Crabtree as the likely choice, if available, in terms of being an impact player. I'm not sold 100 percent, but when you look at the alternatives, it's tough finding a stronger one. The Seahawks could find safer alternatives, however, and that could be where they go in another direction. Drafting for the offensive line would be safer. I'm just not sure how much money the Seahawks can justify committing to their tackles, particularly if the rookie did not play right away.


Scott from Maryland writes: What do you think of the 49ers signing a few of these guys: Chris Canty, Chris McAlister, Jeff Garcia, Leonard Weaver? All are experienced in areas we need help in and some were just cut because of cap reasons not because they were bad.

Mike Sando: Every one of those players would provide an upgrade for the 49ers, but the team does not appear headed toward an aggressive start to free agency. Canty could draw interest from Seattle for his ability to play end and slide to tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Weaver isn't really a pure traditional fullback, so I'm not sure if he would be worth the investment to the 49ers.


Brendon from San Francisco writes: Hey Mike. I tried to get a question to you at the "Chat about NFL free agency!" But it didn't seem to get through. I was wondering who do you think the 49ers starting QB is this year? Do they stay with Hill/Smith? Go after a Free agent QB (Garcia/Leftwich)? Or try again in the Draft?

Mike Sando: Shaun Hill is the favorite to start right now. Alex Smith has to re-work his contract, prove he can stay healthy and then win the job. This camp would mark one last chance for Smith to seize the job. I question whether he can stay healthy and whether he can get up to speed quick enough after so much time away from the lineup.


Jim from San Francisco writes: Sando I love reading your blog its great! I'm really tired about hearing how bad the niners' quarterback situation is and that all these mock drafts have the niners selecting Sanchez and it's really irritating.

I do not see Singletary taking a QB or even an offensive player in the first round. I would hope they will select Everette Brown, Aaron Maybin or Brian Orakpo in that order. What do you think the chances are that they do actually draft Sanchez? Thanks

Mike Sando: I think it's an outside chance on the quarterback at No. 10 for the 49ers. The team needs to add impact players through the draft. A rookie quarterback would not make much impact in San Francisco this year because the 49ers would want to protect him from what Smith went through. In other words, the rookie quarterback probably would not play right away.


Branden from Scottsdale writes: Please tell me if you think there is any chance the Cardinals explore the idea of trading Boldin to either the Ravens for Suggs or Panthers for Peppers? If not either of those moves, who do you see the Cardinals targeting in free agency? I know they may not be looking at the big guns, but maybe second tier guys who can make an impact much like a Laboy, Haggans and Robinson have this past season.Thanks.

Mike Sando: I do not anticipate that type of trade involving Boldin. The second-tier free agents tend to emerge later in the process. Let's see what happens in the initial wave.


Mackay from Pleasant Grove, Utah, writes: Mike I love your blog, and am always checking in to see what's new. I don't think that the Cardinals' offense needs much work, but there are two positions that need to be addressed.

First the TE position, and my question to you here is who could the Cardinals draft that could be an asset to them? Pope is no good, and everyone always seems to be injured. They need a rookie tight end who can be a decent blocker and a pass threat. Are there any future Antonio Gates out there?

Secondly is there any chance in the world that Knowshon Moreno will be available for the 31st pick? Who is a back that AZ could pick up to compliment Hightower? We need a speedy, agile back who can liven up our running game. Power backs are obviously not working out to be what AZ wants.

I feel if they were to get a speedy back who can make the cuts and get some long runs in there that Hightower would be much more effective as the power back he is. I love the Edge, but he is a goner in my opinion. What do you think? Also will you tell Kurt to sign a deal already. Thanks.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Mackay. I don't know how late Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew will last in the draft after running slower-than-expected 40-yard times, but he would seem to offer the Cardinals a better blocker at the position.

The draft is filled with receiving tight ends. Pettigrew isn't going to be Antonio Gates stretching defenses, but he does seem to catch the ball pretty well.

The speedy back you are describing has been on the roster, no? J.J. Arrington is a change-of-pace runner. I would not expect Moreno to last that long, but stranger things have happened.


Adam from Sherman Oaks, Calif., writes: Hey Mike, Lawyer Milloy has expressed interest in retiring as a Seahawk now that he is no longer with the Falcons. Would Seattle have a mutual attraction with him? If so, how would he fold into the mix at this point?

Mike Sando: The Falcons signed Milloy before Jim Mora's final season as head coach in Atlanta. Mora would have some familiarity. In general, I do not think the Seahawks are looking to get older at that position. Milloy is 35.


JB from Calgary, Alberta, writes: What are the chances that the Seahawks target TJ Housh or similar in free agency? Do they have they cap/willing to spend? Or will they stick to the draft?

Mike Sando: Yes, they have the cap space. They would have interest in T.J. Houshmandzadeh if he wanted to play on the West Coast and if his price tag wasn't sky high. That would give the Seahawks additional flexibility heading into the draft. Receiver wouldn't be as much of a need in the short term.


Tom from Bellingham, Wash., writes: Mike, if Boldin becomes a free agent, would the Seahawks show interest? He has game but is he the next T.O.? I would like to see them use the fourth pick for a top OLineman

Mike Sando: Yes, the Seahawks would have interest. Boldin is not going to become a free agent anytime soon, however. His deal runs two more seasons. He is not the next Terrell Owens, although both are big, physical receivers. Boldin catches the ball more consistently.


Thompson from Iowa writes: Something I don't see featured is the fact that becsuse the Cardinals reached the Super Bowl, Arizona will face a lot tougher schedule in 2009 which complicates the assessment for a repeat.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals' opponents were set when the regular season ended. The team's playoff success did not affect the schedule in any way.


Jason from Rochester, N.Y., writes: Mike, What about Seattle making a run at Jason Brown, UFA Center from the Ravens?

Mike Sando: Sounds like a few teams are lining up for him. I've heard nothing about Seattle being a player for him.


Colton from Scranton, Pa., writes: Hey Mike, I'm willing to bet that if Warner doesn't re-sign with the Cardinals, he winds up in Kansas City. Am I the only one who sees the writing on the wall?

Mike Sando: That would surprise me, but it would not shock me. My expectation has been for Warner to continue his career in Arizona. His relationship with Todd Haley would turn the Chiefs into a logical destination, but I'm still not convinced he'll leave Arizona.


Sean from Altoona, Pa., writes: Mike, The 49ers need some quarterback help. I'm not sure if Shaun Hill is the answer. Do you think the niners would consider trading for Matt Cassel?

Mike Sando: The 49ers aren't sure if Hill is the answer. I'm not sure they know Cassel is the answer, either. For that reason, I do not expect the 49ers to make a strong move for Cassel.


Randy from Phoenix writes: First off, thanks for hearing me out. Your opinion please : I'm thinking that as it's a pretty strong possibility that Kurt Warner signs again with the Arizona Cardinals, he will be there as their Starting Quarterback at most for two more years.

For insurance, I think the Cardinals ought to trade away Leinart, retain St.Pierre, and seek to obtain Colt Brennan from the Washington Redskins. They could get him for a song, when considering Leinart's salary/contract and the amount and term of Warner's likely new contract for the next two seasons. Brennan is quite similar in mold and profile to Warner (quick read, quick release, pretty good deep pass, good play-fake), but has the benefit of a potentially long career; and has better natural mobility -- not being simply and only a pure passer. He's a game player; and the Redskins play a form of the West Coast offense which would enable an easier transition to the Cardinals system.

Leinert has posted a good game and a half, maybe, out of his tenure so far; but there is further uncertainty where he's concerned when considering the need to insert a new Offensive Coordinator (R Grimm might end-up being the guy, and he's "in the system" so there might not be a radical change in Offensive scheme ... BUT being a completely different OC he will still add a new wrinkle - even without trying, it's just inevitable).

The two years Brennan has been in the league will put him in good stead to learn the Cardinals system while simultaneously watching and learning from Warner for at least one season. Maybe Warner can be convinced to work as a Quarterback Grooming consultant when his quarterbacking days are over -- since he says he doesn't want to coach.

Anyway, the Cardinals need a young, durable quarterback to shoulder the new-found wider fanbase earned by the Cardinals appearance in the 2009 Super Bowl. Looking for another successful veteran QB has pronounced risks -- not least of which are longevity and wear and tear questions, which could put the Cardinals back in the position they find themselves now. Your thoughts.

Mike Sando: We need to find a job in the Cardinals' front office for you. That is one elaborate plan. I'm assuming you know Brennan backed up Matt Leinart in high school.

I just haven't seen enough from Brennan for the Cardinals, or any team, to trade away a recent first-round choice -- Leinart, in this case -- to make Brennan the heir apparent.


Marco from Las Cruces writes: Being that Kwame Harris was released and his already being in the bay area, what do you think about the 49ers bringing him back to compete at RT with Sims? He was a first round pick, maybe there could be something there?

Mike Sando: The 49ers should not aspire to have either of those players -- Barry Sims or Kwame Harris -- emerge as the starter next season. I think it's time for the team to seek a long-term starter in that role.


Travis from Gilbert writes: I was wondering your thoughts on the Cardinals going after the Ravens center Jason Brown, using their first pick on a defensive player, and maybe in the later rounds drafting a RB maybe Ian Johnson who would be a good complimentary back to Hightower. Johnson has good speed, can catch the ball out of the back field, last time he played in the University of Phoenix stadium he had a memorable game, and he can show Whisenhunt some of the trick plays they ran at Boise State. Your thoughts on Ian Johnson?

Mike Sando: I'm with you on the first one. A quality center would help the Cardinals' ground game and their ability to keep pressure off Warner up the middle.

Johnson's injury issues at Boise State raise questions about his durability in the NFL. I&
#39;m not sure about counting on a later-round pick to play a key role. The Cardinals could draft him and see if he develops, but if he's a later-round back, there is probably a reason. The risk might be a little higher.


Jay from San Jose writes: Yo Sando! What are the chances that the Niners get Marvin Harrison if he becomes a free-agent? I know it would be like the Bruce signing, (good player, but old age) but I think he would be flying under the radar.

Mike Sando: The 49ers need to get younger at that position. Also, if you were Harrison, how would you feel about going from Peyton Manning to Shaun Hill or Alex Smith?


Mark from Olympia writes: Hey you think that the seahawks would consider picking up Pat White in the second or third round because of a guy like Seneca Wallace or would that be a negative to not wanting Pat White?

Mike Sando: I don't think Wallace's presence should affect the Seahawks' thinking on any quarterback the team decided to draft in the first three rounds. It might affect their thinking on a later-round quarterback, but if they thought White or anyone else was worthy of an early pick, they would have to envision him as a potential franchise quarterback -- independent of what they thought about Wallace.

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