Mailbag: Continuing the Crabtree discussion

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Greg from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, I enjoyed your piece on Crabtree. Any plans to delve into the issues Deion Sanders' statements raised for the league? Sorry to keep harping on this, but I don't see how the league can just brush this off. Deion's statements were not just inappropriate, but indicated cheating had occurred. The league needs to either find out if something happened and punish the teams responsible, or chastise Sanders.

Mike Sando: The 49ers should press the issue if they feel as though tampering occurred. Instead, they denied a key component of Sanders' statement, the part about two teams supposedly contacting the 49ers about a possible trade.

To review, Sanders said on NFL Network, "There have been two teams that have contacted the San Francisco 49ers desiring a trade and who will pay this kid and he knows that."

Any team interested in trading for Michael Crabtree would also be willing to pay Crabtree. That much is a given. The deadline for trading Crabtree this season passed Aug. 14. Why, then, would any teams be calling the 49ers about a possible trade after that date? Why would teams be telling Crabtree they would be willing to pay him if those same teams could not immediately acquire him?

The 49ers are not helpless in this situation. If they feel as though tampering has occurred, they should present evidence to the league and push for an investigation.

Sergio from San Jose writes: Can you please give the 49ers the number to the Broncos? Let's trade problems and see if Brandon Marshsall wants to play here. Unlike Michael Crabtree, at least he's a proven receiver.

Mike Sando: The 49ers cannot trade rights to Crabtree until the spring. That would temper the Broncos' interest, to say the least.

David from San Diego writes: Hi, Mike. Thanks for your valuable coverage of my beloved Niners. What happens if Crabtree never signs and re-enters the draft? Do we just lose the pick? It seems to me the league should evaluate the offer and determine if it was fair money, i.e., between 9-11 picks, and award another pick for the Niners.

Mike Sando: Thanks, David. There are no such protections in place. The 49ers would lose the pick and receive nothing in return. This is an unusual situation. Both sides usually feel enough incentive to get the deal done.

Awarding picks could provide disincentive to get deals done. A team could draft a player, sour on the player, warm to a player available in the next draft and hold out for a high choice.

Craig from Dallas writes: On your recent Crabtree story, I thought there was a deadline by which teams had to trade away unsigned rookies -- Aug. 14, if memory serves. Does that not apply if a team signs the rookie, and THEN tries to move him?

Mike Sando: Right. At that point, the regular-season trade deadline would apply because Crabtree would be under contract, just like the other players.

Steve from Massachusetts writes: I don't know how you can honestly say that Seattle should be ranked 15 in the power rankings. They sign a 30-year-old WR that can only get worse, not better. They are relying on an offensive line that was terrible and is almost exactly the same unit from last year. Walter Jones has been injury prone the past two years, and with his age becomming a factor, it's likely to become more of a problem. They have no RB who can step up, Julius Jones won't and let's not even joke about Edgerrin James.

Outside of Patrick Kerney (another 30-year-old), who is really good on their defensive line? They have a great LB corps, but Lofa Tatupu and company are going to eaten up by offensive linemen like they were all last year. Their secondary is medicore at best, and without a pass rush they also are going to struggle. Unless T.J., Kerney, and Jones all have monster years, I don't see them being better than any team in the divison except San Francisco, based solely on the fact that Hasselbeck is about 100 times better than Shaun Hill. Seattle needs to overhaul their offensive and defensive lines before they can get back in the 'battle' for the NFC West crown.

Mike Sando: The issues you raise explain why my opinion of the Seahawks has fluctuated. Hasselbeck's good health to this point largely explains why I've pushed them up in the rankings since minicamps.

Your analysis of the Seahawks' defensive line seems flawed, though. Brandon Mebane had 5.5 sacks last season and the Seahawks have altered his role in an effort to better exploit his ability to get upfield from the defensive tackle spot. I also thought Cory Redding looked good after dropping weight and lining up at defensive end on running downs. The Seahawks are unmistakeably bigger throughout the front seven on defense with Colin Cole, Redding, a healthy (for now) Red Bryant and Aaron Curry. This is now one of the heaviest defenses in the league.

Kerney's health is indeed a huge variable. He's a tough player to evaluate during preseason because he simply doesn't turn it loose at that time. If he gets hurt -- and his durability is a serious concern at this stage -- the defense could indeed suffer.

I also do think T.J. Houshmandzadeh could benefit from an improved quarterback situation after playing without Carson Palmer last season. His yards per catch have indeed declined steadily in recent seasons, however, so that is a potential concern for Seattle.

Cassius from Minot, N.D., writes: The Seahawks have a need at tackle. What are the chances that Jon Runyan would end up in the Pacific Northwest?

Mike Sando: I do not see the fit because Runyan is strictly a right tackle. Seattle could use insurance at left tackle while Walter Jones recovers. With Jones possibly returning next week, though, the plan is just to get through this week. Runyan had a tryout with the Eagles recently.

Jacen from Los Angeles writes: Hey, Sando, if rookie Jason Smith from the Rams does exceptionally well this year and Alex Barron does not, do you think we would get rid of Barron and move Wmith to the left and then draft another right tackle in the first or second round?

Mike Sando: Barron's future in St. Louis seems to be in question no matter how well he plays. This is the final year of his contract. Decisions will have to be made, particularly after investing so much in Smith. My long-term expectation would be for Smith to play the left side eventually anyway. Teams generally do not look for right tackles at the top of the first round. Smith will need some time to develop and make the transition from Baylor. That transition begins on the right side.

I would not expect the Rams to draft a right tackle in the first round next year. That's a position teams can address later. Right tackle simply isn't seen as a marquee position. The Rams might need to consider other options early in the draft. Perhaps they'll need help in their defensive front seven.