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Luke D (Boston, MA): Sando, you seem to always be overly critical of the Rams. I know, as a hardcore Rams fan, they are in dire straits. Do you not feel with a new owner, GM, and coach they are facing the right direction? Why would they ever do a trade of arguably their best defender (Atogwe) for Vick, a player with a 5M salary and likely to be cut by his current team? Give us some optimism for the Rams!
Mike Sando: I gave the Rams close to a free pass last year because I realized what they were doing. They were blowing up the roster and I thought it was the right move. The trade scenarios we threw around on the blog were fun. The fact that I threw Oshiomogho Atogwe into a deal for Michael Vick doesn't show disrespect for Atogwe or the Rams in any way. Atogwe is a good player. What impact did he make last season, though? He made some plays against Seattle in the opener and then I don't remember a whole lot of consistent production before the injury. I think he's a good player, but I have questions about how good he is based on what type of impact he can have on games consistently. The elite safeties affect games. The RFA number for Atogwe climbs near $7 million in most scenarios. That's a lot of money for a good player who might not be an impact player.
Jay (Cincinnat, OH): As a niner fan I'm actually a bit cautious about the upcoming season. It feels almost like 2007 when everyone was expecting the niners to take a big step forward into the playoffs, based on how they finished 2006. Then we regressed. Do you foresee this time it being any different? Obviously the talent is vastly better, but expectations and complacency can take their toll, no?
Mike Sando: I felt that way in looking at the 49ers coming out of that 2006 season. They absolutely struck me at that time as a team that was getting ahead of itself. The difference now has more to do with the rest of the division than with the 49ers. Yes, the 49ers need to not get ahead of themselves. I've written that a few times, noting that they need to approach this season as if they haven't proven anything. And, in fact, they have not proven anything. But when you take away Kurt Warner and probably a few other key contributors from Arizona, the immediate future does look brighter for San Francisco.
Evan (Phoexnix): Do you think it would be possible and/or a good move for Cards to trade Tim Hightower now for someone like Antonio Cromartie or another defensive position?
Mike Sando: It's easy to forget that three-fourths of the Cardinals' starting secondary earned Pro Bowl honors last season. Adrian Wilson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made it on the first call. Antrel Rolle made it as an alternate. I think injuries late in the year severely affected the Cardinals' secondary and defense overall. Rolle could leave and that would be a big hit, but if I'm the Cardinals, I'm much more interested in solidifying the front seven.
J (Biloxi, MS): Do you think Pete Carroll will have much success in his first year in Seatle?
Mike Sando: The Seahawks were 5-11 last season. I could see them winning a couple more games and even getting to .500 possibly, at which point Carroll will get the credit, even though no one will know for sure how the team would have fared without hiring him. People will just assume the team would have been 5-11 again otherwise.