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Monday, August 18, 2008
Mailbag: Hawks' Forsett vs. Duckett

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

J from New York writes: What do you think the fallout would be if the Hawks were to cut T.J. Duckett to make room for Justin Forsett? I understand Duckett has $4 million guaranteed, but is that really going to matter, cap-wise, considering his deal is spread out over the course of his contract? Also, do you see this actually happening? or do you see them somehow carrying 6 RB's? Also, instead of using up roster spots for extra WR's to open the season. How about PUP'ing Branch and using Wallace as the last resort guy at WR? This would save the 2 dead roster spots that Branch and Engram would be taking up and it would also give Branch some extra rehad time. Very comfortable with the Hawks young group of rcvrs. Sorry about all the Q's.

Mike Sando: Duckett has a $2 million guaranteed roster bonus due in 2009. Cutting him would be more embarrassing than injurious to the salary cap. His cap number for 2009 would shrink if the Seahawks released him. His cap number this season is $1.055 million. It jumps to $4.95 million in 2009 if Duckett is on the roster to collect his $2.5 million base salary. But if Seattle cut him this summer, the 2009 cap number would be $3.6 million by my count. Matt Hasselbeck's deal counts nearly $10 million against the 2009 cap.

The guaranteed money suggests the Seahawks have a roster spot for Duckett. I could see Seattle keeping six running backs. It's easier to do if Deion Branch is healthy enough to contribute right away. I wouldn't PUP Branch because then he's out until well into October.


Adam from Sacramento writes: After the game against the Packers, all I can say is Superbowl here we come!!! jk... Seriously, the 49ers looked much better, especially the line play on both sides of the ball. What do you think about the improved pass rush? Is it the real deal or just preseason protection issues from GB? And what do you think about O'Sullivan? He seems to make some really bad decisions, i.e. the Woodson pick. Thanks Sando!

Mike Sando: It's good for the 49ers to enjoy some success. This season could blow up on them depending on what happens at quarterback. The defensive talent appears to be pretty good. I think the 49ers could still use a dynamic defensive lineman, but so could a lot of teams. The 49ers have had talent on their offensive line. Those guys just haven't always worked well together for whatever reason. Some guys have the measurables. Some guys are gamers. The best guys are both.

O'Sullivan has been a career backup for a reason, probably, so a breakout season would surprise a lot of people. The emergence of Josh Morgan is something that should excite you. Jason Hill made a play the other night. Keep your fingers crossed on Jonas Jennings. He looks better so far. Ray McDonald has talent. He works hard. He needs to work on sustaining that level of play for extended periods. Some players do that better than others.


Kevin from San Diego writes: Sando - I keep hearing that Mike Holmgren is a possibility for openings in San Fran. Either prez to gm to even head coach. Isn't there a rule that you can't be a part of an organization (10 years even!) and join a division rival? Can't the Seahawks make him an offer to be a part of their upper management group, say, Ruskell's boss??? Thanks.

Mike Sando: Holmgren is from San Francisco and he has ties to the 49ers' glory years, so those rumors make a lot of sense. He also has a good working relationship with 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, who worked under Holmgren in Seattle several years ago.
I know Holmgren perked up when the Dolphins gave Bill Parcells all that money to be the guy who hires the guy who hires the guy. It's the perfect job. If your team loses, the coach is out. If the next coach loses, then the GM is out. The top guy is very much insulated from blame, yet he gets to make the big-picture decisions without putting in all those hours.

Holmgren would also bring instant credibility to a struggling franchise. We should also remember that Holmgren, by his own admission, still has the itch to be a general manager. The way the GM job went down in Seattle still doesn't sit well with him.

Forget about the Seahawks elevating Holmgren over Tim Ruskell. Not feasible.


Paul from Santa Barbara writes: Sando, long time fan of your writings and had to help out the reader who wanted to know when games will be shown in his market. This page isn't updated in the pre-season, but during the season it updates daily on what networks are showing what games in all the markets: http://www.the506.com/nflmaps/ Here is an example from a random week in 2007: http://www.the506.com/nflmaps/2007-03-CBS.html

Mike Sando: Thanks for passing along the site. We'll check it out.


Lou from parts unkown writes: A few 49er questions for you. Do you think Martz is pushing JTO as the starting QB to discredit Nolan? Is Martz more concerned with becoming a head coach then putting a winning 49er football team on the field? We all know that Nolan has a big ego, but isn't Martz's bigger?

Mike Sando: Martz would be pushing O'Sullivan if he thought O'Sullivan gave the 49ers the best chance to win. Their history together in Detroit would explain as much. I don't see how that would discredit Nolan, though. Nolan has his own unpleasant history with Smith. Nolan never gives the impression he's hoping Smith wins the job.

Also, Martz would not necessarily be the next head coach if Nolan were fired. I touched on this the other day. I would expect the team to look at other candidates, including linebackers coach Mike Singletary and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.


Scott from Seattle writes: Sandman, After watching Forsett run his butt off in the first two preseason games, and look great returning kicks as well, what are the chances he will get some time with the first team offense (and specifically, offensive line) during week 3 of the preseason? I know that, historically, week 3 is where most of the starters will play the most, which bodes well for Justin to get some first team carries. Thanks!

Mike Sando: I'm sure the Seahawks haven't determined playing time for that game yet. They need to identify a starter at this point. Forsett did play well enough to command some snaps earlier in games, but I don't know how the plan will evolve this week.


Matt from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: Sando, First off, awesome job with the NFC Blog. Its really refreshing to see daily Cardinals content from a national media source. On to my question: How impressed were you with the Cardinals red zone defense last night? Was this a product of sloppy pre-season offensive play or is this an indication of future success in holding teams to field goals for the Cards in the upcoming season?

Mike Sando: The Cardinals were playing a poor offensive opponent, so I wouldn't read much into that game. However, in general, I think the Cardinals have improved their depth in the front seven. They have some capable pass rushers. I expect Clancy Pendergast, the defensive coordinator, to have some fun with various combinations. Seattle has found ways to make the Cardinals pay for being aggressive, but the Cardinals appear willing to live with some of those risks for the most part.


Toby from Granada Hills, Calif., writes: Mike, Over the last 5 years the Niners have not been shy about investing picks and FA money in the OL, usually a good plan. Signing Jonas Jennings to a big contract,
drafting Kwame Harris 26th overall in 2003, Justin Smiley 46th overall in '04, David Baas 33rd and Adam Snyder 94th in '05, Joe Staley 28th overall in '07 (which we all know was really a top ten pick this year), and now Chilo Rachal 39th overall in '08. Yet they are constantly shuffling guys and can't find consistency or results. Why the OL problems in spite of the effort? We all know Kwame just sucked.

Mike Sando: This goes back to what I alluded to earlier. The 49ers have assembled some talented offensive linemen over the years, but some of them have looked better on paper than turf. Much more goes into line play than having strength and quick feet. Some guys are gamers. They just get the job done. It doesn't always look pretty, but they find a way. The 49ers have seemingly needed more of those guys.


Joe from New York writes: Mike, Do you think that the Rams have any chance to win the NFC West this year if their top players arent healthy? I think that the defense has improved and i think that Tye Hill can be a really good cornerback if he stays healthy. Do you think that with out the injuries from last year this is a playoff team?

Mike Sando: I would be shocked if the Rams won the NFC West this season. I would have given them an outside chance earlier in the offseason. The more I've seen of them, the less convinced I've become. It's tough when Dante Hall is your third receiver. I won't write off the Rams until I see how the offense looks with Steven Jackson in the lineup. He changes a lot of things for the Rams. So far, though, the team's poor depth appears problematic.


Ray from Tacoma writes: I see that next week the NY Jets host the NY Giants at Giants Stadium. How do those two teams handle the locker room logistics? I suppose it's asking too much that there would be a locker room for each of the NY teams and third for a visiting team? Thanks

Mike Sando: The Giants and Jets have separate home locker rooms at Giants Stadium.


Ken from Las Vegas writes: Mike, what do you think the keys are for the Cardinals to have a successful season? How would you rate the current coaching staff?

Mike Sando: The Cardinals need to develop Matt Leinart and stay healthy on the offensive line. If those two things happen, I think it's a successful season. Ken Whisenhunt strikes me as a good head coach. I like the way Russ Grimm approaches the offensive line. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has drawn interest for other jobs. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is very creative. Those are the primary assistants. They seem pretty solid.