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Friday, September 12, 2008
Mailbag: Waivers and late-round picks

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Richard from New York writes: Mike, apologies if you've covered this during the preseason, but could you explain again how waivers work? Doesn't this mean that another team could sign the player? Why would a team "waive" one of its draft picks so early on (e.g., Seahawks/Forsett)? I thought Forsett was signed to a multiyear deal?

Mike Sando: Not a problem, Richard. It's a good question and something we should brush up on every so often.

Late-round draft choices fail to earn roster spots somewhat routinely. Justin Forsett was a seventh-round choice. NFL teams drafted 80 players in the sixth and seventh rounds this season. Half those players were not on 53-man rosters as of midweek.

Contracts can include guaranteed money, but the contracts themselves are not guaranteed. An NFL team can terminate a veteran's contract, making the player eligible to sign a new contract with another team.

Nonveterans can be waived. Another team can file a waiver claim. If more than one team claims a player, the team with the worst record in the previous season prevails. The league then awards the waived player to the claiming team. The claiming team inherits the waived player's contract.


Rob from Sacramento writes: Do you really feel there is no chance that Smith plays with the 49ers next year? I keep hearing that there's no way they'll bring him back, but what [GM Scot] McCloughan really said was they can't pay him the $9M his contract calls for if they aren't sure he'll be the starter. Why couldn't they cut him, then re-sign him at $1M per year with incentives for starts? It seems like a logical move since he already knows the team and there doesn't seem to be anyone around who thinks he can't still develop into a great QB. Why shouldn't the team bring him back at a reduced rate?

Mike Sando: The feeling here is that the current coaching staff isn't all that excited about Smith. And I would not expect Smith to be excited about sticking around after all he's been through. I would never say never. Lots of things can happen, including coaching changes. But the odds are against Smith ever playing for the 49ers again.


Andrew from Arlington, Va., writes: Mike- Ignoring for a moment Seneca Wallace's role as a wide receiver for the Seahawks right now, do you think he is potentially the Seahawks quarterback of the future or merely a capable back-up? I think for a number of years he was viewed as an adequate back-up while the Seahawks seemed intent on grooming a long-term guy (i.e. Greene, then Frye). But he looked pretty confident and capable this preseason. I wonder if his named is discussed around the NFL as an eventual starter (sort of like how Matt Schaub was the darling back-up for several years before getting a chance). Essentially, this was a long-winded way of saying, is he an NFL-caliber starter? And do the Seahawks see him as their eventual starter?

Mike Sando: I really like how Wallace has attacked the game, improved every year and embraced his role. He strikes me as a true professional that way. Height might be the knock on Wallace as the full-time starter.


Goose from Seattle writes: Mike! Thanks for everything you are doing! My question is regarding our depleted o-line and WR corps. I am just wondering if you think we are going to pick up someone on the street for our line and/or if you think there is a big trade coming for a WR? I keep hearing Roy Williams' name thrown around.

Mike Sando: Thanks Goose. Where do you keep hearing Roy Williams' name in connection with Seattle? I do know Seahawks president Tim Ruskell is close to Lions coach Rod Marinelli. They worked together in Tampa. But I haven't heard anything tangible about a big-name trade. Seattle might need to sign a veteran offensive lineman if something happens to Floyd Womack.


Ryan from Bellingham, Wash., writes: Why do the Seahawks still have 2 kickers on the roster?

Mike Sando: It makes no sense on the surface. Experience tells me this means Seattle really likes Brandon Coutu as the long-term kicker, and Seattle knows another team would sign him to its 53-man roster.


Tyler from Laguna Beach, Calif., writes: Mike again thanks for constant effort and professionalism in bringing the loyal fans of the NFC West the real news. I have 2 questions -- How do you feel the battle between TKO Spike and Jeff Ulbrich is going? And how many losses do you think Nolan has before he gets canned?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Toby. Ulbrich and Spikes are subbing in different nickel packages. The feeling early was that Spikes would win the starting job. That has not yet happened. It looks like both are going to play.


Tom from Seattle writes: It seems like the Seahawks front office has been dictating roster moves. The comments made after Ryan Plackemeier was cut document one such decision. What role does the coaching staff have in making personnel decisions?

Mike Sando: The coaching staff has a secondary role. The personnel department has the primary role. Tim Ruskell makes the decisions. Mike Holmgren has a voice, but not the final call.


Aaron from Redmond, Wash., writes: The reports right now are that over the next few weeks, we will see Seneca Wallace play much more extensively at receiver than we've ever seen him. I know you're not expecting Wallace to be the next Largent or Blades, but how well do you think he has to play in the next two games for the Seahawks to be forced to make him a full-time starter, or at least to significantly increase his playing time when the starters are back?

I don't expect him to be much better than an average receiver. But if over the next few weeks he surprises people and catches everything thrown his way and puts up #1 receiver type numbers, wouldn't it be foolish for the Hawks to not keep playing him, even when the starters are healthy again? I can see protecting him from injury when you know he's a good backup QB and an unknown quantity at WR, but if he proves himself over these next few weeks, I think it would be foolish not to drastically increase his roll going forward.

Mike Sando: I would definitely leave Wallace at receiver if he put up No. 1-receiver numbers. The team could not sit him on the bench if he were catching six balls for 100 yards every week.


Bun from Spokane, Wash., writes: Hey Mike, Are the Seahawks looking at any other vet wideouts right now or is Billy McMullen and Samie Parker it going into Sunday game against the 9ers.

Mike Sando: I do not expect another move for a veteran in time for the Week 2 game. I could see the team signing Michael Bumpus from the practice squad late in the week, perhaps Saturday.


Scott in Smokey
Point writes:
Hey... glad to see your doing the blog on ESPN... was VERY sad when you no longer were the writer for Seahawks Insider... but now others get to learn to appreciate your talents on gathering interesting facts and relaying objective news. Good job! Btw, what are your wife's picks for the year?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Scott. My wife picks up our oldest son from school each afternoon. She has retired from picking games against me. I think she got tired of embarrassing me.


Rich from San Francisco writes: Mike, Great job on the blog this year I am glad you all are taking the time to do this. I was wondering if you could ever honestly see the Niners in the Super Bowl again with the current Ownership and front office "situation"? Remember like 15 years ago when everyone wanted to play in San Fran, that was a great time and I don't ever see that happening again unless something changes. You think Mark Cuban would like to own the Niners?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Rich. I think Mark Cuban has his hands full already. The stadium situation is a problem for the 49ers' current ownership group. The team is less valuable as a result. It's harder to lure a proven coach and harder to run a first-rate organization. Scot McCloughan is a solid football man who learned from Ron Wolf in Green Bay. The jury is still out on his skills as a general manager. We have no evidence that the current ownership group is the one to lead this organization to a Super Bowl.


JD from parts unknown writes: The 49ers are the 24th best team in the NFL? What do you smoke?

Mike Sando: The same thing Matt Williamson, Pat Yasinskas and John Clayton are smoking. Matt and Pat also voted the 49ers as the No. 24 team. Clayton voted the 49ers at No. 23.


Duke from Portland, Ore., writes: Michelsandgelo, Can you please try to shed some light on a question myself and other Seahawks fans have been asking since the 30th?; Why the hell are the 'Hawks keeping two kickers on their roster? I fail to understand how a depleted offense now, cuts Justin Forsett, potentially filling needs at punt return and rb (until Mo comes back), yet keeps 2 kickers. Any reasonable answers here?

Mike Sando: I would not keep two kickers. Brandon Coutu had a strong preseason. An injury slowed him. The Seahawks obviously think he would not clear waivers. At some point, the Seahawks will most likely release Olindo Mare and go with Coutu as the full-time guy. It's quite an endorsement for Coutu.


Glenn from Seattle writes: Justin Forsett was signed by the Colts after the Seahawks released him. Your thoughts on this?

Mike Sando: I'm sure the Colts got wise to Forsett when watching preseason film of the Bears. Remember, Forsett had a big game against the Bears in preseason. Indy was the only team in the league to submit a waiver claim on Forsett. This doesn't necessarily mean Forsett is going to stick with the Colts. But he is there now.


Adam from Sacramento writes: I've heard of teams coming to terms on injury settlements with players before. Is that a possibilty for the 49ers and Alex Smith? Would there be any benefit to it? It just seems that it would be better for all involved to just start fresh asap. It sucks to see this happen to the guy since it never seemed like he was given an opportunity to succeed. One of the biggest downsides to being the #1 overall. Thanks Sando

Mike Sando: Most injury settlements involve less prominent players. Usually the team will wait for the player to get healthy, then waive the player. If the player doesn't feel he is healthy enough, he can file a grievance. In this case, both parties would most likely want to end the relationship.


Sam from Springfield, Mo., writes: Mike - Now that the Rams have been embarrassed in the 2008 season due to a poor performance in Philly, it looks clear to me that it is NOT the players who need to be replaced, it is the coach. (I saw this last year, but held out hope.) I can only think of two people who can come in and straightened out this team right now, and Cowher won't be one of them. What do the fans have to do to get Marshall in as H.C. in St. Louis? Seriously, I think Faulk on the sidelines would cause some instant respect in the league...plus, seeing Faulk, Saunders, and Ellard doing the "Bob-n-Weave" would be priceless...

Mike Sando: Wow, Marshall Faulk as head coach? Would a Hall of Fame player want to work that hard? I just don't see that as a viable option.


Ryan from Riverside, Calif., writes: I'm a Rams fan and as you can imagine I'm hating life right now. My Defense is one of the worst in the HISTORY of the game, my line couldn't hold their own against a pee wee football squad, my quarterback is throwing the ball at the feet of the receivers (cuz he has no time) and i have the WORST head coach EVER. How long do you see "Coach" Linehan lasting and if he were to be fired, what do you think the organization would do to replace him?

Mike Sando: Making a change in-season means promoting someone from the staff. Al Saunders or Jim Haslett would be the logical candidates. I have no special insight into how long Linehan might last. The organization might not even know. Other factors can come into play to speed or slow the decision-making process.


Sean from parts unknown writes: With the Rams being who we thought they were under Linehan, the worst head coach in the NFL, who do you see as candidates to replace him next year? Bill Cowher? Marty Schottenheimer? Steve Spagnuolo? Jim Schwartz? Josh McDaniels? Jason Garrett? Mike Singletary? Ron Rivera? Rex Ryan? Al Saunders? John Marshall?

Mike Sando: The Rams are not exactly a stable franchise. The organization could be sold pending the estate settlement of the late owner. If I'm an established coach, I'm probably not taking that job.


Guest 49er from the Bay Area writes: Hey Mike, How many fans actually went to the 49ers game? How many empty seats were there? What are Seattle's chances to beat the 49ers, Sheridan says 9, USA Sports weekly says 24-20. IF the 49ers go 0 and 2, do we hear Fire Nolan get louder? Finally, Mike, can you please schedule your chats for Friday, or advertise a little better? I had questions, and you didn't say anything until the LAST MINUTE. Please, that's not a good way to run a site as some people sleep past 8am in California. Thank you.

Mike Sando: I can do better on mentioning the chats. This one sneaked up on me a little bit. I'm not yet in a routine of doing them. That will change with time. As for the attendance count, I do not know it. The stands looked pretty full to me. I'm not a big fan of calling for the coach's firing after two games.