NFC West: Joey Galloway
General managers for the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks have recently indicated they weren't planning to use the tag this year.
None of the free agents for Arizona appears to be a candidate.
In San Francisco, where the 49ers have two candidates in Dashon Goldson and Delanie Walker, longtime beat reporter Matt Maiocco says the team is leaning against tagging Goldson for a second successive season.
Walker could still get the tag, but at the very least, there are no clear-cut candidates to become franchise players in San Francisco or anywhere else in the division.
The NFC West last had no franchise players in 2011 and 2006.
Across the NFL, teams have used the tag 116 times since 2002 and 176 times overall to severely limit unrestricted free agents' options.
Franchise players receive one-year offers worth the average of the five previous franchise-player values at the same position, proportional to current salary-cap allotments per team. Those figures have not yet been announced.
Rules allow teams to designate one franchise player for the 2013 season between Feb. 18 and March 4. Any team declining to match an outside offer to a franchise player receives two first-round draft choices originating from the signing team.
Teams can pay a higher premium to take franchise players off the market entirely. That has happened 14 times, including three times by teams currently in the NFC West. San Francisco used this "exclusive" franchise player designation with Julian Peterson in 2004. Seattle used it with Joey Galloway in 2000. Arizona used it with Eric Swann in 1996.
The shoddy manner in which replacement officials handled the Seattle-Green Bay play Monday night could never happen with the professional game officials on duty.
Let history be our guide.
A 1998 ruling from a game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers comes to mind. Seattle's Joey Galloway and San Diego's Terrance Shaw went after a deep pass at the Chargers' 2-yard line. Officials awarded the ball to the Seahawks, who scored a touchdown two plays later, breaking open a close game.
And, as you might expect, the regular officials handled the situation with aplomb.
"Back judge Bobby Skelton tripped and rolled into the end zone," the Associated Press reported at the time, "but [he] saw the simultaneous catch prior to falling down, referee Larry Nemmers said afterward."
Even though the call went against San Diego, the Chargers appreciated the professional administration of the rules.
Consider postgame comments from June Jones, the Chargers' interim coach at the time.
"But you know, that's the way the NFL is," Jones said in the AP report. "The official who made the call was on his back in the end zone. That's all I have to say about that."
Galloway conceded that Shaw had a better grip on the ball. He was, of course, gracious afterward.
"I don't care if we stole it or they gave it to us, we won," Galloway said.
While rules governing simultaneous catches can be tricky to the uninitiated, veteran officials know all the nuances. In this case, it appears officials communicated information to players accurately and in a manner consistent with the rulebook.
"The official said when two guys get it at the same time, 'I give it to the guy who had it last,' " Chargers safety Rodney Harrison said, according to a Seattle Times report. "Terrance had it last, so I don't understand it."
Shaw skipped postgame interviews that day. He had been ejected from the game for arguing the call with umpire Jeff Rice.
Expectations are naturally low after Moss, 35, produced sparingly for three teams in 2010 before sitting out the 2011 season.
But what does history tell us?
With an assist from Pro Football Reference, I've put together a list of 20 productive seasons from receivers age 35 or older, ranked by most receiving yardage.
Jerry Rice was 35 when he suffered a career-threatening knee injury early in the 1997 season. He returned to catch 82 passes for 1,157 yards and nine touchdowns the following season.
Rice shows up on the chart three times, most recently in 2002, when he had 92 receptions for 1,211 yards at age 40.
Rice is a special case, obviously. He was also less dependent than Moss on raw speed, which tends to be fleeting as players get older.
The odds are stacked against Moss, but other 35-and-up receivers have occasionally produced at a high level.
Longtime NFL agent Eric Metz, who represents Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and top assistant Russ Grimm, weighed in Wednesday with comments strongly suggesting Manning could be throwing passes to Larry Fitzgerald in 2012.
Metz, speaking on XTRA Sports 910, punctuated his interview this way: "I think they have a tremendous shot and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t pull it off."
Metz does not represent Manning. Tom Condon does. But longtime NFC West observers might recall Metz representing high-profile players in the division, including former Seattle Seahawks receiver Joey Galloway. Metz is putting Arizona and Miami atop the list of most likely destinations, giving the Cardinals an edge.
"He is going to win quicker in Arizona and they know how to do it, and that whole staff has been there before, so they know how to get right back there, and so does Peyton," Metz said.
Metz said he expects a resolution quickly, within a week. He says the Dolphins will want to have a resolution before Green Bay's Matt Flynn hits the market, and that the demand for Manning will be strong enough to accelerate the process. He discounted Seattle for geography and Kansas City for the fit.
Metz obviously has an interest in where Manning winds up. Whisenhunt and Grimm stand to benefit from Manning signing with Arizona.
"Only he is going to know for sure," Metz said, "but I would think it comes down to Miami and Arizona, and I think Arizona wins out."
We know this because the 32 NFL teams drafted 28 wide receivers in 2011, but not Baldwin.
NFC West teams drafted five of them, but not Baldwin.
Austin Pettis (third round, St. Louis), Kris Durham (fourth round, Seattle), Greg Salas (fourth round, St. Louis), Ronald Johnson (sixth round, San Francisco) and DeMarco Sampson (seventh round, Arizona) have combined for 22 receptions, 195 yards and no touchdowns.
Baldwin, signed as an undrafted free agent from Stanford, has 20 catches for 330 yards and two scores even though he played sparingly in the season opener.
How surprising is Baldwin's production? His college coach, Jim Harbaugh, surely did not see it coming. Harbaugh's 49ers were seeking a slot receiver in the draft. They went with Johnson in the sixth round partially because the 49ers' receivers coach, John Morton, coached Johnson at USC. There was no shame in the selection; the draft guides I saw rated Johnson over Baldwin.
Johnson failed to earn a roster spot. Baldwin is leading Seattle in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He caught eight passes for 136 yards and a touchdown during the Seahawks' 36-25 victory over the New York Giants in Week 5. His 55-yard touchdown reception against the 49ers in Week 1 helped Seattle erase most of a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter.
Among Seattle rookies, only Joey Galloway, with 349 yards in 1995, has gained more receiving yards than Baldwin through five games, according to ESPN Stats & Information (Hall of Famer Steve Largent had been second with 313 yards through five games in 1976).
Baldwin was initially reluctant to bite when I asked him how much motivation he gets from knowing his own college coach could have drafted him or signed him, but did not.
"There is definitely motivation that comes out of that," Baldwin said. "Obviously, I went undrafted, so there is motivation from that as a whole, but definitely motivation."
Baldwin's college career was up and down. He became disillusioned with his diminished role as a junior, as the Pensacola News recounted in a story available via PDF.
"He is one of the most mentally strong people I have ever met," said 49ers tight end Konrad Reuland, a rookie who played with Baldwin at Stanford and lived with him for a time. "He had his ups and downs at Stanford. He always battled back from any kind of injury or setback that he had. He’s just mentally tough. He went through a year where he didn’t play very much and came back the next year and was our best receiver."
Baldwin appears ideally suited for the slot. The Seahawks, despite having already had their bye week, rank eighth in the league with 203 plays featuring at least three wide receivers. Baldwin's presence helps account for some of that.
The Seahawks want him on the field and value what he offers from the slot in particular. So far, Baldwin has nine receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown from the left slot, seven receptions for 114 yards from the right slot and four receptions for 91 yards when lining up outside, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"In terms of physical ability, he is one of the quickest guys I have ever seen in and out of his breaks," Reuland said. "He’s got those cat-like reflexes and just explodes in and out of his breaks."
Baldwin has also proved he can bounce back from big hits, whether from opposing defensive backs -- one such hit drew a $15,000 fine -- or from the NFL teams that decided he wasn't worth drafting.
Also from Maiocco: play-by-play coverage from the 49ers' practice session Tuesday.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers players, led by Alex Smith, are checking out video from previous versions of West Coast offenses. Barrows: "Smith's classroom work includes film cups of an array of West Coast offenses, including college (Stanford) and pro clubs. The NFL clips include Steve Young and the 49ers, Rich Gannon and the Raiders and recent Philadelphia Eagles footage. Players said it was helpful to get a bird's eye view of the plays they are running on the practice field."
Also from Barrows: Colin Kaepernick can get the football to its target in a hurry. Left tackle Joe Staley: "He doesn't have that rookie, deer-in-the-headlights mentality. I think he's going to be a good quarterback. The ball comes off his arm pretty fast. He's a real, real intelligent kid. I think he'll pick up this offense pretty quickly."
The 49ers' website catches up with former coach George Seifert, who has this to say about his fondest fan-related recollections: "I was there when San Francisco lost to Detroit in 1957, when it appeared they were going to win the game and go on to the championship. That was certainly a downturn, but to be there when Dwight Clark made 'The Catch' and Eric Wright made the tackle to help us beat Dallas to put us in the Super Bowl was such a high. Having had my background, I’ve been very fortunate to appreciate those moments like our fans."
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' receivers will have to adjust the velocity Kaepernick puts on his throws. Branch: "The bad news for Niners receivers is they might need to place their hands in ice baths this week. But the good news for Kaepernick is that he was able to participate fully in the first day of the four-day camp at San Jose State. Kaepernick was limited at the first camp -- only tossing warm-up throws -- in early June after undergoing a minor surgical procedure on his lower left leg following the NFL draft."
Also from Branch: One pass from Kaepernick seemed to knock down receiver Lance Long.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says 49ers tackle Alex Boone has been working with former NFL center LeCharles Bentley in Ohio.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers players have bonded during their offseason camps.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com considers whether Joey Galloway had the most impressive rookie season in franchise history. I might go with Galloway or Curt Warner. Farnsworth on Warner: "Coach Chuck Knox traded the team’s first-, second- and third-round draft choices to move into the third spot so he could select the back needed for his Ground Chuck offense. Warner did not disappoint, rushing for 1,449 yards (on 335 carries), catching 42 passes and scoring 14 touchdowns to earn AFC offensive player of the year honors."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a closer look at the Seahawks on third down last season. Williams: "Seattle might be looking to take more chances on third down this year after drafting players like linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith, corners Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell and safety Mark LeGree, in addition to Kam Chancellor, Walter Thurmond and Roy Lewis -- all fast, explosive players who can tackle and cover. Specifically, the Seahawks will look to free up safety Earl Thomas more and allow him to use his play-making ability, as they did against St. Louis in the final game of the year."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com traces the roots of Dennis Green's famous they-are-who-we-thought-they-were outburst back to training camp that season. Urban: "Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked about Leinart’s good game in the preseason and talked about that game meaning nothing, as a 'glorified practice.' Green, hearing this, clearly didn’t agree and said as much, although it wasn’t exactly 'who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s bull.' At least, not yet. Then came the game. The Cards dominated, and they lost. Green calmly answered most of the questions and then the one hit him the wrong way, especially with the leftover irritation with Smith’s comments percolating all week and the frustration of the season building (for instance, kicker Neil Rackers missing what should have been a game-winning field goal that night)."
Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World says Rams receiver Mark Clayton is eager to resume contract negotiations with the team. Clayton: "I would love to stay. I love playing with Sam [Bradford]. The organization is great. Coach 'Spags' [Steve Spagnuolo], I love him. I love his passion. He's a real fiery dude. He's a defensive guy and I play offense. Opposites attract, I guess." Getting a deal done with Clayton shouldn't be too difficult. The team has improved its depth at the position, but with Clayton and several other receivers coming off injuries, the Rams need numbers. Clayton developed an instant rapport with Bradford last season. He's coming off surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon suffered at Detroit in Week 6 last season.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks hope rookie Malcolm Smith can make an impact right away. Coach Pete Carroll: "He’s not built like a linebacker, he’s built like a skilled athlete,” Carroll said. “So, in nickel situations, he’ll be able to match up with anybody that we see. Hopefully, we’ll be able to develop him more. He’s played in our system, so we know that he can do those things, and that’s why to us he is maybe more valuable than he is to anybody else."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com revisits the impact Joey Galloway made with Seattle during a relatively short stay with the team. I do not recall covering a faster NFL player. Farnsworth: "As a rookie, he broke an 86-yard touchdown run on a reverse off of a reverse; added a 59-yard TD catch; and capped it all with an 89-yard punt return for a TD. Galloway also became only the 10th rookie in NFL history (at the time) to surpass 1,000 receiving yards (1,039), and the first since 1986. He also set club rookie records for receptions (67), yards and 100-yard games (three). Before Galloway called it a Seahawks career, he had added punt returns for touchdowns of 88 and 74 yards; TD catches of 81, 70, 65 and 53 yards; and also broke non-scoring runs of 51 and 44 yards."
Also from Farnsworth: a look at Dennis Erickson's first season as Seahawks coach. The team immediately improved to 8-8, but would get no better during Erickson's tenure. Erickson, like successor Mike Holmgren, had a 31-33 record after four seasons with the team. Erickson, unlike Holmgren, did not have the clout to keep his job at that point.
Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange thinks Texans running back Steve Slaton could provide value for a team such as the Rams. Pasquarelli: "Slaton is only 25 years old, doesn't have a lot of tread rubbed off the tires yet, and is a good receiver, so he could be an attractive No. 2 back for some team seeking to bolster the position. Rumors have linked him to St. Louis, where the Rams could use a reliable back capable of getting 6-8 touches per game, to reduce the workload for Steven Jackson, but the talk has been unsubstantiated. Slaton is under contract for 2011 at the league-minimum base salary, then would be eligible for free agency next spring. For the right price, though, he would provide a solid, experienced back for a year."
Bill Vilona of pnj.com says the Rams' defensive linemen are training in Florida. George Selvie: "I haven't seen these guys in four months, so it's just great seeing everybody again. It makes it more of ... this is what we're supposed to be doing."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com sees Mike Singletary's departure from the 49ers having no adverse effect on linebacker Patrick Willis. Maiocco: "Singletary seemed to emphasize focus and getting in the right frame of mind. I have no doubt that Willis benefited from being around a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on a regular basis. ... Willis is at the stage of his career that he knows what it takes to be successful in the NFL. He's a highly motivated player, and Singletary -- with his long daily post-practice talks -- was all about providing motivation to his players. ... Now, it's more of a matter of how defensive coordinator Vic Fangio decides to utilize Willis' immense skills."
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers have been ready for free agency since March, so a sudden opening for business would not catch anyone off-guard.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee sizes up the 49ers' situation at receiver with special attention toward Kevin Jurovich and Kyle Williams. San Francisco opened last season with five wide receivers on its 53-man roster, down from six in 2009.
Also from Barrows: Some rookies will miss the 49ers' player-organized practices this week.
The 49ers' website catches up with Roger Craig, a finalist for induction into the team's Hall of Fame. Craig: "We have the best fans on the planet. They’ve always been supportive, through good and through bad. They’re faithful and I feel they deserve to get back in the playoffs, do some damage and win some more Super Bowls. I would love to see that happen very soon, because the fans were cheering us when we played and were a big part of the dynasty. The 49ers have the tools to make that happen with Jim Harbaugh now as their head coach. He reminds me of Bill Walsh and I think it’s in his DNA to make this happen because of his background. He’s seasoned and knows what it takes to take a team to the next level."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider looks at Harbaugh's involvement in the offense at Stanford.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com notes, per ESPN's John Clayton, that cap space will not be a problem for the Cardinals once the free-agent signing period opens. Urban: "It’s impossible to know what is 'aggressive' and how the plan will play out (and part of that includes the moving parts once everything is able to begin; for instance, a trade for a quarterback complicates/affects things more than a straight free-agent signing of a QB would)."
Also from Barrows: Is Kendall Hunter the next Brian Westbrook?
Mindi Bach of CSNBayArea.com has this to say about Smith's likely return: "When he met with new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in January, the two men hit it off immediately, Smith said. He said he liked the idea of playing for an offensive-minded head coach who played quarterback in the NFL. Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, 49ers head coaches since 2005, both came from defensive backgrounds."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com explains why defensive backs Colin Jones and Curtis Holcomb appealed to the 49ers in the draft. General manager Trent Baalke on Jones: "When you look at the measurable, he's 6-foot, 210 pounds, runs low 4.4s and you can see it on film. He loves special teams. You look at the TCU film, covering kicks, covering punts, he's the first one down and he's not afraid of contact."
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis looks at potential free-agent defensive tackles for the Rams to consider this offseason. The Giants' Barry Cofield and the Seahawks' Brandon Mebane made the list. Softli on Cofield: "Cofield has developed into one of the league's best interior defensive linemen. He has explosive use of his hands with quickness out of stance and plays behind pads. Good run stopper with football instincts and a nose for the ball. Solid lateral movement over and around trash, a dominant interior lineman with some nasty in his play. Pass rush is adequate, but reacts well to screens and hustles to second level."
Mike Baldwin of the Oklahoman says former Rams and Steelers defensive back Clendon Thomas will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Thomas picked off three passes for the Rams in 1961, then had 15 interceptions for the Steelers over a two-year period. Baldwin: "A second-round selection, Thomas played 11 years in the NFL with the Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing primarily defensive back, because of his size and speed, Thomas was considered one of the top athletes in the league. Selected to the 1963 Pro Bowl and a three-time second team All-Pro selection, Thomas played in 137 professional games. He compiled 27 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Thomas, 75, is a member of the Steelers Legends team. He also intercepted a Paul Hornung pass and returned it for a touchdown."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Bobby Engram was "humbled" to earn a spot as the third receiver on the Seahawks' 35th anniversary team, determined by online fan balloting. Farnsworth: "Finishing second to Steve Largent (5,004 votes) was Brian Blades (3,487), and coming in third -- as the slot receiver -- was Bobby Engram (2,254). Darrell Jackson finished fourth (1,388), followed by Joey Galloway (941), Daryl Turner (211) and Koren Robinson (95)."
Also from Farnsworth: Engram's former teammates reflect on the receiver's contributions. Lofa Tatupu: "His understanding of what the route needs or what the coaches expect out of it, the way he could read coverages, his understanding of route concepts and what the defense was doing -- it was all second to none. You put a nickel or a corner on him on the inside, he’d eat him up all day. Bobby was a professional in every sense of the word. He was an amazing guy – a guy you love to have in the locker room, a leader."
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle asks whether Seattle could be in line to host a Super Bowl. ESPN.com's John Clayton put the chances at "virtually none" thanks to a combination of factors including hotel rooms, weather and stadium size.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com shows off a sensational "Grand Cannon" poster featuring then-Cardinals quarterback Neil Lomax standing before a Grand Canyon backdrop.
Pat Kirwan of NFL.com thinks Arizona would be a good fit for Carson Palmer if the Bengals decided to trade the disgruntled quarterback. Kirwan: "There’s no denying his talent and experience. If you’re looking to duplicate some of the things you did with Kurt Warner, he’s your best choice." Palmer would instantly make the Cardinals a leading candidate to win the NFC West, in my view. His addition would energize the team and revive the offense, particularly with three capable running backs to lessen the load.
Houshmandzadeh does not fit into the team's long-term plans. Neither did cornerback Josh Wilson. And because the Seahawks are anxious to try out fresh talent at those players' positions, they're pushing Houshmandzadeh and Wilson out the door ahead of schedule.
Those who have followed the Seahawks for years will recall former coach Mike Holmgren parting with Ahman Green, Sam Adams, Phillip Daniels, Joey Galloway, Pete Kendall and others during the early stages of his Seattle tenure. The team didn't necessarily have adequate replacements lined up, but Holmgren had in some cases decided to move on anyway (he regretted losing Daniels).
New Seattle bosses Pete Carroll and John Schneider didn't inherit players as talented as the ones Holmgren pushed out, but Houshmandzadeh was the Seahawks' most proven receiver, and Wilson had been a playmaker. A team's new leaders can sometimes be so eager to reshape a roster that they're willing to make short-term personnel sacrifices. In this case, Carroll and Schneider might not think they're sacrificing anything at all. They simply inherited a team that had only nine victories to show for its past two seasons.
Houshmandzadeh's departure clears the way for Mike Williams to build upon what has the potential to become an all-time great career revival. Pushing out Houshmandzadeh also removes from the locker room a strong personality -- one unafraid to complain about his role. Williams, Golden Tate and Deon Butler in particular have shown promise this summer. The Seahawks also tried to acquire Brandon Marshall and they've looked into Vincent Jackson, so there's a chance the team isn't finished reshaping that position.
The Seahawks will lose their most proven receiver and a player whose on-field rapport with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck appeared markedly better than when they first started working together. But they'll be one step closer to fulfilling their long-term vision, and that is the priority.
Walter Jones, Isaac Bruce and Kurt Warner retired. Jones' knee was the problem. Bruce was no longer an impact player. Warner decided to move on with his life. All were at least 36 years old.
Some of the NFL's oldest players still have ties to current NFC West teams. The chart ranks each division by average age for offensive and defensive players (no specialists). It also shows how many 30-plus players each division employs (again, no specialists). The final column shows the oldest player in each division, including NFC West alumni Bobby Engram and Joey Galloway.
The four oldest players in the NFC East have roots with current NFC West teams: Galloway, Jon Kitna, Phillip Daniels and London Fletcher.
Paul Kuharsky's recent item focusing on the AFC South's youth holds up here. Only 19 non-specialists in the division are 30 or older. The AFC North has 50 such players. The Indianapolis Colts annually maintain one of the youngest rosters in the league.
I've found that teams running 3-4 defenses often prefer older players. Defensive players on teams with 3-4 schemes average 26.3 years old, compared to 25.7 for defensive players on 4-3 teams. This makes sense because 3-4 schemes can feature more moving parts, putting greater value on experience. These defenses can also value size over speed, putting less value on youth.
The information is based on the rosters I maintain for every team in the league. I had been missing roughly a dozen ages for rookie free agents until the NFL made available its 2011 Record & Fact Book featuring dates of birth. I'm now missing a birthday for only one NFL player: Damola Adeniji of the Oakland Raiders.
Aaron (San Diego): Hi Mike, I love hearing how everyone thinks that Donovan McNabb will be a huge upgrade in the QB spot, but here is why it doesn't work! He's 34 has a history of injuries, in the last few years they have just been getting worse, the 49ers have invested in Alex Smith, yet never given him the opportunity to grow into a system. You cant have input in a system if you don't know how it works, which has been one of his biggest knocks! Lastly, McNabb has never played in a different system, hasn't had to relearn anything in an offseason, and there is no telling that he would thrive in that situation. He has only had Andy Reid as his play caller, and if you think the offensive coordinators he's been through matter, they don't -- Andy calls all those plays. Care to disagree with that?
Mike Sando: I agree with just about everything. I have raised all those points in discussing the matter on the blog. However, I would not say outright that McNabb is too old. He's been more durable than Alex Smith by a wide margin. He is not 34 years old until November. I realize 33 and 34 are close, but if he were turning 35 this season, that would lend additional credence to your point of view. Let's at least agree on his age. Let's also note that quarterbacks have had success in that age range. Let's also agree that McNabb has started 44 of 48 regular-season games over the last three seasons, throwing 74 TD passes with 28 interceptions. Alex Smith has started 17 games over the same period, with 36 TDs and 32 interceptions. McNabb is better than Smith by every measure except untapped potential. Doesn't mean the 49ers should rush into a deal or make a deal lightly. The other points you raised are definitely worth considering.
mike (az): Mike, why has there been zero talk about the Cards and Mt. Cody? I know many think he is a two-down player, but for those two downs, him, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell is a pretty formidable line. He would free the LBs up a bit and would also free up Adrian wilson around the line of scrimmage. The biggest concern with him is his weight, and while it's not guarantee, if anyone is going to keep his weight in check its John Lott.
Mike Sando: Mel Kiper brought up Terence Cody specifically with Arizona in mind. You can see the video on the NFC West blog. The Cardinals absolutely could use a nose tackle in this draft. Bryan Robinson has been pretty good in the role, but he's up there in years and has not re-signed at this point.
Jesse Banning (Hayden, Idaho): What do you think the chances are the Seahawks make a play for Brandon Marshall or Dez Bryant. The Seahawks have not had a true number one in years.
Mike Sando: The Seahawks have tried to have No. 1 receivers, from Joey Galloway to Koren Robinson. But you're right. They really haven't had that guy. Seattle appears to be playing a waiting game on Marshall. I think that could still happen, possibly around or during the draft. I'd like that option better than using a first-round pick for a player who has not had multiple 100-catch seasons. Receivers seem to be so hit-or-miss. Marshall is a hit from a production standpoint. And if the price is lower than a first-round pick, good for Seattle. What if the Seahawks traded back from No. 14, gaining a pick late in the first round, plus another second-rounder. Then Seattle could send that late first-round choice to Denver for Marshall before picking twice in the second round. That's just me thinking out loud. Lots of possibilities.
Jeff (Cedar Rapids, Iowa): From the Rams perspective, doesn't a 1-2 draft of Sam Bradford/Mt Cody (or whichever DT/DE falls out of the first round) make a lot more long-term sense than Ndamukong Suh/Colt McCoy?
Mike Sando: It does to me. The team did sign Fred Robbins for needed size in the middle of the defense. Adam Carriker could be part of the rotation. Not necessary to take a defensive tackle at the top, although Ndamukong Suh would really help that defense, according to everyone I know who has watched him play extensively.
Thanks for participating. Looks like there's more NFC West-related news. Leroy Hill's guilty plea in a marijuana-possession case could subject him to NFL discipline.
A new Tuesday feature on the ESPN.com NFL blog network.
Should the Seahawks push hard to land Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall?
Yes. Price is the key because it determines risk, but more on that in a bit.
The Seahawks haven't had a truly dynamic receiving threat on the outside since parting with Joey Galloway (Koren Robinson had the potential, but never developed). Marshall offers much more than Galloway ever did.
Back to the risk part.
I'm somewhat sympathetic to the thinking that Marshall's off-field incidents -- including charges relating to domestic violence -- should disqualify him from consideration by any self-respecting franchise. But it's also important to differentiate football character from personal character. The Seahawks arguably haven't done that well enough in recent years. They've gotten a little soft and lost their edge.
Landing Marshall for a price low enough to justify the risk wouldn't automatically turn the Seahawks into a rogue organization. The team could always discipline Marshall or even release him if his antics became too much of a problem.
An organization with strong, unified leadership should be able to handle a mercurial personality or two -- particularly when there's so much to be gained on the field.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Seattle traded more than a backup quarterback when dealing Seneca Wallace to the Browns. Farnsworth: "A gifted athlete, Wallace also was used sparingly last season as a situational runner, receiver and passer in a version of the Wildcat offense that was dubbed the SeneCat. He completed 78 of 120 passes for 700 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions; had 16 carries for 2 yards; and caught two passes for 29 yards."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times recalls Wallace's finest moment in Seattle. O'Neil: "As a Seahawk, Wallace will best be remembered for the 28-yard pass he caught at Qwest Field early in the NFC Championship Game four years ago. As a Brown, Wallace will have the chance to be part of a rebuilding process under (Mike) Holmgren, the coach who oversaw his development with the Seahawks."
Also from O'Neil: a partial list of NFL trades involving restricted and franchise free agents, including the one that sent Joey Galloway to the Cowboys for draft choices that became Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks could go in any number of directions at quarterback after trading Wallace. Johns: "It surely increases the likelihood of the team drafting a quarterback at some point this April. The Seahawks have lined up an individual workout with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, but they'll have numerous options there or could pursue a veteran backup in free agency. Chad Pennington just re-signed with Miami, so the list of potentially available veterans include the likes of Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, Jon Kitna and Chris Redman."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Kerry Rhodes is looking forward to a fresh start with the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt downplayed concerns about the talent drain in Arizona so far this offseason. Whisenhunt: "This off-season or this free-agency period started just this past week. We still have five months ahead of us before we ever take the field in Flagstaff (for training camp). There are a lot of things that can happen between now and then. I think it's tough to make judgments this early on the preseason."
Also from Somers: Cardinals secondary coach Donnie Henderson shares the thoughts he had when the Jets drafted Rhodes. Henderson: "I can remember him being on the board, and I thought at one time he had the potential to be a first or second-round draft pick. We were excited to get him (in the fourth round). He started as a rookie in our scheme, either at the free or the strong. They were interchangeable at that time. We utilized him in different positions, brought him off the corner a lot blitzing, let him cover the tight end a lot, the third receiver sometimes, the back."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along reports suggesting the Cardinals could visit with Rex Hadnot, Nick Eason and Wade Smith, plus Joey Porter and Larry Foote.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams signed defensive tackle Fred Robbins while two of their free-agent defensive ends, Leonard Little and James Hall, planned to visit the Saints. Thomas: "Little arrives in New Orleans on Wednesday and departs Thursday morning. Hall arrives Thursday, so he and Little may just miss each other in Louisiana. The Saints released defensive end Charles Grant, so they have at least one opening on their line. Joe Vitt, the Saints' linebackers coach and assistant head coach, knows Little well from spending the 2004 and '05 seasons on Mike Martz's staff in St. Louis."
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Robbins' connections with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo played a significant role in the veteran defensive tackle's decision to sign with St. Louis. Robbins: "Throughout my career I played both nose tackle and three-technique. I played both the left side and right side and I think that’s the different options I can bring to the table. That’s what helped us when he was with us in New York. We had guys that could play multiple positions."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Shaun Hill's agent took the high road when asked about the 49ers' decision to sign David Carr. Barrows: "The truth is that Hill isn't holding any cards. He's under contract at a modest figure -- $1.5 million -- and the 49ers are under no obligation to release him. What likely will happen is that the 49ers will see if Hill has any trade value before letting him get to the open market. The 49ers have not said what they plan to do with Hill, perhaps because they have not officially signed David Carr yet. He's only agreed to terms on a two-year deal."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Hill plans to attend the 49ers' offseason conditioning program when it begins next week.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' pursuit of David Carr shows the team wasn't satisfied with its situation at quarterback.
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle wasn't impressed when the 49ers added Carr. Ratto: "After a day of seemingly meaningless jousting, the 49ers and Carr agreed to a deal Sunday that dooms Shaun Hill but in no other way makes San Francisco materially better. Now that he's signed, Carr becomes nothing more than the new Hill, only Alex Smith is an easier hurdle to clear than Eli Manning was for Carr last year." I think perceptions would be significantly different if, all else being equal, Hill were once a No. 1 overall draft choice and Carr had entered the league as an undrafted free agent. Carr's failures are defined by expectations for him and not so much by how he has actually played.
Also from Somers: a look at issues facing the Cardinals this offseason. The team will not be rushing to extend Darnell Dockett, who has two years remaining on his deal.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com expands on the idea that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll should have an advantage heading into the scouting combine after recruiting and coaching at the college level. Seattle holds the sixth and 14th choices in the 2010 draft. The team held the eighth overall choice in 1995, when Dennis Erickson was jumping to the NFL after a successful run at the college level. Seattle's draft class that year featured Joey Galloway, Christian Fauria, Jason Kyle, Henry McMillian, Eddie Goines and Keif Bryant.
Also from Farnsworth: a few thoughts on Ricky Foley's signing.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with general manager Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo as the Rams head to the scouting combine. Thomas expects the Rams to choose between Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen with the first overall choice. Devaney says he has some interest in seeing a medical report on Colt McCoy. Devaney on the draft in general: "I think wide receiver is going to be pretty deep. There may not be those stud impact guys, but it's a real good group. The offensive line -- tackles again. The past few years, there's been a pretty good run of tackles."
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com thinks Marc Bulger could wind up with the Bucs. Gordon: "He is not going to retire. Several teams would covet him as a back-up next season, including Tampa Bay -– where Greg Olson is offensive coordinator. You will recall that Olson worked with Bulger as Scott Linehan’s nominal offensive coordinator. Bulger could regroup from his beatings in St. Louis, help tutor (Josh) Freeman and offer insurance if the kid needs to sit for a spell."
Also from Thomas: a chat transcript featuring thoughts on the draft and free agency. Thomas: "If the Rams took Bradford at No. 1 overall, there's a lot of ways they could go in the second round. At DT, maybe (but not for certain) Dan Williams of Tennessee is still there. Or another DT, Jared Odrick of Penn State. The Rams could see if any of the edge rushers -- the best seem to be the 'tweeners this year -- are still on the board. The top of the second might be too high for RB Dexter McCluster. Then again, he might not be there at the top of the third."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says during a chat that the 49ers are almost certain to select an offensive lineman in the first round. Barrows: "I really don't see them bypassing an OL in the first round. Maybe if they felt confident a guy like Rodger Saffold (Indiana) could be had in the second, but that's risky. Nothing is a sure thing when it comes to the draft, but the 49ers taking an OL is as sure as it gets."
Also from Barrows: The 49ers visited with former Titans and Cardinals pass-rusher Travis LaBoy, who was forced out of football by injuries last season.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Aubrayo Franklin joins Julian Peterson, Terrell Owens and Steve Young as franchise players for the 49ers.
Also from Maiocco: He compares draft prospect Taylor Mays to Dana Hall, a first-round disappointment from the 49ers' past.
Vince (Phoenix, AZ): Mike, can you see the Niners making a play for a guy like Joey Porter? I think he has that intensity and toughness we can use. We really need an established pass rusher to go along with our young guys. Ahmad Brooks is promising, but still unproven, Manny Lawson is an adequate pass-rusher, and Parys Haralson is decent, not great. This is the only thing we need to have a dominant defense. Thoughts?
Mike Sando: Well, if Porter were all those things, why wouldn't the Dolphins be finding ways to get him on the field? Are they really good enough to just move on without a player as good as the one you described? The 49ers had a chance to pursue Porter a couple years ago, and they did not show interest. They arguably have more of a need now because they know Lawson probably isn't going to become an elite player. But I think Porter's price would have to be pretty reasonable. That is just my feel. If they signed Porter, they would have better depth, at least.
Rick (Charleston, WV): Mike, normally I am against throwing big money at a glamor FA. However, late in the season, the lack of a pass rush became such a GLARING issue for the Cardinals that the defense couldn't get off the field, and guys like Bryant McFadden were forced to cover guys for WAY too long and got burned often. It's always been my belief that a great rush end makes the ENTIRE defense better. With that in mind, might it be worth it for the Cards to use the money they'll save from Warner-Rolle-Dansby to go after a guy like Julius Peppers? Or do you think the risk doesn't line up with the reward?
Mike Sando: I'm with you all the way on the idea that a good pass rush makes everything better. The Cardinals' pass rush wasn't horrible. Not many 3-4 teams can get 7.0 sacks from each defensive end. I thought it have been nice for the Cardinals if they could have used Adrian Wilson more as a blitzer. With Peppers, one concern would be that he has been a 4-3 defensive end, not a stand-up rush 3-4 linebacker. However, the Cardinals have shown they can get production from Darnell Dockett as both a defensive tackle and a defensive end. If you add a player with Peppers' talent, you'd better find ways to use it. I'm sure Bill Davis wouldn't mind giving it a try. But it still might be a risky signing based on the potential that Peppers wouldn't fit.
Ken (Redondo Beach): It seems everyone wants the Rams to draft a QB in the second round. With what you seen of the Rams QBs and the rookies in the draft class is there an improvement to be found? Thanks
Mike Sando: What I've seen of the Rams' current quarterbacks isn't very promising. It's time to go another route if possible. None of the college prospects jumps out as an obvious upgrade right away. Let's remember that even Peyton Manning threw a bunch of picks and struggled as a rookie starter for a bad team. Teams have generally taken good quarterbacks in first rounds, not second rounds. The list of Pro Bowl quarterbacks taken in second round includes one name over the last 12 or 13 drafts: Drew Brees.
Jude (Herndon, VA -- near DC): Mike, I'm buried in snow here. Help me by answering my question! Please tell me the Seahawks will wait for Big Walt to decide. He was the best, but he is done and we need to move on. Will Alex Gibbs talk the Seahawks into putting off picking an OT until Rd. 2? If so, will we get Spiller at No. 14? We haven't had a home run threat in Seattle since Joey Galloway!
Mike Sando: Walter Jones probably is finished, as you suggested. The Seahawks can wait to find out. There is no reason for them to rush him. If he wants to play, he can prove to them he's in shape and ready to go. If he plans to retire, as his Twitter account suggested he would, then the team can just move on without him. I don't see Seattle banking on Jones at all. The team needs to proceed as though he is finished. Then it's a bonus if he comes back. Jeremy Bates' comments about finding running backs later in the draft were interesting. In the end, I think the Seahawks need to find a starting-caliber lineman in this draft.