NFC West: Koren RObinson
The trades St. Louis made also left the Rams with different options when they did select -- potentially lesser options in some cases.
Those are the trade-offs.
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis liked the Rams' approach overall, with one possible exception. Softli: "There was only decision during the draft that I really questioned. I have been on that side of the fence and recognize that the flow of the draft has some traps that you cannot avoid or sidestep. Having said that, the trade back from No. 45 to No. 50 smacked of perhaps overanalyzing things a bit too much. As a result, the Rams missed out on an opportunity to beef up their linebacking corps." Noted: Linebacker Mychal Kendricks went to Philadelphia at No. 46. Seattle took linebacker Bobby Wagner with the next pick. The Rams took running back Isaiah Pead at No. 50, two spots before Tennessee selected linebacker Zach Brown. The Rams need help at outside linebacker. Kendricks and Wagner are expected to play the middle with their new teams. I found it interesting that the Rams preferred Pead to LaMichael James, the running back San Francisco selected 61st overall.
Matthew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Rams' stadium situation, but neither party is making public key aspects of the process.
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks the 49ers' draft moves show the team plans for Alex Smith. Lynch: "Any inkling of flagging confidence was completely obliterated over draft weekend. Not only did head coach Jim Harbaugh once again reiterate that Smith was the team’s unquestioned starter, Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke surrounded Smith with foot-speed freaks in Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and Oregon running back LaMichael James. Combine these dynamos with free agent signings Randy Moss and Mario Manningham and the message is clear -- Harbaugh is breaking the offense open and he obviously believes Smith can run this new wide-open attack." Noted: The 49ers are setting themselves up for life with or without Smith. Their confidence in him will reflect his performance and their alternatives.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' selection of 5-foot-9, 193-pound safety Trenton Robinson reflects an emphasis on pass coverage and a complete departure from the thinking that went into Taylor Mays' selection.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with cornerback Brandon Browner, who joined Dave Brown, Shawn Springs and Marcus Trufant as the only Pro Bowl corners in team history. Farnsworth: "Five of his team-high six interceptions coming in the final six games, making him only the fifth player in franchise history to lead the team in his first season -- along with Brown (1976), Autry Beamon (1977), Darryl Williams (1996) and Earl Thomas (2010)."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks sought speed and gave second chances when drafting this year.
Art Thiel of Sports Press Northwest reflects on the Seahawks' surprise selection of Bruce Irvin in the first round, offering this: "Pete Carroll, who knows more about Irvin’s past than anyone speculating on the draft, is betting a considerable portion of the Seahawks house that he can design a defensive role that maximizes Irvin’s biggest asset, speed, and minimizes his biggest liability, size. As to whether Irvin’s off-field actions turn him into the next Koren Robinson/Jerramy Stevens or the next Cortez Kennedy/Dave Brown, your guess is as good as anyone's. And no one's."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb is eager to atone for last season. Also, Michael Floyd's arrival as the likely starting flanker could give Andre Roberts extended playing time from the slot. Kolb says he thinks Roberts is a "special" player and should thrive from the slot.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along thoughts from Roberts and Early Doucet regarding Floyd's addition. Doucet: "This isn’t new to me. I’ve seen it all, been through it all. Again, I think it’s a good pick for us. It gives us another big body on the outside like Fitz, and we will have more opportunities if they pay attention to those big bodies. It’s the business. I don’t have any bad blood toward the guy. I’m excited."
Todd McShay set off alarms as he considered if NFL teams drafting sixth (St. Louis Rams) and 10th (Buffalo Bills) might consider selecting wide receivers with those choices.
The alarms grew louder as McShay, speaking in the video above, noted that Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, widely rated as the top receiver in the 2012 NFL draft, did not possess prototypical size.
Blackmon, though obviously talented, doesn't fit the physical mold for receivers drafted among the top three overall choices over the past 25-plus years. We discussed the reasons back at the combine, when the Rams held the second overall choice and Blackmon was a consideration for them.
The Rams subsequently traded the second overall choice to Washington. They now hold the sixth overall choice. Blackmon would be a more logical value there than at No. 2, except for those alarms going off.
Consider recent draft history.
First, take a look at receivers drafted among the top five overall choices since 2000, listed in the first chart below.
Three of the seven are superstars: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. Another, A.J. Green, is coming off an impressive rookie season. Braylon Edwards has enjoyed sporadic success. The other two, Charles Rogers and Peter Warrick, fell far short of expectations.
Those seven players have combined for 12 Pro Bowl appearances (Fitzgerald 5, Johnson 5, Johnson 1, Edwards 1).
The next set of receivers, listed below, were drafted sixth to 15th overall. I selected that range because three NFC West teams -- the Rams, Seattle Seahawks (12th) and Arizona Cardinals (13th) -- hold picks in that area.
The 16 players listed in the second chart have combined for two Pro Bowls, one by Roy Williams and the other by Koren Robinson as a return specialist in Minnesota, long after Robinson had bombed as a receiver.
Receivers talented enough to command selection among the top few overall choices have fared better than the ones with enough question marks to push them down into the next tier.
That is something to consider when weighing how the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals should use their first-round selections, even if the Rams did land Torry Holt with the sixth overall choice in 1999.
- Here we go again. The Rams started well on offense. Steven Jackson carried four times for 20 yards on the opening drive. Tight end Lance Kendricks' 45-yard catch-and-run was the key play as St. Louis moved into Packers territory. None of it meant anything when veteran kicker Josh Brown missed wide right from 47 yards. The Rams needed Brown to make that kick. Early setbacks too easily lead winless teams into thinking, "Here we go again." Brown has missed twice in three attempts from 40-49 yards this season. He now has a higher career percentage from 50-plus yards (68.3) than from 40-49 yards (67.9).
- Jason Smith played well. The Rams' right tackle won his matchup with Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The only time Smith wound up on his back was when a teammate inadvertently tripped him while Smith was setting up in protection. Smith showed some nastiness in this game. He went after Matthews through the whistle and stood his ground when Matthews took offense. Mathews did collect a sack late in the game, but Smith got the better of him overall.
- Tight ends still not getting it done. Kendricks' big reception showed the Rams a glimpse of what they can expect from the position for the long term. The Rams aren't getting consistent enough play from their tight ends right now, however. Officials flagged Michael Hoomanawanui for holding Matthews. One of the tight ends was responsible for tripping Smith, the right tackle, on a pass set. Kendricks did not turn back to the ball in time when quarterback Sam Bradford rolled right and threw for him against pressure.
- Picking up the 7-10 split. At age 36, Al Harris is a veteran's veteran among NFL cornerbacks. Turns out the Packers' familiarity with him meant more than his familiarity with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers practiced against Harris for five seasons. He used the experience to his advantage in getting Harris to bite hard on a pump fake, freeing receiver Jordy Nelson for a 93-yard touchdown reception. Darian Stewart hustled over from his safety position to help out, only to overrun the play and take out Harris at the legs. Stewart took out Harris the way one bowling pin takes out another when picking up a split. Harris can be an aggressive corner. NFC West fans might recall him jumping a route for the winning interception against Seattle in a playoff game years ago. Rodgers apparently remembered that, too.
- The Brandon Lloyd trade was a necessity. If the Rams weren't quite sure heading into Week 6, watching receiver Danario Alexander drop what would have been a big gainer over the middle had to nudge them closer to making the deal for Lloyd. With the possible exception of Seattle during Koren Robinson's first few years with the team, I almost cannot recall an NFC West team dropping passes as frequently as the Rams drop them. They have a league-high 15 this season. This team isn't good enough to overcome little things like dropped passes, missed field goals, tight ends tripping tackles, cornerbacks biting hard on pump fakes, etc.
Enjoy your Saturday. I'll post observations from the other recent NFC West games as time permits.
The team keeps defeating division opponents at home.
The 49ers have won their last seven NFC West games at Candlestick Park. The average final score: 31-12.
It's something to keep in mind when the Seattle Seahawks visit later Sunday. Seattle is the most recent NFC West team to defeat the 49ers at Candlestick, back in Week 8 of the 2008 season.
Eight 49ers starters from that 2008 defeat remain in the lineup or at least part of the game plan this week: Josh Morgan, Joe Staley, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Parys Haralson, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. Several 49ers backups and inactive players from that game also remain with the team, including Ray McDonald and Delanie Walker. Alex Smith was on injured reserve and did not play that season.
The Seahawks have had almost zero carryover. Koren Robinson, Walter Jones, Mike Wahle, Keary Colbert, Seneca Wallace, Jordan Kent and current 49ers assistant Bobby Engram were among their offensive starters that day. They're hoping a nearly all-new team can produce different results against the 49ers on the road.
New 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh inherits a team that has gone 11-3 in its last 14 divisional games, home or away. Seattle has accounted for two of those three defeats, including in the 2010 opener.
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.
The ongoing NFL lockout prevents trades involving players, but teams can still trade draft choices. Primarily for that reason, I've excluded from consideration trades involving picks and veteran players.
The seventh pick boasts a colorful recent history featuring three of the four teams currently in the NFC West. My apologies in advance if any of these trades revive painful memories.
The pick: Seventh overall
Held by: San Francisco 49ers
Most recent trade involving only picks: 2008. The New England Patriots sent the seventh and 164th choice to the New Orleans Saints for the 10th and 78th selections. This trade was close to even on paper, according to the draft-value chart. The seventh and 164th choices add up to 1,526.8 points. The 10th and 78th selections add up to 1,500. The Saints used the seventh choice, which originated with San Francisco, for defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. They drafted guard Carl Nicks with the 164th choice. New England came away with linebackers Jerod Mayo (10th) and Shawn Crable (78th).
Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren and the 2001 draft: The Seattle Seahawks were one year away from joining the NFC West when the Walsh-run 49ers acquired the seventh overall choice from Holmgren's Seahawks. The value chart agreed with the deal. Seattle gave up picks worth 1,516 points for picks worth 1,533.6 points, a wash. The 49ers drafted defensive end Andre Carter in the seventh slot and defensive tackle Menson Holloway at No. 191. The Seahawks drafted receiver Koren Robinson ninth, fullback Heath Evans 82nd and center Dennis Norman 222nd. Carter, Evans and Norman remain active for different teams. Robinson flamed out prematurely. Holloway never played.
Mamula, Sapp and the 1995 draft: The Philadelphia Eagles moved up five spots to draft linebacker Mike Mamula seventh overall. This was bad move for the Eagles even if Tampa Bay hadn't drafted defensive tackle Warren Sapp with one of the picks from Philly. The Bucs did get Sapp, however, and Mamula didn't last. The trade-value chart says the Eagles gave up picks worth 1,946 points for picks worth 1,730 points. Philadelphia got the 72nd pick, used for defensive tackle Greg Jefferson, who became a starter. Beyond Sapp, the Bucs received the 43rd choice, used for safety Melvin Johnson, and the 63rd choice, used for guard Shane Hannah. Johnson became a starter.
The Bryant Young deal: The Los Angeles Rams were in full retreat during the 1994 draft. Having already traded back two spots into the seventh overall slot, they moved back eight more spots to No. 15 in a deal that helped the 49ers' defensive line. San Francisco used the seventh choice for Young, who became a second-team all-decade selection for the 1990s. The Rams landed the 15th choice, used for durable offensive tackle Wayne Gandy, plus the 56th (defensive end Brad Ottis) and 100th (linebacker Ernest Jones) picks. The trade chart says the Rams gave up 1,500 points for picks worth 1,490 points -- pretty much a wash. Gandy was a starter in 14 of his 15 NFL seasons.
The price of an elite cornerback: The 49ers could be in the market for a cornerback with the seventh overall choice this year. They'll be fortunate to fare as well as the Washington Redskins fared in the 1999 draft when they moved up five spots to No. 7 and drafted Champ Bailey. Chicago commanded the 12th (quarterback Cade McNown), 71st (receiver D'Wayne Bates), 106th (linebacker Warrick Holdman) and 143rd (tackle Jerry Wisne) choices, worth 51.5 points more than the seventh choice on the value chart. The Redskins also threw in a third-rounder in the 2000 draft (tight end Dustin Lyman). Quality trumped quantity in this exchange, something the 49ers will have to weigh if one of the top cornerbacks is available in the seventh slot this year.
Moving on up: Cleveland sent the seventh and 37th choices in the 2004 draft to Detroit for the sixth pick, which the Browns used for tight end Kellen Winslow. The Lions drafted receiver Roy Williams seventh and linebacker Teddy Lehman at No. 37. The value chart says the Browns spent 2,030 points to receive a pick worth 1,600 points. The 430-point difference equated to the 47th overall choice. A decade earlier, Indianapolis sent the seventh and 83rd choices to the Rams for the fifth pick, a wash on the value chart. The Colts took linebacker Trev Alberts fifth. The Rams kept dealing.
"It goes by years and years of format," Carroll said. "It’s a clear-cut situation. We are very open and very strong about getting this thing done."
Translation: Hey, it's basically all the agent's fault.
The agent, Peter Schaffer, was not available after Seahawks practice Tuesday, and he won't be available when Carroll says similar things following future practices. That's the advantage NFL teams have in shaping public perceptions. They can send out the head coach, who isn't directly involved in the negotiations, and he can say things that resonate with fans and prey on the player's emotions. Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren was especially good at this (he had quite a bit of practice, as the chart demonstrates).
"Every day that goes by, Russell falls farther behind and it's hurting him immensely," Carroll said. "So, hopefully we'll be able to get something done here, but it’s very clear-cut and it does not need to be a difficult situation right here because there’s so much history and pattern to this."
A disciplined organization can wait out players until the players either capitulate, change agents or both. As much as the Seahawks need Okung at left tackle, Okung will reach a point where he needs the team even more. Teams are bigger than players the vast majority of times, and that is the case here.
But everyone loses when a talented player doesn't report in time.
The issues standing between the Seahawks and a deal with Okung are best understood in the context of deals negotiated by other players in the first round.
The Washington Redskins gave $36.7 million in guarantees to Trent Williams, a tackle chosen fourth overall, as part of a six-year deal that could be worth $60 million. The Kansas City Chiefs gave Eric Berry, a safety chosen fifth, $34 million in guarantees as part of a deal that could also be worth $50 million to $60 million over six years. The Cleveland Browns gave Joe Haden, a cornerback chosen seventh, $26 million in guarantees as part of a five-year, $40 million deal.
For Okung, the issues are twofold: Should his deal run five years or six, and how much should that sixth year cost? Okung, as a left tackle, stands to gain more in free agency once his deal ends than Berry is likely to command as a safety. He'll naturally want a five-year deal and if he's going to take a sixth year, he'll want to be paid at a premium offsetting the extra year he'll spend before reaching free agency. But if you're the Seahawks, it's difficult to pay more for the sixth overall choice than the Chiefs paid for the fifth pick.
And so the waiting game continues.
Chart note: There's an asterisk next to the figure for Marcus Tubbs because the team wasn't as concerned about signing him in time for camp. Tubbs' was tending to his ill mother in Texas during the first week of practices.
The Dolphins announced his departure in a news release short enough to fit in a tweet: "The Miami Dolphins today traded wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for an undisclosed 2010 draft choice."
That was it. No acknowledgment of Ginn's status as a 2007 first-round choice, or the kickoffs he returned for touchdowns last season or anything else.
For Miami, this was like removing a wart from their draft record. The faster, the better. Get it over with. Minimize the pain.
Ginn was the ninth player chosen in the 2007 draft. Koren Robinson and Reggie Williams were also receivers taken ninth overall in recent years.
The seventh through 10th overall choices have produced quite a few disappointing receivers in recent years: Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Reggie Williams, Robinson, David Terrell, Travis Taylor and David Boston.
That history doesn't matter much to the 49ers regarding Ginn. They're getting a return specialist with potential as a receiver, outside the context that downgraded Ginn in the Dolphins' eyes.
That is bad.
The chart shows NFC West draft choices since 2000 with Pro Bowls on their résumés, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Pro Bowl counts include appearances made for teams outside the division.
For example, 2001 Seahawks draft choice Koren Robinson earned Pro Bowl honors as a return specialist in Minnesota. Thomas Jones never did much for Arizona, but he blossomed elsewhere.
Niners draft choice Julian Peterson earned Pro Bowl appearances with Seattle and San Francisco, but he's listed with the 49ers because they drafted him.
The Cardinals drafted a division-leading nine Pro Bowl players. Their first-round choices averaged 11th overall during the decade.
The Seahawks drafted seven Pro Bowl players. Their first-round position averaged 20th overall.
The 49ers drafted six. Their first-round position averaged 18th overall.
The Rams averaged 17th overall in the round with a range of very early and very late selections.
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.
They would have to pay one if they made a strong push for the Broncos' Brandon Marshall, as ESPN's Adam Schefter suggested they might. Unlike some past investments in the position -- Koren Robinson and Deion Branch come to mind -- this one could work out.
But there's more than one way to make this happen for Seattle or any other team with interest in Marshall.
For the Seahawks, working out a trade with the Broncos would make the most sense because it would allow for flexible terms. The Seahawks could send, say, the sixth overall choice to Denver for Marshall and, say, a third-round choice (or whatever terms the teams agreed upon).
Signing Marshall to a straight offer sheet would not make sense for Seattle, in my view, because the Broncos would get Seattle's first-round choice, sixth overall, in return. That price might be too high.
The collective bargaining agreement spells out the rigidity of offer-sheet terms:
"The Restricted Free Agent's Prior Club shall receive from the New Club the Draft Choice Compensation, if any, specified in Section 2 above of this Article. Any Club that does not have available, in the upcoming Draft, the selection choice or choices (its own or better choices in the applicable rounds) needed to provide Draft Choice Compensation in the event of a timely First Refusal Exercise Notice may not sign an Offer Sheet in such circumstances."
The Broncos' decision to tender Marshall to first-round value in restricted free agency marked a starting point, not a final declaration of his value. Everyone knows Denver would like to trade him after a couple of tumultuous seasons.
Marshall comes with baggage. Seattle has an advantage over some other potential suitors in that offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates coached Marshall in Denver. Any team trading a pick or picks to Denver for the right to invest millions in Marshall should know how Marshall would fit. The risk could be too great otherwise.
The Seahawks would know what they were getting. I'm not sure how many other teams would be willing to give up what it takes to land Marshall. Seattle doesn't need to make this move, but if the team could make it on favorable terms, Marshall could become an important building block.
One concern for Seattle, I think, is that the team does not have a third-round choice. Trading away too much 2010 draft capital for Marshall could set back the team too much in other areas.
Also from Somers: The 49ers will not be taking Arizona lightly just because Kurt Warner retired.
More from Somers: The Cardinals did not use their franchise tag for kicker Neil Rackers or anyone else.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals' roster is in far better shape now than it was three years ago, according to Whisenhunt.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are paying the price for conservative drafting under former general manager Tim Ruskell. O'Neil: "Five years of playing it safe kept Seattle from making any draft-day busts that would rival quarterback Dan McGwire, but it also resulted in a roster lacking the dynamic, game-changing talents that are nonnegotiable ingredients for contending in today's NFL. That reality is the backdrop this week as new coach Pete Carroll, new general manager John Schneider and the rest of the Seahawks' football-operations staff arrive in Indianapolis for the league's annual scouting combine to evaluate more than 300 of the top prospects for April's draft." That is an interesting proposition and one I'd like to study a little more. Off the top of my head, some of the higher-risk choices Seattle made before Ruskell arrived -- Koren Robinson, Jerramy Stevens -- blew up. Some of the more conservative choices -- Shaun Alexander, Steve Hutchinson -- became stars.
Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks need to find Walter Jones' replacement.
John Morgan of Field Gulls expects Lance Laury to sign with another team, get cut, bounce around and retire after a report suggested the Seahawks will not tender Laury as a restricted free agent. This would be the second time Seattle declined to tender Laury as an RFA.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams plan to extend RFA tenders to Oshiomogho Atogwe and Alex Barron, but not Mark Setterstrom. Also, the team's football leadership recently met prospective new owner Shahid Khan in St. Louis.
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams hope to re-sign James Hall and Leonard Little even though both are in their 30s.
Also from Balzer: Rams general manager Billy Devaney has good things to say following his meeting with Khan. Devaney: "It was a good meeting. You can tell he cares about the Rams. He seems like a real good guy."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says McCloughan reiterated his belief in drafting players with size because the NFL is a big man's game. Maiocco: "This is also why I have my doubts whether the 49ers would make a first-round investment in a smallish running back who might be a dynamo on special teams but might struggle in the future as an every-down back." I have also questioned whether the 49ers would use a first-round choice for Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, although I do not think McCloughan was making an across-the-board declaration that ruled out taking a smaller change-of-pace back. Most change-of-pace backs will be smaller than every-down backs.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers coach Mike Singletary sounded more committed to Alex Smith as the team's quarterback for 2010.
Also from Barrows: The 49ers are sizing up offensive linemen at the combine.
The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript to general manager Scot McCloughan's combine news conference. McCloughan: "With the staffs that are in our division now, with the coaches and all that, it's going to get back to being tough one at some point. What we've got to do is take care of business week in and week out. I like the fact that we have been able to compete in our division and that's our first goal. But now we have to find a way to win the division and get in the playoffs."
The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript to coach Mike Singletary's combine news conference. Singletary: "I feel very good about saying that Alex Smith is our starter going into the next football season. The thing for me is I’m always going to use words like 'probably' and all those other things because I like competition. I like guys knowing that they’re always going to compete. But I feel very comfortable in saying Alex Smith is our starting quarterback going forward."
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 6:
Aaron Curry and Adrian Wilson are the 'X' factors. Curry transforms the Seattle defense with his physical, borderline dirty play. Wilson does the same for Arizona. Both players have incurred numerous fines for their violent styles even though Curry has played only five regular-season games. These are the players quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck must take into account before every snap. Their health is at stake. I'm expecting one of these players to make a game-changing play as a pass rusher or with a big hit on a wide receiver. Even though the Seahawks could use an offensive tackle, I think they were wise to draft Curry over Eugene Monroe, who visited Qwest Field with Jacksonville last week. Curry looks like a dynamic player with strong pass-rush ability and uncommon ability for his size (nearly 260 pounds).
Chris Long is due to find the quarterback. The second-year Rams defensive end should have chances for sacks against former Virginia teammate Monroe, a rookie still finding his way. Long has played well enough to set up teammates, but it's time for him to realize results as well. Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has taken 11 sacks in five games, so he can be accessible. Perhaps Long can find him.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams might be able to get receiver Donnie Avery back from a foot injury in time for the regular season. Here's a quick look at available veteran receivers, with potential concerns listed for each player:
- Matt Jones: substance-abuse arrests.
- Plaxico Burress: facing jail time on weapons charge.
- Marvin Harrison: knee trouble; his gun linked to shooting.
- Koren Robinson: knee trouble; alcohol-related arrests.
- Reggie Williams: substance-abuse arrest.
- Ashley Lelie: 21 receptions over last two seasons.
- Travis Taylor: one reception over last two seasons.
- Ike Hilliard: caught 47 passes last season, but is 33 years old.
- Jerry Porter: missed 18 games over last three seasons.
- Billy McMullen: played for Rams' coordinator Pat Shurmur; has knee issues.
- Joe Jurevicius: staph infection derailed career.
- Darrell Jackson: 12 receptions last season and has had knee issues.
- Keary Colbert: career in decline since 2004 rookie season.
- Dane Looker: Rams cut him this year.
- Dante Hall: Rams cut him this year.
I'd be stunned if the Rams considered any receivers with significant off-field issues. Looking at the list, Hilliard might be the most logical consideration, if healthy.
Travel note: I wrote this item Sunday night and scheduled it to appear Monday while I was traveling to St. Louis for Rams camp. I'll revisit this item at some point Monday if the Rams sign a veteran replacement for Avery.