MORT'S MAILBAG: Jan. 3
Q: I just read that both Ricky Williams and Edgerrin James want to go to the Dolphins. What are the chances of the Dolphins getting one of them in a trade after this season?
-- Dan, Overland Park, Kan.
MORT -- Dan, I'm glad you brought this up in light of the most recent report. I was unable to reach Edgerrin a couple of weeks ago, but I asked his agent, Leigh Steinberg, about the rumors that James wanted out of Indy.
|RB Ricky Williams has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Saints. This is his third season in the NFL.|
Steinberg basically said that Edge is content in Indianapolis, but that he's no different than most players -- they would all love to play in their hometown, but James knows it's not possible, so it's not worth the discussion.
The Dolphins did talk to the Saints about Williams, but the Saints could not explore it because of the salary-cap ramifications.
But I won't be surprised if the two sides talk again because there would be a lesser cap hit this time around. So forget James in Miami. Maybe Williams, but still a long shot.
Q: Why are Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk in the game for the fourth quarter, up by 25 points, still running and throwing the ball? Would Mike Martz like to start the playoffs without one or both of them? -- Bob M., Clearfield, Pa.
MORT -- Bob, Martz explained that it was a game in which they were clinching the division title, etc., and wanted those guys on the field at the end to enjoy it. I also think he's letting both those guys make the MVP runs. I am also sure that he would like to have both guys healthy for the playoffs, but he (Martz) doesn't worry about getting second-guessed.
Q: With the Eagles' win over the Giants, do you think Donovan McNabb has come of age? His numbers as a QB for his first two years are more impressive than Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, John Elway, Joe Montana and Steve Young. That's some pretty exclusive company. Are we witnesses to a new superstar at QB? -- Tom Schaeffer, Bethlehem, Pa.
MORT -- Tom, if I didn't know better, I'd say you're acting like McNabb was born in Bethlehem -- the original one. Listen, McNabb showed us last year that he's going to be a star. In my mind, he is a star in a lot of ways. He was big-time vs. the Giants. It's like Andy Reid told me last week -- the guy's only been a starter for two years and everybody expects perfection each week. The only perfect man I know of was, well, born in Bethlehem.
Q: How could you defend anyone other than Kurt Warner for league MVP? His numbers are close to being the best any quarterback has ever produced. -- Kyle Patterson, Anchorage, Alaska
MORT -- Kyle, I might vote for Kurt Warner, but it's not all about numbers. It is no disgrace to consider how Rich Gannon has carried the Raiders, or what Jeff Garcia has done with the 49ers, or how Kordell Stewart has done the unthinkable (not needing Jerome Bettis) with the Steelers, or how Brett Favre has delivered the Packers to the playoffs, or how Curtis Martin has kept the Jets above ground, or that Marshall Faulk -- the best player in football -- is a pretty nice weapon to have on your side. I love Warner as a man and as a quarterback, but I can defend any other vote I want to make. And I do make one.
Q: When, if ever, will Curtis Martin be considered a front-runner for the MVP award? With the up-and-down season the Jets had this year, and solid cases could be made for years past as well, the only constants with the Jets are Curtis and turmoil. Take him out of the equation and I fear my beloved Jets would be a "bottom feeder" in the AFC. -- Wayne M. Barone Jr., Malverne, N.Y.
MORT -- Wayne, you certainly have a legitimate case. Curtis Martin has been an MVP candidate almost every year, in my mind. This year is no different. I just think you have be on a division winner (Warner, Gannon, Stewart, Faulk), or on a playoff team that exceeded expectations by a mile (Favre, Garcia) to be the MVP. But Martin is the NFL's leading rusher and I'd hate to think where the Jets would be without him.
Q: What QBs -- who you would consider "starter" material -- are likely to be available in the offseason (via trade, cut or free agency) and are David Carr and Joey Harrington the only two impact QBs likely to be in the draft? Thanks for your great work this season. -- Paul, Washington, D.C.
MORT -- Paul, well, Trent Dilfer and Gus Frerotte are two that come to mind. I also have a gut feeling that Rob Johnson will get free -- he'd be very interesting. Drew Bledsoe should be available via trade; same for Jeff Blake. I think that Carr (Fresno State) and Harrington (Oregon) both made big showcases this week in their bowl games for being top-five draft picks. Oh, Jeff George and Tony Banks will be available (you're a Redskins' fan, right?).
Q: Right now there is a huge rift between Vinny Testaverde and offensive coordinator Paul Hackett. The feeling in New York is that one or the other will get dumped. Obviously, there is a better chance of Hackett getting the can, but is there a chance Chad Pennington will be the Jets' starting QB in 2002? -- John Koblin, North Arlington, N.J.
MORT -- John, I think Hackett stays. I think Vinny's future is in doubt. I'm just not sure Chad Pennington is the guy.
Q: I read that Jim Miller recently has laughed at the thought of Drew Bledsoe coming to the Bears, commenting that he and Shane Matthews are the same as Drew (non-mobile), but he has a better arm. Recently Bill Parcels has stated that Miller is one of the four best QBs along with Favre, Manning and Warner. Does he really think he has close to the talent that Bledsoe has? And what do you think? -- Ron, Woburn, Mass.
MORT -- Ron, I think Jim Miller has done an excellent job for the Bears this year. However, I did almost choke on my soup when I heard him say that the talk of the Bears looking at Bledsoe was a joke because (paraphrasing) "you're getting the same guy for $100 million." They are not the same guy. Bledsoe still has a terrific arm -- in terms of strength, only Favre's is stronger. He also will not cost $100 million, but more like $15 million for the next three years until a decision is made on an option.
Q: Is Brian Billick's ego so big that he would risk losing the team concept, to prove people wrong, on his judging of quarterback selections? Is he afraid to say I made a mistake for the fourth time? Scott Mitchell is a left-handed Grbac (immobile and can't read a defense), Stoney Case can't read a defense, Tony Banks can't read a defense (but can throw the long ball), Trent Dilfer is a great leader with no athletic ability, and Elvis Grbac has taken the position back about 50 years. Please, Chris, address this to Billick, the people of Baltimore have endured enough. -- Clifton Diggs, Baltimore
MORT -- Clifton, this is a vent. You are welcome for the space.
Q: Just prior to the Bucs-Rams game I heard that no team that had lost to Tampa Bay had ever won the Super Bowl that year. Then the Bucs beat the Rams this year. A friend believes this fact is more coincidence than anything else (since they have had so many losing seasons). -- Larry Schauer, Atlanta
MORT -- Larry, I think it's one of the dumbest, but funniest, stats I have ever heard.
Q: With the recent dismissal of the Chargers' staff, what are the possibilities of Norv Turner going to Dallas as the O-coordinator? I know Jerry Jones had Norv on his wish list for a while. While I don't think Jerry would get rid of Dave Campo (based on the team's overachieving play in this rebuilding year), Norv's expertise as an offensive guru could only help the development of Quincy Carter. -- John Davis, Clinton, Md.
MORT -- John, no chance. I hear Jones wants somebody like Steelers QB coach Tom Clements. My guess on Norv is that he will remain in San Diego or join Dave Wannstedt in Miami. The Rams would love to hire Norv to take some pressure and workload off Mike Martz, but that's unlikely to happen. The Chargers would be crazy to let Norv go -- the team went from 28th to 12th in offense. They had a 3,000-yard passer (Flutie), a 1,000-yard rusher (Tomlinson) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Conway) for the second time in franchise history and did it with marginal talent, especially with the O-line, WRs and I might suggest at QB. He is the best O-coordinator who isn't a head coach in the NFL.
Q: Do you think that Dennis Green will be back with the Vikings next year? I am a season ticket holder and will not renew my seats if he is back at the helm next year. I think the national media is finally starting to realize how much we in Minnesota hate the man. -- Bill Sprouls, Minneapolis, Minn.
MORT -- Bill, I am aware that Green is not a popular coach. I think "hate the man" is a little strong. Despite Red McCombs' strong vote of confidence last month, I hear rumblings that the deal with Green could blow up. Stay tuned.
Q: Is it possible that Mark Hatley could win executive of the year even though he is no longer with the Bears? He is responsible for all of the young talent there this year (as opposed to Jerry Angelo). -- Doug Braun, Madison, Wis.
MORT -- Doug, you are correct. Current Bears GM Jerry Angelo wasn't hired until around June 11. Hatley drafted Anthony Thomas, David Terrell and signed Ted Washington, etc. He is an executive of the year candidate, but it might be awkward for his peers to vote for him. You never know.
Q: Do you think that Mike McKenzie is a Pro Bowl cornerback? -- Rick, Savage, Minn.
MORT -- Rick, I think McKenzie is on the verge of being a Pro Bowl corner. But Champ Bailey (Redskins) is definitely a Pro Bowl corner and somehow he got omitted this year.
Q: What position do you think the Carolina Panthers should address with their first pick in the upcoming draft? -- Patrick Strain, Jupiter, Fla.
MORT -- Patrick, that's easy. Defensive line. Julius Peppers or John Henderson, I would presume.