Chat with James Walker
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Dispatch. Walker grew up in Hyattsville, Md., before attending Temple University, graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in communications and mass media. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Send your questions now and join Walker on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (3:56 PM)
Hello everyone, I'm back for another round of chatting. The combine is this week and NFL free agency starts in 10 days. So fire away.
Baltimore released Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister. Can you see him ending up with the Jets?
James Walker (3:58 PM)
Steiny, at some point I'm going to break the streak. But not this week. The Jets could be a likely landing spot for Chris, but I don't think he will be signed quickly. Teams want to be careful and see how his knee checks out.
Matthew, Dayton Ohio
I really enjoy reading your blog's James, keep it up!..Lifelong steelers fan here, I was wondering what the odds were that Pittsburgh will give Hines Ward another contract so he can retire a Steeler?
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Too early to tell for sure, Matthew, and thanks for the kind words. Ward is still playing well and he represents the Steelers as good as any recent player. It's against tradition to sign a 30-plus player to a deal, but I would say better than 50 percent. Check back a year from now.
Jason (Knoxville, TN)
Walker, how you doing? So, I have to know what you think about the Jeff Reed "Terrible Towel" incident? All I had to say was that's "Jeff being Jeff".
James Walker (4:04 PM)
J. Mills from Knoxville. It was a silly incident that he could have easily avoided. There's really nothing more to add to it.
Will A-Rod slip in drafts because of the problems he is in now? And is he worth the risk of taking?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Wrong chat, Josh.
Roham (Baltimore, MD)
TJ Houshmandzadeh is available! Can you think of a better match for him than the Baltimore Ravens? He has torched us in the past. I hope he can help us torch our division rivals with the deep threat we have so desperately needed. Your 2 cents?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
I can think of a lot of better matches. Philadelphia, the New York Giants, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle are five off the top of my head. Baltimore needs a speedy deep threat, not another possession WR. I don't think it's a great match at all for the type of money T.J. will command.
has chad johnson actually taken a backseat in light of all the hoopla surrounding boldin and Burress?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Chad is just not being Chad this offseason. He's going to lay low. He learned from last year that yelling and screaming won't help facilitate a trade. So he's hoping this approach works.
Matt, Chicago, IL
To answer Roham, now way is TJ going to baltimore. He'll be pricey and they need to worry about signing their own UFAs.
James Walker (4:09 PM)
What he said. Do you want him in Chicago, Matt? Could be a nice 1-2 with Devin Hester.....
James, with $20M in cap room, 9 draft picks, and Tomlin's keeping his staff together for the 3rd year in a row, what do you think are the team's chances of repeating?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
Shhhhh! Can't use the "R" word around the Steelers next year. We have to come up with a different word for it. I think the Patriots with Tom Brady will be the favorites with the Steelers right behind them in the AFC. It could be a good battle in 2009 for "Team of the Decade."
How about a Browns questions? Any way we end up Maualugua in Cleveland with the 5th pick? We need a big hitter up the middle.
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Right position, wrong player, Jim. LB Aaron Curry is the favorite at this moment, although a lot can change after the combine this week. Cleveland won't seek its own "Ray, Ray" unless it decides to trade out of the top 10.
Whats with all the Cleveland area people asking about the Steelers? Anyways, are there any teams out there interested in Derek Anderson?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
There is, or will be, interest for Anderson. The big point of contention right now is who wants to pay the $5 million bonus due on March 13? If the Browns pay it and are still willing to trade, there will be a lot of teams suddenly showing interest.
Chris (Lexington KY)
Does the fact that the Steelers have been actively talking with Harrison for a week, without a new contract mean bad news? Also does this delay hurt the Steelers signing other people before becoming UFA's?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Not at all, Chris. Keep in mind the Steelers got a head start on this early. They have until the start of next season to work something out because "Deebo" is not a UFA until 2010. Talks between both sides have been positive and will continue to be. There is no timeline simply because there is no deadline.
Do you think the Seahawks will use thier pick on Crabtree, or will they go after TJ and draft Walter Jone's replacement?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Good question, Shawn. I think Seattle would be smart to consider both options. There are two really good tackles at the top of this draft and T.J. and Crabtree are really good receivers. Personally, I would draft the o-lineman because the position is more important and make a run at T.J., who is a west coast guy.
Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Should I take the money in Pittsburgh if they can't resign Max Starks?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
We're not doing players right now, Khalif. Maybe next week when free agency is underway. But the Steelers may give you a call. They can use the help.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
You think the Bengals taking a WR in the 2nd and 3rd rounds last year will prevent them from drafting Crabtree or Macklin?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
JB, one thing I learned about the Bengals is you never say never. So I won't say "will not" draft a WR with the No. 6 overall pick. I will say that would be a mistake because they need OL help and there are two really good OTs that could step in and start for Cincinnati right away.
You think Peppers would be a good fit as a Raven?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Yes, but it won't happen unless the team doesn't make a run at Suggs and Ray Lewis. Would you rather have Peppers than those two?
James showing you some love from Hyattsville, MD home of the DeMatha Stags. Who are some the FA WR/CB you can see the Ravens targetting this off-season?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Thanks for reppin' my set, Mike! I see Baltimore making a bigger push at both positions through the draft more so than free agency. Keeping their own guys will cost too much money to go for a guy like T.J. or trade for Boldin.
Mike (Altoona, Pa)
What's good James?!? Hines Ward is a Steeler for life! He'll play for free to retire with Pittsburgh. Anyway, if you had to predict the positions the Steelers target with their first 4 draft picks, what would they be?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
What's really good Mike?!?! I would say OT, OG, DL, RB.
hey do you think that if the Browns were to add Aaron Curry ILB and Clay Matthews OLB they'd be in contention for the north? If not what more do you think they'd need to get that defense into contention?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
That would be a solid draft, but the Browns need more than two rookies to catch the Steelers. They need help at corner. They need help at WR. They are still a ways away.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
James, I agree with you on the Ben-Gals need to take an OT. But the lack of explosiveness will hurt next year. Any chance they go after Sproles, and any chance he'd leave beautiful San Diego for the Nasty Nati?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
No chance for signing Sproles. Everytime I get this type of question, I repond by saying name the last big-name outside free agent Cincinatti has signed? Then it gets quiet.
nate p (San Diego, CA)
sproles isn't going anywhere
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Walker, let's keep the nice tradition going. Whata??s going on?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
Steiny, you missed it. I started the chat that way. Where you been?
Skyline or Goldstar?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
I don't particularly like either when I make the trip to Cinci.
Are the Ravens going to franchise Terrell Suggs?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Steiny, there is a very good chance Suggs will be franchised on Thursday. Check out my column on it tomorrow.
Jay Rock Philadelphia Pa
Hey James do you think that the lovely brotherly city of philadelphia will final get a good go to wide receiver for McNaab or even a good tight end that can block and make plays
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Jay Rock, you would love T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Philly. I covered T.J. for a while in Cinci and I lived in Philly while attending Temple U. He would be a perfect fit for the city.
James Walker (4:45 PM)
And the team with his skill set.
Eric (Aberdeen, MD)
How come my question isn't being answered? I'm seeing other people getting multiple questions in at a time.
James Walker (4:45 PM)
There are a ton of questions, Eric. What's on your mind?
any chance that we'll see Sanchez as a Bengal? What do you think where he might go?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
That would be wasting a top 6 pick. Sanchez would sit behind Palmer for half of his career at least. Plus I think Sanchez is a borderline top 10 pick. The teams needing QBs are pretty easy to point out.
Need an agent (Hollywood, CA)
Apparently you have to know JW to get a question through. Do you think the uncertainty around Mendenhall and Sweed's success so far will impact the way the Steelers approach free agency or the draft?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Not true on both accounts, "Need an agent." Pittsburgh is chalking up last year as a red-shirt season for its rookie. The Steelers didn't need them, and they can look at improvement from those two as an added bonus. It's sort of like gaining two extra draft picks this year.
Eric (Aberdeen, MD)
Sorry James, I dont mean to sound like I'm complaining. I just sent the question a few times hoping it would get on here eventually, then I saw others having multiple questions getting answered.... Again, Sorry. Anyways... What do you think about the Ravens going after Drayton Florence, Bryant McFadden, or Nate Washington? I figure they wouldn't be huge cap hits and could be very good additions. Also who do you think the Ravens should draft at WR and CB if they draft those positions?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
It's rare that Steelers and Ravens swap free agents, so I'd have to rule out McFadden and Nate. I think Pittsburgh is going to make a run at those two anyway. Drayton Florence could be a decent addition in the right system. I will have to check into that.
Shane ( Buffalo, New York)
James, Do you see the Browns selecting a RB at all in the draft or through FA. And what are your thoughts on Jerome Harrison?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Jamal Lewis is going to be on the team next year. He has a lot of money owed to him and he only signed just last year. So the Browns will likely keep him. I don't see them spending too much on that position. They can find a way to use Harrison more. He can do things with the football but is a liability in pass blocking, which is tough against Pitt and Balt.
Since TJ is likely gone, will the Bengals move CJ? They need to keep him right? Otherwise, I don't see anyone on their team ready to even be a #2, let alone a #1. (Henry is only a 3, and Caldwell/Simpson aren't close to ready).
James Walker (4:55 PM)
They don't have to keep Chad Ocho Cinco. In my opinion it's best that they trade him and move on. The team hasn't won with him all but one year of his entire career. There comes a point where he would be better elsewhere and now is that time, because he's unhappy.
James, to the issue of Anderson, if the Browns pick up the roster bonus, how does that impact their salary cap for the upcoming year? Does it count against, or is paying it purely a financial concern for the owners?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
If the Browns pay the bonus, it counts against their cap. Cleveland will take all the financial hit for Anderson and that's why a lot of teams would be interested then. There is very little risk. Right now, if the Browns trade him all the risk is on the other team, which is why they couldn't get much for him.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Guys, thanks again for your time. I will be back next week or, as always, you can check me out everyday on the AFC North blog. -JW