Chat with Chris Mortensen
Mortensen, an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the NFL, joined ESPN in 1991 and appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and SportsCenter.
Send your questions now and join Mort on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET!
Chris Mortensen (11:03 AM)
Good morning...let's answer as many questions as I can.
Jimmy (Conway, AR)
Chris do you see the Raiders picking up a QB in the offseason? It's obvious they're better when Russell isn't playing.
Chris Mortensen (11:06 AM)
The fact that with Bruce Gradkowski hurt and that Charlie Frye could get the nod tells you that Al Davis may be finished with Russell. JP Losman is in there now. So, they could stick with Gradkowski, Frye and Losman or add one to the mix but I kind of doubt they would draft another one. They didn't draft Rich Gannon in their most recent resurgence.
Jake (VA Beach)
Even if the Giants squeak into the playoffs, do they even have a prayer with that defense?
Chris Mortensen (11:09 AM)
I can't see it but I guess having a "prayer" is best way to frame it. They need to continue to upgrade roster at linebacker and secondary in off-seasn and, of course, getting safety Kenny Phillips back in 2010 is very important.
What is the chance Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan will go to Chicago after Lovie is fired?
Chris Mortensen (11:12 AM)
Chicago is a mystery. I think either Cowher or Shanahan would be receptive but the Bears owe Lovie Smith $11 million - not to mention the rest of the staff - so they are unlikely to pay the large tab that comes with hiring coaches like Cowher/Shanahan and the staffs they would assemble. I could see a hire like a Mike Heimerdinger - Titans offensive coordinator and on some coaching lists who has worked under two great coaches in Shanahan and Jeff Fisher and who has worked with Jay Cutler. He'd be more economical and is qualified....IF they decide to make a move.
Scottie (Waldorf, MD)
How much longer will Dan Snyders Bromance with Cerato continue? Most agree it is time for him to leave DC.
Chris Mortensen (11:15 AM)
Well, there's going to be a new coach and odds are it's Mike Shanahan. The coach will be in charge. Joe Gibbs had no problems with Cerrato. Gibbs had final authority. Shanahan - or whoever - will have final authority. And the Redskins do have talent.
Mort, Any chance the Buffalo Bills land one of the Big Dogs this off-season? Like Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher?
Chris Mortensen (11:17 AM)
I doubt it. One of the problems is the uncertainty of the franchise's future because, obviously, Mr. Wilson is 91. He may live to be 110 but it is one of the factors working against the Bills landing these guys. And, of course, there's a very irrefutable track record that Super Bowl winning coaches working on their next job don't win one again and that includes Vince Lombardi. Of course, in the Bills' case, I realize just getting a sniff at the playoffs would be nice.
do you see the Colts resting their guys?
Chris Mortensen (11:23 AM)
Here is what I reported Monday after a lengthy conversation with Colts president Bill Polian: 1. Injured players are scratched. Anyone banged up or needing real rest will be limited. 2. Injured players who have missed time (Anthony Gonzalez, Donald Brown, Adam Vinatieri, etc.) needs to play when they're healthy to get into game shape. 3. The first two affect the likes of the studs like Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. It would be nice for Manning to work with Gonzalez when he returns but if any of the linemen are hurt and Peyton is in jeopardy, he's starting but limited in time. 4. Rookies who are hitting the wall get rest and they have some good ones. 5. Roster limitations do tie their hands a little - only 53 man roster and 45 active on game day. 6. Colts want all players healthy for playoff bye week to have full-scale, up-tempo practices with 1's vs. 1's.
Do you think the Denver Broncos will make the playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (11:25 AM)
Yes, I expect the Broncos to make the playoffs. Good team. Good character.
Gilbride is he back next year? Sheridan? What must Tom do to get competetive like he has been the past 4 years? What Defensive coordinators would fit Tom's style if Sheridan is fired?
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
I fully expect Gilbride back. Sheridan will be interesting for Coughlin because of the injuries. The one speculation I have seen and wouldn't dismiss is if John Fox is fired in Carolina and returns to NY as a defensive coordinator. But he worked with Jim Fassel then.
Read an article in the local paper that the lions should think about trading CJ, what do you think? Is that the best option for this team?
Chris Mortensen (11:27 AM)
I just about spit out my coffee like I did in that commercial. NO WAY!
Mort, I agree with Locker's decision to stay in school as although he is a great athlete, injuries happen and an education is always the best way to being truly successful. With him making that decision though what is the likely hood of a rookie pay scale next year that could potentially cost him several million?
Chris Mortensen (11:30 AM)
Rookie wage scale possibility is basically ZERO. The earliest some type of rookie scale or "rookie hard cap" will be phased in is 2012. That's where agents are misleading underclassmen. So Locker won't be losing money. He also has $300,000 in bank drawing interest from California Angels, though football is very much his first love. Oh, he also has a month to change his mind.
John.C (Bethlaham Park, NY)
Who is the best QB in this QB class? Sam Bradford/ Jimmy Clausen/ Tim Tebow/ Colt McCoy?
Chris Mortensen (11:31 AM)
Bradford and Clausen will have first round grades. McCoy is rated as 2nd rounder by most teams. Tebow is the anomaly. Most teams don't see him as a first or second rounder. But there are a small handful who would take him in the first round as a pure football player with the possibility of playing some quarterback.
Peyton Manning is my starting QB on my fantasy team, should I put in my back up QB this week? Donovan McNabb is my back up, so I don't feel TOO bad about that, but need to know so I can move to the championship round of the playoffs! Thanks!
Chris Mortensen (11:32 AM)
I'd be very tempted to play McNabb this week.
John.C (Bethlaham Park,NY)
Mort, Will we see a new CBA agreement before next season?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
The answer is almost a firm no. In fact, there are league labor/salary cap meetings taking place in Dallas today (and yesterday) and the word to all the them was to prepare for an uncapped season in 2010. Many, many owners want to see what an uncapped year would look like.
Stevie (Ft Worth, TX)
Who coaches Carolina next year should Fox get fired?
Chris Mortensen (11:35 AM)
If Fox gets fired - and I believe that's a big if although I doubt Fox will embrace the concept of being a lame duck coach next year - the speculation will be on Bill Cowher. I see Cowher coaching in Carolina or Tampa...not ruling out Dallas or Houston, either. Chicago has been mentioned but I don't see the Bears writing all those big checks.
If Green Bay and Minnesota meet in the playoffs, do you see that matchup going any differently than the first two?
Chris Mortensen (11:37 AM)
I see the Packers competing better the next time around. They actually played a better game in Minnesota than Green Bay. Still a tough game for the Pack but winnable.
Why does it take you so long to answer questions? Most of the guys on these chats answer 2 questions a minute or so, but you answer one question every 3-4 minutes
Chris Mortensen (11:38 AM)
The Colts' answer, for example, had to be thorough and thoughtful. I also do have critical phone calls that come in occasionally from people who provide me with info. I sometimes answer those if it's a must-call. so excuse me.
Bobby (St. Louis)
The Rams hold the tenative 1st overall pick. The need a QB of the future and have passed over some the last couple of drafts. Do you see them picking one this year over a talent like Suh?
Chris Mortensen (11:40 AM)
I think they have to take Suh and maybe get a QB at the top of second round or trade back into the first to get one. Now, it's possible that Bradford or Clausen make a convincing case but I don't think either one has anyone saying, "He's a lock franchise guy."
If you were a GM with a gap (say like SF with OL issues) would you rather focus on getting a FA or using a draft pick to fill the hole? I feel like a GM has a 50/50 shot at getting a good player in the 1st rd, versus getting someone you KNOW will be good.
Chris Mortensen (11:43 AM)
You have to build your team through the draft and supplement with free agency. Look at 2 of the top left tackles in football - Joe Thomas (Browns) and Ryan Clady (Broncos). As rookies, they immediately proved to be among the top 5 offensive lnemen in football. Then, it's a matter of who you're looking at in free agency and how much the check is.
Mort, Cincy's Tony Pike looks like he has all the physical tools to play in the NFL, but guys like mel, and McShay see him as a 3rd rounder. How to you think he will handle the ultimate level?
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
Tony Pike's arm is below third-round material and he needs to get a lot physically stronger to withstand the beating he'll take in the NFL. So, getting him in third round or later, developing him physically, and hoping he's a player down the road is the best hope there, I think.
Hey mort love your commercial with adam. What do you think of clevelands attempt to hire Holmgren? Do you think this is a good move? I for one think holmgren would bring in Maraucchi or gruden to coach this team, your thoughts.....
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
Holmgren would bring some credibility. Gruden is not going anywhere. He can't contractually, otherwise I would have agreed with you. I doubt it on Mariucci. I think Leslie Frazier is possible but let me throw out a surprise name to you - Marty Mornhinweg. Marty was successful OC in SF, has done great as the real play-caller in Philly. How much can we hold Lions against him in light of their dismal performance as a franchise? And how long do we hold 20 seconds of a coin flip and "I'll take the wind" against him? Just questions.
What's the latest on Peppers for the offseason? If Fox doesn't come back, that means Jake is probably gone, do you trade Pep for a 1st rounder to get a QB?
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
Hypothetically, let's say Cowher is the next coach of the Panthers. What's his identity? Defense and running the ball. (kind of similar to Fox, huh?). So I imagine trading Peppers would be tough for any coach to do. But if the contract doesn't get done, trading Peppers for a first round pick (and maybe a little more) to get a QB is certainly a consideration.
Stevie (Ft Worth, TX)
How hard pressed would the Eagles be of getting rid of Kolb, and any chance Carolina would take a stab at getting him?
Chris Mortensen (11:51 AM)
I don't think there's a sense of excitement about Kolb around the league, even with a decent showing vs. Panthers.
bigger dissappointment..bears or steelers?
Chris Mortensen (11:53 AM)
I'll say the Steelers. But some interesting similarities in their fall. A huge injury to All-Pro caliber defensive players (Urlacher...Polamalu, Aaron Smith). Shaky offensive line. Running game so-so. Bears talent is not as good as Steelers, though.
Hey Mortman!!! So we here in Cleveland are starting to get our hopes up about Holmgren coming to Cleveland. It's rumored that it is better than 50/50 that he comes here. If thats the case, is Mangini gone? Who are some leading candidates for the GM spot? Will there even be a GM position the first year? Thanks Mort!!
Chris Mortensen (11:54 AM)
I would say Mangini is gone if Holmgren is hired. And, I would expect for Holmgren to hire a GM or, if he's the GM then to hire somebody to run the personnel department. Maybe the Eagles' Tom Heckert would be a leading candidate.
Ed (Jacksonville, FL)
Mort, shouldn't Ted Thompson get some credit for the Raji/C. Matthews/TJ Lang/Brad Jones draft picks? Lots of people like to rip him to shreds but it looks like a good class this year.
Chris Mortensen (11:58 AM)
Ted Thompson has drafted very well. I'd even say he has a better record in the drafts than Ron Wolf, the past former great GM. But where I'd like to see Thompson take the next step is supplement these drafts with a key trade or free agent signing. That being said, he did sign Charles Woodson and that turned out pretty good, even better than I thought.
Mort, is Charlie Weis in Tampa Bay's radar for OC?
Chris Mortensen (11:59 AM)
I'm sure he is. I'm just not sure who the head coach will be.
Thanks for the time, Mort! What's the latest on Vinatieri and Gonzo? If either guy factors into the Colts' playoff plans (and neither has been placed on IR) don't they need to be back in action soon?
Chris Mortensen (12:00 PM)
I mentioned that earlier. Answer is yes. It was one of first questions so look at the transcript.
John (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Do NFL people think CJ Spiller is an every down NFL back or more of a Felix Jones-Reggie Bush fast but fragile type of player?
Chris Mortensen (12:01 PM)
What I'm hearing about Spiller is that NFL teams love him. He could even be a top 10 pick. He also has great character.
hey chris what do you think of the jags is there still playoff hopes
Chris Mortensen (12:03 PM)
They need to beat the Colts on Thursday night. (They also beat the Colts in the opener in Indy, remember). If they do that, they just might slip in. But for some reason, I feel like they'll come up short. Still, heck of a job by Jack Del Rio and their first year GM, Gene Smith, who came up with a great rookie class.
Are people to critical of Reggie Bush? When put into a good position to succeed, he has been productive. He scores a lot of TDs and makes some key plays the Saints offense. Since Bush and Brees came to the Saints, they have been a very productive offensive team. Thoughts?
Chris Mortensen (12:04 PM)
I think Reggie Bush is a very good piece of their puzzle. Yes, he's had some injury issues but he can be dynamic in their offense and they're better when he's in it.
Brian K. (Eau Claire, WI)
So far do you think Chad Henne will produce in the NFL like any of the previous Parcells QBs? I dont think he is the guy.
Chris Mortensen (12:06 PM)
I guess you've been watching a different Henne than I have. He looks very much like the guy and he's 7-3 as a starter. Phil Simms is one of the most underrated QBs in NFL history (had no great receivers). Henne started four years at Michigan. When he was healthy, he was very, very good.
So in an uncapped year a team can spend whatever they want in the offseason, right? Why would teams want that? Guys like Jones and Snyder will go bonkers.
Chris Mortensen (12:08 PM)
Jones will not go crazy because his stadium debt is significant. No cap means no minimum bottom, either. So teams won't be forced to spend a specific amount. I believe owners just want to see what happens and in 2010 there also are a lot of restrictions of player movement. It will be interesting.
What truth do you think there is to Buffalo going aggressively after Tony Dungy?
Chris Mortensen (12:10 PM)
Read Tony's lips: He's not coaching anywhere, he's not going to be anyone's GM, he's not going to be anyone's team consultant.
Mike W (Chicago)
The Bengals have been a surprise this season. How many pro bowlers do they get and is Cedric Benson the Comeback Player of the Year?
Chris Mortensen (12:11 PM)
On the Benson question, I don't think he gets comeback player because he came back last year and played very well. As for Pro Bowl players, I would think Benson and some of their defenders, especially the cornerbacks get consideration. I'd like to see Whitworth get cnsideration on the O line and even Ochocinco.
I saw you mention Cowher as an outside shot for the Texans, is Kubiak gone if they don't get in the playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (12:13 PM)
I don't know on Kubiak. I believe it would be a mistake, even with the disappointment and mediocrity. They're close (and I know you're tired of hearing that). If this is a copycat league, why not copy franchises with stability unless is irreparably broken, which I don't think is the case in Houston.
What are the chances the Redskins finally address the O-line this offseason and do so by drafting rather than signing ageing has beens or even worse ageing never was
Chris Mortensen (12:15 PM)
If Shanahan is the coach, as I believe, then the O-line will be addressed. He left behind one of best O-lines in football back in Denver. He will like athletic guys and certainly anchor with a stud left tackle. With Chris Samuels future up in air, I'm sure it will be on the priority list.
When will Matt Ryan and Michael Turner be back and should they come back this season?
Chris Mortensen (12:16 PM)
I always heard Ryan would miss at least three games. Turner could come back. The thing I'll say is no matter how much we read or "google" on Ryan's injury, the Falcons have the most detailed info and they will make the best decision for Ryan because he is the franchise. I would trust whatever the decision.
So with an uncapped year! Can teams like the Raiders cut high priced guys like Jamarcus Russell without a huge cap hit? Will we still see FA on March 1st?
Chris Mortensen (12:18 PM)
Yeah, they can cut Russell and the money gets accelerated into the uncapped year so it's easier in 2010. The free agent market will be the same - March 1st but there will be more restricted free agents - some really attractive ones - and that's where the action is. Could get interesting.
So Reggie Bush can be really good when he is surrounded by an excellent QB, a guy who can run between the tackles and two great deep threats. Plenty of guys could look good when they are the 5th best skill player on their team.
Chris Mortensen (12:20 PM)
Reggie is better than the 5th best skill player but even when Saints took him, I specifically remember Sean Payton's vision for him. It was always as a complementary guy who could be a real weapon on the perimerter and in the wide variety of formations. Skill-wise, he may be at the top of the list. When he's on the field, it makes the other guys even better. The question is, how much do you pay for that?
Jessica (Twin Cities)
Is the league turning to a pass first league? I can't recall a top 5 rushing team winning the superbowl recently.
Chris Mortensen (12:22 PM)
It's been a pass-first league for a LONG time. The rules are set up for the passing game. Running the ball is still important but to not take advantage of the rules would be akin to the ol' banging your head against a wall.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Could this uncapped year be the downfall of Goodell? His power has to be a huge hangup in the CBA negotiations.
Chris Mortensen (12:23 PM)
No. Most owners are either comfortable or embracing an uncapped year and can't solve their own revenue sharing model.
KING Kevin Ryan (Austin, TX)
What are your thoughts on JP Losman as a longterm solution for the Raiders at starting QB?
Chris Mortensen (12:24 PM)
Not sure. I know Jim Fassel really liked him and worked hard to improve a couple of flaws during his UFL stint. He is a great deep thrower and he's pretty athletic. I woudn't count him out.
Chris Mortensen (12:27 PM)
Got to run. Thanks for the time and questions. Gotta a long list of things to work on - oh, Christmas shopping at some point. When? Catch up with me on Twitter.com (@mortreport). And catch us Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. ET. Plus, we have a Saturday edition of Countdown at 11:30 ET this week, with plenty to talk about including Saturday night's biggie between the Cowboys and Saints. Until then, God Bless!