Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
How is everything? The AFC North is no longer playing this season. But I'm sure everyone still has a lot of questions moving forward. Let's get started.
How big was the Browns win over the Steelers ?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
It was big for the franchise and part of the reason Eric Mangini is still in Cleveland, Sam. That was a large hump the team needed to get over for its confidence. But it's still one game. If the Browns didn't build on that, the Pittsburgh win would have been minimized.
Hi James I was wondering do you think the ravens will cut mark clayton and keep demetris williams ? and do think the ravens could find a WR like Mike Wallace for the steelers in the late round? What about Jordan Shipley from texas would he be like wes welker?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
The term cut wouldn't be accurate, because they are both pending free agents. The Ravens can simply opt not to re-sign either player. My gut feeling right now is both WRs could be on the outs, depending on how drastic the Ravens want to upgrade the position. I'm not high on Shipley and his NFL potential as some others may be.
Ben Saluri (Des Moines IA)
Do u see the Steelers drafiting Bulaga OT, out of Iowa. I see him making an instant impact in the efforts to shore up there o line.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Offensive line should be a position the Steelers will look at, Ben. But I think cornerback is the team's biggest need. It's very early, but as of Jan. 19, no one stands out at No. 18. Maybe the Senior Bowl, combine, individual workouts, etc. will change some things by late April.
Eric Trevorah (Tamaqua, Pennsylvania)
Hey James, I just wanted to ask about the Steelers key free agents to be, I know Ryan Clark, Willie Parker, and Casey Hampton are the main names, I'm sure there are a few others, anyway, do you see any of these names getting slapped with the franchise tag this offseason?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
Casey Hampton has a good chance to get the franchise tag, Eric. He's still a great nose tackle, and the Steelers have yet to groom a replacement.
Anthony (Baltimore, Md)
Do you think that you will see some big play-makers like Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, or Joshua Cribbs on the Ravens this year?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Definitely no and no on Marshall and Cribbs. I don't know enough about Jackson's situation in San Diego to know if he could be had by another team in free agency. I would guess the Chargers want to keep him.
The guys on comcast sports interviewed Ocho cinco, and he mentioned something about leaving Football for soccer. Your thoughts on this? Mistake for him, or would he succeed?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Chad Ochocinco says a lot of things, Eric. It took me a few years, but I've learned to know when he's serious and when he's just talking, for the most part. This is a situation where he's just keeping things light. Ochocinco is not hanging up the cleats.
Bert R (Buhl, Idaho)
The Steelers had two rookie DBs this past season, but do they invest their number one pick in getting another this year??
James Walker (4:15 PM)
That's a good question, Bert. The coaching staff has to determine if Keenan Lewis or Joe Burnett are ready to be starters in 2010. I think Pittsburgh was confident (overly?) that William Gay could be a full-time starter. He played well in spurts, but struggled to make that jump. Now they need a Plan B, which is to find someone who can play opposite Ike Taylor next year.
What positions do you forsee the Bengals focusing on in the draft? Also, any chance Dez Bryant ends up in orange and black?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
Early projections have Bryant out of reach for the Bengals, Drew. But a lot can happen in the next four months. I think another WR is a big need, along with a TE if we're talking first day players.
What do you think about the Bills hiring of Chan Gailey? I know a lot of people are ripping it but he's been a winner before.
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I'm not impressed by the hire. But a lot of coaches turned the Bills down. He was not the team's first choice.
Steelpoodle (Charleston, IL)
Do you see any specific changes in the line scheme played by the Steelers with the new line coach? It seems that with Rooney's comment re running more and the change at coach that this will be an are a of emphasis.
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Yes, I think being more physical in the running game is going to be important for Pittsburgh. Rashard Mendenhall did well with the opportunities he was given. But I'm more interested to see what changes will be made in pass protection, because Ben Roethlisberger is a unique talent that you don't want to reel in too much.
in the off season do you see the ravens finally getting a big time WR
James Walker (4:23 PM)
It's going to be tough this year, Tyler. Free agency in an uncapped year has a lot of new rules that will hurt the Ravens. We went over some of them in the AFC North blog last week. But I think they will find a way to upgrade the position at least via the draft.
Is it legit to say that there will be 3 Super Bowl contending teams in the North next season? Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Way too early to say, Bill. Get back to me in training camp.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
better prospect: Taylor Mays, or Colt Mccoy?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
NFL prospect? Taylor Mays.
Any big moves for the browns coming up?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
The Browns are expected to hire a head of pro personnel soon. I've heard some names but I'm not enough to print any of them here. Other than that, I think the Josh Cribbs situation is something to watch in the coming weeks/months.
I know the Bengals signed Coles to a 4-year deal last offseason. Do you see them going after another big name WR again?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
That's tough because they would have a lot of money put into that position. The Bengals are not a big-spending team in free agency. So based on their history, I think they pass on the elite guys. But the draft is a more realistic possibility.
If no contract is done by training camp will Cribbs really holdout?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
I've talked to his people and I think Josh Cribbs and his reps are very serious about this. Eventually, Cribbs would have to make that decision so I can't speak for him. But I would be surprised if he plays next year on the same contract he currently has.
Do you see the bengals being able to unload coles, if they packaged him with a pick for someone new? it seems like he just doesn't have a lot left in the tank. or do you think another training camp in the system will help him?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
There has been some speculation of that in Cincinnati. But I just don't see it. The Bengals gave him a lot of bonus money up front.
Will Jim Zorn go to Cleveland to coach the QBs?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Zorn is certainly a name to look out for in Cleveland. But that was with the idea that Mike Holmgren would hire his own coaches. Keeping Eric Mangini changes things some, because the old coaching staff is still in place. There are not a lot of open slots.
Brock (CDA, ID)
James, after his recent comments is there anyway ed reed retires this year?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
I believe Ed Reed when he says he's "50-50." He's not just talking for the sake of talking. He's really torn about his decision right now.
Is Bill Cowher waiting for the Carolina job to open up?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Everything I've heard about Cowher is he's very happy with his TV gig right now. He's not going to return unless it's in a good situation. I think Carolina would be a team of interest for him.
How do you feel about this...Cincy trades Coles & Larry Johnson to Arizona for Boldin and low Pick?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Would you make that trade if you were Arizona, Greg? Johnson is a free agent anyway.
Chauncey H (Cfield, Va)
Do you see the Bengals keeping both Cedric Benson & Larry Johnson or getting rid of one of them for some one younger?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Larry Johnson will probably move on, Chauncey. He was signed for just this past season as insurance for Benson. The Bengals really like Bernard Scott, and I think you're going to see him get an increased role behind Benson next year.
Brad A (New Jersey)
Do you think Flacco finally takes the next step in his third year to become the elite QB that Baltimore has been waiting for? He has had a few great games this year, but with those great games came a bunch of terrible performances.
James Walker (4:48 PM)
It's going to take more dynamic players around him. Ray Rice was often his favorite receiver last season, and he's a running back. I think Baltimore has to make it a point this year to get Flacco more weapons.
ben (los angeles)
james, do you actually think Holmgren can change the culture in Cleveland? My guess is that what will change is the names on the roster and the results will be the same.
James Walker (4:52 PM)
I think Holmgren has a good chance to change the culture. He knows what winning looks like. He commands respects and I think that goes a long way. Tom Heckert was a great hire from Philadelphia, as well. This front office is as strong as it's been since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Nick (New York)
What are the chances that the Browns can trade for McNabb? and in a perfect world, can deal Brady Quinn for and picks for Julius Peppers?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Keep dreaming, Nick.
ben (los angeles)
do you think Mangini is on a short leash next year?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
I do believe Eric Mangini enters the year on the hot seat. Ideally for Cleveland, things will go well next year. But if he gets off to a bad start, the speculation will begin.
How much of an effect will the Steelers assistant coach shakeup have on the players?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
I think it's too early to tell. The moves were made with the goal of improving. So I'm sure the Steelers believe it will be a great thing. But it remains to be seen.
ben (los angeles)
James, thanks for taking my questions: how about a weekend predicition or two?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Nah, I'm finished with the predictions for the year. All the AFC North teams are out. But I did a good job this season of picking division games.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks again for you time, everyone. Remember to check out the AFC North blog daily for updates on the division.