Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Jude (Herndon, VA (near DC))
Mike, I'm buried in snow here. Help me by answering my question! Please tell me the Seahawks will wait for Big Walt to decide. He was the best, but he is done and we need to move on. Will Alex Gibbs talk the Seahawks into putting off picking an OT until Rd. 2? If so, will we get Spiller at No. 14? We haven't had a home run threat in Seattle since Joey Galloway!
Mike Sando (3:59 PM)
Walter Jones probably is finished, as you suggested. The Seahawks can wait to find out. There is no reason for them to rush him. If he wants to play, he can prove to them he's in shape and ready to go. If he plans to retire, as his Twitter account suggested he would, then the team can just move on without him. I don't see Seattle banking on Jones at all. The team needs to proceed as though he is finished. Then it's a bonus if he comes back. Jeremy Bates' comments about finding running backs later in the draft were interesting. In the end, I think the Seahawks need to find a starting-caliber lineman in this draft.
sajniner (san jose)
With an improved line (assuming the Niners select a right tackle in the draft) and another year in the same offense, can Alex Smith move into the Top 15 of NFL quarterbacks? How do you see him progressing next year?
Mike Sando (4:02 PM)
Yes, I can see Alex Smith taking that kind of step. It's not a very big step, though. Smith was the 19th-rated passer in the NFL last season. Kurt Warner was one of the guys ahead of him. Kyle Orton was ahead of him. I would think Smith should progress to a point where he leads the middle of the pack among NFL starters. That is reasonable.
Marcel (Birchwood, Ca)
With all of the players set to become restricted free agents with no new CBA, what would happen to them if they do not receive a tender from their teams? Do they then become unrestricted free agents?
Mike Sando (4:03 PM)
They became free to sign anywhere in the past and I think that would happen again.
Ken (Redondo Bch)
Mike, Knowing that the Rams are up for sale, how aggressive do you think they will be in free agency. Thanks
Mike Sando (4:06 PM)
The free-agent crop will be even weaker than it has been and I don't think the Rams will be in a big hurry to add payroll. It's also fair to wonder how many free agents would list the Rams anywhere near the top of their lists, given the current state of the roster and the possibility that the team could relocate at some point in the future.
The Ford (Mesa, AZ)
Whats up Mike? So where do you think the 49ers finish next year, with warner gone? Do you really think they go RT and S in the draft?
Mike Sando (4:07 PM)
The 49ers should have a similar record in 2010 with a chance to get over .500, although they did lose a home game when the NFL scheduled the Broncos-49ers game for London. I do think the 49ers will address right tackle and safety in the draft, but it's total guesswork trying to determine which positions they'll address in the first round. Depends upon which players are still available.
Ken S (Chatsworth, AZ)
Sando, if the Cards and Karlos Dansby part ways, how adversly will that affect the team's defense? I think Karlos is a jack of all trades but a master of none. It seems it is hard to justify paying him as a top linebacker, but it is also hard to imagine the team without him.
Mike Sando (4:10 PM)
Your analysis lines up with mine. It's tough to justify paying Dansby more than what the franchise tag was worth last season, but it's even tougher to replace him. I think the Cardinals will miss him when he leaves. And I say "when" because it has seemed unlikely Arizona would keep him. He is a good all-around linebacker.
Cassius (North Dakota)
Do you get the feeling that Schneider will get more involved in free agency with the Seahawks than he did with Green Bay?
Mike Sando (4:12 PM)
Yes, John Schneider himself indicated he qualified as more aggressive than Ted Thompson when it comes to free agency. Also, free agency can be more appealing when a new coach is taking over a team that has been losing consistently for multiple seasons. The 49ers went after Nate Clements and Justin Smith, among others, when trying to get up to speed following several years of bad drafting.
Kris (Scottsdale, Az)
Boldin for Vick or McNabb? I love this trade for the Cards.....whadda ya think?
Mike Sando (4:13 PM)
That type of move would indeed be a steal for the Cardinals because quarterbacks are worth more than receivers, and Boldin is late in his contract with high miles and some injury concerns. Boldin might be better than either one of those players -- Vick in particular -- for the next year or two. But the fact is that Boldin is down to his final year in Arizona, most likely, and for that reason the Cardinals should think about getting longer-term value in return for him.
Vince (Phoenix, AZ)
Mike, can you see the Niners making a play for a guy like Joey Porter? I think he has that intensity and toughness we can use. We really need an established pass rusher to go along with our young guys. Ahmad Brooks is promising, but still unproven, Manny Lawson is an adequate pass-rusher, and Parys Haralson is decent, not great. This is the only thing we need to have a dominant defense. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (4:16 PM)
Well, if Porter were all those things, why wouldn't the Dolphins be finding ways to get him on the field? Are they really good enough to just move on without a player as good as the one you described? The 49ers had a chance to pursue Porter a couple years ago, and they did not show interest. They arguably have more of a need now because they know Lawson probably isn't going to become an elite player. But I think Porter's price would have to be pretty reasonable. That is just my feel. If they signed Porter, they would have better depth, at least.
With alot of money given to Wilson, do you see the Cards doling out the bucks to Antrel Rolle this year or will he be cut? That would be alot of money to pay two safeties -- especially with a front seven that need players.
Mike Sando (4:19 PM)
Looks to me like Rolle has a good chance at hitting the market for the reasons you outlined. They committed to Adrian Wilson, which was the right move. They tried to protect themselves from losing Rolle by drafting Rashad Johnson, but he hasn't shown a great deal to this point.
Ken S (Chatsworth, CA)
To piggy back on Kris from Scottsdale's question: What do you think the likelyhood of Boldin deciding not to play out his final year should either a trade or an extenstion fail to materialize. Boldin is set to be paid 2.7 million and could sit out the majority of the season, for I dont see him risking injury for the "small" amount when a new contract could net him 6 to million more in signing bonus.
Mike Sando (4:21 PM)
Anquan Boldin has taken a pretty businesslike approach since deciding to change agents. I would think he'll just play out his deal and move on. Sitting out would cost him money in the short term while risking his reputation as well. It's a bad move if he decides to sit out for an extended period.
Mitch (Tempe, AZ)
Mike! How much different do you think the NFC West landscape will be next year? I still see the Cardinals without Kurt Warner coming out on top, followed by the 49ers, Seahawks and the lowly Rams. What's your outlook?
Mike Sando (4:23 PM)
I'll believe it when I see Matt Leinart put together a few good games. He needs to settle into the role and he'll get that chance this offseason unless the Cardinals make a move for another quarterback. Arizona has lots of free agents as well. I think there are enough questions about Arizona to think about the 49ers as a very strong candidate to unseat the Cardinals in 2010.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
When did you decide you wanted to get into journalism? It looks like you took a different route then most?
Mike Sando (4:24 PM)
I knew when I was in high school and then took a pretty standard route through newspaper sports departments.
Fitz (Palo Alto)
Sando, I have been concerned with the early mock draft predictions. I was hoping to see the 9ers go RT and SS/CB (two positions of need) in the first round this year. However, some pundits are predicting a defensive lineman pick. I know Kentwan Balmer hasn't lived up to lofty expectations, but would it be wise to invest more money when the talent at safety and corner are there and we need them?
Mike Sando (4:27 PM)
The last part of what you said is key. Will the talent at safety and corner otuweigh the talent at other positions when the 49ers make their pick? This is a team that took a wide receiver in the first round a year ago. San Francisco has not taken a defensive back in the first two rounds since Scot McCloughan arrived in 2005. That streak will probably end at some point and this could be the year if, as you noted, the talent is there.
Joe (Fort Wayne, IN)
Mike, big fan of your blog. I'm wondering do you think Michael Crabtree will live up to his potential now that he will finially be in his first training camp? Do you think he could become an elite WR next year? Something that they have lacked since TO decided to run his mouth out of the bay area.
Mike Sando (4:28 PM)
Thanks, Joe. Michael Crabtree should continue to ascend. The one thing we did not see last season was a penchant for breaking big plays. That is one thing I'll be watching for this coming season.
Cassius (North Dakota)
Do guys like Kerney or Branch have any real trade value or are the Seahawks just going to have to cut them? Do teams have to wait until March 5th to make trades or is that just for signing free agents?
Mike Sando (4:30 PM)
Those guys should have little trade value because everyone knows the Seahawks will try to dump their salaries sooner or later. And it's possible neither player is dynamic enough at this point to command significant value in a trade. The trading period does open March 5.
Gilbert G (Chicago/Atlanta)
Out of curiosity, how many years will it be til the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl?
Mike Sando (4:31 PM)
They lost their first Super Bowl. I have no idea when they will win one for the first time.
Hey Sando, why isn't anyone talking about the free agents the Niners can get. There are a few promising tackles and guards available in the market coming up? And they can trade for a promising pass-rusher or even a kick returner? Then just add pieces with the draft. What do you think?
Mike Sando (4:34 PM)
I'm not seeing promising offensive linemen scheduled to become free agents this offseason. That list is a really short one, right? The 49ers' new line coach, Mike Solari, worked 2009 rookie Max Unger into the Seahawks' lineup successfully last season. Perhaps the 49ers can find another young prospect and Solari can get him ready.
Will you be the one to answer this? Who would win, this year's Saints vs. last year's Steelers.
Mike Sando (4:36 PM)
Let's go with the Saints on the theory that Drew Brees wouldn't throw that pass to James Harrison.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Mike, How much difference is there in the top QB's this year? Could you see the Rams going after Suh with the top pick and then going after lets say Colt McCoy at QB with theier 2nd round pick?
Mike Sando (4:37 PM)
Yes, I could see the Rams taking a defensive lineman early, then trying to find their next long-term quarterback a little later in the draft. So many of the successful drafted quarterbacks were first-round picks, though. But Drew Brees was taken atop the second round. It is possible to find really good quarterbacks a little later.
Rick (Charleston, WV)
Mike, normally I am against throwing big money at a glamor FA. However, late in the season, the lack of a pass rush became such a GLARING issue for the Cardinals that the defense couldn't get off the field, and guys like McFadden were forced to cover guys for WAY too long and got burned often. It's always been my belief that a great rush end makes the ENTIRE defense better. With that in mind, might it be worth it for the Cards to use the money they'll save from Warner-Rolle-Dansby to go after a guy like Peppers? Or do you think the risk doesn't line up with the reward?
Mike Sando (4:41 PM)
I'm with you all the way on the idea that a good pass rush makes everything better. The Cardinals' pass rush wasn't horrible. Not many 3-4 teams can get 7.0 sacks from each defensive end. I thought it have been nice for the Cardinals if they could have used Adrian Wilson more as a blitzer. With Peppers, one concern would be that he has been a 4-3 defensive end, not a stand-up rush 3-4 linebacker. However, the Cardinals have shown they can get production from Darnell Dockett as both a defensive tackle and a defensive end. If you add a player with Peppers' talent, you'd better find ways to use it. I'm sure Bill Davis wouldn't mind giving it a try. But it still might be a risky signing based on the potential that Peppers wouldn't fit.
Mark (Colorado Springs, Co)
Even if Denver does trade Marshall, why does everybody think Bryant is the automatic pick. WR is the most overrated position in football, and the most easily replaced. Why would the Broncos pass on elite defenders to take a WR when they can get value in the later rounds?
Mike Sando (4:43 PM)
You could be right. The Patriots have used no first-round picks to draft receivers since Bill Belichick arrived as head coach. They have used three second-round picks for the position. Could be something to keep in mind when trying to figure out how Denver might proceed. I also thought Deion Branch could appeal to the Broncos for obvious reasons.
Bill (Pasadena, CA.)
Hey Mike, how likely is it that the Rams trade out of the first pick and try to stockpile as many draft picks as possible? They are more than just one player away from being anywhere close to competitive. Thanks!
Mike Sando (4:44 PM)
You're welcome, Bill. I love the thinking for the Rams, but question whether another team would be willing to give up a bounty of picks for the right to pick first in a draft without an obvious Peyton Manning-type talent at a marquee position.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O: What do you think about this year's free agent class (not just the NFC West)? It seems pretty thin this year and will get even thinner without a CBA in place. In my opinion, this is going to make draft picks this year an even more valuable commodity.
Mike Sando (4:45 PM)
I think you are right. An uncapped year also makes it much, much easier to trade players.
"You could be right. The Patriots have used no first-round picks to draft receivers since Bill Belichick arrived as head coach. They have used three second-round picks for the position. Could be something to keep in mind when trying to figure out how Denver might proceed". And yet their top two receivers are FA signings.
Mike Sando (4:49 PM)
The Patriots acquired Wes Welker and Randy Moss by trade. The Broncos could go that route as well, but if the Seahawks released Deion Branch, Denver could get him without compensation, unless the Patriots or another team also showed interest.
Ken (Redondo Bch)
It seems everyone wants the Rams to draft a QB in the second round. With what you seen of the Rams QBs and the rookies in the draft class is there an improvement to be found. Thanks
Mike Sando (4:52 PM)
What I've seen of the Rams' current quarterbacks isn't very promising. It's time to go another route if possible. None of the college prospects jumps out as an obvious upgrade right away. Let's remember that even Peyton Manning threw a bunch of picks and struggled as a rookie starter for a bad team. Teams have generally taken good quarterbacks in first rounds, not second rounds. The list of Pro Bowl quarterbacks taken in second rounds includes one name over the last 12 or 13 drafts: Drew Brees.
Kenneth (San Diego)
I thought this year's OL FA class was decent unless the lack of a CBA causes them all to be restricted? It's not that thin is it?
Mike Sando (4:53 PM)
Right. A guy like Deuce Lutui of the Cardinals reverts to being a restricted free agent without a new CBA.
Nathan (Little Town in IA)
Continuing on Bill's question for CA question,What do you think of the Cardinals offering the Rams their 1st pick, Boldin and next years 2nd round pick in exchange for the Rams #1 pick? Put Dockett, Suh, and Cambell and that is a scary D line!
Mike Sando (4:54 PM)
That would just shock me. The Cardinals have done a pretty good job finding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Beanie Wells without picking in the top 10. No need to mortgage the future over one player. One player is not going to push the Cardinals over the top unless that one player is an elite quarterback.
Mike Sando (4:57 PM)
On an unrelated note, I just saw the official release saying the Browns have hired Gil Haskell as an advisor to Mike Holmgren. Future coach is more like it. I have to believe Holmgren is putting together the pieces for an offensive coaching staff, and I wonder if he'll be the head coach on that staff at some point down the road.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O: True or false: Last year, the Cardinals secondary underperformed and the front seven overdelivered. Also, with the departures of Warner, Dansby, Okefor, and possibly Rolle, do you think the offense or defense will be the bigger liability for the Cards as they pursue a 3rd straight NFC West title?
Mike Sando (4:59 PM)
I would say the front three outplayed expectations in that Calais Campbell had 7.0 sacks and was a difference maker, Darnell Dockett had another Pro Bowl season, Bryan Robinson generally seemed OK at nose tackle and Alan Branch showed some things at defensive end. Maybe we should group together the back seven when pointing fingers. Get some more pressure, I think, and that secondary improves. Pretty funny we're criticizing a secondary that placed three guys in the Pro Bowl!
Mike Sando (4:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. Much appreciated.