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)
Hello everyone. Welcome to the AFC North chat. There are a lot of questions already, so let's get to it.
Simon (Manchester, UK)
In your opinion, which of the four AFC North teams has the busiest free agency?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
If we're just counting free agents, the Browns should be the busiest. They have the furthest to go and haven't been afraid in the past to spend money. If we're counting potential trades, the Ravens may be up there. Baltimore can't do much in free agency this year (Final Eight Plan), but I think the team will be looking for trades to make up for it.
Tom (Derby, CT)
Good afternoon James. Who is the bigger FA in Pittsburgh, Hampton or Reed? Reed is a very accurate kicker in the toughest kicking stadium. Hampton is a beast...for two downs and the draft had 4 or 5 impressive DTs.
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Casey Hampton is the biggest, literally and figuratively. If Reed was the most important free agent, Pittsburgh would consider franchising him.
Mike (Bowling Green, Ohio)
With Cleveland's 11 draft picks I think they should look heavily into Safeties, TEs, WRs, and OLBs the most. Which group of players do you think they should be paying the most attention to?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
You hit on most of the needs, Mike. I also feel a cornerback and the right side of the offensive line also are important for Cleveland.
Why haven't the Ravens made a trade for a top receiver to make them a Superbowl team?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
It's not as easy as people like to think. The elite receivers could require a first- and third-round pick this offseason. Would you give up for first and third this year for a veteran WR, Brian?
Kovacs (Santa Monica)
I know they were together for a lot of years, but Holmgren made Matt Hasselbeck good, why can't he do the same with BQ?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
What's new, Kovacs? Anything is possible, but nothing is promised in the NFL. That's the best way I can sum up QBs. Hasselbeck didn't have the college pedigree Brady Quinn had but turned out fine at the next level. Quinn hasn't had nearly the NFL career that Hasselbeck's had. Maybe Holmgren can help change that, but the fact Cleveland is searching for QBs tells me something.
Bryan (Atlanta, GA)
J-Dub,What position do you see the Cincinnati Bengals taking with the first pick in the draft? WR, TE, Safety?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
Ideally, the Bengals would like a WR. But it's not a deep crop this year, so they may have to settle on a good TE, which wouldn't be bad. Either position could help Carson Palmer. I would be surprise if Cincinnati goes defense in the first round. That's not needed this year.
Josh (Tokyo, Japan)
what do you think is the bengals biggest challenge to overcome next season?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Personnel questions aside, I think consistency is the biggest thing. The 2005 group, in my opinion, felt entitled that the Bengals would be in the playoffs every year. Obviously that didn't happen. I think the 2009 group knows better but will have to continue to have that chip on their shoulder to keep striving.
Tyler (Columbus, Ohio)
James, what do you see the Bengals doing with their first few picks? Do you see them going offense in the first couple rounds or do you see them getting the pass catching threat that they need and then solidifying their defense by adding another corner or a saftey that can cover?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
I see offense on the first day. Probably some combination of WR, TE, OL with the two picks in any order of the best players available.
Dan (Newark, OH)
COuld you see Cleveland addressing the Qb position in the draft? Maybe going after Pike, McCoy, Or LeFevour?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
None of these QBs can help the Browns next year, which is probably what they need unless Mike Holmgren feels Brady Quinn is his guy. If Cleveland drafts any of these players, it will be for 2-3 years down the road.
michael m (college station, tx)
if both eric berry and joe haden happen to be available at number 7, dont the browns have to take berry? could they pass that chance like in 1999 with mcnabb?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
That's a tough choice. But right now it doesn't appear Berry will fall to No. 7 anyway. Most scouts have him rated in the top five.
Robert (Latrobe, PA)
Any news on long-term deals for Clark, Hampton, or Reed?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
All three are priorities but there's nothing new to report on Ryan Clark, last time I checked. Casey Hampton likely will get the franchise tag on Thursday. I'm not sure about Jeff Reed at the moment.
Mike (Edgewater, Maryland)
Hey James,First of all, love the blog I read it everyday. Who do you think would work out better for the Browns, Kolb or Smith?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Kevin Kolb. But the price tag makes that very difficult.
Rich (Bellevue, WA)
Why are nose tackles so hard to find? Obviously, great players at any position are scarce, but nose tackle seems to be particularly slim pickin's.
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Not a lot of colleges play 3-4 defenses. So many nose tackles are "projections." It's very similar to outside linebackers in a 3-4. You're not 100 percent sure they will fit until you try them in your system.
James, any chance the the Bengals take a look at L.T. or Brian WestBrook? Last year, L.J. worked out well any chance we can resign him?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Larry Johnson was a "cheap" addition for the Bengals. It cost them next to nothing to sign him. Tomlinson and Westbrook will be costly, so rule the Bengals out.
brandon (Costa Mesa, CA)
If the steelers are able to work out a deal with Casey Hampton, what would you expect that deal to look like?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
If it's a long-term deal? I would project something in the three-year range. But most likely that third year could be easily voided if Hampton is not the same player. So in reality a two-year deal that looks like a three-year deal.
Joe (Niagara Falls/NY)
JW, I need to correct you. Madden 10... Not Cool. the game is too unrealistic
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Only people who can't play Madden say that. You must fall in that category.
How imporatant is the offseason for paul kruger?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Kruger would do the Ravens a big favor by busting out next season. Baltimore lacked an extra pass rusher, and Kruger has the moves and the motor to be that guy. Last year was a red-shirt year for Kruger, but it can't be that way for him in 2010.
hey James do you think the browns have chance to make any noise in the afc north this year?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Too early to say. Get back to me after free agency, the draft and maybe a healthy portion of training camp, and I will let you know.
well I dont think LJ will be getting that big pay like LT and Westbrook so I hope he stays here!
James Walker (4:37 PM)
I'm told Larry Johnson is keeping all of his options open. But most likley he will get more money and a better opportunity for playing time somewhere else.
JW, Bengal fan here and I'm having a difficult time defending the Jones signing. There are plenty of possible #3 WR's out there, why sign the one with all the baggage?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Henry as a Bengals fan, you shouldn't be too surprised. They sign players on the cheap all the time. Usually baggage is what drives the price tag down. Maybe this will work, maybe it won't.
Rich (Bellevue, WA)
So if Hampton is looking at a 3 year deal that's really a 2 year deal, and if that second year turns out to be a lock-out year (which seems likely), so it's really a one year deal in practice. So how is that so different from the franchise tag deal that he so strongly resists?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Signing bonus/up-front money, Rich. The contract will come with a pretty good signing bonus. That is extremely important for players.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Plus, a lockout is not promised. I would say there is a better chance a new CBA is reached next year than not.
What the latest with the Browns and Anderson? Will they be able to trade him?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Nope. Cleveland won't be able to trade Anderson because his contract is too costly at this point. The Browns will release Anderson before his signing bonus is due in March. You can virtually take that to the bank.
Patrick (Kettering, Oh)
When will we find out what each RFA is being tagged with seeing as that is what most free agents will be
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Thursday at 4 p.m. ET is the deadline for teams to use its franchise tag, Patrick.
If Larry Johnson is out of the picture, do they sign Cedric Benson to a long year deal or maybe go after a young guy in the draft?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
The Bengals really like Bernard Scott, who was a rookie last season. Benson and Scott could be a good one-two punch. Brian Leonard is kind of a hybrid who would fill in as the third RB if needed.
Dustin (Canton, OH)
Afternoon James, I was wondering what happened with the trade of Braylon Edwards to the Jets. Did Braylon do enough to improve the draft picks the Jets sent the Browns or did he disappoint us for one for the last time?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Hello, Dustin. Edwards needed 55 catches with the Jets and didn't come close. So the third rounder remains the same.
Jeremy (KENT CITY(WOOT), MI)
What is up with this? Two pro bowl all-time great RB's released in two days??? WHAT IS GOING ON!??!?!!?!?!?!?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
Running backs tend to hit a wall quickly, because of the pounding they take every year. Look at the age of both players. The 30-year-old running back theory is accurate in most cases. It's just not something most people can do for 12-15 years.
JW, Which team do you use when you play madden 10?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I can use a lot of teams. Usually it depends on the opponent.
who is a better backup for pitty dixon or batch
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Dennis Dixon did a good job of filling in against Baltimore, and I think that showed the Steelers' brass a lot. I expect Dixon to be the No. 2 QB next season, even if Pittsburgh retains Charlie Batch.
I give up a late 1st rd and a 3rd if I was going to sign Brandon Marshall...He might have issues But, the kid has unbelievable game!
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Ozzie Newsome is not that kind of GM. I really don't see him giving up a first and a third for a WR. I would be surprised.
Do you think that the Steelers could be able to trade up in the draft to pick up Joe Haden?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
That would be pretty costly for Pittsburgh. The Steelers pick No. 18 and Haden should be a top-10 pick. Unless he falls into the teens, it's doubtful Pittsburgh would be within reach.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks for all the great questions. The AFC North blog will be live at the combine, starting Thursday. So remember to check back for constant updates on your favorite teams in the division.