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 (4:01 PM)
Let's talk about the AFC North.
Ryan (San Diego)
Can you see Donovan McNabb playing a year or two in Cincy assuming Palmer is gone? Give the Bengals time to groom young QB?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
In Cincinnati's mind, the team doesn't believe Carson Palmer is gone. The Bengals, for now, are operating as though he won't retire, and I think that's a dangerous thing. In saying that, I don't think you will see the Bengals draft a quarterback No. 4 overall or spend a lot of money there until they know for sure Palmer won't play.
Do you have any information on the trade of RB James Harrison to the Eagles last season? Was it a unhappy player or a unhappy coach? That caused this really bad trade.
James Walker (4:06 PM)
It was both, Michael. Harrison fumbled early in the season and found himself in the doghouse. In fact, his early holdout in the offseason got Harrison off on the wrong foot with Eric Mangini and it impacted both sides working together. A separation was best for both parties but the Browns probably should've tried to get more in return.
chad (toledo )
Hey James, I already miss football!!! How do you feel about the staff Shurmer has put together. Thanks
James Walker (4:09 PM)
There are some things I like and don't like. But I'm not going to go overboard about it in Feb. before he coaches his first game. I don't like that the Browns will go without an offensive coordinator. I think that puts a lot of pressure on a rookie head coach on one side of the football, when a head coach should be more concerned with the overall progress of the team. Cleveland could've at least had a coach to draw up game plans while Shurmur called plays on Sunday.
James Walker (4:11 PM)
With this type of setup, I think it was smart for Cleveland to hire a lot of experience on the defensive side of the football (Jauron, Rhodes). Because it doesn't look like Shurmur, as head coach, will put much energy on that side of the football.
What is a more pressing need for the Steelers in the draft OL or DB?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Right now it's about even. I think Pittsburgh could use help and depth at both positions. If Ike Taylor isn't retained, then CB becomes the Steelers' biggest need.
Wesley (New York, NY)
Hi James.Do you think the Browns would prefer to add a dynamic playmaker for Colt McCoy (AJ Green) or address their front-7 with a player like Von Miller? Seems like if Green is available at #6 he might be too intriguing to pass.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
This can always change, but right now I see the Browns going defensive front seven or WR in the first round. Those are the biggest needs, and they cut a lot of veteran LBs and DLs last week. I'm always nervous about teams drafting WRs in the top 10. So it will interesting to see what the team decides. It could come down to who's the better prospect.
James Walker (4:16 PM)
By the way, I'm getting a lot of draft prediction questions today. Right now the teams don't know because the evaluation period isn't over. The combine is a big part of it. So there won't be any clear answers for a bit.
Josh (South Carolina)
If Carson doesn't come back, and I hope he doesn't, Do you see the Bengals picking up a QB in the first round or will they finally give little Palmer a chance to show what he has?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I don't think the Bengals will know for sure by April with the way things are going. Both sides have put their foot down, and it's pretty much a standstill right now. I don't think the Bengals will take a QB No. 4 overall unless they decide to trade Carson Palmer. But it is the Bengals and stranger things have happened.
Hey James,Who is your favorite AFC North player to interview?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
There's too many to mention. A lot of good guys and colorful guys.
Could you see any AFCN teams as big players in free agency?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
The Bengals and Steelers won't. Usually the Ravens will make at least one solid move. But with Haloti Ngata's contract, this may be the year they just sit back and take care of their own players. Maybe the Browns, but it's always a challenge to convince the top players to come to Cleveland.
Hey James, of the Browns cuts... did you find Coleman the most puzzling? I thought he would have been fine as a 4 - 3 DE. Now the Browns might have to get 3 DL if they can not re-sign Roth.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
Kenyon Coleman wasn't puzzling. He had two things going against him. Coleman was over 30 and the team wanted to get younger, and he was an Eric Mangini guy and there was a coaching change.
Any ideas on who the Browns might use their franchise tag on?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
I don't anticipate them using it this year. Phil Dawson? Lawrence Vickers? I guess there's a chance, but I would say it's small.
Leigh Anne (Lexington, KY)
Other than recent history of Super Bowl losers, what do you think of Steelers' chance to repeat as AFCN champs?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
It's too early to make predictions, Leigh Anne, before the draft and free agency. But the Steelers are a veteran group and I think they will be in contention next season.
nicholas boja (Cincinnati)
I read Nick Lachey's comments regarding Carson Palmer not being a leader, do you agree with nick about carson being a non leader?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
I would agree that Carson Palmer is not a vocal guy. Lachey's point is that he never took a hard stance until he wanted out, when as a franchise QB, he could have done the same for team-related issues. I think it's a very good point. Palmer allowed a lot of bad stuff to go on in Cincy on his watch for the past eight years. He's just not the fiery type like many QBs. Everyone is different.
Rich (Bellevue, WA)
Is it a challenge to convince top players to come to Cleveland because they don't like Cleveland or because they don't like the Browns?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
It's a combination of convincing top players to join a losing team and living in Cleveland. If you're an elite free agent, you have plenty of choices and the Browns are usually a tough sell. Many of their top free agents over the years have had Cleveland ties or were acquired via trades or the draft.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
By the way, the Ravens have announced they've used the franchise tag on Haloti Ngata.
What was the best game you went to this year?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
I always like the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers games. Pick any one this year. I think it's the best rivarly currently in the NFL.
What do you think it will take for the Ravens to finally top Pittsburgh? It seems like since Big Ben has come to pittsburgh the steelers have always had the raven's number in head-to-head matchups.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
I wrote after their playoff game that QB play separates these two teams. It's not fair to put the blame on just one player, but I think Joe Flacco developing and getting closer to the level of Ben Roethlisberger will go a long way to leveling the playing field.
Roger (Alexandra, VA)
Is it almost becoming evident that if the Ravens have to play the Steelers or Colts in the postseason that they are not advancing past that point?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Those have been the two teams the Ravens cannot overcome in recent years. Did you know over the past eight Super Bowls, the AFC has been represented by either Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady? No other AFC QB has had a chance to even play in the big game. So the Ravens will most likely have to get by these players.
Josh Curtis (Idaho Falls)
Hey James lot of Browns questions, appreciate the love. Do you think D'qwell Jackson would be good in a 4-3? Any chance he re-signs with the Browns or has that ship sailed?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
The ship has sailed with D'Qwell Jackson. Yes, I think he will be better in a 4-3 defense. But with a new coach and injuries, both sides are in for a mutual parting to start anew.
Hey James! I was peeved when I saw that the Patriots placed the franchise tag on Logan Mankins. I really wanted the Steelers to go after him. Do you think they would have or am I upset for no reason? Thanks bud!
James Walker (4:42 PM)
I think you were upset for no reason, Anthony. Mankins would've commanded a ton of money on the open market. The Steelers traditionally do not go after those kind of players in free agency.
rusty ketterman (Columbus)
will the ravens continue to pursue long term negotiations with ngata?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Absolutely. The case with most of these franchise tags will be to buy time for further negotiations. The Ravens have every intention of locking up Ngata long-term.
Alan (Beverly Hills)
Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden. Sounds like a combo that will remind Browns' fans of Dixon and Minnifield???
James Walker (4:46 PM)
The Browns drafted two DBs with their first two picks last year and did a good job patching up some holes. I think it's time for Cleveland to address other needs this year.
Alan (Beverly Hills)
Any chance Tony Pashos turns out to be the answer for the browns @ RT when healthy?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
I don't think so, Alan. Pashos was hurt and didn't play all that well when he had the chance. Cleveland's right side of the offensive line needs some revamping.
Do you see the Browns getting anything out of Hardesty next season?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Montario Hardesty has to get healthy first, and to my knowledge there hasn't been any setbacks. Hardesty has always been a productive player when he's on the field. But his injury history has been a concern from the start.
Ryan (San Diego)
Should Bengals move Andre Smith to right guard? Or is he a long term solution at right tackle if he stays on the field?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I was against Cincinnati drafting Smith from the start for several reasons. But one of the biggest was they would pay him left tackle money with no intentions of playing him there. I think the Bengals still hope Smith can be a right tackle, but I'm skeptical from what I've seen. If he plays guard, now you're paying left tackle money for a guard. That's just bad a personnel decision.
Could Cam Newton be an option for the bengals with the fourth pick if carson does not return.
James Walker (4:57 PM)
I don't see it. No. 4 is pretty high for Cam Newton and the Bengals need to get clarity first with Palmer before they spend that kind of money on a QB.
Darren (Bel Air)
Should the ravens go after a long-term left tackle solution in the draft or in free agency and move Oher back to right tackle? Or should they draft/aquire a right tackle and keep Oher at left?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
It really depends on the player who's available at the end of the first round. In most drafts, pure LTs are taken off the board first and RTs fall later in the draft. So I would think Baltimore is more likely to find a natural RT late in the first round.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC Twitter page for constant updates on the division.