Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Keith adams (saint louis, MO)
Mike, given Sam Bradford's experience with the Rams' staff and with the players, what do you think are the chances he will fit into the new system being implemented by Josh McDaniels? If he is not going to be successful, what do you think he needs to do this offseason with the looming lockout in order to be?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Bradford should be fine for the long term. He could have some issues in the short term if the labor situation compresses the offseason in a way that prevents him from preparing well. He has said he plans to do whatever he can, even if it means organizing informal practices with teammates on his own, to get ready for the season. He showed enough as a rookie to make me think he'll be fine.
Mike -- I'm getting very concerned about my Niners QB situation. I'm happy with our coach, but I won't be happy if we are still starting Alex Smith this year. To me, last year was his make-or-break year and he blew it. I thought Carson Palmer or Kevin Kolb would be a good fit, but is that really feasible to happen?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Palmer and Kolb could be feasible. Keeping Alex Smith as part of the mix could work too. I would not read too much into it if the 49ers keep Smith and play him this season. Jim Harbaugh will be under no illusions. He'll have nothing personally invested in Smith. He'll merely be keeping Smith around as one of his three best options.
Mike, recent reports say Hasselbeck turned down the Seahawks latest offer. Do you have a pulse on what his plans are? I could see him playing well in Arizona, SF, or Minnesota.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
There is no agreement, so he has not accepted the Seahawks' offer. I wouldn't get too wrapped up in the "finality" such a statement suggests. Sure, I could see Hasselbeck playing for the Cardinals, 49ers or Vikings. And I think the Seahawks would move on and live for another day. But if they can upgrade their offensive line, keeping Hasselbeck at a reasonable price would make sense. I think they would be reasonable offering more than the $8 million he averaged on his previous deal. I do not think they should be offering way more than that, based on how Hasselbeck has played most of the time. Kurt Warner got $11.5 million per year coming off a Super Bowl. Hasselbeck is not coming off that type of season.
CHRIS (Columbia, SC)
Hello Mike. After watching the combine and looking at the needs of my beloved St. Louis Rams I have to say I was most impressed with Julio Jones and I think you are right we need to surround Sam Bradford with talent. That being said I believe we should spend the first round on a OLB or a DT. Drafting someone at those positions would most likely start immediately and still get an offensive weapon to contribute like Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson, or Titus Young in the 2nd or 3rd. I just see whoever we draft OLB or DT would have a better chance in getting into the starting lineup than a DE or WR. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Good thoughts, Chris. I'd have no problem with the Rams taking a front-line player at defensive tackle in particular, and linebacker secondarily. The team needs young talent at those positions.
Steven (San Jose)
Hey Mike, Why all the love for Kevin Kolb. He's really not that great of a QB, and this sitaution reminds me of the McNabb talk last year. Like McNabb, Kolb is not going to go to a team like Arizona or San Fran and light it up. For my Niners, Alex Smith has about the same numbers as him, playing on a worse team with worse coaching. It just seems like all of the lazy people talk Kolb, since he is really the only QB they know about, but I haven't heard anything about Bills QB Fitzpatrick or the Packers Backup QB Flynn. They would be far superior options to Kevin Kolb.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Quarterbacks get overvalued. Quarterbacks who have not played really get overvalued. They haven't proven they can play, or that they cannot play.
How come nobody has getting depth at MLB a high priority for Seattle in this year's draft? We love Lofa but he obviously is starting to wear out and there is plenty of depth in the other two spots. Would Casey Matthews be a possibility?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Other positions are higher priorities. The team has much greater needs on the offensive line. Focusing on the line would help the team get more from its running game, a big help for the quarterback.
Jack (Deer Park)
Is there any evidence that sitting a rookie QB on the bench for a couple of seasons behind a veteran QB has any real benefit? Or is it a myth?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
It's tough to say sitting helped or hurt. Carson Palmer sat as a rookie and that worked out well for him early in his career. It also worked out well for the Bengals. Jon Kitna had a career year while Palmer watched from the bench.
tom page (bellevue,wa)
After today, the only signed QB for the Seahawks is Charlie Whitehurst. How likely is it that Charlie is the starter next year?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
There's a chance. I've been listening to Matt Hasselbeck's brother, Tim, talk about Matt's contract situation on 710ESPN Seattle. This is a hot issue right now. Will address on the blog following the chat.
Shawn (Mount Vernon, WA)
I read the post about the lockout hitting the 49ers very hard. The way I see it is that the whole NFC West could be in trouble. Every team has at least a new coordinator coming in (meaning a new system on at least one side of the ball) and the only team that has any QB stability is St. Louis, but Bradford is still young and a work in progress. I feel an extended lockout will hit the NFC West the hardest and we could expect similarly similar results to the "NFC Worst" 2010 season (like another 7 win division champ). I could be curious to get your thoughts.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
The AFC West also has serious issues along these lines. The Raiders have their usual coaching turnover. The Broncos cleaned house. The Chargers have a new defensive coordinator (although Greg Manusky has been there before and will run a 3-4). But you are right about the NFC West taking it hard.
Cedric (Memphis, TN)
Hey Mike! Am I the only 49ers fan that thinks Alex Smith still can be a good productive winning QB in the NFL? I truly believe the organization has failed him more than he has failed them or us as fans. When he was under what I think has been his only real offensive coordinator/qb coach(Norv Turner) he looked good and like he was gonna be good. Then we hire all these defensive guys as head coach who get puppets as the OC and nobody further developed the guy. Oh and let's not forget Mike Martz who was allowed to bring in his own QB to start that was never any good. Please help me here Mike, am I right?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Good? Productive? Winning? Alex Smith might be able to be those things. I'm fine with the 49ers keeping him around. But they obviously will not bank on him the way they did when he was coming out of college as the top overall pick. Keeping him as part of the mix differs from committing to him.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Some fun stuff from Tim Hasselbeck on 710ESPN Seattle just now, including this: "Marc Bulger retired two years ago. He just doesn't know it."
Mr. Sando, first off love what you do for the NFC West. Do you think the Cardinals can afford to draft a QB with the 5th pick with Fitzgerald in his contract year and the pressure of starting such a high pick sooner rather than later, especially considering Fitz has a no franchise tag clause in his current deal?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Thanks. The Cardinals should take into account what moves might mean for Larry Fitzgerald, but they cannot bypass drafting a franchise quarterback just because it might hurt them with Fitzgerald in the short term. They need to build their team the way other teams build: starting at quarterback. Now, if they are less sure about the quarterback prospects in the draft, perhaps Fitzgerald's situation makes them feel better about going in another direction.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I'm going to post something to the blog here momentarily. Apologies to those participating in the chat. I'd do both at the same time if I could. Back as soon as possible. Should just take a few minutes.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
OK, back at it.
Steve F. (Surprise, Arizona)
Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. OK, it's the seventh pick of the draft, both Von Miller and Patrick Peterson are still on the board. Who do the 49ers take?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I would usually favor bolstering the front seven over bolstering the secondary. Peterson would have to be rated significantly higher than Miller for me to favor taking the cornerback.
DOUG HOLZKAMP (NEWBURY PARK, CA)
"Sando" whats up?Here we fans sit in th 11th hour with the lock out looming and myself and all NFL fans must feel thier hope for a solution turning into extreme anger! Most of us do not have the millions of players and owners. We live check to check and we made them what they are! Why is there not a voice for the fans in this with the NFL? We should boycott their products organize and revolt!!!
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Your frustration is warranted. Just as I think the players will have a hard time staying unified if a lockout runs into the season, fans have a hard time unifying in revolt. Enough of them ultimately come to games, watch games on TV, purchase products advertised during games and pay full price for preseason tickets. If more fans did not do these things, the league would be in a different position.
What does tendering a 5th year player do for both the team and player after the CBA expiration? Not an NFCW guy but Indy just did that to Addai.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
We need to know what the next labor agreement stipulates. I would expect fifth-year players to qualify for unrestricted free agency, at which point the RFA tenders would not apply.
How does the potential of no free agency affect the Cardinals draft plan, with regards to the QB spot? Seems like they are between a rock and a hard place.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Yeah, and things did not line up for them last offseason, either, with Marc Bulger hitting the market only after Arizona felt compelled to move on Charlie Whitehurst and then Derek Anderson. I think it's tough for Arizona if there's no free agency until after the draft. But it might not affect how the team drafts at the top. It would be a mistake for Arizona to reach for a quarterback at the top just because the position remained unsettled. My feel is that Arizona is looking for reasons not to take a quarterback early.
Penizze McQuaid (SF)
I loved your analysis of the Kevin Kolb for the 49ers #7 draft pick - you did an excellent job breaking that discussion down. Notwithstanding the lack of consistent superstars at the #7 slot, I do think that Kolb would be overvalued in that trade, given his numbers being almost exactly the same as Alex Smith. Do you think there is any chance the 49ers look at a running back at #7??
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Thanks. I want to revisit that previous item. Thanks for the reminder. I would not rule out anything for the 49ers near the top of the draft. Frank Gore is heading into the final year of his contract. He has had some health issues. Age will factor into the team's thinking when it considers an extension for him. I would say it's unlikely the 49ers would draft a running back that early. I'd be quite surprised.
Cbrew (Gig Harbor, Wa)
Hey Sando, Without Hasselbeck the Seahawks options at QB are pretty slim... I know everybody looks at Bradford and thinks... just start a rookie... but for the most part that move generally spells disaster for a season.... Are you still thinking the Seahawks will find a way to get him back next season? I still feel like he's coming back... too much would be riding on an unknown at QB for next season if the Hawks don't find a way to get him back.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Yeah, I would think Seattle has the best chance at signing Matt Hasselbeck. If I were him, I would much rather play for Minnesota from a pure football standpoint. The offense would suit him, the running game is there, Steve Hutchinson is there. He would be more productive there than in Seattle, I think.
Mike- It should be just a matter of time before (CBA Dependent of course) Seattle re-signs Mebane right? Paired with Cole they were DOMINANT in the first five games before injuries just piled on. Pete Carroll and John Schneider just don't seem the type to make more holes in their defense by not retaining him. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Agreed in theory. It'll come down to whether Mebane views himself as more than a solid starter. And that seems tough to do coming off an injury-affected season without any sack numbers to make a stronger case. It caught my attention when Schneider called Mebane a "steady pro" during the combine. I mean, that is faint praise suggesting the team really isn't all that concerned. And I do think it's fair to wonder how much the team will value, financially, the bigger-bodied defensive linemen in this scheme.
Dan (Saratoga NY)
What is the sticking point in the Rams resigning OJ Atogwe? Just money?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Yeah. Here is the deal: The Rams named him their franchise player previously. They did this because it was a convenient way to keep his rights, not because they valued him as a truly elite franchise player. Atogwe had every right to seek money in keeping with his franchise status. The Rams had every right to resist paying him that much over the long term. The market has so far sided with the Rams. But that might not help the team keep Atogwe. He could wind up signing elsewhere.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
If you had to guess, what direction are the 49ers leaning towards in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Defense in general, pass-rusher in particular, with an eye toward cornerbacks as well.
tony sopRAMo (New Jersey)
If Julio Jones is there at 14, I would not be a bit surprised if the Rams still went defensive line. Spags could do a lot with say a Aldon Smith. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
You have a good feel. They would not be absolutely set on a wide receiver. Now, they would not pass on a wide receiver if the value were tremendous. Steve Spagnuolo might be more apt to draft a defensive tackle early, at least based on how his former teams have behaved in first rounds. He'll want that defensive line rotation to be deep and strong, like it was with the Giants, and he'll do that through the draft. It's a matter of time before the Rams take a defensive lineman in the first round. I'd be surprised if it did not happen in the next two years (2011 and 2012). Also, Josh McDaniels worked wonders with Brandon Lloyd last season. Perhaps he'll feel OK coaching up some of the Rams' current receivers, and any they team added after the first round.
Dom (Bay Area)
Sando, what do you think the chance are of them extending the current CBA if a deal cannot be reached by tonight?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
The extension they're talking about would be a very short-term extension to buy time for negotiating a new deal. It would not be a true extension of the current labor arrangement. That is not happening.
Welcome back Mike it was a long week off but I guess you deserve meeting the family again. What do you think of the Rams picking up Clinton Portis as a backup and change of pace back for Jackson?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
Thanks, Daryl. I wouldn't really see the change of pace there. I'd go with a younger, quicker back with a better record of health.
With Fitz being in a contract year and having a no Franchise clause in the contract he's in now...What do the Cardinals need to do to keep him? Can that do it with a rookie QB? Do they need to pull in a vet like Bulger or make a trade for a Kolb of Palmer?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
They need to offer Larry Fitzgerald tons of money, first. And then they need to make significant progress in building the roster. I think that specifically means they need to have a clear upgrade at quarterback, even if it is just a short-term upgrade. I think they need a veteran starter to improve their chances with Fitzgerald.
Cedric (Memphis, TN)
Will/can the 49ers do with Nate Clements what the Packers just did with A.J. Hawk? Is there time to before the deadline hits?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
The situations are different. The clock was ticking on Hawks' deal because a large payment was due soon. Clements' deal features no looming payment. Also, Hawk is a younger player. Clements is 31.
I keep hearing talking heads say: "how could the Cardinals pass on the best QB in this year's draft?" Easy! This is easily one of the weakest QB crops in recent memory. I don't see a true 1st rounder in this class, so the best isn't good enough!
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
Whether are not you are right on the specifics, you are right on the theory. Don't reach.
Puckett (Fort Collins!!)
I need a question answered, so with Carson Palmer saying he will retire if not traded, can he immediately sign with another team once he is retired or does he have to wait a certain amount of time in order to sign with another team? Thanks!
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
The Bengals would retain rights to him through the life of Palmer's current contract. They could prevent him from playing elsewhere during that time. Palmer would need the Bengals' cooperation to play for another team in 2011.
Would the Cardinals draft a player like Cam Newton just to sell tickets? Personally, defense is the way to go most of the draft with some offensive lineman sprinkled in there. I really liked one mock draft I saw with Von Miller in round one and Martez Wilson (MLB Illinois) in round 2. I would be stoked with this!
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
It's tough for me to envision the Cardinals making such a move just to sell tickets in the short term. Selling tickets in the long term requires putting a winning product on the field.
How well do you think Sidney Rice would fit into the new Rams offense with McDaniels at the helm?
Mike Sando (2:11 PM)
Sidney Rice would fit terrifically in any offense as long as his health permitted. Seattle would be a good fit with Darrell Bevell, too.
Is there any way Jake Locker could fall to the 49ers in the second round? And if so would he even be a good fit for the West Coast system?
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
Jake Locker's low completion percentage and poor accuracy raises questions about his ability to project successfully in an offense predicated on accurate timing throws. I'm not saying he will fail, just wondering about the fit.
DOUG HOLZKAMP (NEWBURY PARK, CA)
Sando,In your opinion do you think the NFL has had it with the loud mouth ego centric players like T O or Ochocinco and Randy Moss. Are the Jerry Rice days of handing the ball to the ref in the end zone and doing your job coming back? Has the talent pool gotten too big for the big egos?
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
There have always been guys with big egos in pro sports (and elsewhere). Sure, Jerry Rice handed the ball to the officials, but other guys celebrated. The Fun Bunch, Mark Gastineau, etc.
Sando -- Robert Gallery will reportedly not be re-signing with the Raiders. Given the Cable connection, how likely is it he will come up to Seattle? Is he a player the Hawks would naturally want to pursue (if there weren't a coach/player relationship in place already.)
Mike Sando (2:16 PM)
Yes, he is a player the Seahawks would naturally pursue. Tom Cable's presence makes it a natural fit. I'll be surprised if Gallery does not sign with Seattle, should he hit the market. Seattle will now value bigger guards than the ones Alex Gibbs preferred. Gallery is one of those.
Mike Sando (2:17 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. I extended it about 15 minutes after breaking away to post on the blog. Thanks for your patience. We'll do it again next week. You can find me in the comments section of blog entries, on Twitter and on Facebook. Lots of interaction there, too.