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!
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Welcome to the NFC West chat. Here we go.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Sam Bradford needs help. Upgrading the middle of the offensive line gives Steven Jackson more room to run (read: helps Bradford). A top notch WR (either via draft or FA) helps Bradford. A first round defensive tackle helps stop the run, thereby lowering opposing team points (helps Bradford) ... I could go on. In your opinion (not guessing what the Rams will do), what helps Bradford the most? I still have nightmares about dropped passes and WRs not getting open, but that's just me maybe.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Offensive playmakers help Bradford the most at this point. The team has enough building blocks on its line to move forward without addressing that position in the first round. However, the Rams could stand to add a veteran guard with some nastiness -- Richie Incognito without the headaches. But I have no problem with the Rams drafting for defense early, either. The team cannot reach just to say it's finding weapons for the QB.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
Love the blog Sando. Put up more Seahawks stuff though! Here's my question: if the draft is so deep in DL positions, why not grab someone else in the first round (Jimmy Smith or Pouncey) and grab DL in the second round?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Thanks, Bobby. I would have no problem with the Seahawks adding an offensive lineman in the first round. Lining up Mike Pouncey between Russell Okung and Max Unger would give the line a strong foundation to build around, with better leadership. It would help the running game, which would help the quarterback, which would help everything.
Mark (Mira Loma, CA)
What is the possibility of the 49ers trading up from the number 7 pick to say the number 4 pick? I would think that with the amount of picks they have, they could possibly secure Gabbert/Miller/Peterson. Or do you think they may hold off to trade up from their second round selection to get a QB?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
The draft-value chart says such a move would cost the 49ers their third-round pick, and more. The chart is not infallible and might be less applicable this year simply because a rookie wage scale could be on the way. But I do not see the value in moving up three spots from No. 7 when there isn't necessarily a sure-fire quarterback in play. It's risky enough projecting on a QB among the top 10 without trading up to do so. That is just my opinion. The Jets moved up from considerably farther down in the order when they wanted Mark Sanchez. That deal included veteran players, however, and the current labor situation prevents veteran player trades.
If forced to, do you think Seattle would trade next year's first for Kevin Kolb?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I do not know what you mean by "forced" in this sense, but I could envision the Seahawks being amenable to such a trade.
Do you think that John Skelton showed enough in his four starts last season to warrant consideration for the starting job this season (more than likely via QB competition)?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
In an ideal world, no. But the reality could be that Arizona will not emerge from the draft or free agency with an obvious clear-cut starter. And I do think Ken Whisenhunt wants a competitive environment. We need to first see which veteran the Cardinals add, if any. That will tell us to what degree we should expect competition. I think Skelton did enough to remain viable as someone to develop.
The Seahawks are going to be a zone blocking scheme used by Tom Cable from what I read. My question is are blocking schemes interchangeable within a given offense? Or are they directly linked somehow? To put it another way, does what Cable does with the line really affect what Carroll and Bevell do with the offense? Or is what Cable does dictated by the offense scheme?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
There's room to run a zone blocking scheme within the framework of a West Coast offense, but that blocking scheme does lend itself to some pretty significant overall alternations. Green Bay and Philadelphia both run West Coast systems, but the Packers favor zone blocking and the Eagles do not. It remains to be seen just how Seattle's offense will evolve with Darrell Bevell as coordinator and Tom Cable overseeing the offensive line. I think we'll see Cable handle the running game, just as Russ Grimm does for Arizona, with Bevell calling plays and handling the passing game. But I'm not sure even the Seahawks can say exactly how the offense will evolve. It's a key variable that could be influenced, as well, by which quarterback emerges as the likely starter.
Eric (Culver City, CA)
If the Rams trade back 5-10 spots, what kind of compensation would they receive?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Moving back five spots could return the equivalent of a choice in the first half of the third round. Moving back 10 spots could return the equivalent of a pick in the second half of the second round. I base this on the draft-value chart.
Do you think the Cardinals will lose credibility if they fail to land a quarterback who is able to win some games? Do you think the Cardinals are willing to give Larry Fitzgerald the highest contract in NFL history in terms of the wide reciever position?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The Cardinals have already given Larry Fitzgerald such a contract. I see no reason why they would not do so again. Fitzgerald should be even more valuable to the team now that Anquan Boldin is playing for Baltimore. As to your first question, I think the Cardinals will lose credibility if they do not have a coherent plan for the quarterback position. Last year, Matt Leinart went from starter to expendable in a very short period of time. That was not part of a long-term plan. I would expect the Cardinals to have a clearer direction at the position.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
Sando, I read a Seahawk blog recently that expressed concern over possibly drafting Gabe Carimi for the right tackle position mostly because he is strictly limited to playing that side and not the left and the fact Russell Okung now has an injury history. What're your thoughts on drafting a tackle who can swing to both sides? Is that important to the Hawks, or is Tyler Polumbus OK to plug in on the left?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
It's tougher taking a pure right tackle in the first round. Ideally, a first-round tackle would have the athletic ability to play either side. I don't think that is necessarily a deal breaker. Teams can find veteran "swing" tackles cheaply. The 49ers have succeeded in doing this with Barry Sims. The Rams did that with Adam Goldberg. The Seahawks had that with Floyd Womack, when he was healthy.
Hey Mike, I'm a big fan, love your work. How much of an effect will the lockout have on the Hawks ability to improve. And how will it affect their draft strategy?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
The draft strategy can't change too much. They'll try to pick good players either way. They could face added pressure to find a quarterback, but in the end, I think they would just play Charlie Whitehurst for a year and take their chances before forcing a QB choice in the first round. The Final Eight rules could become a limitation for Seattle this offseason if they are in place when the league reopens for business. Those limitations would affect what Seattle could do in free agency as one of the final eight teams standing in the playoffs last season.
With the possibility of having a shortened offseason, why would the Cardinals consider drafting a QB 5th overall, especially when Fitz has made it clear he doesn't want to wait for a Quarterback to be groomed? Even if Free agency doesn't start till after the draft, wouldn't the Cardinals be better served waiting for a veteran that has experience in a system similar to what they run offensively? To me coaching a rookie with limited time would be much more difficult than a veteran with experience.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Drafting a quarterback early would be easy to justify no matter the labor situation -- provided the Cardinals saw a clear franchise quarterback in this draft. That is the problem, though. There doesn't appear to be such a quarterback, and so I do think it's unlikely the Cardinals will go in that direction. They have been consistent through the years in saying their first-round pick should significantly upgrade a position right away. They could make an exception for the right quarterback.
If Von Miller is gone, will the Cards look to move down and add depth later on?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Sure, that could make some sense, but if the Cardinals did not want that pick, why would another team want to rush into it?
Why does everyone talk about the Rams drafting a WR as if it will change things immediately? Many, if not most, WRs seem to take two years or so before they really meet their potential.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I don't know if people are thinking the receiver would instantly transform the offense. People recognize the need for playmakers on the perimeter and realize the Rams could stand to draft one.
Jacob (Saint Louis)
Mike, Have you heard anything about the Rams and Mark Clayton. I know that they can not sign him because of the lockout, but I think that it would a great idea for the Rams to bring him back. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I'll be surprised if the Rams do not re-sign him. The only question, in my mind, is whether or not Josh McDaniels might have a different opinion based on the offense he runs. Otherwise, bringing back Clayton makes quite a bit of sense.
Could you briefly explain the final eight thing? Seattle could be set back a year or two due to that one St. Louis win and Lynch's run. I loved it at the time, but in a year I may say that it hurt us long term in Seattle. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I can reproduce something from a recent mailbag as do think this is a subject worth explaining: The NFL would, by most accounts, revert to the rules in place for 2010. Those rules restricted options in free agency for the final eight playoff teams "in any League Year during the term of the Agreement in which no Salary Cap is in effect," according to the collective bargaining agreement. Restrictions for teams losing immediately before the conference championship games included: signing one unrestricted free agent that has a first-year salary no greater than $4.925, plus increases tied to league revenue growth; signing additional UFAs to deals with smaller first-year salaries and year-over-year increases no greater than 30 percent, not counting money paid as signing bonus; signing one additional UFA for each of its own UFAs that signed elsewhere, provided salaries for the new players did not exceed salaries for the old; not acquiring by trade players a team could not sign as UFAs based on the restrictions. These were general parameters.
Regarding Kolb: By "forced", I simply mean with no CBA likely in place prior to the draft, they may be "forced" to move the discussion to next year's draft.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
OK, that makes sense. Thanks. Yes, if the lockout remains in place for the 2011 draft, the Seahawks could not trade a 2011 choice for Kevin Kolb or any veteran player, at which point the Eagles would have to seek a future choice for any deal involving Kolb and picks. That would be more palatable for Seattle.
Eric (Culver City, CA)
If the Cards start poorly and suspect that Larry Fitzgerald will jump ship as a free agent, is there any chance that they trade him midseason? Just to ensure that they're not left empty-handed and that he doesn't end up on a division rival? The idea of him wearing a Rams uniform in 2012 sends my heart a-flutter.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Any chance? I would put that chance as extremely remote. One, the trading deadline falls relatively early in the season, before the Cardinals would likely be out of contention in the division. Two, the team would still have time to work out something with Fitzgerald.
Sounds like you think Hasselbeck is gone??
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
The likelihood of Seattle re-signing Matt Hasselbeck diminished once the sides failed to reach agreement before the lockout. We now know Hasselbeck will hit the market. That makes the situation more volatile. At that point, we might find out whether another team is willing to give Hasselbeck the longer-term assurances Seattle appears unwilling to give at this point.
Brandon (San Diego)
Do you see any scenario in which Arizona does not sign Marc Bulger? When they signed Warner, he was a fading, possibly-too-shell-schocked to be effective older former Rams QB who used to be really good, and he took them to the SB. Why not try the same thing again?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
There are several other quarterback-needy teams that could make a play for Bulger, including the 49ers, so we should not assume he'll wind up in Arizona.
Tom (Irvine, CA)
"if the Cardinals did not want that pick, why would another team want to rush into it?" Because there may be a great player there at a position of lesser need for the Cardinals (such as DL or CB) that another team might have a much greater need at? For instance, if Peterson, Newton, Green or Fairley are there, wouldn't it possibly make more sense for the Cardinals to trade down to another team more desperate at those positions and gain picks?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Thanks for the reply. As I recall, the Cardinals had a chance to move down in 2008 when they instead selected Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at No. 16. They decided to stay put and select him. If Von Miller is gone and top available players are defensive linemen, yes, I could see Arizona moving back.
How much do the Cards like Daryl Washington? Does he have the ability to lead their defense?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
They like him and featured him among the young players they want to build around when putting together a promotional video this offseason. As for leading the defense, that seems less likely to happen, in my view. The team has stronger personalities in established players such as Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson.
I need to keep one linebacker for my fantasy team next year and can choose between Lofa Tatupu and Daryl Washington. Who should I keep?!
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Go with youth. Tatupu has had some injury issues and could be wearing down.
Sam (San Francisco)
Only one Niners question? Come now.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Hmmm. I am not charting the number of questions per team, but I'll look for a few more Niners questions.
Mike, I see a very bad situation shaping up for the 49ers at pick 7. It is a growing likelihood that Patrick Peterson, Blaine Gabbert, Marcell Dareus and Von Miller will be gone. If that is the case, who do they look at or do they try and trade down?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Prince Amukamara would be there if they were set on taking a cornerback. How fun would it be if they selected A.J. Green? Imagine trying to keep Green, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore happy.
I would love the issues with trying to keep all those guys happy. Any QB would love to be on that team
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
And I would much rather add the most talented player, particularly a game-changer, than try to target a perceived greater need.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Do you see either the Cards or 49ers having motivation to leapfrog the Bills for a shot at Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Nope. I sense no urgency for teams to shoot up the draft board for a shot at these quarterbacks. It takes only one team, but right now, it just doesn't seem likely.
Kalen (Kodiak, AK)
Jake Locker reminds me a lot of Tim Tebow, and ever since the season ended people have been talking about Jake Locker being picked by his hometown team at #25, same pick Tebow was taken with last year. I like Jake Locker, however he needs time to develop as a pro, if Jimmy Smith or Mike Pouncey is available do you think Seattle would rather take them for an instant impact?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
They should take Jake Locker if they think he would become a good starting quarterback. If they have significant reservations about that happening, though, they should not force it just to win the day-after-draft news conference. The hometown angle means more to fans and people with ties to Washington than it means to the Seahawks. John Schneider and Pete Carroll will not take that into account as a reason to consider him. They would be more likely, in my view, to see the local angle as a potential negative in terms of unrealistic expectations, having friends and family too close by, etc.
Kalen (Kodiak, AK)
Hey Sando, how do you think Jake Locker's pro day went? From what I read he did well, but not good enough or bad enough to improve or drop his stock.
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
I thought Locker had more to lose than he had to gain. I was also struck by the fact that relatively few NFL decision-makers attended the workout. There were evaluators, but not the big guns.
Do you think any of the teams in the NFC West would set up a deal even if the CBA isn't done, for Kolb? Then as soon as the CBA is done they go ahead and trade the player they picked for Kolb?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
No, that would be too risky and have too many moving parts. Does not seem realistic.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that the NFL Players should be tested for HGH, and if they test positive, should there be suspensions?
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
Players should be tested for HGH if there is a reliable test to administer. The stakes are high enough for players to put their bodies at risk. We've seen it with steroids and other performance enhancers. It stands to reason players would turn to HGH for an edge, particularly in the absence of testing. I wonder if HGH testing would limit the number of players we've seen remain productive well into their 30s.
Mike Sando (2:11 PM)
OK, thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. My pleasure, as always.