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)
I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. Let's chat.
Who do you see having a better chance of being a Bengal this season. Quan Cosby, Andre Caldwell or Chad Ochocinco?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Interesting question because they are all under contract. Of the three, I think Caldwell is the safest. He's been pretty consistent throughout his three seasons and I don't see any reason for the Bengals to cut him. Cosby and Shipley are similar WRs, but Shipley is better. And Ochocinco will probably get released.
John B (Baltimore)
Are the Coaches allowed to converse with each other over the lockout?? and if so, do you think the lockout helps them evaluate their best Free Agency plan going forward.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Yes, coaches can and have been working with each other on a daily basis. If anything, I think the lockout has made them work harder on adjusting in these unique times. The problem is getting the players on the same page quickly once the lockout ends.
Why is Kolb valued so high and Carson Palmer so low? With just a few years between them I'd imagine a team would want an established QB (in terms of experience and talent) vs a player offering a few more years on their contract.
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I don't know if that's a true statement, Anthony. Maybe Kolb is talked about more, and that is probably because Palmer isn't on the market. Bengals owner Mike Brown says he's not trading Palmer, and most teams, media and fans believe Brown based on his history. The Eagles are open to moving Kolb and probably will. So there has been more discussion.
James, how well do you think the Ravens will be on defense this year?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Every year people ask if the Ravens are too old, and every year they finish as one of the better defenses. Until proven wrong, I'm going to say Baltimore will be good on D once again. Jimmy Smith at corner could be a great thing if the pick pans out and he stays out of trouble.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
What a joke that Rodgers was voted the 11th best player in the NFL in 2011. The only way I can buy it is if the voting was conducted before the Super Bowl. If the voting was conducted after the Super Bowl, I am not saying Rodgers had to be #1, but being the starting quarterback of the Super Bowl champs has to get him in the top 5 at least right?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
I voted Aaron Rodgers No. 7 and received a ton of heat for it in my inbox from Packers fans. So I wonder if you guys will do the same to the NFL Network/players for ranking Rodgers No. 11.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which NFL Team do you think will be hurting because of the Lockout?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
All teams are hurt to some degree, Chris. But there are some hurt more than others. In the AFC North, I think the Cleveland Browns have suffered the biggest impact. They are trying to switch to a new offense, defense and have a rookie head coach and a young QB.
JW - Lets make believe Sergio Kindle comes back 100% and is able to contribute as if he would have when he was drafted last year, does this give the ravens a decent enough pass rush so they dont need to go out and find another big pass rusher out in FA?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
The Ravens can't rely on that, Tom. At this point, anything they get from Kindle this season should be viewed as a bonus. Head injuries are serious and no one -- not even Kindle -- knows how he will respond to full contact. Baltimore needs to attack free agency with the thought of needing help getting to the quarterback. If Kindle ends up being fine, that's even better for the Ravens.
Brandon (West chester ohio)
If the cba gets finished this week and there is a raise in the mandatory floor, what are the chances mike brown uses that money to hire a g.m.? and resign J.Jo?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I wrote about this today in the AFC North blog, Brandon. So check it out if you haven't already. The chances increase of signing Joseph, because the Bengals would have to spend close to the cap. So they could give Joseph the market value he deserves. As far as adding a GM, I've made the case for years the Bengals would be smart to do it, as well as add more scouts. But I don't see it happening. Ownership just doesn't believe in it.
How afraid are you of the Madden Curse this year?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
I'm not on the cover. Why would I be afraid? That's up to Peyton Hills.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
He doesn't seem bothered, but we will see.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Is Cedric Benson a case where the team and the player are the best match, and it makes sense for him to take less to stay there?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Yes, they are a good match. But I wouldn't say any player should take significantly less money as a free agent. Benson wants to return and the Bengals want him. So there's a very good chance things will work out. But if one team offers him significantly more money, I don't think Benson is above leaving if the Bengals aren't willing to come close.
Ozzi Newsome (Baltimore)
I heard you on the radio this morning James, and I trust your opinion. Besides the players who played for Baltimore last year, who should we pick up in free agency this year?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Thanks, Ozzie. Next time you have to spell your own name correct so I know it's you. My advice would be to take care of your own. Extend Haloti Ngata and get Marshal Yanda back in the fold. Then look for a pass rusher, backup CB and RT. You've done a good job, because you don't have many holes.
Michael H (San Antonio)
The Browns head staff seem confident with their current receiver situation. Think they're seeing something we don't and you think Colt as the full-time starter influences that optimism?p.s. Welcome Back
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Thanks, Michael H. This is a head-scratcher, because I wonder the same thing. I've watched many Browns games and IMO the WR group is probably the weakest area of the team. But Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur keep saying they're fine. Maybe they see something everyone else can't. I know they all believe in the West Coast offense, and they feel that will make them better instantly. We will find out this season.
James was Ben Roethlisberger to low on the TOP 100 players list? Ray Lewis too high? No Peyton Hillis? Your thoughts?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Like any list, there were some flaws. Ray Lewis is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest MLBs ever. But I don't think even Ravens fans would argue he's the fourth-best player in the NFL at this stage of his career. Ben Roethlisberger, in my opinion, was rated way too low at No. 41. Peyton Hillis, I'm not sure about. Last year he was a top 100 player, but I also see the players' point of view that Hillis could just be a one-year wonder. When it comes to players, you have to earn your respect over several seasons.
Tom Hecker (Cleveland)
I heard you on the radio this morning James, and I trust your opinion. Besides the players who played for Cleveland last year, who should we pick up in free agency this year?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Ok, you all are funny. I wasn't on Cleveland radio this morning, and we have another GM who (intentionally) can't spell his name. The Browns should get a starting DE who could rush the passer first, and Ray Edwards comes to mind. Cleveland also needs a safety. I'm hot and cold on Donte Whitner's fit with the Browns. But I think he's the best safety on the market and he's from Cleveland. Coverage may be an issue.
Michael H (San Antonio)
Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed, who is more likely to play less games?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Troy Reed has been nicked up lately with Achilles, hip and neck ailments. So I say he's more likely to miss games.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
But Troy Reed will lead the NFL in interceptions and win Defensive Player of the Year in just 10 games next season.
Joe ( PA)
Why don't you ever give Ed Polamalu any credit vs. Troy Reed?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Troy Reed has cooler hair and more rings.
Chuck Pagano (Baltimore)
James, you are going to love my new innovations I am going to bring to defensive scheme and Baltimore. We are going to be the number 1 defense next year. My innovations will be more impacting than Dick LeBeau's.
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Chuck, if you attack more and get to the quarterback, you will be fine. The Ravens' defense isn't broken by any means. It just needs a tweak or two.
J Peso (Atlanta)
Do the Ravens and Steelers both sweep the NFC West this yr?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
It's too early to make predictions. But you have to believe that Baltimore and Pittsburgh will be favored in most or all of its games against the NFC West this year. It's a favorable draw for the AFC North division overall.
James Walker (4:46 PM)
By the way, there's only four NFL stadiums I haven't been to and two are in the NFC West. I haven't been to Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago or Denver. Maybe I can get to half of those this year. We will see.
Kevin Kolbert (Pennsylvania)
Hi James. Do you think I should go after any of Baltimore's free agent corners?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Sheesh! GMs are having a hard time spelling today. Kevin, stay away from Ravens free agents and vice versa. If you want a corner, Carlos Rogers or Richard Marshall are your guys if Ike Taylor bolts.
bill hartford (toledo ohio)
what are your thoughts on the STEELERS getting back to the super bowl this season?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Very, very hard to do, especially as the Super Bowl runners-up. If I recall correctly, the last team to get back to the big game after losing it was the Buffalo Bills in the early 90s, and they lost it four straight times. Many teams don't even make the playoffs after losing in the Super Bowl.
Derick Young (Casper, WY)
wow that kid didn't even spell Kevin Colbert right and you picked his question... come on James...
James Walker (4:53 PM)
It's a running joke in the chat today, Derick. All the GMs didn't spell their names right so far.
Is Carlos Dunlap the real deal or a one year wonder?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Too early to say. He played a great half season in 2010. Dunlap always had the talent, just lacked focus and motivation. I think he will be pretty good next year.
Owen (Eugene Or.)
James, do you know how many players were actualy involved in the Top 100 of 2011 voting? A lot of players said that they didn't get a vote and too many players that were voted into the Top 100 had "down, if not terrible seasons!" Do you think next year they could possibly focus on 1 season, as opposed to an entire career?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
I do not work for the NFL Network, obviously. So I'm not privy to how this was done. I noticed some players on Twitter say they never voted, but that doesn't mean everyone didn't vote. I will say, in my experience, there are a lot of players who would have trouble naming 100 opposing players. Most watch film and are very position specific. So WRs know CBs, RBs know LBs, etc.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for the time and great questions. AFC North GMs "Ozzi Newsome," "Tom Hecker" and "Kevin Kolbert," good luck in free agency.