Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC East 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 Walker Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
How is everyone today? I'm sure there are plenty of questions on the AFC East. Let's begin.
EricCotton1 (Ithaca, NY)
I have never been closer to tears as a Miami fan than I am this week. Is there any possible upside that can be seen for the Dolphins offseason this year??
James Walker (4:02 PM)
C'mon, Eric. Don't cry. The upside is the offseason isn't over. There's still weeks in free agency and, most importantly, the NFL draft. The Dolphins may do better. They can't do much worse.
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I think the biggest thing for Dolphins fans is they were sold a bad bill of goods. Hopes were high that they would make significant moves to make the team into a contender, and they have done anything but. In fact, they went backwards.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where do you think that QB Tim Tebow will end up since Peyton Manning signed with The Broncos?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
This is the question everyone wants to know, Chris. The process is just beginning, so no one knows for sure. But I think Tebow ends up in Florida, either in Jacksonville or Miami.
James Walker (4:04 PM)
I've already written that Tebow to Miami makes no sense from a football standpoint. But it will sell tickets. That may be the most important thing for Miami owner Stephen Ross at this stage.
Dylan (Rochester NY)
Who do the bills pick in the draft now? WR or OT
James Walker (4:06 PM)
If I'm choosing between those two, Buffalo should go LT. That's a very important position on any offense. But I think it comes down to LT or a pass-rusher. There's a lot of good DEs and OLBs that can help Buffalo's defense.
Why cut Yeremiah Bell when the Dolphins can't sign anyone worthwhile and all the best - and most expensive - guys have already been signed? I get that he may have been overpaid, but what do they need the space for? Most of the failures of this offseason have come down to players choosing other teams, and at least there were character issues to blame with the Marshall trade, but I don't see why they've opened yet another hole on this team.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Rich, the Bell moves was strictly financial. It didn't have anything to do with Bell's performances. He led the team in tackles last season. The Dolphins may try to bring Bell back at a lower number, but this process hasn't been the best. That may have upset him and he could go elsewhere.
finfanwashington (Spokane, Washington)
Do you believe the Dolphins have already given up on this season and are building a team for 2013?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
I don't think Miami is tanking. I think that's a word fans use more than the reality. The Dolphins are really trying. I don't know if that's a good thing or a sad thing, based on the awful results.
Pats fan (Vancouver)
What are the chances of Tebow going to New England? Seems like a good fit
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I don't see it, Pats fan. But you can't discount the connection between Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow. That would be the only way for the Patriots to get him. But I would say the chances are low.
Tim (Long Island)
James, in your opinion can a ground-and pound offense win a superbowl in today's passing NFL? As a Jets fan, I hope Rex is doing the right thing, but something tells me a more aggressive offensive coordinator would have been better for Sanchez and the offense.
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Good question, Tim. Times are definitely changing. I still think there's still a place for running the ball and playing great defense. But the big change is you need a good-to-great QB to go with that. You can't have an average or below average QB to win the Super Bowl anymore. The days of Trent Dilfer winning the Super Bowl are over. You have to have at least a solid or good QB to pull it off, so I think that's where the big change is.
Jon in West Palm Beach FL [via mobile]
After signing Super Mario, do you think it would be smart for the Bills to draft Upshaw from Alabama and hope a transition to DE from Merriman is successful?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I think Upshaw is a good possibility. He's more of an outside linebacker than a DE. Buffalo has to decide who is going to play DE next to Mario. So if a DE prospect is available (Coples? Ingram?), he may be the pick.
Gregg (St. Louis)
In your opinion, which AFCE team is having the most productive offseason so far?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
It's too early to say, Gregg. The Bills made the big $100 million splash, but the Patriots have done a solid job with some veteran additions like Brandon Lloyd. It's all relative to what the goals are. I'd say it's better to wait until after the draft.
Tom Brady (Foxboro)
James, name one thing that my team has done wrong this offseason. Bet you can't.
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Hmmmm, I didn't think your boy "Gronk" pushing for the Madden cover was a good idea. If you want to throw to him all season, you may want to give him a call.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
Would Bell fit in New England??? The Pats have had success with former Miami players like Welker...
James Walker (4:20 PM)
You know, he's a little older than the Patriots would probably like. But the Patriots do have a need at safety. Chung is more the athletic type who can cover ground. Bell is limited in coverage but he's a solid tackler. It might work.
Ed Sargent (Concord NH)
why would the pats bring in such a media frenzy in Tebow to the kind of team they are?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
I don't see it happening, Ed. I think Jacksonville and Miami are the two best possibilities. Most of it has to do with ticket sales.
Dolpins fan :( (miami, FL)
James, now name one thing that the Dolphins did RIGHT this offseason!! Bet you can't :/
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Hmmm, I like the Richard Marshall and Paul Soliai signings. Both were affordable and should be solid on defense.
If Miami goes under 6 wins next season is Ireland gone?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
It's hard to tell if Jeff Ireland is in the hot seat in Miami. It's too early for that. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross just gave him a vote of confidence over Tony Sparano a few months ago, so doing otherwise would be a big change in a short amount of time. Let's see how things transpire.
Evan (Albany NY)
Is it safe to assume the Dolphins released Bell after the Jets already signed Landry?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Well, I don't want to speculate. But I will say the timing was a little shaky. The Dolphins knew Bell had a high cap number the day the season ended. They could have released him and gave him plenty of time to find another team. Maybe they tried negotiating with Bell to lower the cap number, but I don't know if that's the case. To release him this late hurts Bell's leverage, and I don't understand why the Dolphins would do that to a player they are going to release anyway. Unless, of course, they are going to bring him back.
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Bell also was a team leader who played a big part in keeping the Dolphins together after their 0-7 start. He did everything right for the Dolphins. I'm not saying they had to keep him. But to drag him along this late once we are already deep into free agency seemed shaky, IMO.
Frank (Rochester NY)
With the Bills resigning Fitz, Stevie Johnson, and now Super Mario... they have a chance to be top dog?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Top dog in the AFC East? I'm not ready to say that. The gap between the Patriots and Bills was a big one. One player doens't change that.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area )
If Tebow ends up in Miami, will you flee back to the AFC North?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
As long as Miami weather stays 70-80 degrees everyday in the winter, I'm not coming back. I'm happy where I am. The Dolphins can do whatever they want.
Are we as fans right to blame Ireland for our misfortune? He is not the ones losing games
James Walker (4:35 PM)
It's Jeff Ireland's responsibility to put together a strong roster in the offseason. He is not doing a good job of that right now, and a case can be made that the team is actually getting worse. I understand the ire (no pun intended). You can't blame the coaches who haven't coached a game. Ownership also deserves some blame.
matt (miami, fl)
Just hopin that some upper management read this blod and see that my family, season ticket holders since '67, did not renew this season. Thanks for the memories, Dolphins management.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Wow, Matt. You sat through some bad years. So it's interesting that this offseason was the last straw for you. The good news is if you ever change your mind, there are plenty of season tickets available.
With the jets not doing much in the FA, do you think they will start to rebuild?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
The Jets are in an odd spot, Nolis. They can't really rebuild because they have so much money these next couple of years tied into veteran players. You can add Mark Sanchez in that mix now after the big extension. The Jets are trying to retool, not rebuild, and put together some pieces that can help them get back to making a deep playoff run. But the cap is preventing them from doing anything major. They have to hit on some draft picks.
James - Are the Pats looking at any free agent running backs?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
The Patriots are happy with what they have, Dan. Keep in mind, they spent two decent draft picks last year on Ridley and Vereen. That pretty much put the writing on the wall that Green-Ellis could be gone. I still think there's a small chance Green-Ellis returns. But only at a discounted price the Patriots are comfortable with. They're pretty much telling him to go somewhere else if you want to hit the jackpot, but that won't be the case in New England.
Do you support making Cromartie a Safety and letting Kyle Wilson be the boundary corner in his place?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I saw the tweets from Cromartie, and with Twitter, you never know. I would put this in the "wait-and-see" category. I'm not sure Cromartie is a good enough tackler to play safety. He has to be the last line of defense, and that wouldn't be a very strong line if a running back cuts through the first wave.
James Walker (4:44 PM)
But I do like Kyle Wilson's improvement last year. He made a solid jump in Year 2. I want to see him on the field more next season.
Chris (Fort Walton Beach)
What moves should Ireland have made in Free Agency to save the team then? Why is it that everything has to be done before we even get to the draft?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Things are pretty bad, Chris. There's no way around. The Dolphins botched free agency big time. But if I were the Dolphins, I would use free agency to sure up the offensive line. Go after a good guard and a good right tackle. Fill out the line, then look to the draft to get other needs like a dynamic receiver and maybe a top QB prospect. That's not going to make Miami a contender next year. But it would improve the team from where it is right now.
Daegu Shalini (Buf, NY)
The Patriots are in need of pass rushers again, think they finally get one or three in this year's draft?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Yes, the Patriots plan is looking pretty good. They got affordable solutions on offense (Lloyd, Gallery, Anthony Gonzalez) in free agency and will use the draft for defense, defense, defense. This is a very deep draft for defensive players. There's good D-linemen, CBs, OLBs. I wouldn't be shocked if New England uses at least three of its first four picks on defense in the first two rounds. New England's plan seems very focused and makes sense.
Gildo (Kennett Square PA)
Hey James what are the chances the Dolphins take Ryan tannehill in the draft.
James Walker (4:53 PM)
There's a good chance, but nothing is promised in the draft unless you have the No. 1 pick. Tannehill was a guy that was projected at the end of the first round not long ago. Now he's a top 10 pick. The only team I can see reaching for Tannehill is Cleveland at No. 4. If the Browns don't take him, Miami should get him at No. 8.
Chris (north carolina)
How exactly have the Dolphins gotten worse. Brandon Marshall was nothing but a headache and locker room cancer. They also have 5 picks in the first 3 rounds of the draft.
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Marshall was a Pro Bowl WR that they didn't replace. The leading tackler on defense was cut and the entire right side of the O-line is empty or projected with backups. The QB situation is no better than it was last season. Do you think this team, as its currently built, can match or beat last year's record and go 7-9? I do not.
Hobbyist (enjoying an early dinner) (at the Y)
Devin McCourty in 2012: 2010 version or 2011?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Hmmm, probably somewhere in between. I think he just had a down year, lost his confidence, and was never able to get it back. A fresh start to the season will help. But I'm not sure he will ever be as good as he was as a rookie.
Brandon (ATL, GA)
Is grabbing Tannehill going to be too much a reach at 8?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Hmm, for most teams it might be. But sometimes you have to weight need, and the Dolphins certainly have a need at quarterback. Garrard and Moore have one year left on their contracts. Both could be gone after this season. The Dolphins need someone to groom for next year and beyond.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC East blog for constant updates on the division.