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 (1:01 PM)
Hello. About to get going here.
Mark (Los Angeles)
The news of the Niners involvement broke on Friday. Do you think there is a chance Tom Condon was the leak? Maybe he knew the Niners weren't going to get Peyton and he leaked it to get the Niners to sweeten Alex Smith's contract offer. It might be far fetched but it sounds like a smart power play on Condon's part.
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Those sorts of things go on all the time. I do not know if that was the case in this instance. My feeling is that Peyton Manning was taking the lead with his own situation, and Condon was out of the loop to a degree that would be unusual with another client. I also wonder how seriously Manning was considering the 49ers. He did not visit their facility, after all.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando, with the QB situation resolved for now in Seattle and a dwindling number of free agents remaining to fill the needs at LB and perhaps DE, do you feel there is much left for John Schneider and Pete Carroll to address in free agency or do you think these needs will be met in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Most of the work in free agency is finished. I would think Seattle wait for David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill to accept modest deals, restoring some options at linebacker. But the Seahawks will not step up with big contracts for either. The linebacker market appears very soft, so it is probably up to those guys. Then I think the Seahawks could add a running back before the draft even though Michael Bush signed with the Bears.
Where do you think the Cardinals sit regarding their WRs? They didn't lose anyone significant and they will finally have a full offseason with Stephen Williams--who they've held on to for two seasons just based on his potential. Wouldn't picking up a Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright overstock the warehouse? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I don't think the Cardinals need to target receiver early in the draft, if that is what you are asking. It comes down to value relative to other players available. Seems to me they really need to address the offensive tackle position. That has to be a point of emphasis in the first couple rounds.
Is it me or is it a bit of an insult that in the Madden Cover Vote they don't even show Lloyd as a Ram. They already changed it so now you are voting for one Patriot or another. I wouldn't expect him or any other Ram to win a vote against Gronk but still. At least last year when they used the 12th man instead of a player they were still representing Seattle.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Total insult, and also a reflection of the Rams' current state. Was there a reason they did not go with Steven Jackson or Chris Long or even James Laurinaitis? Those guys were true Rams. Lloyd was a one-year rental and we pretty much knew that once Josh McDaniels left for New England. Not that it will probably matter. I would think Rob Gronkowski will advance regardless.
Battles 4 Seattle (Tukwila)
Had an interesting conversation with 49er fans earlier and maybe you might have some thoughts.Is the 49er receiving core improved from last year? Is Moss and Manningham an improvement over Edwards and Morgan?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Braylon Edwards was a non-factor. I'd rather roll the dice on Moss than bring back Edwards for another year. That isn't exactly what you were asking, but Edwards did not offer much. He was not healthy. I'd say the new combination intrigues me a little more just because of the unknown. But your point is a fair one. It's not like the 49ers are suddenly stacked at the position. They are different.
What do you predict to be seattles starting O line since Gallery was released and hutchinson was a miss just curious as to how they planned on protecting Flynn or T-Jack
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
My expectation given the current roster would be for Breno Giacomini to play right tackle, John Moffitt to return from injury and resume playing at right guard, Max Unger to return at center, Paul McQuistan possibly playing left guard and Russell Okung at left tackle. Then I would expect James Carpenter to miss at least the first six weeks while on PUP.
What are the Seahawks going to do for a backup RB since I am not sold on Washington being a good enough No. 2 back. And with Bush going to Bears it takes what I feel as the top back out there off the market.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
The Seahawks will try to sign a power back to spell Marshawn Lynch. Kregg Lumpkin is someone they are reportedly going to visit with. He is 5-11 and 228 pounds. Broke into the NFL with Green Bay when Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the Packers. We could also see Seattle draft a bigger back. The plan will be to have two bigger backs, plus Leon Washington as a change-of-pace runner. They probably will not want to have two change-of-pace guys at the expense of a second power guy, which explains why Justin Forsett might not be back.
Will B. (virginia beach)
John Skelton > Kevin Kolb > Richard Bartell?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
The fact that we're debating whether Skelton might be better than Kolb is a bad thing for Arizona. Skelton was just OK last season, and sometimes he was really bad (at San Francisco, notably). I'd say Skelton has the best shot at making it through a season physically. Kolb's durability is a major concern.
Caleb (Orofino, Idaho)
With Mike Williams coming off a broken leg is he still the Seahawks #2 wr entering the season?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Mike Williams will have to have a strong camp just to be in the mix, I am thinking. Kris Durham is the player Seattle drafted to fill the role Williams filled in the past. Durham will probably get every chance to supplant Williams.
Ront'e (Va Beach )
Hi Mike and thanks for taking my question. There are reports that the 49ers had showed interest in Mike Wallace, and found out that his asking price was in the Larry Fitzgerald range. Could bringing back Ginn and addressing need in draft be better options?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Ginn has great value as a returner, but not as a wide receiver. That has been proven over time. I would not bring back Ginn as part of the plan at wide receiver. Anything you get from him in that capacity is a bonus, pretty much.
How serious do you think the Rams would look into either Ted Ginn Jr. or Steve Smith (NYG-PHI version)? More importantly do you think either one has anything to offer?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
The Rams want quality, not quantity, at that position. They feel like they have some decent supporting guys, but no difference makers. For that reason, I'm thinking they will not be aggressive in adding supporting guys. It appears to me as though they need to trade for an impact receiver (easier said than done) and then target one in the draft.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando,With the Bounty Scandal, the Rams lose their DC before he was able to really get involved with the team, how badly does this set the Rams back and any idea who they plan to hire as DC or will they?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I don't think it's a huge setback because they haven't gotten started installing anything, and the defense is in good hands with Jeff Fisher, Dave McGinnis and Chuck Cecil. There would be no reason to hire a coordinator from the outside. The Rams have no plans to do so. I think they have plenty of time to adjust. They knew a suspension could be looming anyway. The length of the suspension might have come as a surprise.
Although the 49ers defense should be great again this year, do you see any holes or room for improvement with their current roster? Any chance they may be looking for some help early in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Receiver, center and right guard are three positions that need to be addressed. However, I do not think the 49ers absolutely have to draft for one of these positions early. I'd have no trouble with them adding another front-line talent to their defensive front, perhaps someone with the ability to take over when Justin Smith is finally finished (Smith has so far shown no signs of slowing, but he is up there in years and the 49ers should anticipate a drop-off at some point).
Josh (Mesa, AZ)
Do you think the Cards waiting on Manning cost them a chance to land any other big free agents?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
My sense is that Arizona wasn't going to be very aggressive in the market this offseason. They won the offseason last year, only to start with a 1-6 record. They seem to like some of their younger players and want to give them a chance to grow. Offensive tackle was one position I thought they might try to address in free agency, but Jared Gaither re-signed with San Diego early in the signing period. There weren't a lot of great options.
With all that happened with Kolb last year to you get any sense from the Seahawks organization that they are nervous on what might come from their own Matt Flynn experience
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
They are excited, not nervous, in part because they did not pay Flynn as much as the Cardinals paid Kevin Kolb. They are not "all in" on Flynn.
Do you think there is anything to the rumor that Peyton Manning was unimpressed by Larry Fitzgerald during his visit to AZ? He obviously didn't choose AZ, which I thought would have been a better fit than Denver if he was interested in winning.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
How could anyone not be impressed by Larry Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald might be the most impression player in the NFL. I think John Elway was the "X" factor for Denver.
Gilbert (Grandview WA)
With Hawthorne and Leroy Hill testing free agency, and Seattle still not having signed any linebackers, what do you think the likelihood of the Seahawks re-signing them? Also, do you think Curtis Lofton is an option for the Seahawks?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
The Seahawks showed last year they can get starting-caliber linebackers (K.J. Wright) in the draft. I suspect they'll draft a couple this year, too. Hill and Hawthorne do not seem to have options more attractive that staying in Seattle. The fact that they have not signed to this point leads me to believe the Seahawks have a good chance to get them back. However, sometimes hard feelings lead players to take less money elsewhere. I know Hawthorne was upset with his contract a couple years ago.
Shane (Robins AFB, GA)
At this point, Kolb is still more talented than Skelton. You hit it on the head with Skelton being really bad when he was bad...some of his mistakes (albeit for a young QB) were head shakers. I was way on board with the pursuit of PM, but now that that fell through, they gotta go with Kolb to open training camp right?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Yeah, I think so, but Ken Whisenhunt will not anoint anyone. The thing I want to know is to what degree the Cardinals have "lost confidence" in Kolb, as John Clayton reported they had a few weeks back. One the Cardinals did not get Peyton Manning, they probably felt compelled to stick with Kolb over other options. But that does not necessarily mean they're excited about him. Hopeful, perhaps, but not necessarily confident. The first thing Kolb has to do is stay on the field.
Do you see the Cardinals signing additional O-line help in FA or just addressing the remaining need (OT) through the draft?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I don't see them finding a solution at tackle in free agency, even if they do add depth. Just not sure who they would get. We're down to the point where guys like Frank Omiyale are signing. Also, I'm not sold on the Adam Snyder signing fixing the situation at right guard, either.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando,seems every offseason offers the opportunity for each team to improve through personnel acquisitions and coaching changes etc. i know it's early, but how would you grade the NFCW teams so far. My opinion, the Rams lead the way: New Coach, the 3 1st round picks and a second that they picked up for their draft pick etc. followed by Seattle with their new QB - resigning Lynch and Red. AZ and 49ers seem stagnant as far as new personnel, what are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Yeah, I would agree on the Rams having a good offseason so far. The Matt Flynn acquisition in Seattle will determine whether the Seahawks have had a good offseason. If he is the answer, their offseason might be the best of any in the division. That's how pivotal the quarterback position tends to be. The Rams have certainly given themselves an opportunity to build for the long term. Ideally, however, they would have added some weapons for Sam Bradford. So far, they have not, and that was their top priority for the short term.
Ryan S (Seattle)
The Seahawks gave Matt Flynn reasonable starting QB money, do you think it will really be a competition between him and T Jax or is that something Pete said in order to not tick off the locker room?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Pete Carroll does believe in competition. This will not be a completely fake one. If Jackson is far better than Flynn through the offseason and exhibition season, it would be tough to prop up Flynn. However, I think Carroll has every expectation that Flynn will emerge as the starting quarterback. That will be the hope. The team knows the limits with Jackson. Flynn is more of an unknown, which adds excitement for now.
Battles 4 Seattle (Tukwila)
Earlier in the off season it appeared Seattle's focus was to draft either a pass rushing DE/LB or QB. With the signing of Flynn do you think the Seahawks could draft another OL in the first round?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I actually think they could use more line help, so I would not rule it out. And we should realize that Jason Jones' signing does address some of the pass-rush concerns for the short term. It would be tough, in theory, to take another tackle early after drafting Russell Okung and James Carpenter in recent first rounds. I tend to think the Seahawks enter this draft with flexibility. They could add a playmaker for Flynn, or a lineman, or someone to help the pass-rush, etc.
Vision (Sacramento, CA)
What are your takes on Colin Kapernick being able to compete and win the starting job this season? Next season? Do you even think he has the potential to be a starter in this league? I just can't help but feel the 49ers wasted that 2nd round pick from last year. Care to shed some light?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I thought Kaepernick had an outside chance last summer, but at this point, it's a big upset if Smith does not start in 2012. His contract was not for franchise QB money, but I think it likely values him as the starter this year. Kaepernick will have an offseason in the system, however. It'll be interesting to see what happens if he shines during the exhibition season. He is almost getting a do-over on his rookie season, but he has had time to absorb the playbook and get his bearings. I also was surprised to see Smith stay healthy enough to start every game last season. He was stronger and sturdier looking, but if he keeps taking sacks the way he did in 2011, there's a good chance Kaepernick could get some playing time because of injury.
Do you think that with Arizona and Seattle getting hot at the end of the year and the fact the 49ers did nothing but add an old wideout and one that was fourth on the Giants' depth chart before Hixon went down, the 49ers are now losing ground to the Hawks and Cards?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I'd flip it around and say the Seahawks and Cardinals closed ground on the 49ers as the season progressed. They improved. The 49ers were more consistent throughout the season.
Noah (Los Angeles)
Do the 49ers now have the best WR group in the NFC West?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I'll take Larry Fitzgerald and three 8th-graders over any receiving corps in the NFC West.
Keith H (Seattle)
Mike, I'm wondering if Free Agency is mostly hype. Teams try to keep their own valuable free agents in house; those who hit the market do so for a reason. NYG, NO, GB & NE are usually quiet and lately hoist Lombardi Trophies. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
The Patriots have been quite active in free agency, but the broader point holds. Those teams you mentioned all have franchise quarterbacks, however. That helps them succeed more than inactivity in free agency helps them succeed.
Mike, do you think that Gregg Williams could get a lifetime ban from Roger Goodell or will we see him back in the NFL again?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
At this point, I'm skeptical about Williamsm returning, even if Goodell reinstates him. Why would anyone want to take on the notoriety?
Andy (Sandy UT)
David Hawthorne has been the leading tackler for the Seahawks for the past 3 seasons why isn't he valued more by the Seahawks? I saw he visited NO, and DET and left without contracts
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I guess the flip side of that question would be, why isn't he valued more by other teams as well? He's a good linebacker without special physical qualities, and he had injury concerns last season.
Chex Norris (San Diego)
Everyone is talking about the 49ers Alex Smith's feelings being hurt, but do you think he will be on a shorter leash with Harbaugh now? If he doesn't play well I can see everyone saying he felt slighted so isn't playing as hard for his new "mentor"
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
One of the point I kept reminding myself of last season was that Harbaugh's support for Smith, however profuse, did not equate to unconditional love. Smith does have to play well or he'll lose his job, same as anyone else. But if the team keeps winning anyway, there will be less scrutiny on the QB.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando,there comes a point in every chat's life when it's time to shut it down... I have 3 questions posted, a 4th would put me in the Sando Chat HOF... immortalized forever, Please post this as your last message then everyone can enjoy my greatness.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Sorry, I cannot do that.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Have a great rest of your Thursday. See you on the blog.