Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, Gary Horton, stops in to talk some football and other news from around the league.
Horton, from Scouts Inc., works year-round on ESPN's NFL-related shows, including NFL32, where he breaks down film, earning him his Caveman nickname.
Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Send your questions now and join Horton Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
As we get closer to the opening of free agency, it's really interesting right now to study each team and their needs and see how they can satisfy those needs in free agency before the draft. This is an interesting time in front offices not only evaluating players, but also trying to get below the cap for some teams.
Do you expect much regression from Baltimore?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think they have more challenges than people realize. I think them winning it all was kind of the perfect storm, everyone got hot at the perfect time. This team, as I watch them on film, has a lot of challenges. They could lose a couple of LBs in free agency. Ed Reed is close to the end of his career at safety. They don't have great depth on the DL. And the OL actually played better in the playoffs than their skill level indicated. I look at this team with the idea that they have a lot of work to do.
what team do you think has the most to lose in free agency?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
It might be the Ravens. Keep in mind they already lost Ray Lewis. If Kruger and Ellerbe leave, which they could, that means the heart and soul of your defense, which in a 3-4 is your LBs, you're replacing three of the four, with only Suggs, who is an injury worry, back as a starter. That signals some real concerns.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, Randy Moss, 14 year veteran, will he be back with the 49ers or will he be the missing piece to help another team get into the playoffs this year?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think there is a good chance he could be finished. He just doesn't stretch the field any more like he used to. I don't think defenses fear him. Even though everybody says he was a good teammate in San Francisco, I just think it might be harder for him to get a job than you might think. It would not surprise me at all if this was it.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, it occurred to me that Jordy Nelson could end up being the #1 WR with the Packers. If this is the case, how do you feel he will do in this role? I sense he will be just fine here.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think he could handle the role fine, I'm just not sure that he's a No. 1 guy. He's very steady. He has a good relationship with Aaron Rodgers, but this receiving corps for the Packers has a chance to take big hits if they lose Jennings and Finley. I think Nelson will step up and play well, he just needs some help.
Derek (San Francisco)
With Goldson not likely coming back, do you see the 49ers drafting a safety early in the draft?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I do have safety as one of their needs if Goldson leaves. If he stays, they're in good shape. I know they like their backups Robinson and Spillman, but to this point they've mostly been special teams guys. Neither one would be a guy that you'd want to replace Goldson with. That's certainly something you could look at.
Keep reading different angles the Bears could go - Mike Wallace or Jake Long. Do you think it will be anything like that or some smaller names and build through the draft?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I have TE as their No. 1 need. I don't know if they'd look free agency or the draft for that. We know their OL is a disaster. The only one they can rely on now might be Lance Louis, their RG. You also need to talk about their age on defense. LB is a big deal. Replacements need to be on the way. The safety position has been a turnstile for as long as I remember. There are a number of ways they can go. My guess is they don't spend a lot on free agency and focus on the draft.
Do you think the Vikings will trade Percy Harvin, and if so, where?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I don't think so, because I think it sends a tough message to your entire organization, when a guy can just talk his way out of town, especially when he has a head coach that's easy to get along with. If they let Harvin leave, they have to spend as much or more to replace him and that doesn't get them to any better of a situation than they're already in. They need to add to him, not take him away. I think the organization will play hardball with him and not deal him.
Derek (San Francisco)
With the 49ers clearing a lot of cap room (Alex Smith trade and then probably release of David Akers and Haralson) do you see them being active at all in free agency?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
They certainly have the power if they choose to, because they have so many draft picks to play with. But this is an organization that doesn't make a lot of rash moves. They have terrific depth at almost all positions. I don't think they'd overpay in free agency. It wouldn't surprise me if they were to trade away some of this year's draft picks for future draft picks, much like Bill Belichick has for years. But after watching this team on film, you get the feeling they'll be good for a really long time.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
What is the Seahawks biggest need?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I have their No. 1 need as a DE or OLB. I think it really comes down to the health of Chris Clemens who is coming off of ACL surgery and maybe Bryant, the strong side DE who played hurt a lot. OLB Bruce Irvin is at his best when he's a situational pass rusher and not a full time player. I think they'll really look to make sure the DE position is shored up. Pete Carroll is a guy who can never find enough pass rushers. I also think WR is certainly a position they look at.
Luke (Newcastle, Australia)
G'day Gary, what's your view on teams trading for stop-gap QB's such as Kevin Kolb, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer, and giving up high draft picks for it? I'm struggling to find many cases where the new QB has prospered and led the new team deep into the playoffs. Wouldn't teams be better off having a bad year and finding the solution high in the draft?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think in all of these cases, the teams expected a lot more production from the guys. I don't think any of them went in with the stop gap feeling. I think all of them, including with Smith to the Chiefs, thought they could be successful for a long time. It just shows you how hard it is for QBs to be successful in this league at that level. When the Cardinals got Kolb, everyone thought it was a good move. I think Alex Smith to KC makes perfect sense. I think all of these teams had a higher value on the QBs than how they've played.
Travis (Madison, WI)
Should the Packers get rid of Jermichael Finley?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I know he wants elite money. It's a tough call in my mind because athletic TEs who can motion and flex and create tough matchups are really really important. If they let Finley go, they're going to have to spend a lot to replace him with the same kind of guy. But I also know that this organization doesn't bow to player demands. It will be interestint if he tests the open market as to what kind of offers he can get. Is he overvalued?
Do you think the Colts will seriously consider signing Jake Long?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I'm probably the wrong guy to ask, because as much as the Colts need help on the OL, and they've got to figure out a way to protect Andrew Luck, I know that Long has played hurt for a while, but when I watch him on film, I don't think he's the dominating player that everyone else thinks he is. I don't leave watching him and think "wow." But I know that some people do. He will probably get some big offers, more than what Miami is likely to want to pay. But I don't offer him that big money. He has battled injuries as well.
Kudos to Flacco for cashing in on his amazing post-season run but it's only a matter of time before Rodgers is the game's highest paid player, right? When do you expect a new deal for him?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think Rodgers will probably be the next guy to get his deal. But I also think that he's a guy that will make it cap friendly to improve the players around him. For Flacco, he rolled the dice and it worked for him. He could have done this before the season, but he had such strong belief in himself and he got the reward. I don't think I've ever seen someone get on the roll that he did in the postseason. That totally changed the game.
Travis (Madison, WI)
Where do you think Stephen Jackson ends up?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think there's a chance he ends up back in St. Louis. I think he'll check the open market and look around. He's such a physical runner that you worry about how much gas he has left in the tank, but I think he does. I think he has a couple of good years left. Teams that want to improve their first and second down run game would be smart to take a look at him. I think he ends up somewhere in a pretty good spot.
Pat (Dolphin fan in Boston!)
Any chance the Fins make a big FA play for Mike Wallace? If so, good move for them?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Miami desperately needs a No. 1 WR. A lot of people think that Greg Jennings might actually be a better fit because of his relationship with Philbon. I think the Dolphins have to make a serious run at an elite WR. Brian Hartline is a nice, solid No. 2 guy, but if he's your main target, I just think they need more.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
We say it every week, but it's amazing to me how there is no off time in the NFL. We're almost busier now than during the season, but we wouldn't want it any other way.