Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFL Insider 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)
Greetings. It's been a great and eventful couple weeks here coming off the Hall of Fame selection meeting and Super Bowl. Here we go.
williambryan (vancouver, wa)
After the big game, the question of which team is likelier to return came up. Denver has an easier path in the AFC obviously, but the talk about the Seahawks was that "they have to deal with San Francisco, Carolina, New Orleans, Arizona, and St. Louis..." Yes, but all those teams have to deal with Seattle.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
The AFC West teams have to deal with the NFC West teams. They play one another in the scheduling rotation. Denver actually visits Seattle. Having three playoff teams from one four-team division is already tough under favorable circumstances. The AFC West managed to do it this past season in part because of its schedule. Playing the NFC West in 2014 is going to take care of that.
Roland Deschain (Kirkland, WA)
Assuming a healthy Percy Harvin all year, what % chance do you think Seattle has to go 19-0 in 2014? Looking back at Seattle's three losses, it seems a fair bet they would have done it in 2013 with him @ S.F., @ Indy, and vs. Arizona.-An excited Seahawks fan
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Not going to happen. Remember the improbable comeback victories? Such as the one over Tampa Bay? If you're going to wipe out close losses, you need to wipe out some close victories as well.
With rumors that the 49ers need to draft a stretch WR, and the fact that Sammy Watkins will be gone by the top 5 picks, would it be crazy to think the Niners could trade up for a CB like Justin Gilbert in the 1st, then draft a WR in the 2nd. Gilbert provides a need for them and is big, physical and athletic.
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I do think the 49ers are going to address their cornerback situation. It will be among their top priorities. As for a stretch receiver, sure, that would be nice. But I think CB is a higher priority.
Mike:Great coverage on the Seahawks all season long. After watching my Jets finish 8-8, I definitely rode the 12th man bandwagon. Quick question on Walter Thurmond III. What will he command in the open market? Could he be a starting NFL corner in this league? With Idzik's familiarity with the Seahawk roster, could you see him bringing Thurmond back east to replace Antonio Cromartie? Any other Seahawk players on the Jets radar?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The NFL suspended him for four games and I think that is going to suppress his value.
Brian (San Francisco)
Thanks for the chats, Mike! Did you hear Sherman's comments after the game, essentially saying they are playing chess, not checkers with Manning. I wonder if he's been reading your chats?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I saw that, but remember, I was saying the game would be more like checkers than chess, simply because Seattle is not into disguising so much as executing. But you can see some chess in there as well, particularly when it comes to route recognition. You could say the Seahawks won the chess match in this game, to whatever extent there was one.
The super bowl didn't really surprise me because of their preseason game with Denver. But I hear a lot of people say that preseason games mean absolutely nothing. But When Seattle played Denver in the preseason they beat them 40-10, which was virtually the same kind of smack down that they gave them in the super bowl. Do you think that people should pay more attention to preseason games, or are you in the crowd that says they are pointless?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I think Seattle's superior depth shined through in the preseason game, and again in the Super Bowl, but these things do not necessarily carry over in all other cases. I wouldn't lean on it much.
James Chiarello (Cadillac )
A fellow nfl writer says Edelmann will be in the 6-7 mill per year range.... real life?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
That seems on the high side to me, but I have not done a market analysis on it.
Hi Mike, do you think Ryan Tannehill is a franchise quarterback?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I do think so. Lots of personnel people in the NFL think so. The Dolphins should feel good about their QB situation. It's the least of their worries right now. They need to build around him, including on the depleted offensive line.
Cameron Callen (Renton, WA)
Bennett and Tate have made it clear they would like to return. What is the likelihood we can retain both of them and still have enough money to sign Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to extensions? Also, Bobby Wagner should be seeing an extension soon correct?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
This offseason will be a great test of whether the allure of playing in a positive environment with Pete Carroll outweighs the natural desire to maximize value the way Percy Harvin was able to do. I would expect the Seahawks to keep most of the core together. They'll subtract some guys and look for one-year values again.
Jack Torrance (Overlook Hotel)
How big of an impact can Gregg Williams have on the Rams defense, enough to vault them into the top 10?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
The Rams are not hurting for strong defensive coaches. Jeff Fisher and Dave McGinnis were already there. What Gregg Williams adds is a clearer identity. I think the Rams' ability to improve at safety and in the secondary overall is going to be more important than Williams' addition.
Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
If this is such a passing league, wouldn't that make the pass rusher the most essential player to have? I feel like a few teams are gonna pass on Clowney for average or below QB's. They will all look stupid when Clowney dominates those some qb's. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
It is more of a passing league, but look at the playoff teams and what they were trying to accomplish. Carolina, Seattle and San Francisco were run-heavy teams. New Orleans was trying to become more of a running team. Philadelphia was a huge rushing team. San Diego was a ball-control team. Denver was trying to emphasize its running game late in the season. On Clowney, I think it would be fascinating if he went among the top two picks. He would either join JJ Watt in Houston or Robert Quinn in St. Louis. Imagine the possibilities.
Heef (Chesapeake, VA)
Mike, if the 49ers can't resign Boldin, is there any chance they may get into the Decker bidding? Their offense doesn't seem like it could utilize a good slot receiver like Edleman, so they would have to focus on bigger, outside receivers, correct?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I do not think the 49ers are going to get into bidding wars for players from other organizations. That has not been their approach.
Francois (New Jersey)
If you are Jerry Reese, do you resign Tuck? Kiwanuka? The Giants pass rush will live or die with Pierre Paul. Why waste money on declining, older players?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I would generally agree about not building with older players, but if Tuck could be had at a reasonable price, what is the harm? I'm not a big fan of getting worse unnecessarily.
Francois (New Jersey)
How likely is it that Philly wins the division again? I feel like it was the perfect storm for Chip Kelly this season. Their D was EZ Pass at best and I don't like their receivers all that much to reproduce the same numbers. Your thoughts???
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
It'll probably be a little tougher, but who else in the NFC East should we like better than we like Philly? You figure Washington will improve. The Giants will improve. The Cowboys will be about the same. I just feel better about what Chip Kelly has going in Philly than I feel about where the other teams stand in the bigger scheme of things.
What must the Cardinals do to catch SF & Seattle?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Upgrade the offensive line and add speed at wide receiver. Those would be two areas where we can expect Arizona to focus this offseason. Getting Jonathan Cooper back from injury will help. Getting another tackle or two would really help. And then we all know Bruce Arians covets the Mike Wallace type of speed receiver. He already has Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, but he doesn't have that vertical guy. He tried to get one on the cheap by drafting Ryan Swope late, but that did not work out.
Could Seattle restructure Harvin's deal or even consider cutting him outright, in order to help with the core players? It's pretty clear reading between the lines he could have played much sooner, but Carroll wouldn't let him on the field. I'm guessing he didn't want to practice and only under the threat of IR, did he finally agree to.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Harvin's deal is scheduled to count $13.4 million against the cap in 2014. I think the team was planning to carry that number. Note, however, that Sidney Rice ($9.7M) and Zach Miller ($7.0M) are scheduled to count a combined $16.7M against the cap in 2014. There's no way the Seahawks are planning on those numbers for those players. Chris Clemons is also scheduled to count $9.66M against the 2014 cap. Harvin's contract has a lot of competition when we're looking for places Seattle could find some flexibility.
Casey Major (LA)
With the recent land purchase in LA by the Rams owner, is this finally the first step to the Rams moving back to LA? Everything I hear from the STL crowd is that they don't want to pay more taxes to keep a team that's not the baseball Cardinals. Are the pieces finally falling into place for the Rams to come home?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I'd say this is the next step in the gamesmanship and maneuvering between the team and St. Louis as the Rams try to secure a new stadium.
IMO the Cards should trade Larry now. They have a ton of young talent, and if they added the right 3 or 4 pieces, they will be contenders for a few years. As great as he is he hasn't made the difference for this team. Why not get a late 1st who can be a 10yr starter instead of keeping an overpaid player on the decline?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Who would want Larry Fitzgerald's contract? And would Arizona want to carry a bunch of dead money against the cap without Fitz being on the roster?
Greg (New York)
Isn't it going to be tough for the Broncos to get back to the Super Bowl? The Patriots will be healthy again, the Bengals and Ravens both have talented teams and defenses, the Colts with Andrew Luck will be solid, and even in their own division the Chiefs and Chargers are right on their heels and only going to be better next season at least from a roster standpoint.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
It should be tougher for Denver to get back to the Super Bowl for the reasons you mentioned. I do think the Broncos' window should remain open while many of the core players are under contract. Also, the Broncos are going to get healthier. It's not just the Patriots standing to gain in that area. Denver might have at least as much to gain on the health front.
Rain Man (California)
Who do you think the Raiders should target with their first pick? I personally think they need best player available!
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Best player available, but make it at a high-value position.
John C. (A village of Newton)
What's more important in your view, having great coverage corners or having a great pass rush? Obviously, combining both is the best of both worlds but which is more important to successful pass defense in the modern NFL?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. It gives you options in the secondary.
TOBE BLUNT (TRUTHSVILLE)
If you could start your team with any Defensive player in the NFL who would it be? Why? Personally I pick J.J. Watt because of his versatility.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I would also probably go with J.J. Watt. Robert Quinn would be right up there as well. Luke Kuechly is high on quite a few lists. I really like Earl Thomas, too. Total package in terms of ability, study habits, etc. Just a great young player and building block.
Scott Fuzy (Stoneybrook, Montana)
Could a case be made that Earl Thomas is the linchpin on the Seattle defense? I feel his range allows Sherman not to worry about being beat by WRs faster than him and let's him use the sideline as an extra defender in the process. Sherman has elite cover ability but lacks elite speed, in my view.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I believe Earl Thomas on defense and Russell Wilson on offense are the two most important players on the team. Both are great leaders and real students of the game. Both have unique abilities. Thomas really makes the coverage style work at peak efficiency because he can cover so much ground.
Carson (New York)
Now that Russ has a superbowl win does that put him on another platform compared to Luck, Kap, Griffin, and Newton? If not, then when, because this kid is just a winner plain and simple.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yeah, it separates him, but this is a team game. What would Russell Wilson's starting record be if the Jaguars had drafted him instead of drafting a punter in the same round of the 2012 draft? It would not be 28-9, most likely.
Does anyone expect Cutler to stay healthy? Doesn't he get hurt and barely miss the playoffs pretty much every year? Doesn't paying him longterm pretty much state we will stay average? I don't get it. The backup played better than him.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Cutler has not started all 16 games in a season since doing it three years in a row through 2009. He did start 15 in 2012. I do think his durability is a concern, but at QB, we have to remember teams value the position in addition to the player. The Bears decided they liked Cutler better than the likely alternatives, even at the price they had to pay.
Francois (New Jersey)
Whats up with Steelers? What areas should they address to return back to prominence? I feel like their secondary is old, and they didn't have many suitable skill position players other than Brown who should be a #2.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
From a Steelers standpoint, I'd like to see them do a better job of developing younger players. It's fine to be disciplined when it comes to not overpaying payers, but if you're going to let guys go, you've gotta have the replacements lined up and ready. Some in the league think it's much tougher developing younger players under the current setup with fewer practices. However, Seattle seems to have done this pretty well.
Jeffrey Grover (Greene, Maine)
If Richard Sherman and Seahawks management are not on the same page when it comes time to renew his contract, will they play hardball and let him walk? Seattle seems like a team that would be willing to do that since they built their current roster through the draft for the most part, and probably are going to continue to operate in that fashion.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
A year ago, I would have said yes, no question, they might play hardball. Now, however, I think they feel as though Richard Sherman has proven himself to be the type of guy you really want to reward. This will be a very interesting negotiation. Can the Seahawks sign him early enough to get a deal slightly more favorable to the team? The price could go up the longer they wait.
Will Tampa Bay be in the mix for NFC South division crown?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Yeah, I think the Buccaneers will be in the mix. Someone was going to win with that roster. We still need to see for sure what they have at QB, but I expect the players to respond well to Lovie Smith. There is very good talent on defense already. The offensive talent isn't bad.
Bill O Brien (Houston, TX)
Sando....you want some pass rush???....i'm gonna have Watt on one side and Clowney on the other....GAME OVER!
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I'd love to see that. Would love to see Clowney with either Houston or St. Louis just to see the possibilities, provided Clowney plays up to his talent.
Jeffrey Grover (Greene, Maine)
With a healthy team in 2014, are the Patriots good enough to challenge for another Superbowl berth?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Yes, without question. This has been the most consistent organization, and also an adaptable one (to the extent they've had to adapt WITHOUT losing Tom Brady or Bill Belichick). Getting to the AFC title game after suffering through so many key injury losses was highly impressive.
Do you think Pete will let Wilson open things up more next year. Seems like Wilson got really gunshy in the 2nd half, and as a result, he seemed to leave quite a few plays on the field
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Pete will open it up to the extent he think he needs to open it up. I think we saw that this season as the team became the type of team Carroll envisioned having: powerful runner, great defense, no need to sling it around.
HaZ (San Diego)
Richard Sherman is an elite CB but on another team I don't think he would be top 5. Do you think he realizes his value to the Hawks and vice versa. That he can be the best with this team?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I agree with you. I wonder if part of him would like to prove he could do it anywhere, in any scheme, provided a front-line organization steps up with a big offer. I do think many people in the league do see a difference between a Patrick Peterson type (top 10 overall draft choice in any year) and a Richard Sherman (perceived to be a later-round pick who really worked hard to make himself into a top player within a scheme that played to his strengths). Those characterizations might not be fair to Sherman, but I do think they exist. I know they exist with some guys in the league because I've heard it from them.
Harry Jerome (Babylon)
Does Sherman seem like a guy who truly likes Seattle or will he be chasing every last dollar when he reaches free agency?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Those things are not necessarily exclusive.
Ted Hoffman (Bells, Indiana )
In a hypothetical situation, let's remove Earl Thomas from the Seahawks defense. Is Richard Sherman still considered an elite CB, or does his lack of elite speed become exposed?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Exposed? No. Affected? Yes. I do think Earl Thomas enables the Seahawks' style to really flourish.
If you were the GM of the Jets, would you even look at your defense this offseason? That O was so lousy it almost has to need a complete revamp at the skill positions. Howver, I feel like Idzik is gonna draft D in 1st round. I know SexyRexy will be happy....
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
They need to upgrade their offense both through the draft and free agency. I think the Jets will lean toward upgrading the offense. They could still take a defensive player early depending on how much they value that player, but the focus has to be on upgrading the offense.
Could the niner's window be in the process of closing? It's early, but the results of the 12 and 13 drafts don't look very promising and as I understand it, they have some big contracts they will need to be paying very soon.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
I think the 49ers are well-positioned for the next few years. They should have two good offensive tackles, a good quarterback and a good tight end, at least. They should be good in the front seven. I expect them to upgrade their secondary. They are well coached. I do think they bled some talent this past offseason as Delanie Walker and Dashon Goldson left the roster. Justin Smith will not play forever. When you talk about the 2013 draft that way, I think we still need to see how that one pans out.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. I'll be heading over to the 710ESPN Seattle studios today for some co-hosting this afternoon. You can listen live here.