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 (12:55 PM)
Greetings. We'll get going here pretty soon.
Does Idzyk not know Rex loves CBs? Getting to the point where he's going to have to spend that #1 on one. And we have seen with Wilson/Milliner how that sometimes works.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
One of the criticisms of John Idzik that I've heard is that he'll win the cap before winning on the field. That criticism is based on Idzik's background managing salary caps. Now, he did play wide receiver in college, so it's not like he lacks a background in football. But often when a new GM comes in, he comes in for a reason: things weren't all that great. In this case, there were some roster/cap issues. Idzik was brought in to fix those. He is fixing those at the expense of player acquisition in some cases. Idzik and Rex Ryan are scheduled for a media conference call today. Perhaps we'll get some additional explanation and clarification on the plan.
Tim Irvin (Los Angeles)
Here is a change-up from all the fast ball draft questions. As an obsever of the NFL, in your opinion what is the probability that after the 2014 season either the Rams, Raiders, or both apply for re-location to Los Angeles after their current stadium leases expire?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
I'd lean toward the Raiders if forced to choose because I think the Rams' leadership has a better shot at securing a new stadium in its current location. Relocation is something I've followed but not something I've studied closely. My basic feel on the Rams has been that they were angling toward a new stadium all along and that Stan Kroenke will do what he can to leverage that, but that moving to Los Angeles wasn't the goal.
Mike, the Seahawks released Red Bryant and resigned Michael Bennett indicating that they are willing to sacrifice a bit of Run Defense for Pass Rush. Last year the 49ers let Issac Sopoga (true sose) walk and got Glenn Dorsey(3-4 end type) and played a bit more nickel. Do you see this is as teams not as actively game planning against divisional opponents as they used to?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I think it reflects pure player evaluation. Red Bryan is turning 30 soon and has not been at his best consistently, and his salary was $8.5 million, so the team felt OK moving on without him (in part because the team feels pretty good about some of the younger, lesser-known players on the roster). Seattle did draft two defensive tackles last year, and now Greg Scruggs is coming back from injury at a higher weight (312).
Darien (San Diego, California)
Why would Chip Kelly get rid of DeSean Jackson the Eagles' #1 receiver when we clearly don't have another receiver as elite as him?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
That would only make sense if the team felt as though Jackson were not worth his high salary AND there was another team willing to make a trade worth the Eagles' while. A trade could make sense if there were a team with tons of cap room and little talent looking to spend some money on an established talent. The Eagles could then add a draft choice, draft a cheaper alternative and move forward knowing Chip Kelly will be just fine (remember, Nick Foles had 27 TDs with two INTs in a partial season as the starter even though people wondered whether he would fit in the scheme).
Do you like the signing of henry melton to Dallas?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Yes, I do, because it appears to be a "prove-it" deal for a player who can be worth much more. There are usually no great, perfect options in free agency. In this case, Melton is coming off a serious knee injury. He might not be right this season. But beggars cannot be choosers, and the Cowboys are the former in this scenario. They have a bad cap situation, they have needs on their defensive line and they would like a little more flexibility heading toward the draft. Melton improves the situation for them, and at what appears to be a workable price.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think did the Best in NFL Free Agent Signings?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I like some of the things Arizona has done: filling a need at left tackle, showing restraint with an older linebacker in Karlos Dansby, waiting out Antonio Cromartie. I also thought New England and Denver did pretty well.
Josh (Centralia WA) [via mobile]
Hey Sando, whats with all the teams in the league overpaying for the Seahawks back-up players.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Seattle has "lost" six of its unrestricted free agents. Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini were starters. Brandon Browner used to be a starter. Clinton McDonald was a rotation player. Walter Thurmond was a nickel player. Chris Maragos was more of a backup and special-teamer. I didn't see any horribly egregious deals for these players. Tate got about $6 million a year or a little more, which was on the high side but not a ton more than Seattle would have paid. Browner's deal isn't nearly as big as the terms made it appear. Two cut players, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, will fit in Jacksonville. Both were starters in Seattle. We could say some of these guys got better than expected money, but like I said, none of the deals was horrible, and overpaying is often a fact of life in free agency.
Mike, no doubt that Greg Hardy is a good player but was it a mistake for the Panthers to franchise tag him? With their limited cap space, the tag tied up the majority of it. While they keep the D-line intact, their WRs and O-line is in bad shape. Could they have used the $15 mil better if they hadn't tagged Hardy?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I would probably rather have Greg Hardy than a bunch of overpaid free-agent additions at wide receiver in particular. This draft is loaded with wide receivers, according to the guys who analyze draft talent. I'm inclined to see how things shake out for the Panthers over the coming months. Everyone knew they needed to get younger at receiver and on the offensive line. Problem is, the did not necessarily have drafted players lined up to replace them. Those things tend to happen when there is a regime change. I think Carolina needed to identify its best young players and keep those players. Hardy is one of them. Yes, the franchise tag is burdensome, but the real problem here is that the previous regime did some bad contracts with running backs.
If you're SF, do you go WR or CB with your first pick? If CB, do you think Clemson's Martavis Bryant would still be around when they pick in the 2nd?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
From what I've heard and read, Bryant will supposedly still be around past the first couple rounds. It takes only one team to make that untrue, so who knows, really? But the analysis I've seen puts Bryant as more of a middle-round pick. All the people evaluating Sammy Watkins will also see Bryant, so perhaps that helps him. I do not know. The 49ers are in position to make another targeted strike up the draft board to get the player they want, just as they did with Eric Reid last year. I would lean toward cornerback with the first pick, figuring Anquan Boldin is back, Michael Crabtree is healthy, Vernon Davis is obviously a huge threat, Vance McDonald could take a step forward, this a run-oriented offense and the draft is supposedly brimming with wide receivers this year, allowing teams to find them later than the first round.
Derek (work) [via mobile]
Do you think DeSean is smart enough to humble himself and realize that Philly is the best spot for him to win? This while brouhaha could be just a ploy from the a Eagles to show him that he isn't as important as he think he is.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I don't think it's a matter of smarts. It's about players trying to get the most value they can get, just as teams try to get the most value they can get, even if it means tearing up existing contracts and releasing players they consider overpriced. This is the offseason, not Week 3, so I think there is less expectation for players to put the business stuff to the side. Now, Jackson has three years left on his deal, so he is not in great position from a leverage standpoint.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Is there anything holding back AZ from staying with Sea & SF next season?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
It could be the quarterback position unless Carson Palmer can reduce turnovers. Even in the victory at Seattle, he threw three first-half picks. It's pretty well established that Seattle and San Francisco will protect the football a little better. I do think the Cardinals will be competitive in the division, though.
Trevor (Rhode Island)
Being a Panthers fan during this offseason is developing to be rough, but whom should the Panthers look at in free agency that could possibly help them out in the future?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Hang in there. Last year, the Panthers set out to upgrade the middle of their defensive line. They drafted two defensive tackles who really helped their team. My view on Carolina is that their defense was what accounted for their improvement last season. Yes, Cam Newton made some strides, but he actually was a smaller part of the overall equation, and that was good for the team given how well the defense played. The defense should be very good again. The offense needs an infusion of young players through the draft.
What do you see the Niners doing next? D-Jax? Cap space would be tough, but they have 6 draft picks in the first three rounds. Or do you see them trading up for a CB/WR? Which is the more pressing need?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I do not see DeSean Jackson becoming a 49er because of his salary, the WR depth in the draft and SF's philosophy regarding how to pay players (take care of your own first). Now, it would be quite a move to make because it would basically let everyone know Crabtree would not be getting a new deal (provided SF worked out a deal with Jackson). I just don't see the 49ers making that move.
I read a rumor that the jags were willing to part with Justin Blackmon for a 4th round pick. Should the panthers jump on this if possible? Any news on the cotchery/Cason front?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Jerricho Cotchery has reportedly agreed to terms with Carolina. On Blackmon, I do not even know if I would give up a fourth at this point, particularly in this draft. Too many issues. Buyer beware.
Mike, can you explain why Percy Harvin (history of migraines) was worth a 1st, a mid, and a late pick, and DeSean is worth just a mid? I'd rather have Harvin, too, but that's a massive difference for a player who has way more output, and not just potential.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
We don't know for sure what Jackson would command in a trade, but if the reported third-round asking price is in the ballpark, this would be a worthwhile study to take up. My initial feel is that Harvin is the more multidimensional threat and the more physical player, but like you said, is the gap in supposed price reflective of the gap in player capabilities? That is an interesting one.
Mike, why are some people saying the Jets overpaid for Decker? It's the same contract as Stevie Johnson, and the next 4 highest paid WRs (APY) are Marques Colston, Mike Williams, Antonio Brown and Pierre Garcon. Decker may not be a "true" #1 WR, but I think he compares favorably to those I just mentioned, don't you think?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Wait, I thought John Idzik wasn't into spending money? First, you're going to overpay a little bit in the first week of free agency. One thing I like to look at is the truly guaranteed money, meaning the amount of money fully guaranteed at signing. Decker got $15 million of this money, same as what Sidney Rice got, but way less than Mike Wallace ($27M) or Percy Harvin ($25.5M) got. Now, Golden Tate got $10.5M of truly guaranteed money, and he's a big threat in the return game. I do not love the Decker deal but also would not hold it up as an example of a team horribly overspending.
Eric (New York, NY)
How would you rank the Giants free agency moves so far? They've seem to be a lot more active than previous years.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I like some of them but did not like letting an ascending young defensive lineman such as Linval Joseph leave.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Mike - When the owners have their spring meetings in Orlando next, one topic is expanding the playoff participants by one to 7 in 2015, media reports say it'll happen, what is your opinion ?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
It makes sense to me when you look at some of the teams that have narrowly missed the playoffs. I'm in favor of more games, for the most part.
jim va.beach [via mobile]
Hi mike. Where do you think jared allen lands? Was hoping the giants would take a look see at him.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
It sounds like Seattle is the most likely landing spot at this point but I do still question whether Allen will take the sort of third-tier offer Seattle would be likely to offer.
So were the Redskins outright delusional about their talent level at safety or were they just plain cheap as far as paying for one in free agency.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
We really cannot accuse the Redskins of being cheap. It is tough to criticize them for showing restraint in free agency, also. This team has spent so much bad money in the past. Tons of money has been spent at safety in free agency over the past couple years. I'll be interested in seeing if that was money well spent. Last year, Tampa Bay shelled out big money for Dashon Goldson. San Francisco replaced him with Eric Reid.
Follow up to above but bringing Cromartie back on 1 year deal, cosidering where they are cap space, should not have been prohibitive. Haven't seen the deal but could it be more than 1/$4m?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
When a guy takes a pay cut, often times he is more willing to do that elsewhere.
Should the niners offer the eagles the 3rd round pick and LeMichael James for Jackson??
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
In fantasy football, yes, they should do that. But the contract dynamics and challenges come along with such a trade. Those could be a strong deterrent for a team such as San Francisco.
I like the Falcons moves... OG, DT and DE/DT. If we can get Mack at #6 I really like the direction we are headed. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Yes, I like the targeted emphasis toward getting stronger on the lines. However, I am not excited about some of the prices paid. That is often the tradeoff in free agency, however.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
If you were to guess, the Broncos get the Demarcus Ware of 2013, or the Demarcus Ware of 2012 and seasons past?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I would expect them to get a Demarcus Ware in between. He is no longer in his prime, but he can probably be better than he was last season.
Does Jim Harbaugh do any game planning/drawing up plays? I can't tell if he's just a motivator and techniques guy like singeltary. Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Yeah, he's involved in the offense, for sure. People I know down there have said the assistant coaches take the lead in game planning, but certainly Harbaugh knows the ins and outs, and has much more input/control over the offense than a former LB coach such as Singletary would have had. No question about that. I do, however, think it would be misleading to say Harbaugh does it all with that offense. Greg Roman and the staff have their hands all over it.
Mike, do you think there is a worry with Denver spending big bucks on a number of FA's, how the chemistry is going to gel in the locker room? Or even on the field, with that kind of turnover on defense, they've all got to learn how to play together.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I think that is a potential concern when it comes to doing contracts with homegrown talent. There is some debate about such ramifications when I speak with people around the league. Every situation is different. In general, though, if you pay outsiders a great deal of money, some of the guys already on the roster wonder where they stand. Winning cures a lot of things, though.
What are your thoughts on the Raiders taking Sammy Watkins and following up with Fales or Carr later in the draft?
Everybody is destroying the Raiders for what they have done in free agency but they have not strapped themselves further down the road and they signed 7 guys that are gonna start...I know age is an issue but this is a young team that needed some talented veterans. What is your take on the situation in Oakland?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Well, I thought they had two younger players worth paying, and both those players were gone quickly, so that was a negative. Then they went out and signed some older players, as you noted. I just don't see the long-term direction. I do not see a team with any momentum in moving toward a goal. What are they doing? Sometimes it is hard to tell.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. Enjoy the NCAA Tournament, if you're watching. I've got Dayton and Ohio State on right now.