Chat with Tim Graham
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com AFC East blogger Tim Graham will drop in to chat about all the latest news from the NFL.
Graham joined ESPN.com in 2008 after covering the Miami Dolphins for the Palm Beach Post. He previously spent eight years at the Buffalo News, where he was an award-winning NHL and boxing writer. The Baldwin-Wallace College grad also has worked for the Las Vegas Sun and Boston Herald.
Send your questions for Graham now and join him on Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Tim Graham (2:58 PM)
Good afternoon from Graham Central Station in waterlogged Western New York. Let's start a couple minutes early, shall we?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Best Team in the AFC East in 2011 once the Lockout has been lifted?
Tim Graham (3:00 PM)
I'll say the Jets because they're pretty much set at most positions. The longer the lockout drags on, the more it will impact younger players and new acquisitions. The Patriots' defense has a lot of youth, the offensive line will be in transition and I suspect the Patriots will rely on newcomers more than the Jets will. Plus, the Jets went 2-1 against the Patriots last year. They're a quality team that should be more ready than most out of the box.
Amaan (New Jersey)
What is a position that each team needs to fill? Which team has the biggest holes?
Tim Graham (3:02 PM)
The lockout will negate the draft to a certain degree. Just because a team drafted a certain player to fill a hole doesn't mean that position has been addressed. Without an offseason conditioning program, workouts and the possibility of a delayed training camp, these rookies won't be nearly as ready to make an impact.
Tim Graham (3:03 PM)
So my answers are easily debatable, but I'll say Bills' biggest hole is offensive tackle or tight end, Dolphins' is free safety, Patriots' is pass-rusher and Jets' is safety.
Of the veteran QBs that may be available whom do you think would provide the best fit with Miami as someone to push Henne or take over? I am a fan of Carson Palmer or dare I say Vince Young but why do I feel like it would be more Miami's style for a Donnovan McNaab? Thoughts?
Tim Graham (3:05 PM)
First, Karlito, congratulations on getting an NHL team again. Looks like that's close to a done deal. ... I think Vince Young is the most intriguing option out there. The guy wins. Personality/behavior issues are a concern, but he has been more successful than most quarterbacks and has the hardware to show for it.
Tim, you had great enthusiasm for Henne surpassing Sanchez early last year. Have your hopes for Henne faded or Sanchez improved going into this season?
Tim Graham (3:06 PM)
You obviously have me confused with somebody else. I've always liked Sanchez more than Henne, as my readers will attest. I took a lot of heat from Dolfans over that stance last offseason.
So if the world ends tomorrow, which rookie would you be most dissappointed to miss play, Michael Jasper or Ryan mallett?
Tim Graham (3:09 PM)
If I still have consciousness and the ability to think, I'm sure that either-or will be way down the list of consideration. I'm really excited to see how both of them perform -- even if it's in training camp or preseason games. I'm probably more curious about Jasper because he's a relative unknown.
Loved your article about the Bills faith in the offense and their workouts in Arizona. Lots of potential on that side of the ball, but can/will they turn that into a dynamic offense?
Tim Graham (3:11 PM)
Thanks, Xander. Chan Gailey made some headway with that offense last year. When you factor in that Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't get any first-team reps for an entire offseason and preseason and Fred Jackson was in a muddled backfield when the season began, I think another year under Gailey and knowing the personnel right away will facilitate improvement.
The only major free agent on the Pats at this point is Light, the Jets have 14 free agents. How is it that NE will rely more on newcomers than the Jets? They're only "set at most positions" if they re-sign all these guys right?
Tim Graham (3:14 PM)
Logan Mankins didn't sign his franchise tender, so he's still a free agent. Right guard Stephen Neal retired. And while the Jets do have 14 free agents, that includes a lot of old veterans, special-teamers and backups who aren't coming back. Of the free agents the Jets do need to re-sign, I'm confident most will be back.
Tim's Alpaca (via mobile)
Dude, the rapture is happening tomorrow and you didn't buy any beer. What's up with that? We gotta go out like rock stars
Tim Graham (3:15 PM)
If it's the last thing I'm going to experience, I'd rather not be hung over. And once the earthquakes begin, maybe I'll knock off a gas station.
Chris (Silver Spring, MD)
How is Paul Soliai regarded around the league? I feel like he signed his franchise offer faster than any other player in history. Most usually hold out....
Tim Graham (3:18 PM)
Paul Soliai is respected around the league, but certainly not worth what he'll make next year. But it's fairly common for players like him (mid- to late-round draft picks without much of a resume) to sign their franchise tenders quickly. With one year under a franchise tag, Soliai will make as much as he would've made for two or three years as a free agent. He'll be a free agent again next year and gets to go through it all over again. Besides, he's happy with the Dolphins. Might as well bank that guaranteed cash.
But Mankins is not a free agent - he was tagged so he either signs with the Pats or sits. Cromartie, Edwards, Holmes, Smith = old veterans? If you say so.
Tim Graham (3:20 PM)
Mankins is a free agent. Until he signs a contract, he's a free agent. The new collective bargaining agreement might dramatically change the rules for franchise tags. Nobody can say for sure until all of that is worked out. And we saw last year Mankins is willing to hold out. Just because he has been tagged, that doesn't mean he has to sign it. The old free agents I referred to earlier are guys they're not as interested in re-signing: Tony Richardson, Shaun Ellis, Jason Taylor, Trevor Pryce. Of the players you listed, Cromartie and Edwards or Holmes probably will be back. Smith is a reliable kick returner, but if he doesn't come back, that's a refillable role.
Tim Graham (3:22 PM)
I understand what you're saying that Mankins isn't a free agent in the sense he can go sign wherever he wants, but the Patriots can pull the tag, the CBA can change the rules, he might not show. There are other possibilities to Mankins signing.
Brett (Cleveland, OH)
What can the fans do to communicate to the owners how unhappy they are?
Tim Graham (3:23 PM)
Vote with your wallets. Don't buy tickets. If you're a season-ticket holder, return them. Refuse to purchase team merchandise.
No, but, like last year and assuming the rules are the same, if he holds out for the entire year he loses a year towards free agency and is right back in this same situation next year. Enough beating a dead horse here but there is no way the Pats will have more issues with "newcomers" than the Jets. Thanks for answering though.
Tim Graham (3:25 PM)
Let's see, the Jets' offense probably will remain intact aside from right tackle and (maybe) one receiver position. The Jets' defense will need to address safety and defensive end. They need to re-sign Antonio Cromartie, but they want him back and he wants to return. Not a lot of holes there.
Any rumblings around 1 Bills Dr. about how they are going to approach free agency when/if it ever begins? Basically I want to know is this new front office regime more willing to spend money on the bigger names or can Bills fans expect second/third tier guys to come in and fill holes where the draft wasnt able to?
Tim Graham (3:27 PM)
The only hint we've gotten is they're going to sign a backup quarterback. They'll also need to give Fitzpatrick a new deal because he's entering his last season. Buddy Nix has stated many times that he doesn't believe in free agency as the answer. I doubt the Bills will make any big moves.
But Mankins didn't hold out the entire year. He held out just long enough so he wouldn't lose a year toward free agency.
Tim Graham (3:28 PM)
The Patriots still had to shuffle their line for the entire summer and two months of the regular season. Just because Mankins eventually came back didn't mean the Patriots could line up without a left guard until October.
What are the chances Ronnie Brown returns to Miami? I heard he is open to coming back, and they could still use him to help out with Thomas.
Tim Graham (3:28 PM)
Rogan Josh (Boston MA)
What is holding the Jets back from being dominant - other than their tolerance for mediocrity at QB?
Tim Graham (3:30 PM)
A stud pass-rusher would make their defense downright miserable to play against. On a lower level, they also need a consistent kicker.
Jim (Palo Alto)
Which dead horse will win the Preakness?
Tim Graham (3:30 PM)
I don't believe animals are included in the rapture. Perhaps they'll run it on their own.
R (in CT)
Seriously, what are the coaches doing during the lockout, aside from going crazy from boredom? You can only watch so much film and make up so many plays, right?
Tim Graham (3:31 PM)
Bill Belichick said he's already game planning for next year's opponents. Other than that, I have no idea.
hi tim. all this optimism for the bills next season is nice, but the high hopes are a bit deflated when you look at the schedule no? i only see them comfortably winning 3 games...what's your W/L prediction for next year?
Tim Graham (3:32 PM)
I don't believe the Bills will challenge for the AFC East title or even a playoff spot. But I think they'll show signs of growth and be fun to watch. You don't even need to look at their full schedule. The division alone will be too tough to surmount. The Patriots and Jets are way ahead of them.
More likely AFC East signing: Steve Smith, Kamerion Wimbley, Nnamdi Asomugha, Vince Young, or Brett Favre?
Tim Graham (3:33 PM)
Bills optimism? Can John (CT) send me links to this optimism? I heard Marcellus Wiley say something somewhat optimistic, but thats it...
On another note, whats your last meal gonna be?
Tim Graham (3:34 PM)
I had bad wings last night after looking forward to dinner all day. I might have to give that another whirl and head to Duff's, best wings on the soon-to-be-detonated planet.
tim, you got this rapture thing all wrong, the good go away, and the rest of us can loot their stuff until October...So I know I'll be here to watch the preakness
Duffs, where the mild wings are medium and the medium wings are hot. Best. Wings. Ever. Good choice, don't forget to order some fries to (which are very underrated there)
Tim Graham (3:36 PM)
Its onion rings are better than its fries.
Rogan Josh (Boston MA)
Is Rex Ryan's annual Superbowl prediction starting to undermine his credibility?
Tim Graham (3:36 PM)
Tim Graham (3:37 PM)
Let's not forget his praise for Vernon Gholston the past two offseasons.
What do you make of the reports that next week players from the Bills, Fins and Jests will work out together in Fla?
Tim Graham (3:38 PM)
Players from different teams work out together all the time in the offseason. Usually, it's in a weight room or on a track, but it's common they hang out. And it's often in South Florida.
Ummm, I'm on a lone island being a Dolphins fan in jersey. But I just wanted to know, do you see the Dolphins playing any role in the AFC East? Or just another sub-par season.
Tim Graham (3:40 PM)
As with last year, I see Miami as the X-factor. They're good enough to make a run at the division, but they have enough question marks that you easily could envision them wallowing.
Cameron (Moline, IL)
Do you think the Dolphins will be on Hard Knocks? I read an article today that outlined 10 reasons they should do it, but I just can't see Tony Sparano being on board.
Tim Graham (3:42 PM)
I doubt Tony Sparano would be thrilled about it. But if the starry-eyed owner says the Dolphins are going to do "Hard Knocks," then Sparano might not have a say in the matter.
Hey Javier..you are not alone brother..LETS GO FINS
Steven (Queens, NY)
IF the Bills were to ever leave Buffalo and end up in, say, LA, what teams could you see being in the AFC East?
Tim Graham (3:44 PM)
That would take an overall realignment, and those happen rarely. The Bills or any other team that moves there would remain in their division.
Javier you are not alone Phin fan from Jersey. Time i agree that VY is our best option for the reason you listed plus he is cheaper in terms of draft pics we would have to give up.
Do you picture any shot of the Jets being busts this season, if there is a season?
Tim Graham (3:46 PM)
There's always a shot. A couple of key injuries and an unlucky bounce or two can make big differences.
Jim Kelly (NY)
Will my team ever get to the Superbowl?........and win?
Tim Graham (3:47 PM)
All teams will win if the league lasts long enough. Will you be alive? That's another question.
Or how about Sanchez not getting lucky like he did in all those last minute comebacks...i know it was impressive, but to stink the whole game and then pull that stuff off in the final minutes, there has to be some luck involved.
Tim Graham (3:48 PM)
Luck's always involved.
Tim Graham (3:49 PM)
A couple more and then I need to make my somber preparations for tomorrow.
Cameron (Moline, IL)
If I'm Jeff Ireland and I want to REPLACE Henne, I go Kyle Orton. If I want someone to compete and/or push Henne I go Tavaris Jackson. I may be the only Dolphins fan left who feels this way, but I really think he suffered from Bad coaching and playcalling last year; but this IS his last chance in Miami.
Tim Graham (3:50 PM)
Those are interesting thoughts. I don't think they're out of line.
Tim, I am late to chat, my apologies. What is your expert opinion on when or if the lockout ends 9I know you get this every time, but given the recent ruling in favor of the owners, maybe your opinoin has changed?)
Tim Graham (3:51 PM)
My opinion has stayed the same. My prediction is they'll play a full regular-season schedule but the stalemate will last right up until training camp or maybe cut into it.
Scott (Northglenn, Co)
Does Orton to the Dolphins sound like a good idea? I think he'd be an upgrade of Henne, similar physically, but Orton is much beter at decision making...
Tim Graham (3:52 PM)
I agree with that. And you know Kyle Orton already has chemistry with the Dolphins' top receiver.
Cameron (Moline, IL)
Does Marshall have anything in his contract that would allow him to be dropped for say, ..oh I don't know... Getting stabbed?
Tim Graham (3:53 PM)
He can be dropped for any reason. The structure of his contract allows the Dolphins to release him and have to pay only a small fraction of the money.
What team will win the afc east next year
Tim Graham (3:54 PM)
Geraldo, I'm answering your question only because you have submitted it about 53 times in the past three minutes, and I'd like for you to stop. My answer is "I answered that already." Scroll.
What team will win the afc east next year?
Tim Graham (3:54 PM)
This is what I deal with.
Hi Tim, What are the top prospects for next year as a QB in college? It's better than this year?
Tim Graham (3:56 PM)
They are better next year, and that might be simply because Andrew Luck is viewed as a sure thing. Matt Barkley and Landry Jones also are highly rated.
Ed Hochuli (Chat Ref)
No need to wait for the Rapture, Tim. geraldo, you're outta here!
Utica Club or Genesee?
Tim Graham (3:57 PM)
If those are the only options left in the fridge, it's bedtime.
What team will win the afc east
Tim Graham (3:59 PM)
And on that note ... Everybody have a great rapture. For those who won't enjoy it, well, I guess I'll see you next Friday.