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 (1:05 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Mr. Sando,Let's get this hilarious convo started. So many mockers are cemented into Seattle taking a DT in the 1st round. I feel like they will surprise people, maybe even take a corner or linebacker. Their cap space is not as dandy as some folks think. What are your thoughts.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
It's tougher to predict how a team will select when that team is picking so low (25th overall). QB would surprise me. Safety would surprise me. The other non-specialist positions would not surprise as much. The Seahawks had quite a bit of their defensive cap money tied up in the line last season. That position is still one of need, I think.
Hey Mike,Long-time RSS subscriber (boo to the ESPN line break/mandatory click-through), first-time chatter. You have led me to believe that salary-cap space is pretty fuzzy in the NFL, in that teams can release and restructure contracts as needed to make a desirable move. Where would you say the Seahawks are on this spectrum right now? Could they easily create enough cap room for a splashy signing on the D-line, assuming the front office considered it a fit?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
I was an early adopter of RSS five or six years ago (guessing), but Twitter has replaced it for me. The Seahawks should still have around $18.6 million in cap space. That was the figure reported by John Clayton a few weeks ago. Not much has changed since then. There is definitely room to sign a high-priced free agent should the team elect to go that route (I'm not expecting it).
Would you have any confidence in Isaiah Pead or Daryl Richardson as a 20 carry per game back?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
No, but there were only five backs in hte NFL with more than 290 carries last season. There really aren't many 20-carry running backs. The Rams do not need a 20-carry running back. Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch were in that 20-carry range. Steven Jackson was at 16.1 carries per game.
Do you have any insight as to why St Louis prefers taller guards? Warmack and Cooper are 6'2" and are consistently being mocked to the Rams when available; is there reason to think Jeff Fisher would prefer other prospects at guard over the top two?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Funny you would say that. I noticed last season that the Rams' had very tall defensive tackles. I don't think there's a strong push for tall guards necessarily. The Rams wanted to get bigger up front on their line. We know that. They really couldn't do that in meaningful ways because they had so many players moving through the lineup. The Rams had nine different players start on their offensive line last season. They had nine different OL starters in 2011 as well. They have had 16 players start on their line over the past two seasons.
Are you privy to any info to the development of Brian Quick? Also, what does it mean to Quick if the Rams draft a physical, playmaking receiver early in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Brian Quick and the 49ers' A.J. Jenkins might have fallen into a similar category as rookie receivers needing time to grasp the NFL game. If the Rams draft a physical, playmaking receiver, Quick would have a harder time getting playing time. There would be no way around that.
When the Cardinals had Kevin Kolb playing decent football early in the season, they looked like they could contend. This is still a team with young, impact players on defense (Washington, Campbell, Peterson) and one of the all time best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. If the Cardinals can find even a servicable - read: average - quarterback, can they compete in the NFC West?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I'd say serviceable QB play would get the Cardinals into that 8-8 or 9-7 range. That probably would not be enough to win the division, but it would sure beat 5-11. I do not think Kevin Kolb was playing at a high level early in the season, however. He threw a killer pick in the end zone to nearly blow the Miami game. It's tough to evaluate his play against Seattle in the opener because he came off the bench unexpectedly and played only a short while. I thought he played well against Philadelphia, but that was probably the only good full game he played.
rao (san francisco, ca)
How do you think Alex Smith would fit with the Cardinals, mike? Would his salary be untenable given Kolb's contract, and would he work well in Arians' system?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
The Cardinals would not carry Kolb's current salary of $9 million under any circumstances. They would either cut him or re-sign him at a lower price. New coach Bruce Arians wants to push the ball down the field with a vertical passing game. I'm not sure Alex Smith would be the ideal quarterback for that type of scheme. However, he might be better than the other options available to the Cardinals in 2013.
Do you think the 49ers actually have faith in AJ Jenkins being a starting wide receiver?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I'd say they have hope for him. Faith is a stronger word.
Razoreater (South Bend)
Mort said it's highly unlikely the 49ers release Alex. What are we to assume from this report?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
The 49ers do not plan to release Alex Smith. They want other teams to think they could hold onto Smith. Teams might be less apt to trade for Smith if they were convinced the 49ers planned to release him. The big test comes April 1. That is when the 49ers must pay a bonus to Smith and guarantee his salary if Smith remains on the roster. The 49ers could decide to do that and still hold onto Smith in hopes of trading him nearer the draft, but that would carry a little more risk.
Ryan (Phoenix, AZ)
Good afternoon Sando, with Steve Breaston's release from the Chiefs, do you think he could be a potential target for th 49ers? I know the logical places for him are the Chargers and Pittsburgh, but I think he would do well working as the 2nd or 3rd WR in S.F.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Breaston has three touchdown receptions in three seasons since Kurt Warner retired. I wouldn't invest a great deal in him, but if the 49ers added him to the mix at a reasonable price, the more the merrier. They could at least let him compete.
rao (san francisco, ca)
Mike, the 49ers first round draft picks under Harbaugh have seemed to come out of left field, at least according to most of the pundits and mock drafters. Do you think Harbaugh and Baalke are just totally unreadable when it comes to drafting, or are there certain tea leaves that you like to look at when it comes predicting their moves?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
They have had two drafts together. Not much to go on. They picked 31st overall last season, late enough to make predictions very difficult. I think it was tough to read the 49ers in that first year because we didn't know what they thought of the QBs available in the draft. But if the 49ers were picking seventh overall right now (as they were in 2011), I think we would have a better idea what they might want in a player.
AJ Jenkins said he would go work out with Kaepernick immediately but hasn't showed up yet, last year he said he would work out with Rice and didn't follow through. I know publicly the 49ers are saying they aren't worried about it, are you hearing anything differently off the record?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
I haven't heard anything negative or positive about Jenkins. Did think it was a little odd that the 49ers' staff was so guarded and unspecific in its comments regarding Jenkins during the media buildup to the Super Bowl. I'm not taking Trent Baalke's recent comments regarding Jenkins on faith. Jenkins has to prove it on the field.
Even with cap room I don't see the Seahawks adding a high priced free agent such as Freeney or Melton, I expect them to save the room to extend/pay some of their players coming up in the next year or two. If that's the case, any names you think might interest them?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Earl Thomas comes to mind. I think they have a decision to make at some point on Zach Miller given his cap number, his injury situation (including concussion history), the time remaining on his contract and where the team stands at tight end. If they extended Miller's deal, they could lower his cap hit in the short term. Sidney Rice also has a relatively big cap number and is a younger player whose longer-term future remains vague.
Mr. Sando,I imagine you get tired of draft questions. But allow me to blow your mind. Hawks take Eddie Lacy in the 2nd round. Securing two young backs for the day when Lynch moves on. Is this crazy talk? Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Taking a running back would not shock me at all. Turbin was a fourth-round pick. He could project as Lynch's successor, but they will always look to upgrade.
Jeff Wales (Reno)
Do you see the Seahawks going after some of the big name defensive linemen for short term fix while they try to develop draft picks/Irvin?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Chris Clemons' injury situation opens my mind to that type of thinking. I think it's a long shot, but if someone such as Michael Johnson were to become available, seems like they would have to at least consider it. I do tend to think the Seahawks want to keep building through the draft and plugging with more affordable free agents.
Which division is going to be most feared in 2013?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
You mean besides the NFC West? Not sure.
What's the chance Dwight Freeney could be a 49er situational player?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Freeney did not fit in the Colts' 3-4 defense. I think he'll be a better fit with a 4-3 team, maybe a team that plays a lot of games on turf.
Kurt 5Bowls (Belmont, CA)
Growing up a Rams and Raiders fan, do you still have a little remorse for the red and gold?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Remorse isn't the word but I know what you mean. As a kid in Northern California, I was annoyed by all the people who suddenly became 49ers fans when the team won big. The true 49ers fans felt the same way, probably. That was a long time ago. Don't have any of those feelings now.
Any reason not to think Kap and Frodo (Wilson) won't hit the wall like Cam next year?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Can Newton did not hit a wall last season. He posted four of his five highest single-game QBR scores last season: 97.0 at home against Falcons, 89.3 at Philadelphia, 88.3 at home against Saints and 83.1 at Houston. He also posted his four lowest single-game QBR scores last season, but three of those were Week 8 or earlier. Newton ranked 10th in QBR from Week 9 through Week 17. He was at 67.4, which isn't bad. I thought he finished strong. We could see Kaepernick and Wilson struggle at times, but I'm not sure it will have anything to do with being in their second seasons.
Can Seattle make the Super Bowl with another WR
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I thought a better pass rush could have gotten Seattle there last season. Injuries to Zach Miller and Marshawn Lynch did factor late, however.
If a DT like Richardson fell to the Rams do you think Fisher/Snead would consider choosing him and trying to build a top tier front 4?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
The Rams could certainly take a defensive lineman in the first round. That is a premium position.
Sloppybeast (Traverse City, MI)
Any word from Moss on whether he wants to play another year?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Moss said he wants to play another year. I would think the 49ers would move on.
Toddy Woddy (Yaki-vegas)
With the injury to Clemons, would that place any strategy change in the upcoming draft?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I think the Chris Clemons injury adds to the urgency as the Seahawks look to help their defensive line.
Andy (Syracuse, NY)
Since the Niners are up against the cap, will they have to trade/release Alex in order to have a shot at resigning Goldson or are there other moves to be made to free up space?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Jonathan Goodwin has a relatively high cap number ($5 million) with a $3.7 million base salary. Parys Haralson has a $2.5M base salary. I would have to look at the roster a little more closely, but where there is a will, there is a way. Re-signing Goldson is certainly doable for the 49ers.
Steve (Palisades Park, NJ)
The Niners need a big guy who can go up and get jump balls, and with Ramses Barden I think they could have that guy. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
The 49ers have Vernon Davis. He should be able to do those things.
Although it is very early in the life of their FO, do you have any impressions on how Arians and Keim fit in within the division?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
They are playing catch-up and have more to prove. Every other head coach in the division had recently been a successful head coach either in the NFL or at the major college level. Arians got some NFL head coaching experience on an interim basis last season, and he fared well. But it's different being in charge for the longer term, and we need to see how Arians functions in the role over time. I don't think the rest of the division is sitting there saying, "Dang, the Cardinals got Arians and Keim -- how do we adjust?" But that is not necessarily a negative. There is just a lot of unknown.
Say Bradford has a QBR of around 70, throws for 3200 yds, 24 td's and 16 int's and the Rams finish 7-9. Do they move on finally? Is this a make or break year for Sam?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
If his Total QBR is 70, the Rams will be happy with Bradford. They will also very likely be better than 7-9. Quarterbacks have posted 70-plus single-season QBR scores 22 times over the past five seasons. None had a losing record.
Cam did better after they "dumbed" down the offense for him again like his rookie year. Kaep and Wilson seem to have their plate pretty full already. Do you see problems with them taking the next step and actually being the reason their teams win?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
I think both quarterbacks were at times the primary reason their teams won games. Both also had strong defenses backing them up, which helped. Both will have help from strong ground games again next season. I think both will do well under those parameters. And when asked to do more, I think they'll usually be able to handle it. Wilson in particular is so resourceful.
Craig (New Hampshire)
Are you not answering Richard Sherman questions because of possible twitter backlash?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Not a factor.
Miguel Sando (San Mateo, CA)
Has Richard Sherman put himself in a hole that he won't be able to dig out of? It seems as if next season coaches might call a sweep in his direction with hopes of someone hitting him in his mouth. Any thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I don't think coaches are emotional about what Richard Sherman says on Twitter.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
Since nobody has asked it yet that Ive seen, I'll bite the bullet. Which is the better CB..Revis or Sherman?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Sherman right now because he is healthy. If Revis had not been injured, I would probably go with him. We cannot remove the injury from the equation.
Who would you rather have for the next five years, considering contracts along with on-field play: Sherman or Revis?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Sherman. The knee injury Revis suffered is a factor in that answer. So are the contract situations.
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. Have a good one.