Hi everyone and welcome to the last week of February ... which means NFL free agency is just around the corner with the draft not much further. So let's start tackling all the issues critical to world peace, or at least to the NFC North.
Hey Kevin, what do you think will most likely happen with Minnesota this year at Quarterback, and what are possible additional free agents they may add when free agency opens.
Andrew, the most likely scenario is Tarvaris Jackson and either Gus Frerotte or another veteran competing for the starting job. Jackson would have the upper hand in that battle because he ended 2008 as the starter. There are other possibilities, but that one seems the most likely to me.
will the chicago bears move devin hester back to being a specialty player where he was a dominating game changer?
No, I think the Bears plan to keep him at receiver. Lovie Smith talked about him as their No. 1 guy at that position over the weekend.
With Andre Smith going AWOL and Eugene Monroe not having a good Combine with the bench press. Now that you think the 4 players you picked already are going #1. What would be the player (since there drafting by person not position) the Lions would be looking at #20 and #33.
There has been some talk of perhaps the Lions going after a linebacker at No. 20, unless they pick Curry first overall. Laurinaitis from Ohio State could be a possibility there.
Thanks for taking questions Kevin, I try to catch your NFC North blog as much as possible. I think we can all agree that the Detroit Lions need more work than any other team in the league. They've stated that they don't plan to be big free agency spenders (whether that is a smoke screen or not is unknown) but in my opinion, they have to do something to coincide with the draft. I guess this is a two part question. Do you think that they Lions will do any work during the free agency period, and if so, do you see them going after any specific players?
I wouldn't rule out the possibility that they pursue Albert Haynesworth. You could argue that the middle of their defense was the team's weakest spot last year. Jim Schwartz coached him in Tennessee, so there is a connection there. Otherwise, I think the Lions will focus on the draft.
Why should the Packers go after a CB over preparing for the 3-4 defense by picking up a LB/DE, perhaps Aaron Maybin or Curry.
If Curry is there at No. 9, by all means the Packers should take him. I would think he will be gone by then. The projections of Jenkins are based on who is the most valuable player available and aren't based on position.
Lovie Smith said that Rod Marinelli is the best D-line coach in the NFL. Do you agree with him?
I don't have a mental list of all 32 defensive line coaches, but I would say Marinelli is definitely in the top 5. His defensive lines were great in Tampa Bay. Of course, so were the players.
Kevin - Without a clear cut #1 draft pick at this point, do you think Detroit will be able to trade out of the top spot? If so, who might be interested and what could the Lions hope/expect to receive in return (either picks and/or players)? Thanks!
The Lions' only chance to trade out of the No. 1 pick is if another team absolutely falls in love with Matthew Stafford of Georgia and decides it has to have him. Stafford is a good prospect, but I don't know if he'll inspire that sort of once-in-a-generation sentiment.
Kevin, given Teddy Ts affinity for trading down...do you see a move to the low teens to pick up one of the 4 first round tackle prospects?
If I had to guess, I'd say he'll keep the No. 9 pick ... just like he did a few years ago when the Packers were at No. 5 and took A.J. Hawk. They should get a really good player at No. 9.
What's taking Dan Orlovsky so long to re-sign with the lions? Does he think he stands a better chance on the open market than with re-signing with the lions? I'd imagine returning to the Lions is the best chance for Dan to succeed, what with no clear starter at QB and a monster at the skill position with Calvin, not to mention Orlovsky was the best QB the lions had last season. Whats the beef?
I think he knows he'll be a backup in Detroit. He might as well wait to see if another team offers him a more promising situation. It's not likely, but there is really no rush for him.
I was astonished when Childress said he plans on giving Jackson another year. Im honestly not sure if I can watch him screw up another 16 games. Im hoping you van give me a somewhat objective opinion as someone who follows football for a career. do you think Jackson has what it takes? How many more times can Childress get away with this 'one more year' line?
I would have to believe this is Jackson's last chance. Of course, I've said that before. But four seasons should be enough to make or break. I've not seen enough to tell me that Jackson is definitely going to make it. He can improve his decision making, but I don't know if it's possible to substantially improve accuracy.
I know you dont want to make player specific draft predictions, so what positions are the vikes going to be addressing in the draft? I hear this is a great year of OTs, any chance we can get a replacement for the inconsistent Ryan Cook? Will they address that need in the first round, or go somewhere else?
Hi Mitch. I think there's a pretty good chance they pursue an offensive tackle high in the draft. Childress doesn't sound as confident that Ryan Cook can improve as he is that Tarvaris Jackson can.
So the Bears signed a couple of free agent busts at receiver last year and now Angelo is implying that this is a reason to not address the lack of WR depth through free agency. At the same time, the Bears' track record of drafting receivers does not exactly inspire confidence (though Gage/Bradley/Wade have found moderate success with other teams). Give me a reason for hope.
Earl Bennett. That's about as much as I can offer. Usually receivers make a big jump from their first to second years.
over/under 6 wins for the lions next year?
I'll take the under but not by much. They have a good chance at 6 wins, which would obviously be a huge improvement.
Friday is the start of FA. Who do they Vikes grab early?
I really don't think they'll be active, and that goes for a lot of teams. There just won't be the kinds of players available that inspires midnight airplane rides and big-money offers. Albert Haynesworth is the only one who qualifies, and I don't see the Vikings pursuing him.
Who is the most likely trading partner for the Lions if they decide to try to trade down? Why would "experts" argue that Matt Stafford should be the number one pick when the top player, or at least one of the top two players, being Aaron Curry and fill an immediate need in the area most needing to be addressed(the sorry and slow defense??)
Because he's a quarterback, plain and simple. As for a team that might fall in love with Stafford, I'll have to mull that one over.
Hey Kevin, what are the odds the Lions take Curry at 1? Who's your front runner after the combine?
I say he's the third-likeliest choice after Stafford and Jason Smith. Curry is definitely a game-changer, but you don't usually value outside linebackers that high, especially when you run a 4-3.
Hey Kevin, what are the chances the lions take curry at No. 1 and will josh freeman slide to No. 33?
Not a bad idea. It's possible.
Kevin- Lovie Smith said this weekend that getting a solid #2 WR to compliment Hester was a priority while Jerry Angelo downplays the empasis at WR. Do you see a problem with such a difference of priorities between the head coach and the GM?
I don't see them being on a different page on this one. When Smith said that, he was mostly referring to the players he has on his roster currently. The best chance for that happening is if Earl Bennett can catch fire in his second season.
Kevin, if you were a GM would you still take a chance on Andre Smith? If so what round?
I would not, no. Way, way too much immaturity and baggage. He would have to slip into the third round for me to even consider it.
I have been surprisingly pleased with the way the Lions new front office is handling this team. How would you rate the post-Millen Lions thus far?
Obviously, it's very early. But it's important that they were willing to release the players they considered to be dead weight and take the salary cap hits associated with it. I like the coordinators that Jim Schwartz hired. The rest, we'll have to see.
So you aren't ruling out Jeff Garcia to Minnesota but you think this is more wishful thinking on the fans' part, right?
I can't rule it out, but I've just seen no evidence from the Vikings that they're remotely interested. And remember, they passed on him two years ago.
With all this mess, will Crabtree fall at all or is he still top 10 and the 1st WR?
A lot will depend on his 40 time at his Pro Day. In the end, he'll be a top-15 pick, you would think.
Will a returning Farwell cure most of what was wrong with the Vikings special teams last year?
We might not see that happen. He wants to enter free agency to see if someone will sign him to give him a chance to play linebacker.
Hi Kevin, thanks for the blog, it's really useful for us non-US fans to stay on the ball with the NFC North. Do you think there are any players - who match a Packers need - that Ted Thompson might change his Free Agency approach for?
No problem. I'm sure there will be some players he could target, but Thompson has been so inconsistent on the free agent market that it's hard to predict. How is that for a cop-out?
Kevin! I'm tired of the push for a QB or WR in Chicago. We need to get this defense and O-Line figured out first. What do the Bears need to do in the draft to address this?
Like a lot of teams, they might need to focus on a tackle in the first round. Mayne Michael Oher falls to them in the first round.
Do you agree that Sydney Rice's injury was what hampered him in 2008?
I do. He had a PCL injury, which can't be fixed with surgery. He just had to wait it out and got out of whack while he was waiting.
Some of your fellow bloggers think that the Vikings should overpay to get Cassell. What do you think?
I guess you have to define overpay. I'm not sold on Cassel being a 10-year starter for them. Just not enough body of work. He's better than Tarvaris Jackson, but I don't think it's a clear-cut decision.
The Vikings should be interested in Danny O. He did get a win last season for them. I believe the Vikings won by two points.
That darned end line.
Anybody really impress you at the combine who could conceivably end up on an NFC North team? Anyone really disappoint?
The reality is that only a small group of reporters actually watch the workouts. And it's only on one day. The rest is held behind closed doors. I can only tell you what I hear. But one thing seemed clear: Jason Smith of Baylor is now at the top of the list for offensive linemen and therefore could go No. 1 overall.
Do you think Jerry Angelo will sign a Nate Washington type WR?
That's the kind of player who could help them and possibly at a reasonable price. But I don't see Angelo jumping out on the first day and getting him.
Do you agree with the common notion that the Vikings window is closing? Besides Birk, Sharper and Antoine Winfield, which other players do you expect to lose in the next two years? I think Pat Williams is good for two more years and Sharper is replaceable. I think that CB is the most critical draft position in the draft for the Vikes.
I don't know if it's closing so much as it is currently open and therefore needs to be taken advantage of.
Hey Kevin, with the Vikings struggles to get a new stadium, and even selling out games, does Zygi and Childress really think they are going to sell out any games at all next year with T-Jack and Frerotte back at QB? Vikings fans can't watch this anymore they have to do something!
That's definitely a consideration. But ultimately you can't make football decisions based on selling tickets. If it works and the Vikings win, people will come to the games.
Saw ESPN had a headline regarding the 49ers and Vikings being interested in Michael Vick. When I read it, it seemed like more of a "can't confirm or deny" type of situation and speculation on ESPN's part. Is that true? Heard any rumblings about the Vikings and Vick? I hope not.
This was actually an Associated Press story that ran on ESPN.com. I was there when Childress was asked about Vick and the impression I got is that Vick is the farthest thing from his mind. I would say there is zero chance the Vikings will pursue Vick with Childress as coach and Zygi Wilf as owner.
Kevin, some people are saying Curry could go to Detroit at # 1. The safe pick. I question this because I don't think that linebackers in a 4-3 defense have enough opportunities to make impact plays. Do you see him as a viable option for the Lions?
He's an option but I agree with your thinking on the 4-3 linebacker.
Northern Iowa grad here. Sounds like Warner will eventually resign w/ Arizona. Any chance the Purple get involved in this?
Any truth to the report is that Sage Rosenfels is being delt to vikes
I haven't seen that report. They talked last year but I wasn't aware there was anything being reported this year.
So says the Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6276358.html Any truth to that? Sage Rosenchoppa/Rosenfels to the Vikings?
I take that back. Wow. That comes as a surprise to me. A couple things jump out to me. The fact that he is available this year, and wasn't last year, suggest the Texans aren't as high on him. Rosenfels had a pretty uneven peformance last year. But this doesn't chance the overall picture. Rosenfels, I presume, will fill the Frerotte role and compete with Tarvaris Jackson in training camp. Tarvaris will be the favorite in that competition.
Do you think Rod Marinelli will turn things around for Mark Anderson? Is he good enough to get double digit sacks again, or was 2006 a fluke?
If anyone can, it's Marinelli.
He had amazing success in Tampa Bay with similar players.
How have you not talked about Sage going to Minny yet? I think that may change your QB analysis somewhat...
This story came up during this chat. What timing. This changes my analysis only a little. I think Rosenfels is a better option than Frerotte, and thought so last year as well. But if this trade occurs, he'll be competing with Jackson for the job. And I still think it will be Jackson's job to lose.
Will Udeze come back this year for the VIkes and how will he fit into the Dline picture?
They will give him every opportunity to win a job. From a health standpoint, he should be ready to get back on the field for mini-camp.
is sage rosenfels worth a fourth round pick?
The fact that the Texans wouldn't give him up for a third-round pick last year tells you his stock has fallen in their eyes.
Yeah, it would seem the Texans aren't as enamored with him. Last year, though they both denied it, the Vikings were offering a third round choice and the Texans wanted a second. Willing to part, but for too much. Think Sage has a legitimate chance to beat out Tarvaris?
My opinion remains unchanged. I think if all things are equal, Jackson wins the job. Sage wins it if he is absolutely lights out, or if Jackson falls on his face.
Everyone has heard of Calvin Johnson and how good he is, the question is how comfortable do you feel the Lions are with their running back situation? Do you consider Kevin Smith as the longterm solution there? It wont be addressed in this draft but might they consider another back in next years draft in the higher rounds(1-3)?
I think they see him as the answer as their starter, but they need to get him help. I think that'll be a priority in the draft.
Kevin getting breaking news as we blog. Man, you are getting in the same stratosphere as John Clayton !!!
Credit goes to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle on this one.
Kevin, Any legs on the Rosenfels to the Vikings for a 4th round pick and would you like this deal? It seems like a nice value trade for the Vikings if Houston was looking for a 2nd round pick last year.
Or, on the other hand, Houston might not think as much of him as it did last year. He was uneven in his 2008 performance, and the Texans were notably better with Schaub in the lineup.
Any chance whatsoever that Vikings pursue Haynesworth and move to 3-4? More importantly because I'm sure you'll say no, is how legendary would their defensive front be in that hypothetical?! Probably best ever.
None. Kevin Williams, for one, has been far less effective in his career when he's played on the end.
Do you think that giving up any picks for Sage is the smart move when you can get a guy like Garcia or Leftwich without giving up the draft picks?
It's not an ideal situation, but it's pretty clear to me the Vikings don't value Garcia. They could have gone after him two years ago and passed.
Kevin, what are you hearing about Nick Barnett's rehab? Is he ahead of, on, or behind schedule? Also, I love Aaron Kampman, but can't really see him in pass coverage against Greg Olsen or Shencoe. Your thoughts?
It sounds like he's on track, but it's likely the Packers won't see him on the field doing much until training camp at the earliest.
why wouldn't the bears look at Leftwich? He even said he wanted to come to Chicago to play!!
They might. I wouldn't rule that out at all.
OK, one more question and then it's time to start blogging Sage Rosenfels, I guess.
Kevin, how is EJ Henderson's recovery going? I take it he will retain his starting position? What does that mean for N. Harris?
Childress said last week that Henderson has recovered and could have played at the end of last season had he not been on injured reserve. He'll be ready when offseason workouts begin.
OK, thanks everyone. It's been a wild one.