Hi everyone. We have plenty to discuss after an eventful opening weekend to free agency. In a totally unrelated development, a new episode of LOST will air tonight on ABC. Let's get to it...
While the Bears 2010 prospects will likely rest on the play of Jay Cutler, how much do you think the free agent moves by the Bears have closed the gap on the Packers and Vikings? Do you think a move for someone like FS Atogwe of the Rams would finish off their FA moves and enable Chicago to focus on the OL in the 3rd and 4th round area?
I think they've gotten closer, especially when you recall how Julius Peppers destroyed Bryant McKinnie last year. A safety would help, too. But some questions will remain: Can Rod Marinelli get more out of this defense than Bob Babich/Lovie Smith? And how long will it take for players to get a comfort level with Mike Martz's offense? At this point, I'm not inclined to say they've leapfrogged either Minnesota or Green Bay.
Hey Kevin, can we please agree that anything a team does to make itself it better is a positive to that team. Who cares how much money a team spends, there is not cap. The only condition I would place on it is to not give up future draft picks.I personllay like Chicagos moves, as well as Detroits. At the end of the day, both of those teams are better for going after free agents.
I agree, especially in an uncapped sense. The one caveat I would throw out there: Teams don't have a cap, but no owner offers his football people unlimited cash. So if you blow your cash budget and still have too many holes left to fill, you haven't invested wisely. But that said, I think the Bears and Lions were wise to address their pass defense and will be better off for it.
Hey Kevin, you've mentioned that the Packers need to find a long term solution to their LT problem. Others have pointed out that until the Packers get a pass rusher to complement Matthews, they cannot be a legitimate contender. Given that they just re-signed Clifton and appear poised to plug in Lang at RT, do you think it's a sign that the Packers are positioning themselves to have the freedom to draft a pass rushing OLB in the 1st round?
Not necessarily, no. First, I'm not convinced that Tauscher isn't coming back. There is no rush on that deal. I agree they need to find another pass rusher, but Ted Thompson has usually been a best-available drafter. I don't think he's going to reach for a linebacker at No. 23 if there isn't a quality one available.
Are the Vikings looking at any safeties in this years free agent class?
They had some interest in Ryan Clark, but he re-signed with the Steelers.
Why wouldn't the Vikings sign Tomlinson, so we can focus on OL and Secondary in the draft instead of having a third position to fill...
I don't think backup tailback would be a huge need headed into the draft, regardless. But they'll have to make sure Tomlinson is prepared to take the role they would be offering. Chester Taylor wanted more and moved on.
Hey, Kevin, you are from the flatland...I'm trying to shed my winter 10 lbs...know where I can get some star caps?
Ouch. They're out of business, fortunately.
do u think the packers need an legitmate 3 rd back or is brandon jackson finally goin to step up.....i think l.t. or westbrook would look great in an packer uni......ur thoughts...
Westbrook wouldn't fit the profile of a player Thompson usually acquires ... i.e., veteran free agents ... so I'm not sure I would hold my breath on that one. But I think it's fair to expect the Packers to draft a running back or two next month.
Kevin, I really enjoy reading your blog, it's a nice read. Do you buy into all of the reports that the Lions will look look past Suh or McCoy and possibly take Okung or trade down? And what teams would be looking to trade for the No. 2 pick?
Thanks J.D. At this point, there is no indication Okung is worthy of the No. 2 pick. They might not mind trading down, but like most years, I'm not sure they are going to find a lot of trading partners. The money at No. 2 is so high.
With no CBA in place do you see teams paying out large signing bonuses to draft picks to get them to sign early this season with no way of knowing what any future amortization of those bonuses would do to a future salary cap?
Some teams are using roster bonuses rather than signing bonuses for that reason. If the cap comes back in 2011 or beyond, a roster bonus wouldn't count against it.
What are the chances that the Vikings cut Berrian?
None, to my knowledge.
Following up on your air and space post, do you think Brad Childress will ever understand that stopping the pass has taken on new importance? He seems to only field players in the secondard who are strong against the run.
Well, he did trade for Jared Allen to help against the pass. I agree that he puts a lot of focus on stopping the run, but I don't think he has any illusions about needing to be good against the pass. The Vikings did lead the league in sacks in 2009.
how long can the Vikings stand idle while all the other NFC North teams are making moves?
Well, they did sign a kickoff specialist today. Rhys Lloyd.
The Bills put no tender on Richie Incognito. Detroit's OL is lacking to put it mildly. Could the attitude Incognito brings be a firestarter? The line takes a lot of heat, but they seem to bring back the same guys every year. Generously giving Cherilus a pass for inexperience, do any of them have the ability to improve to or already posses the ability to be a starter? How will they address this?
They would have to do a lot of investigation on this. It's interesting that former Rams coach Scott Linehan is their offensive coordinator. He would be a pretty good resource.
Bill Williamson just reported that the Vikings are showing interest in L.T. That said, which of the FA RBs, in your opinion, would be the best fit for the Vikings?
If he's healthy, Brian Westbrook might be the most ideal fit. But the concussion situation is awfully worrisome.
What do you think about the lions free agent signings? Do you feel that with a good draft like last years they will finally be able to compete.
Each guy -- especially Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson -- made the Lions better at their respective positions. They still need some help at cornerback and at left guard, but at least we're getting to the point where we have a shorter list of "needs" for the Lions than we once did.
Is it possible that if the free agent market slows down and Joey Porter still hasn't gotten many if any offers, that TT might offer him a contract?
As a reporter who covers the NFC North, I would be all for it. Joey Porter is media gold. As far as him as a player, the Packers might be looking for a longer-term answer.
If the Cowboys actually end up cutting Roy Williams, couldn't we say that the Lions fleeced them pretty badly? Is this one of the more one-sided deals in the last five or so years?
I think so. Martin Mayhew basically got the Cowboys to give the Lions franchise-player compensation for a player who clearly isn't at that level.
what do the bears gain by trading greg olsen. as passive he plays as a blocker and as small as he plays as a receiver what would a second round pick help? especially when you consider the fact the player picked likely won't dress for a game
I don't think so, no. It's incumbent on the Bears to find a way to use his receiving skills, not to ship him out because their scheme is too inflexible to find a place for a near-Pro Bowl player.
best unknown show on TV is Chuck. Watch it sometime.
I can only handle on obsession at a time.
More sacks this coming season: Jared Allen or Julius Peppers?
Interesting. Have at It? ... My initial answer is Allen but that's just a first-instinct reaction.
Kevin, maybe I've missed this somewhere but why are the Williams suing the NFL? The judge over-ruled the NFL's suspension of the Williams so all is good, right?
No, it's been caught in appeals and motions and everything else. It's finally gone to court in Minneapolis. They're trying to prove the NFL's steroid testing policy violates Minnesota state labor laws. Or, more specifically, that the NFL's steroid testing policy should be subject to Minnesota state labor laws.
Kevin, look into your crystal ball and tell me this. If Nick Collins signing his RFA tender is a good-faith gesture, how long will it be before we hear about a contract extension?
I really can't predict when, but it sure seems like the foundation is in place for it to happen at some point before the next offseason.
Most underrated move in the NFCN so far?
There really haven't been may under the radar yet. I do like the Lions bringing back Will Heller. He was a better receiver last year than I thought he would be.
Did the Lions try to sign Aaron Kampman or was Vanden Bosch their top choice?
Vanden Bosch played for Schwartz in Tennessee. He was their top choice.
Not sure if Incongnito has value to the Lions. If I recall, the Bills o-line was bad last year. They had to sign GB's rookie Jamon Merideth off the practice squad. If Incongnito was good, he would have been tendered.
He's got some behavior/attitude issues that some teams don't like. Pretty decent player, though.
What grade would you give Mayhew to date: The Roy WIlliams trade, the '09 Draft and, '10 Free agnecy + WIlliams and Houston trades for late round pick/swap.....Are we looking at the making of a GM Superstar?
It looks good in an encapsulated form. The one unknown, to me, is the 2009 draft. I realize all of the players got on the field, but that was in part because of the lack of talent on the roster. Stafford, Delmas and Pettigrew are all keepers, but beyond that? Not sure yet. Overall, I'd give him a solid B+.
Kevin, my man, did you enjoy that champagne the other night?
Somehow my bottle didn't arrive yet...
Team Jacob? Team Smokey/Locke? Locke has Sayid, Claire, and potentially Sawyer. Pretty sick.
But Jacob has Jack sitting on the rocks.
more dysfunctional Bears off-season quote: "we're happy with the staff we've assembled", Lovie. "we're not gonna work any harder," Angelo. "We're expecting a big year out of tommie harris," Both of them.
The faith in Tommie Harris totally bewilders me, although I admit I'm easily bewildered.
Kevin, am I the only Viking fan that is concerned for next year? The loss of Taylor was huge and the injuries to Henderson and Griffin etc...I have bad Vibes about next year Favre or not. I think they need to make some kinda moves....
I would say that's a natural reaction to free agent inactivity. Who do you think the Vikings erred by not signing?
In your opinion, what percentage would you put on the Lions leaving the draft with either Suh or McCoy?
Did TT blow the whole Aaron Kampman deal by letting a Pro Bowl player leave and receiving nothing in return? Obviously he had some value if Jax signed him the 2nd day of free agency.
Yeah, we had that discussion on the blog the other day. He had options, including putting a franchise tag on him, but in the end each option had its own risks. I, for one, was surprised Jacksonville jumped out the way it did. Great job by Kampman's agent.
Kev,Were you as surprised as I was to see the Vikings let Artis Hicks leave so easily? He was SO valuable as a backup as he could play basically any position on the OL. Any toughts on his replacement as the 'swing' lineman? Ryan Cook?
I was a little surprised, although in some ways it was similar to Chester Taylor: They couldn't offer him what he was probably looking for: a chance to play more. Hicks was only going to get on the field if someone got hurt. In Washington he has a chance to start.
Is there any hope for the Vikes this year if Favre retires?
Oh, I think so. They won the division two years ago with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson. They have a better team now than that one, even without Favre.
Don't forget DeAndre Levy. Mayehw did good with that pick.
He's a solid third-round guy. To me, Levy is the kind of player who got attention for playing as a rookie, but did he play well? I'm not sure about that. We'll know at this time next year, after he goes a full season as the Lions' middle linebacker.
Easier to understand right now - Lost or NFL Labor situation?
Labor, by far. Owners want to keep more of their revenues. Players want to protect their share.
Kevin Seifert has been my hero since our days in Emmet. Are the Bears trying to become Washington Midwest? How's that worked out so far for the Redskins?
I have that effect on people, although there was someone else there who was awfully admirable. As for the Bears, it's just money, right?
When Cutler throws another 29 INTs, and Peppers doesn't do anything, and Urlacher doesn't do anything... again... do you think it's possible that the Bears will become the new Lions?
Ouch. Here's the scarier possibility: Cutler throws fewer interceptions, Peppers has 12 sacks, Urlacher plays 16 games ... and the Bears still don't make the playoffs. Could happen.
why do i love running backs who average less than 4 ypc? last year i annointed matt forte god and gave him alot of help on the o-line. now i bring in c taylor who averaged 3.6 yps behind an oling that can actually run block. what am i doing?
Taylor's been over 4 yards per carry for most of his career. And even Adrian Peterson had a tough time in the second half of the season. I think Taylor is a really good fit for the Bears' new offense.
how much input or influence do guys like Rod Marinelli, Mike Tice, and Martz have on personnel decisions? how much will they have for the draft?
Martz has a lot. Not sure about the other two.
You followed Burleson when he was with the Vikings (and Linehan). Do you think he'll be able to take some attention away from Calvin Johnson and provide a reliable 2nd WR for Stafford?
Perhaps, but what I feel confident about is that he will take better advantage of the attention Johnson does see. Ultimately, the idea is to move the ball and score. Doesn't matter who does it.
Hey Kevin, love all the NFC North coverage you provide. I don't know how I survived the offseason before you came along. If you had to guess, what odds would you place on the Bears snagging FS Atogwe?
Ha, thanks. I'd say 50-50 at best on Atogwe.
Are the Lions looking at anyone to sign for LG?
If I had to guess, I would say the draft.
Did you notice that #4 Favre was written on the cave wall?
Was his name crossed out?
I would say the Vikings made a mistake by not signing any Defensive backs or Safties, What do you think Kevin?
The secondary market is still developing. Still a decent amount of cornerbacks still out there. I think they're standing pat with Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson.
Do you think Aaron Brown can take the next step and become a weapon at RB?
I really like his speed and playmaking attitude, but from the sound of it last year, he made too many mental mistakes to stay on the field. That's typical of a rookie, but he might have to be one of those players who is used in certain packages only.
Hey, It seems like most Packers Fans are down and out on Kampman leaving. Did they not seem to see my doings when Kampman took thtat digger?
I thought you did well as a 7th-round pick. Should the Packers be locking you into a full-time job? Not yet, I don't think. It's too important of a position in the 3-4.
Owners vs Players metaphor for Lost's Good vs Evil?
Only in the sense that Good is not always good and Bad is not always bad.
Kevin, what do you think about the Kampman FA pickup for the Jags?
I was surprised the Jaguars jumped at a player who is still recovering from ACL surgery. I didn't think anyone would pay him premium money, but that just goes to show how desperate teams are for pass rushing.
Pettigrew was a terrible choice, terrible. He might be a good TE someday, but they passed on some pretty obviously better players there. No way that is a B+
That's a tough one. I thought at the time, and still believe, that tight end was too much of a luxury for the Lions to take at that spot. He could be a really good, Pro Bowl-type tight end and still not be as vaulable as a 10-year starter at right or left tackle, as Michael Oher would have been.
LOST...isn't that the show about the team with 12 men on the field at a pivotal moment during the 2009 Championship game?
Will you be here all week?
I think you asked a very good question about who exactly are the Vikings supposed to sign? This is not a strong free agent class and just because it is an uncapped year does not mean you just go sign people for no reason. The Saints and Colts did not sign any free agents not on there own team last year and made the Super Bowl. The Vikings do have some areas to address and will address them through the draft and through later free agent signings. On paper right now they have one of the best rosters top to bottom so I am not sure why people are complaining.
Well, that's not entirely true. Darren Sharper was a pretty key addition in New Orleans. But there weren't a ton of players that I think the Vikings should have pursued.
Kevin, you're answer about the Bears not making the playoffs with Cutler throwing less INTs, Peppers recording double digit sacks and Urlacher playing in all 16 games was spot on. Great job! I still don't like Jay "I throw INTs" Cutler!
Thanks ... We're a long way from finding out these answers, but it's just a way of saying the Bears aren't perfect yet.
Kevin....With Frank Omiyale likely moving back to his natural position of RT who do you see taking over at LG? Josh Beekman is a Center by trade. Do you see them drafting a guard to start or possibly giving last year's 7th rounder Lance Louis a shot at LG? Also....how big of an improvment will Mike Tice provide as line coach?
Tice will make a big, big difference. I know he got some flak as the Vikings' head coach, but before he was the head coach, he was an excellent, league-renonwed offensive line coach. He'll make those guys better. As for left guard, Beekman would probably get the first shot.
Do you think that the signing of Peppers to the huge deal signifies that money was not an issue in retaining Lovie or do you think the two are unrelated? Thanks
Well, it proves the Bears have the money and don't guard it as much as they once did. But the issues aren't necessarily related. It could be that Bears ownership didn't want to pay someone to coach but was willing to pay a player to play for them.
Did the Bears fly me first class to Carolina or was i acting as a courier on a discount flight?
I heard it was a private plane.
Kevin, you are overestimating how much better the Vikes are than the Bears - things change from year to year, don't be one of those guys.......
True. We can't assume the Vikings would be as good in 2010 as they were in 2009. If you're coming from the anything-can-happen corner, then we should include the Lions in your scenario as well.
Can Ben help the Vikes go back in time and grab LT circa 2005?
They need to go back in time and take about 200 carries per season away from Tomlinson. Then he would be an All-Pro again.
Mark Silverman is campaigning for Hard Knocks to visit the Bears. Would you endorse the move? How would it affect your job with more Bears coverage?
Is he? Interesting. That would be fine with me. At the end of the day, we would know more about the Bears from a behind-the-scenes perspective than we would otherwise. I'm not sure I would like it if I were a beat writer on site every day, but it would be golden for someone like me who mostly watches from afar.
Kevin, with the signing of Lloyd, it seems that the Vikings have some different priorities than just replacing lost pieces of the puzzle in free agency. I like that. It says that they are trying to improve the team. I think it would be a mistake to for them merely hope the ball and penalties bounce differently in the NFC championship game in 2010 season.
Right. Don't forget how many balls bounced right for them last year, starting from the relative lack of injuries.
I saw your post on compensatory picks. Who did the Vikes lose to warrant a 5th rounder? Was it Birk?
Yes, it was Birk, who started 16 games and made about $4 million last year.
Did Julius Peppers learn how to catch a ball, or be an OT as well as pass rush? If not, what's stopping Cutler from being Cutler?
Most Packer fans are pretty realistic about Aaron leaving. Class act he was he chose to go out of conference. Unlike the vengeful pirhanna of a couple years ago.
Ouch. Although I'll say Kampman went to the team that was willing to pay premium money.
Is it really imperative for the vikes to find a "3rd down back?" In the past years all the talk has been about getting the ball in Peterson's hands more, and I think he could be a dangerous guy on screen passes (which used to be more chester taylor's domain). Fumbling problems aside, would the vikings be better with AP on the field every down than signing an aging runner?
Well, one way or the other, the Vikings need a viable option behind Peterson. As far as a third-down back, Peterson has become a decent receiver, but if you watch closely you'll see he's not all that reliable against the blitz. He can't play one every down, so third down might be a good time to get him a breather.
the scary thing for the bears is that most of their defense is yet another year older. Urlacher wasn't that great two years ago, now he's one year older and coming off a big injury. To me it looks like they are spending money to spin their wheels...
Well, they are spending money because the alternative is clear: They can't win with the roster they finished 2009 with. At least they're doing what they can. That's the way I look at it.
OK, one or two more here.
Did Lloyd count against the number of UFAs that Minnesota can sign this offseason or was he previously released or whatever that makes him available to all 32 teams?
Yes, he did count.
Is there any one player in the rookie class that you would love to cover in the NFC North?
Based on fan interest, Tim Tebow might be interesting to cover. He's a college rock star.
OK everyone, thanks so much. Chat with you next week.