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March 5, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Gary Horton

Gary Horton
  (4:02 PM)

As we say every week, there is no offseason any more. As the combine ended last week, our concentration right now goes to free agency, which teams can maneuver the salary cap, etc. So it's never a dull moment. If we ever have a slow day we can always talk about Peyton Manning.

Al (Wausau, WI)

Gary, the bounty issue with the Saints is on my mind today. I'd like to know your thoughts on this issue, and what you feel may be appropriate punishments for the Saints in terms of fines, suspensions, and draft pick forfeitures. Any comments?

Gary Horton
  (4:04 PM)

I personally think the NFL is going to come down really hard on this. I think we're in a very sensitive time right now regarding player safety. Not only is that a big concern for the league and Roger Goodell. Another issue is the fact that the Saints were, it seems like, warned and basically didn't address it. We have seen in the past that Roger Goodell doesn't like being dealt with in a non-straight forward manner. I think there will be some serious fines and suspensions coming down. That's just my opinion.

Mark (San Jose)

Gary how do you feel about Brees getting the franchise tag? How will this effect others being signed by the Saints?

Gary Horton
  (4:06 PM)

Obviously, I think they want to work out a long term deal, which can happen. But now that really puts Colston and others in question. Guys that I thought could be franchised if they could do a deal for Brees. Now, if the Saints lose some draft picks, they could really be in a tough spot for the next year or two. I think it will be a real challenge to keep Colston and those other guys.

Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)

Do you think the punishments the Saints and Gregg Williams will have to deal with will stop everyone else from having defensive bounties?

Gary Horton
  (4:08 PM)

I think what will happen here is that coaches in the NFL will distance themself from this quickly. I don't know whether it will go on or not in the future and maybe it would among the players, but I did not think the league is going to turn its head on this one. I think they will be very proactive. I believe that players and coaches will not want to take the risk of getting involved in this stuff and getting caught. It looks to me that there is not any tolerance at the league level.

Brian (Fishers, IN)

How much of a motivation could the bounty money really have been for Williams' players? The sums seemed pretty paltry to me, even for a defensive player making the minimum salary.

Gary Horton
  (4:09 PM)

I don't think it's the money. Maybe an ego thing within the lockerroom where you're recognized for a big hit or a big play. I think there is probably some peer pressure involved. But I would agree with you that the numbers wouldn't be a motivating factor. But I think they are more of a symbol than anything else.

Brett Dayton (Apple Valley, CA)

Looking at the last decade of SB winning QBs (both Mannings, Rodgers, Brady, Big Ben), does building a team as the Chiefs have and continue to build matter unless they bring in someone like a healthy Manning?

Gary Horton
  (4:11 PM)

As much as teams that win the Super Bowl have great QBs, we also see teams that don't. I remember the Ravens great teams were defensive oriented and ran the football. They got really solid QB play from Trent Dilfer, but that wasn't their identity. We've had really good teams in every situation that weren't necessarily QB driven. I think that's probably the exception rather than the rule. If you want to build a dynasty, you probably have to have a QB that's the face of your franchise, in most cases.

Rich (New Jersey)

Since Tony Romo hasn't gotten the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, is there a chance they'll trade up to get the Rams first round pick and draft a quarterback?

Gary Horton
  (4:12 PM)

I think they will draft a guy to become the No. 2 QB, especially with Jon Kitna retiring. I think they want to develop a young guy. But I think Jerry Jones and company are absolutely committed to Tony Romo as their leader. I think all of the eggs are in one basket.

Sean McKenzie (Van Wert, OH)

Hello Gary, longtime follower. How do you think BenJarvus Green-Ellis would fit for Cleveland? BJGE has good hands out of the backfield, run with power inside, and has the speed to hit the corner.

Gary Horton
  (4:13 PM)

He probably is actually a nice fit for that West Coast offense. I believe they'll move on from Peyton Hillis. Trent Richardson is always a guy to look at. But you might be on to something there. He's a veteran guy that can give you solid carries, but also help you in the passing game.

Michael Hibbing, MN [via mobile]

What would it take for the vikings to more from the #3 spot to #2 in the draft?

Gary Horton
  (4:15 PM)

I don't think they have a chance to make that move, because there are too many teams behind them that know they have to trade into the No. 2 spot to get RGIII. St. Louis is smart enough to know that the farther back you have to come from, the more you'll have to give up. In my opinion, Minnesota is in a no-win situation, where nobody really wants that pick.

Gary Horton
  (4:15 PM)

To trade up, they would almost have to give up as much as the other teams behind them are asking to give up and that is probably not likely.

James ((IL))

Do you think VJAX will go to San Diego or Chicago?

Gary Horton
  (4:18 PM)

In a perfect world, he'd probably be most comfortable in San Diego. What we'll probably see is him testing the waters, see what teams are offering and then see if the Chargers want to get involved. I do think he'll be a hot commodity. I think Chicago could certainly be a landing spot, because Jay Cutler wants a big receiver on third down and in the red zone. Another place might be New England. He would be perfect for the Pats as a guy who can stretch the field and open things up underneath. Other places like Cleveland are an example of another possibility. The great thing about Jackson is you can fill your WR need without giving up a draft choice, which gives you a lot of flexibility and all you have to do is pay him.

Gary Horton
  (4:18 PM)

I know there has been some concern about his off the field baggage, but I think we're far enough removed from that that it's not an issue with teams any more.

JC (Atlanta)

Gary, is Dontario Poe a top 10-15 pick or is he overhyped because of his combine numbers?

Gary Horton
  (4:21 PM)

Well, the people I talked to are mixed on how good of a player he is. I think everyone really likes his potential and has flashes of greatness. What they saw at the combine, whets your appetite in terms of trying to get him to be that good on every down. In talking to coaches, he has some inconsistency and he takes some plays off. There is a feeling that he does not play up to the athletic level that you saw at the combine. But I also think that was such a great performance that teams will go back and re-look at him and dig a little deeper. I am always reminded of what Bill Walsh used to say to his coaches: if I see a player doing something once, then I know he's capable of it and it's our job to do it every down.

bryan robbins (san diego, ca )

why in the world would the Chargers risk losing Vincent Jackson after losing Darren Sproles last year?

Gary Horton
  (4:23 PM)

I am probably in agreement with you. Although they have some real salary cap challenges. They have a lot of guys going into free agency. Where I agree with you is you can not continue to lose dynamic playmakers. That's what Jackson is. You develop these guys. You're looking for big plays and now you're taking a big part out of that offense. Those guys are not easy to replace. Just look at the attention Jackson will draw when he hits free agency.

Evan (Pittsburgh)

Why is everyone calling for the Saints' heads when New England got a substantially smaller slap on the wrist for Spygate? Although I don't agree with the bounties, shouldn't the punishment be less because it is not a form of cheating that would not result in a competitive edge as would videotaping another team?

Gary Horton
  (4:26 PM)

I can see where you're coming from, but I think the timing of this situation is part of the reason that makes it so big. We're right now in an era where players safety has become front and center. This goes right to the heart of that. Even though a lot of people may not think it's a big deal and it's something that goes on, I think you really have to look at the level of it. When I hear about hits where they cart a guy off or you're taking him out of the game, you should want to make those kinds of hits every down -- a hard, clean hit. When you go beyond it and there's pressure, whether it's from a pool of money or pressure among your peers, you put players in a really tough spot. I just think it makes everybody really feel uncomfortable. The problem with this situation is it's not just about one or two people at the top of the organization and no one else knew about it. If you punish 20-25 players who participated along with the coaches and the front office personnel, it becomes much bigger than Spygate.

Gary Horton
  (4:26 PM)

I just think it's important to not be down on a player for wanting to make a hard hit without trying to end a guy's career or without trying to get paid extra for it.

Gary Horton
  (4:28 PM)

One more thing about this bounty play. It's interesting, and it's just a thought, but in the last couple of years, I heard a lot from coaches and scouts that the Saints played to the whistle and sometimes past it more than any defense in the league. It always seemed to be right on the edge. Now, it certainly looks like we know that it was probably the case.

Michael (Cincinnati)

What's the market for Matt Flynn? Miami or bust?

Gary Horton
  (4:30 PM)

I think Matt Flynn will create a lot of interest. He's probably tied to what happens with Peyton Manning. I could see Washington getting involved. I could sort of see Cleveland getting involed. Miami seems to fit because the new coaching staff knows this guy. The telltale sign will be if Miami doesn't go after him hard with all of that knowledge of him that will be a red flag that Flynn is a one-year wonder.

Gary Horton
  (4:31 PM)

It's March, but it feels like we're right in the middle of the season. For somebody that does this for a living, you have something to write about or discuss every day.