Hello everybody. Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started.
Do you think Victor Cruz was overpaid, underpaid, or got about what he deserved? And how do you think his signing will impact Hakeem Nicks future in NYC?
It's funny, when these things happen you often get a 50-50 split of "it's a great deal for the team" versus "it's a great deal for the player." I think in this instance it really is both. Look at where Cruz was just a few years ago. And now he's going to average more than $7 million per year. He didn't get the big money that a top outside receiver could get. But I think he did very, very well, particularly considering he wanted to stay with the Giants. And the deal gives New York room to work to keep Nicks, which was important.
Hi Ashley, Do you think the toughest division in 2013 would be the NFC West or NFC North & at the other end of the spectrum a down year for the AFC West or AFC East?
Toughest division? That's a hard choice. I think top to bottom that the NFC North will probably prove to be the most competitive. The NFC West is so intriguing because it should have two of the premier teams in the league, and I do think both Arizona and St. Louis will be better, but there still will be a sizable gap. As for a down year, I'll say the AFC East. The gap there is slowly narrowing between the Patriots and everyone else.
Ashley, do you only chat Philly sports or can we ask from around the league?
Fire away on all NFL topics.
Hi, Ashley. It looks like Matthew Stafford just signed a 5-ear contract extension with the Detroit Lions. Terms are at least rumored to be 5 years, $76.5 million, $43 million guaranteed. Do you feel Stafford is a legitimate franchise QB, and does this extension make sense to you?
Hi, Al. From what I understand, it is a three-year extension that keeps Stafford signed for the next five years (he had two years left). And yes, I think he is a legitimate franchise quarterback and obviously the Lions feel the same way. It makes sense. The Packers similarly extended Rodgers with two years left. I'm not saying Stafford is Rodgers, but he is legit. And I think the Lions are going to present problems for the rest of your division this season.
How high do you think Ron Jaworski should rank Matt Schaub.
I don't have Jaws' list committed to memory, but today he had Cutler I believe at 14 and yesterday Romo at 15. I would take Romo over Cutler. I would think Schaub would be somewhere between 13 and 10. He's better than average but not in the category of the top guys (Brady, Manning, Manning, Rodgers, Brees or even Flacco and Ryan, in my opinion). It's going to be interesting to see where Jaws has last year's rookies. I don't think any have cracked his list just yet.
What NFL Football Players will Retire After the 2013 Season?
I'd be shocked if Tony Gonzalez played more than this year. He nearly retired after last season. He's going to give Atlanta one more run.
Victor Cruz's contract (6 years, $46 million) is a definite-win for the Giants, right? Considering the money that Harvin (more injury prone) and Wallace/Bowe (less productive) got earlier this offseason, us Giants fans are ecstatic.
You should be.
what does your gut tell you about who to expect under center when the Iggles open the year - thanks
That's the money question for the Eagles. And as you probably know, it's tough to gauge Chip Kelly and what he's thinking. I truly believe that there isn't a front runner heading into camp. From what I saw during OTAs, I'd give Foles the slight edge. But when the pads come on and the live action starts, I've got to believe that it will be Vick. He's got more experience and has the better arm. But Kelly wants to see repetitive accuracy and decision making. Both of those things have been issues for Vick in the past, as has staying healthy. Even if Vick is the guy for Week 1, I think it could be a situation where that changes later in the season.
Hi Ashley, living in Philly and great knowledge of all the Philly sports, which team is closest to a title?
It feels pretty bleak these days, doesn't it? I guess I'd say the Flyers, but I don't even know how close they are.
How big of an advantage does a team with a good young QB have over the teams that are paying 18mil plus for their QB's? Niners, Seahawks, Colts, Redskins, all have qb's on their original rookie deals, thus more money to spend on the rest of the team....
It's a huge advantage. It frees up a significant amount of cap space to sign other players. Look how balanced San Francisco and Seattle are on both sides of the ball? That's because they've had money to spend that wasn't allocated to the quarterbacks. Of course the question now is how do Kaepernick, RGIII, Wilson and Luck respond in Year 2 (Year 3 for Kaep, but two as the starter)? And what have defensive coordinators and coaches come up with to counteract the read option? They've spent a lot of time on it this offseason.
Have you heard anything relating to the tempo of Trestman's offense in Chi? I'm looking forward to seeing something we haven't had in awhile....a legit attack!
It sounds like it is going to be up tempo, and fast. And I feel like Matt Forte is going to be in a great position playing in that offense. He should get a fair share of touches. As is usually the case with Chicago, the question will be how well does the line protect Cutler, and how does Cutler perform? It is interesting in that division that two quarterbacks got extensions with two years left on their contracts and Cutler is going into this season on the final year of his deal. He's got a lot riding on this year.
Ashley, it seems Eli Mannings numbers are falling off, what's your take on Eli's number for this season?
His passing yardage total in 2012 was well off of 2011, but his touchdowns and interceptions were about the same. This will be his 10th season and at 32 he still is very much in his prime. And you can bet he was thrilled Cruz finally got his deal done. I'm curious to see how the NFC East shakes out, but I think the Giants are in decent position heading into the season.
Which receiver in Denver will have the best season of the 3? Who will likely have the least impactful?
I think Welker is going to have a huge year. It was interesting that Manning said sometimes a quarterback and receiver just have a natural connection, and that he and Welker have that. I think you'll see that during the season. But I think all three guys are going to have a significant impact. That should be one of the best receiving corps in the league.
Mark in New York, I saw your all of your postings. I will say that I wrote a column about my feelings about Ray Lewis after he announced his retirement in January. As for who ESPN hires, I have no control over that.
I expect KC to win at least 8 games, maybe even 10, or more. The schedule doesn't look too hard for them to do that. What do you think?
I think the Chiefs are going to be one of the surprise teams of the season, but 10 wins, after winning just two last year, is a lot to ask. I think 8 wins would be a success. But that team has talent, and as I've written before, I think Alex Smith is a perfect fit for Andy Reid's offense. They've got a long way to catch Denver but I think Kansas City will be much, much better.
fair enough, but, you have no control over who the patriots hire, but you sure seem to have an opinion on that, right?
It's my job to have an opinion. So yes, I have an opinion on that.
Do you feel that it is correct to lump Cam outside of the "up and coming" QBs - Luck, RG3, Kap, and Wilson??
No, not at all. He got overshadowed last year by that foursome, but mainly because his team was out of it early. I think if you look at how the Panthers closed last season, that will be what you should expect for this season. And Newton is only entering his third year. That still qualifies as "up and coming" in my book.
Ashley, I agree that the Lions will be problematic for the rest of the NFC North this season. I think the same could be said about the other 3 teams in that division as well. Might the NFC North be the most competitive division in the NFL in 2013 (very possibly having 1 division winner, 1 wild-card team, and 2 teams that will come up 1 or 2 games short of the playoffs)?
Yes, I think that is true.
Will the Texans ever place a WR worth two cents on the opposite side of me so that I can have more room to work?
You would like to think so.
Any current players that you think would make a great head coach some day?
That's an interesting question. I'd have to give it some thought, but off the top of my head I would say Peyton Manning. The thing about being a head coach (or a position coach for that matter) is that the hours are brutal. Once players are finished playing, a lot of them don't want to have to work that hard. It's not a knock. They just want to get away from it. The thing about Manning is that he truly loves to work, study film and live at the complex. He is the ultimate gym rat, even still. Maybe he will choose a path like Elway's, but I would suspect he will continue to be involved with the NFL when his career is over.
With Long seemingly behind the learning curve but their most athletic lineman, do you think he'll win the RG spot for the Bears?
The Bears used their first-round pick on him (20th overall). So they better hope he will start this season.
Did Mr. Kraft's statement yesterday make you re-think your absurd "the Patriots have lost their way" nonsense from last week?
No. He admitted they made a mistake and that they were, in his words, duped. I thought it was curious that he said the organization wouldn't know what the players are doing away from the complex.
Hi Ashley. Do you think Drew Brees will have a huge season now that Peyton is back?
Now that Sean Payton is back, yes, I think not only will Brees have a big year but so too will the Saints. They will be playing with a major chip on their shoulders. Things slipped with Payton gone. That's understandable. But he will be out to prove his value and will be highly motivated. Brees, too.
Ashley, i'm not trying to pick on you for the article, i'm just trying to understand the hypocrisy of the articles, or, if you even see it that way when reading / writing them? I do appreciate the back-and-forth but, if don't you feel as a journalist that you if you write an article, you should stand by it and answer questions to it afterwards? Thank-you, and I will stop asking.
I appreciate the back and forth, too, Mark. And if you re-read the column on my son, I pointed out the hypocrisy. I get it. I make my living covering the NFL but don't want him to play. That's my choice as his parent, and I doubt I would make the same choice if I didn't know what I know about football from covering the league. As for my take on the Patriots, I do stand by it, just as I stand by what I wrote about Ray Lewis. I said I was conflicted about Lewis given what happened in Atlanta.
I don't what Mark is complaining about. I thought your article was spot on.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Do you expect Joe Flacco to continue to play at an elite level?
I do. As I've said, it took a lot of guts what he did last year turning down good money because he felt he deserved more, and he backed it up. But he's going to miss Boldin. That's a hard guy to replace. Boldin couldn't outrun me, but he caught everything Flacco threw to him during the postseason.
What do you think of ATL having a better secondary? I think they have a better shot this year than last. Gonzales is back, they have pretty much the same team, added Jackson and got a couple guys to help on Defense. Defense is what killed them last year, so I don't they will be any worse.
What the Falcons need is a better pass rush. If they would've had that in the NFC championship game last year, they would've won. They're close.
What do you expect from the Buffalo Bills this season? Can they get to 8/9 wins?
I think that would be a successful season for them.
Complete this sentence: If his O-line gives him ample time, Jay Cutler will be a top-__ QB in '13.
That's a great question. Read my column tomorrow.
Thanks for all of the questions and lively discussion. I appreciate it. We'll do it again next Tuesday. Have a terrific week.