<
>

Digging deep into the AFC East mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Dan in New York poses an interesting hypothetical question: What if Kellen Clemens holds off Mark Sanchez in training camp and then plays like the quarterback the New York Jets thought he would be? How would the Jets handle those two quarterbacks moving forward?

Tim Graham: Clemens is entering the final year of his contract. One would assume he'll be gone in 2010. If he plays poorly or Sanchez beats him out for the job, then it's easy to say goodbye. If Clemens lights up the scoreboard, then he becomes a hot commodity in free agency. And that's where things would get interesting for the Jets. They might want to re-sign him, but Clemens and Sanchez are represented by the same agent, David Dunn. An agent is supposed to work in the best interests of his client, but keeping Clemens in a Jets uniform would not be in Sanchez's best interests.


Travis from Corvallis, Ore., wants to call me out for poking fun at a recent picture of Tom Brady tooling around on his bicycle in Boston with his son on the back and a little dog in the front basket. "Give me a break," Travis writes. "We need more images like Tom and his kid in sports!"

Tim Graham: There was a little dog in the basket, Travis.


John in Port St. Lucie, Fla., wonders if the Miami Dolphins would be interested in Plaxico Burress.

Tim Graham: While the addition of Burress would give the Dolphins the No. 1 receiver they lack, the baggage is too much for their tastes. They're not interested. Besides, Burress still might be facing prison time. The Dolphins are big on their players attending all offseason workouts, and this would be too big of an exception to make.


Joe in Atlanta is curious how I define a No. 1 receiver. This was in response to various discussions about the Dolphins and Jets being in need of one.

Tim Graham: I'm in full agreement with Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson when it comes to this. Many people simply look at the receiver with the most prolific stats for a team and label him its No. 1 receiver, suggesting every roster has one. Matt and I are among those who disagree. We view No. 1 receivers as a class of player, like franchise quarterbacks. Williamson contends there are only about a baker's dozen or so No. 1 receivers in the league right now. These are game changers that offer an uncommon combination of skills such as speed, height and hands -- guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson.


Brian in Connecticut wants to know if there's any truth to reports floating around cyberspace the Buffalo Bills are interested in Michael Vick.

Tim Graham: This rumor has been gaining momentum, and I have no idea why. While there have been some speculative articles that list the Bills as a team that might be interested, I have not seen one credible report that alleges the Bills would even consider it, much less do it. Besides, I previously blogged that the Bills have absolutely zero interest.


Ryan in Tallahassee, Fla., wants to know if there are any updates to those whispers the Oakland Raiders will trade Derrick Burgess to the Patriots.

Tim Graham: That rumor has gone cold, although there's a possibility it still could happen. Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post recently reported Oakland offered Burgess to New England for backup quarterback Kevin O'Connell and rookie tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Lombardi wrote the Patriots turned them down. But as long as the Raiders want to unload Burgess and the Patriots have interest in a pass-rusher, a deal could be struck.


Jeff in Latham, N.Y., and Will in Oregon are looking for information on what kind of compensation the Jets would receive if Brett Favre signs with another team.

Tim Graham: The Jets released Favre from the reserve-retired list, essentially tearing up his contract. The Jets will receive no compensation if Favre signs elsewhere, and they'll owe nothing more to the Green Bay Packers if he signs within the NFC North.


Jordan from Beckley, W.Va., all but guarantees Pat White will be Miami's starting quarterback because the Mountaineer scrambler simply is too explosive to suppress. Jordan points to White's passing performances in the Senior Bowl and Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Tim Graham: I'm sorry, Jordan, but I just don't see it. Not only are the Dolphins set for now with Chad Pennington and for the future with Chad Henne, but White has looked awful so far at quarterback on the practice field. As the third quarterback, White won't get enough reps to overtake anybody this year.


Gavin in the Bronx disagrees with a recent post in which I named Bills quarterback Trent Edwards the AFC East player most on the hot seat. Gavin thinks Jets outside linebacker Vernon Gholston belongs there.

Tim Graham: I won't argue that Gholston has much to prove. The Jets drafted him sixth overall last year, and he was invisible -- one solo tackle and a healthy scratch for a must-win game late in the season. But I can't bring myself to put a second-year player on any hot seat. Yes, Gholston needs to step up huge to justify his contract, but the Jets' success won't hinge on whether he emerges. If Edwards doesn't perform with the supporting cast of skill pl
ayers, Bills fans will be ready to turn the page and start looking for another quarterback.


On the same subject, Aaron in Buffalo has a bone to pick with me. I wrote that with the array of weapons around him, Edwards will have no excuses this year if the Bills don't win. Yet I've often raised questions about Buffalo's offensive line.

Tim Graham: You're right, Aaron. I guess Edwards would have an excuse if he finds himself peering out of his ear hole often enough.


Frank in Miami says he knows "damn well" the Buffalo Bills should be higher than No. 21 in ESPN.com's latest power rankings and wants to know where I had them listed.

Tim Graham: I'm sure Frank won't be pleased to know I had the Bills ranked No. 22. As I explained in my breakdown of all the AFC East clubs, the Bills have a lot to be excited about. But their offensive line will be different at each position and probably will include two rookies. There's reason to worry.


Adam from Boca Raton, Fla., wants to know if all of the teams that emerged from the AFL will wear throwback uniforms in 2009.

Tim Graham: Only the original eight teams -- Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Texans (Kansas City Chiefs), Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers (Tennessee Titans), San Diego Chargers, New York Titans (Jets) and Oakland Raiders-- will wear their early uniforms for what the NFL is calling Legacy Games. The other AFL graduates will wear their current duds.


Gabriel in Miami wants to know if Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who's entering the final year of his contract, could become a Dolphin.

Tim Graham: There's no debating the Dolphins would love to have a player such as Wilfork. They also run a 3-4 defense, which largely is dictated by the soundness of its nose tackle. The Dolphins have Jason Ferguson, but he has a lot of mileage. He'll turn 35 before the end of the season. The Dolphins don't have an obvious heir.

All that said, the same reasons the Dolphins would be interested in Wilfork are the same reasons the Patriots would want to keep him. He missed last week's organized team activities, but the relationship doesn't seem broken. Unless the situation turns ugly, I foresee Wilfork remaining with the Patriots.


Kevin in Louisville says the Bills' success this year will depend on how much they improve their "anemic" pass rush and wants to know if I concur.

Tim Graham: While I see the Bills' offensive line as their most significant unit, I do agree the pass rush will unlock the defense. Only three NFL teams recorded fewer sacks than the Bills did last year. I recently put together a post of all the quarterbacks each AFC East team will face this season: Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning to name a few. If the Bills give that crew time to throw, they're done.


Eric in Fort Valley, Ga., wants to know if he's the "only person alive" who thinks the Dolphins will win the AFC East.

Tim Graham: Not at all, Eric. Always remember there are people out there who think this will be the year Adam Sandler wins his Oscar.