Mailbag: General managers under fire

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mike from Connecticut writes: Hey Mike, why is it that every offseason when his job matters most, Scot McCloughan does an excellent job to make the Niners the laughingstock of the NFL? Regardless of the hope Singletary brings, his lack of commitment to any one idea and conservative (and sometimes strange) decisions in FA and the draft yearly only hinder our progress. And the heavy reliance on the draft? That's so risky. It's like a 25% you can create a championship team that way. I would think 50% draft, 50% free agents would be perfect.

Mike Sando: I'll disagree on that one. The Steelers have won two of the last four Super Bowls despite letting talented players leave in free agency, and despite rarely signing big-ticket free agents from other teams. The best teams build through the draft and occasionally supplement with free agency. The most "aggressive" teams in free agency tend to win more offseasons than they win Super Bowls.

Ted from Pearl City writes: Mike, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments on the following 2 items.

First, I think the Cardinals should get a new GM. The reasons why I don't care for Rod Graves is he doesn't have an eye for talent and he doesn't have an idea of how the team should be built. As a result, he can't take advantage of opportunities when they come about (Exp. Getting DeAngelo Hall during the regular season to bolster their secondary). A good GM can do these things.

Rod Graves basically relies on what the coach and the scouts think. Plus, I really didn't care how he has handled free agency so far. We will probably lose Bertrand Berry at this rate.

Two, I think the Cardinals should not entertain a contract extension with Anquan Boldin. I think it would set a bad precedent. Plus, the Cards tried to give him an extension before Larry's contract telling Anquan that they wouldn't be able to negotiate once Larry's deal is done.

So if anything, Anquan and his greedy agent should be blaming themselves for not getting anything done. Anyway, I believe the Cardinals should take the Steelers approach and not give any contract extensions until the player is in the last year of his contract. That way everyone knows when it is their time. Keep up the good work Sando.

Mike Sando: I have thought at times that the Cardinals could use a stronger general manager when things get a little hairy. For example, when Anquan Boldin was accusing head coach Ken Whisenhunt of dirty negotiating tactics before last season, Whisenhunt could have used a strong GM to take the heat for his coach. That did not happen.

As for your specific criticisms, every GM should rely on his scouts and coaches before making the call on players. And Graves seems to agree with you on Boldin. He has not been making Boldin's contract situation a priority. In fact, he has expressly said the Cardinals will get to it after they take care of higher priorities.

Rhyno12thMan writes: Why do you think Seattle is not actively trying to re-sign Weaver? Do they think that highly of Owen Schmidt? is Schmidt a better blocker? I know he played very sparingly and looked okay in small amounts of playing time, but I didn't really get enough to evaluate him, other then he likes to headbutt stuff!

Mike Sando: I think the Seahawks and other teams would like to sign Weaver to the type of contract fullbacks generally sign, possibly with some additional bonus money reflecting his versatility. My read would be that Weaver views himself as more valuable than that. I predict teams will wait out Weaver until he decides to sign for less than what he thought his value to be. Weaver is the type of player teams would like to have for the right price.

Will from Boston writes: Mike, The Rams seem to have done a good job in free agency by retaining their two best free agents (Atogwe and Bartell) and upgrading three other positions- strong safety (Butler), center (Brown), and fullback (Karney). Assuming they also bring back Gus Frerotte to backup Bulger at QB, what do you think is next for them through the Draft? And would you agree that OT, LB, WR and DT are probably their four biggest remaining needs?

Mike Sando: I think you have nailed it, Will. The Rams need not only talent at offensive tackle. They also need numbers. The team must address that situation. We might also conclude that they will address the middle of their defense (in the front seven) through the draft.

I'm curious to see if the Rams are active traders. General manager Billy Devaney learned from Bobby Beathard in San Diego. Beathard wasn't afraid to part with first-round choices.

Teams rarely trade into the top five from lower in the round, but the Rams could, in theory, use the extra picks to help rebuild their roster. They do have several needs despite their free-agent additions.

Note: We'll hit the mailbag harder this weekend. My boss is in town and I'm meeting him for a late lunch this afternoon. Also, check us out on facebook if you'd like.