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Mailbag: Peterson trade not the only subject

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

William Bryan from Vancouver, Wash., writes: I'm a little surprised (and disapointed) by this Julian Peterson move for a couple of reasons. If they (Seahawks management) justify the glorified release of JP as an overpaid, underperforming salay cap casualty, there should be more Hawks let go in the near future (Hasselbeck and Branch to start).

Secondly, the press release by [general manager Tim] Ruskell has only good, no great, things to say about Peterson. If he meant these things, he is making the case against himself and begs the question 'then why trade him?' I realize this has become routine for teams that cut recognizable players but it is a joke and an insult to the fans in my opinion.

Mike Sando: Bottom line, the Seahawks considered Peterson expendable. I didn't see anything "glorified" about the news release. It represented what teams say when they trade good players. It was far more positive than the one St. Louis issued to announce Isaac Bruce's release last offseason.

Quite a few NFL contracts are set up so that the team gets its money's worth if the player produces at a high level for the first three seasons. For example, Seattle would have been very comfortable with Shaun Alexander's contract if Alexander had performed at a high level in the first three seasons of the deal (2006, 2007, 2008). Alexander made it only two underwhelming seasons, so Seattle lost that gamble.

Peterson produced at a high level for three seasons. He went to the Pro Bowl each season, albeit as an injury replacement this last time. The Seahawks reached a point in the contract where they could afford to make this decision. I thought they would wait another year. I also did not seriously consider a trade.

When we first considered a possible Peterson release, as opposed to a trade, my initial reaction was negative. Why create a potential need from a position of strength?

I reconsidered after evaluating how such a move might play into expectations for Leroy Hill as a pass rusher. If Hill gives Seattle what Peterson was giving them pass-rush wise, then the Seahawks might be parting with the Peterson at the right time: At age 30 and after his sack totals have diminished some (not all his fault, I realize).

Let's also see what the Seahawks have in store at linebacker. No one wants to be second-guessed for parting with a good player. If Seattle signs Derrick Brooks or lands Aaron Curry in the draft, or if Hill becomes a dominant player in Peterson's absence, or if the team otherwise comes out OK at linebacker, we'll know Ruskell had a concrete plan.


Buster from Tacoma writes: Don't you really see this as a move to assure the Hawks take a offensive lineman with the 4th pick? Get Redding and you don't need B.J. Raji. It doesn't make sense for the Hawks to take LB Curry with the 4th pick, does it? I mean, the Hawks franchised Hill and just signed Lofa to a big contract. And then turn around and ask Peterson (who was at 6.5m) to take a pay CUT. Why spend more $$ at linebacker by drafting one 4th? How much will the 4th pick make (more than 6.5m I bet)?

Mike Sando: Darren McFadden was the fourth player chosen in 2008. His deal counted about $2.6 million against the salary cap last season. Peterson's contract was going to count $8.8 million against the cap in 2009. Yes, the fourth overall choice is going to get his money eventually, but the Seahawks would also pick up a very young talent at a lower price than what Peterson commanded as a free agent.


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 the Rams' situation and their needs. They have to emerge from this draft with a starting tackle, but those other needs are very real as well. It's going to be hard for the Rams to satisfy all their needs in the draft. They did well in landing Donnie Avery in the second round last offseason. Perhaps they wait on a receiver this time as well. I would probably be inclined to find the bookend tackle in the first round, then find the best defensive playmaker in the second and/or third round, probably a linebacker.


Steve from Orlando writes: Long time 49er Fan!! This question has been bothering for some time. If 49ers had waited to give Singletary a contract, could they have gone after Mike Shanahan or Jon Gruden?? And do you think they would have considered joining the 49ers?

Mike Sando: The timing for Shanahan did not seem right. He probably would have taken off the 2009 season anyway. Jon Gruden? He's such a grinder that I think he might have listened.


Brian from Kalamazoo writes: Redo the 2007 NFL Draft and where do you see Patrick Willis going? How does Aaron Curry grade out compared to him pre-draft?

Mike Sando: Without going through all seven rounds, I would see Willis as a potential top-five pick on a re-draft. Joe Thomas would be in there. Adrian Peterson would be in there. My perception is that the buzz on Curry would be greater than the buzz on Willis before the 2007 draft. Curry will certainly go higher than Willis went.


Orion from Arcata, Calif., writes: With the gaping need created by the Peterson trade, it's looking like Curry will be our guy. Let's just hope he's still around at #4. However, I'm not convinced it will be an upgrade at all. We're losing a proven pass-rusher, a locker room leader, and the chemistry of the LB corps will definitely suffer. Hopefully Curry is everything the scouts make him out to be, and then some.

Mike Sando: The leadership part isn't a big issue. Lofa Tatupu is a three-time Pro Bowl choice in the middle. We also need to see what Seattle has in store in free agency. I wonder if signing Brooks might make sense.


Mitchell from Seattle writes: Sando, with the trade of JP to the Lions, who will be the Hawks starting LBs? With Hill and Tatup
u they still need a third. Aaron Curry would be great to have, but it looks like the Chiefs will grab him. Will the Hawks use someone already on the roster, or draft someone? If Curry is gone who would they look at taking?

Mike Sando: Seattle found both remaining starting linebackers after the first round of the 2005 draft. Both started and were productive as rookies. Perhaps Seattle can do that again. Perhaps the team adds Brooks for the short term. Perhaps D.D. Lewis steps into the void. Perhaps there is a way to get Will Herring on the field some.


Matt from Scottsdale writes: Hey Sando, Andrew and I have a draft day bet going and I'd like to get your opinion on it. At dinner the other night we were discussing how Andre Smith botched the combine and did not impress at his pro-day. Andrew says there is no way he'll get drafted in the first round anymore, while I think his stock dropped out of the top 10, some team is still going to take a chance on him in the first 32 picks. Loser has to buy the beer for the second day of the draft. Who is out the money for a case on April 26th?

Mike Sando: For the uninitiated, Matt and Andrew are Cardinals season-ticket holders and friends of the blog. They've generally got a Diet Coke and a partially cooked burger waiting for me in the parking lot at University of Phoenix Stadium before games. I like your side of the bet, Matt. It takes only one team. I think Andrew will be more nervous than you while watching the first round. What kind of beer are we talking about here?


John from Detroit writes: You discussed what Redding brings to Seattle, what does Peterson bring to Detroit??

Mike Sando: I think he brings speed and situational pass-rush ability. I like the fact that the Lions have a defensive-minded head coach who will find ways to maximize what Peterson offers. Peterson will play just about every snap. He can rush from a down position in obvious passing situations.

I understand what the Lions were thinking. Given their situation, Pro Bowl players aren't going to sign with them voluntarily. The team probably didn't like what Redding offered within the new scheme and they knew Peterson would be easier to use. The Lions are getting a tremendous athlete with some pass-rush ability. Six or seven sacks would be the over-under, though some of that could depend upon whether the Lions are in position to rush the passer.


John from Los Angeles writes: Hey Sando, could you help me understand this Leonard Weaver problem in Seattle? Before last year, when he started getting noticed as a possible receiving threat, he was being groomed as Mack Strong's replacement. Our blocking fullback. Strong even helped coach him during his retirement year. Holmgren praised what he was doing early on.

Now that he's become more of a threat in the backfield, why the heck are we letting him go? What am I not seeing? He's got everything and more this Griffith guy from Oakland has. Going after griffith, why would we do that? Please help me understand this. Why would the Hawks let go of someone who gives us so many options in the backfield for someone who is obviously one-dimensional?

Mike Sando: The coaching staff in Seattle changed. The offense is changing. The things Mike Holmgren's staff valued in players do not always line up with what the new staff will value in players. Seattle committed money to T.J. Duckett


AZRob from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike, some are speculating that the AZ Cardinals were waiting for the Rams to release Torry Holt so they could sign him, then put Anquan Boldin on the block. Have you heard any of this? What are your thoughts?

Mike Sando: Haven't heard anything along those lines. We've heard a lot of speculation about Boldin, but if the Cardinals were shopping him, they would have to ask for something in return. I haven't heard anything along those lines. More smoke than fire on this subject, Rob.