Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Ant from San Francisco writes: Mike, I'm afraid the NFC/AFC West game-time issue can be resolved for all teams except the Niners and Raiders. This was not an issue when the Raiders played in LA, especially with the Niners of that era being a great choice for the second half of a doubleheader, home or road.
Both SF and Oakland have eight home games and two divisional road games (AZ & Seattle / S.D. & Denver, respectively) that must start at 1:00 PT if on a Sunday afternoon. They must also not have games that conflict with each other for TV scheduling. With this problem, there is no way for either team to have road games in the Eastern or Central time zones beginning at any other time than 10:00 PT so that the other team can play at 1:00.
The only loophole would be for either to have more MNF or SNF games, especially on the road. For that to happen, one or both will have to become more reliably competitive.
Notice how every year the league gives each team at least one divisional game on MNF or Thursday night? They're trying to cut out extra 1:00 starts for both so that the scheduling fits. It's why a bad Raider team will open at home on MNF for the third time in four years vs. a divisional opponent. Which team had the other year? SF vs divisional opponent AZ.
It's also why in the past few years both teams have played Thursday night divisional games on the road. So, unless Al Davis moves the Raiders back to LA, both teams become worthy of night games or the NFL changes its policy, both Bay Area teams (and likely their west coast rivals, to avoid unfair advantage) will be stuck with early starts while the league babies east coast teams.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Ant. You've got the TV scheduling issue covered, as usual, and I appreciate the perspective. You're right about Bay Area teams needing to become more reliably competitive. That hasn't always worked for other West Coast teams. We've seen pretty good Seattle teams left off the prime-time schedule for the most part. The Cardinals probably will not command a long list of prime-time games in 2009 even coming off a Super Bowl appearance, although we won't find out for sure until next month.
Tim from Portland writes: Mike, Can you please discuss why this East Coast travel change was made? I thought it was the West Coast teams that were struggling with all of the travel. Why did the NFL make a change to only benefit teams in one geographic location. This is ludicrous!
Mike Sando: The West Coast teams are outnumbered, for one. That means their views have a harder time generating traction in some cases.
Aaron from Redmond, Wash., writes: Hi Mike, with the increased talks of expanding the season by dropping a couple preseason games and adding regular season games, have you heard anything in regards to expanding the NFL roster size to help teams get through these extra games?
Also, has there been any talks as to who these extra games would be against? Would it rotate yearly through all the NFL teams? Or with the big deal being made over excessive traveling this year, is there any chance of yearly AFC West vs NFC West games, with possible home and away games against the same teams on years where the current rotation matches up the two divisions? Or maybe just general geographical rivalry games like Dallas vs Houston, San Francisco vs Oakland?
Personally I'm just really hoping that this somehow leads to yearly games of Seattle against AFC West teams, especially Denver and Oakland. Thanks, and keep up the good work!
Mike Sando: Expanding roster sizes would be one consideration, although the commissioner stressed that discussions are still in the early stages.
I like your ideas, though. The Seahawks could have games against their old AFC West rivals. The Cardinals could play the Cowboys more regularly. But some of the other old alliances wouldn't make as much sense geographically. The 49ers wouldn't want to play the Saints or Falcons on the road, etc.
James from San Diego writes: Hey Mike. Thanks for keeping us Rams fans up to date with the inside info. I was wondering if there has been any talk of a trade with the bills for Jason Peters. This would adress the top need of OT.
Not sure what the rams would have to give up. If the rams trade their second round pick for him, they could then draft curry 2nd overall. If they swapped 1st round picks with the bills, then they could draft Ray Maualuga with their 1st and then take best value with their second round pick. Any possibilities of this happening? Thanks
Mike Sando: Generally these sorts of trade ideas run into severe salary-cap limitations. In this case, Peters has only two years remaining on his deal (2009 and 2010) and the Bills would actually save money against the cap by dealing him.
As much as Peters would help the Rams -- and I think he would be perfect for their offense -- can the Bills really afford to part with their starting left tackle? They'll have a harder time keeping Terrell Owens happy if their quarterback is flat on his back more frequently.
Jim from Dana Point, Calif., writes: He Sando, any chance the Seahawks could trade for Shaun Rogers? I know he is a pain, but the guy plugs the line like no other.
Shawn from Phoenix writes: The Cardinals have the opportunity to be pressured into a horrible move by giving Anquan Boldin the kind of money he is asking for. He is not worth 10 mil a year. Their problem is not scoring through the air. They proved that this season, they can score though the air with or without Boldin. That extra money needs to go to the running game and/or defense. This is one time the Bidwills should not pay a player. Do you agree?
Mike Sando: Can they have it both ways? I think they can. There's no rush with Boldin because he has two years left on his deal.
We already know the Cardinals want to get deals for Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson before getting something done with Boldin. A long-term deal for Dansby would clear significant cap room. Releasing Edgerrin James would clear another $5 million.
The Cardinals are drafting late this year, so their rookie pool will be smaller than usual. Why can't the Cardinals keep Boldin and still upgrade elsewhere as they see fit?