Mailbag: Heavy hitters in NFC West agent biz

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Andrew from Arlington, Va., writes: Mike, great blog as always. I wonder if you ever sleep since there seem to be new posts constantly. Anyway, reading the post about Drew Rosenhaus' tweets, I decided to check out his Twitter page, which you conveniently linked to.

Fascinating in how meaningless the comments are -- would we really expect an agent to write anything negative about one of his own players? So, why would his glowing reviews of Frank Gore's ankle or Ernest Wilford's work ethic mean anything? Do team representatives get his tweets and think, 'Well, in that case we need to renegotiate this guy's contract.'

So then I was wondering how many players this guy actually represents. Do you have a list of NFC West players represented by Drew Rosenhaus? By Bus Cook or any of the other "big names" in player representation?

Mike Sando: Sleep! I knew there was something missing. That's probably how most busy people feel. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a frequently updated blog, this being my job and all, but I will be taking some down time this summer.

As for the Rosenhaus updates, I'm all for anything that hastens the delivery of accurate information while also encouraging accountability. Sure, he'll be promoting his clients in those Tweets. But if he also lets us know when a client signs or wants a trade, we're all winners because he's on the record and the information is out quickly. We're all able to decide which entries come off as self-serving and which ones are helpful. And if he's going to provide injury updates for Gore and others, we can certainly use that information.

Rosenhaus represented more than 100 NFL players the last time I checked, which would have been late last season, probably. No other agent had as many. I see at least 14 veteran NFC West players on his representation list:

James "Bus" Cook represents a few players in the division, notably Parys Haralson. Eugene Parker represents Larry Fitzgerald, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steven Jackson and Chilo Rachal, while his partner, Roosevelt Barnes, represents Walter Jones and Alex Barron. Tom Condon represents Marc Bulger, Matt Leinart, Alex Smith, James Hall, Will Witherspoon and Chris Spencer. Condon's partner, Ben Dogra, represents Mike Gandy, Alan Branch, Kenny Iwebema, Patrick Willis and Kelly Jennings.

Those are a few of the heavy hitters in the agent business. Liz Mullen of sportsbusinessjournal.com has details on how Condon and Dogra fared in the 2009 draft.

Brent from Amarillo, Texas, writes: I am a huge niner and fan and look forward to everytime is see your blogs come out on the niners, I check for them several times a day! I was wanting to get your thoughts on terrell suggs. I would prefer him over Peppers only for the reason that he would be a better fit. With Suggs we would have a top 3 linebacker crew with haralson, spikes, willis, and suggs, then depth with lawson. Peppers seems to be a better fit for a 4-3. Do you agree with this thought?

Mike Sando: I agree with the thought and appreciate your initial comments. The problem here is that it takes two teams to make a deal. Terrell Suggs isn't going anywhere, most likely. The Ravens want him on their team. All indications are that Suggs wants to remain with Baltimore. The 49ers most likely will not be landing Suggs.

Julius Peppers' situation is different because he wants to be traded. While I think Peppers is talented enough to help the 49ers and the team would be better with him, the fit must be right in all areas if you're going to part with a draft choice in trade before paying the player. Also, the Panthers want Peppers on their team, to my knowledge.

Jim from Tucson writes: Mike, The NFC West had a rough season in 2008, but fans from all four teams are optimistic about improving substantially in 2009 and even winning the division. Last year saw a few teams -- namely the Ravens, Falcons, and Dolphins -- improve dramatically over the previous season. What are the chances that we might see something similar from an NFC West team in 2009? I am particularly interested in knowing statistics: how often do teams with 2-14, 4-12, 7-9, or 9-7 records one year get to the playoffs the next?

Mike Sando: The Dolphins went from 1-15 to 11-5. The 1999 Colts went from 3-13 to 13-3. The 1999 Rams went from 4-12 to 13-3. The 2004 Steelers went from 6-10 to 15-1. The 1988 Bengals went from 4-11 to 12-4. The 1992 Colts went from 1-15 to 9-7. The 1997 Jets went from 1-15 to 9-7.
The 2001 Bears went from 5-11 to 13-3. The 2004 Chargers went from 4-12 to 12-4. I know this because I did some Googling and found a Sports Illustrated photo gallery on turnaround teams. Thanks, SI.

Seattle has a good chance to double its victory total to eight and possibly more. The Seahawks made logical offseason moves to address perceived weaknesses. The 49ers probably will not improve dramatically from their 7-9 record even if they are a more consistent team, which I expect them to be. The Rams could to win more games in 2009 than they won in the previous two seasons combined (five). I do think the division will improve this season.

Hustin from Ponte Vedra, Fla., writes: Mike: I don't think the NFC West is a great division, but in my opinion EVERY team within the division improved. (So Far). I know that's easy to say for most teams after a draft, but it looked like the NFC West all improved and got good draft grades. With players be healthy for St. Louis and Seattle, there is no reason to think they won't be able to compete next year.

The Cards went 6-0 within the division but only 3-7. The 49ers had a great draft and got players to help out Gore. With all that said, should we expect an open competition for the division this next year? If the Cardinals do end up trading Boldin, I feel that will nearly cripple that offense, am i close in my opinion? Thanks, your doing a great job.

Mike Sando: This NFC West love is getting out of hand. I do think the division race will be competitive. The Cardinals dominated the division last season, but they were still only 9-7. It's not like they ran away with it at 12-4. The division race changes this year if Matt Hasselbeck is healthy and if the 49ers get the type of competent quarterback play Shaun Hill provided most of the time late in the season.

AJ from parts unknown writes: Hey Sando, I saw that Pisa was released, you said "Tinoisamoa, a six-year veteran drafted by the Rams in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft, recorded 135 tackles in 2008, 88 of which were solo." While I wish he had 135 tackles, espn.com has him only having 104. Thanks for doing a great job on the blog, and for updating your facebook with links.

Mike Sando: You're welcome, A.J. I did not write that passage about Tinoisamoa (it sounds like a caption, perhaps?). Tackle stats are unofficial. There is no uniform standard for recording them. For that reason, I never cite them.

Paco from Hermosillo, Mexico writes: Hey Sando, great work as always. I have a comment for your readers, specially the Seahawks fans, I really enjoy their passion for their teams, but they have to be more objective in saying why they will win the division.

I understand it is the time of the year to feel good about your team, but I disagree whith their opinions on the Cardinals, I think the Cardinals' roster just got better and the players matured during the Super Bowl run, learned more about themselves. This is not a 16-0 team -- there is room for improvement for sure, and I am sure they are hungry to get back, specially having Whisenhunt in charge.

As for the Seahawks, I understand they had terrible luck with injuries, but maybe players just got old, like Walter Jones (a key player in my opinion), or Patrick Kerney or Matt Hasselbeck. Or maybe they really miss Steve Hutchinson and haven't found a replacement to Shaun Alexander.

Players can get old in a hurry, and one last thing, to the other teams' fans, don't base your predictions on injuries, because that we can't predict (some players are more prone than others but still). Better tell us why you think your teams' talent and coaching is better than the Cardinals, and why you think your team will win the division, but don't start by saying that Kurt Warner is getting hurt for sure, because it is very unfortunate to be rooting for a player to get injured, regardless of the team he plays for ... GO CARDINALS

Mike Sando: Hoping for injuries is indeed bad form. However, it's fair to note that the Cardinals were unusually healthy last season. They had a league-low three players on injured reserve heading into the weekend of Jan. 10. The rest of the division had a combined 34.

Ken Whisenhunt credited strength and conditioning coach John Lott for what others might cast as good fortune. I suspect Lott is very good at what he does. I also think the Cardinals caught some breaks with injuries. Some of their players, including Kurt Warner, also toughed it out. That tends to happen more when teams and players are enjoying successful seasons.

Anonymous from Oso Viejo, Calif., writes: FO has their "Four Downs: NFC West" piece up.

Mike Sando: Thanks for the link. While we're touching on injuries, let's consider what Football Outsiders had to say about Cardinals first-round choice Beanie Wells:

Wells is a powerful runner who can move the pile, but he's got a lot of wear on his tires. Over the past two years, he has suffered the following injuries: left ankle sprain; right wrist sprain; thumb fracture; right foot sprain; turf toe; hamstring strain; and a concussion. Not exactly confidence inspiring, is it?

While NFC West rivals wouldn't mind seeing Leinart handing off to Hightower, the Cardinals are counting on Warner handing off to Wells [and Hightower]. Can they stay healthy enough to play consistently well for most of the season?

Cheese from San Mateo, Calif., writes: Sando. Love you work and your dedication. It shows. I am a greedy Niner fan and I know the 49ers need help with the pass rush. But how much do you think the 49ers would have to overpay to get Boldin from AZ? Crabtree and Boldin together I think would be amazing!

Mike Sando: The Cardinals would not trade Boldin within the division, in my view, but every transaction has its price. The price Arizona would demand would surely exceed what the 49ers would be willing to pay. It's a futile exercise. Let's say the Cardinals would take both of the 49ers' first-round picks in 2010. Great! Except the 49ers would not part with them. It's a mismatch made in our imaginations.