Chat with Mike Sando
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions for Mike now and join him in The Show on Thursday at noon ET!
Victor (Avondale, AZ)
Hi Mike, great job covering the SB, it was a thrilling event to attend and I would encourage any fan of their team to go if they can. My question for you. There has been a lot made of the penalties and close calls. Despite all that, the Cardinals (and Steelers) rose up above it to take the lead in the 4th quarter. Do you feel it will be this mental toughness that will carry the Cardinals forward in the coming years?
Mike Sando (12:00 PM)
If Ken Whisenhunt has his way, yes. But I keep coming back to the quarterback. Kurt Warner was sensational in that game. Take away the quarterback and the mental toughness doesn't get them on the scoreboard.
Hey Mike: If Edgerrin James leaves as he's said he will, do you think that 1. The Cardinals will look to draft a running back with their first pick, and 2. There will be any top-tier RBs available at No. 31?
Mike Sando (12:01 PM)
Yes, that would be a consideration. RB and CB were the two early priorities for Arizona in the 2008 draft. Stewart was gone, so they took DRC. The Cardinals wound up taking Hightower later. RB remains a priority depending on what happens with Edgerrin James.
ray gordoN reId west point ny10986
QUESTIO PMN TO mike SANAQT12.1O PM HI MIKE DO YOU SEE EDGE OR KURT .W COMING BACK TO ARIZONA
Mike Sando (12:02 PM)
Edgerrin James, probably not. Warner, probably yes.
Paul (Santa Barbara)
Sando, It sounds like the Seahawks are in a salary cap crunch, if this $9M number is correct. How did the Seahawks get in this situation, and should fans be angry or will the Front Office deftly find a way to open that gap up?
Mike Sando (12:03 PM)
The Seahawks had more than $20 million in cap space as of last week. That number will shrink. I do not have the very latest number, but I would say the Seahawks have made some contractual decisions that have hurt their cap situations. Patrick Kerney's deal was huge even though everyone knew Kerney was older and subject to injuries.
Andy (Cinti, OH)
What would it take for the Vikings to get Hasselbeck? Seahawks need to be starting over and he is on the downside of his career. A couple middle round picks would be worth it, right?
Mike Sando (12:04 PM)
I do not see the Seahawks weakening the most important position. Right now every indication says the Seahawks will bring him back.
scott (tempe, az)
what do we do with leinart? what happens if kurt stays...what do we do with leinart? what if kurt goes? what are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (12:05 PM)
In looking at Matt Leinart's contract, I think the Cardinals should be able to keep him as a backup in 2009 and then make a decision for 2010.
Web (Springfield, MO)
I'm excited/ trepidatious about the Rams upcoming season w/ Spagnuolo. Any thoughts on why the market seemed to cool on him once the playoffs started? Also, you mentioned the other day you thought the Seahawks were right behind Az. Due to QB play. All things being equal (protection, etc.) do you think Hasselbeck is better that Bulger? Will Hasselbeck be healthy? Thanks
Mike Sando (12:07 PM)
The market is about perceptions. We know the Redskins wanted to hire Spagnuolo a year ago. That made Spagnuolo a "hot" candidate. However, I'm not sure how many other teams were lining up to hire him. Perhaps he was not as "hot" around the league as he was in Washington. All things being equal at QB, I would tend to favor Hasselbeck over Bulger, in part because Bulger seems beaten down some.
Kevin Gaumnitz (Phoenix, AZ)
Mike, do you think the Cardinals will trade Boldin this year to grab another first rounder? He did have a stellar year, and if they don't plan to keep him long term now is the time to unload him. I hope not though, he's easily my favorite player in the league. Thanks Mike.
Mike Sando (12:08 PM)
I think they'll have to consider it, or at least listen. But I see no reason to part with him unless another team makes an unbelievable offer. Two years is forever in the NFL. Arizona does not need to panic.
Hyman (rochester, ny)
Sando, One draft option that I haven't heard anyone talk about for the Seahawks is trading down from #4 to get more picks. With their cap room so low, is this a feasbile option? Would Chicago (#18), Minnesota (#22) or Miami (#25) be willing to trade up to get a QB? I would think Seattle would take any of those picks plus a Second/Third Rounder to avoid paying the #4 pick. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
We haven't seen a lot of teams clamoring to move up that high in the first round. For that reason, I would consider it a bit of a long shot by definition. Also, the Seahawks need a difference maker, not another borderline starter.
Mark in Manchester, NH
As a Pats fan from New England, i was transplanted in AZ for the last 3 years until recently, so i began following the once lowly Cards and hoped for the best. I have seen the greatness of Warner rise and fall and rise again over the last 10 years. He reached another Superbowl, and came very close to winning another MVP this season. any team in the NFL with questions at QB would love to take him, even if for only 1 year to develop a young arm in a draft pick, to balance out their team. I can see the Cards taking him back, but he is getting up there in age and the very expensive Matt Leinart is on the pine. so my question is just as simple as what is on everyone's mind: Whether or not the Cards to take Warner back, at what chance to they throw Leinart out there to perform, or will they trade him, or will they just make him sit in his wallet padded sideline seat?
Mike Sando (12:11 PM)
I would think Arizona would keep Warner and Leinart for this coming season. Leinart's contract is not prohibitive in 2009, to my knowledge. I'm thinking the Cardinals can postpone that decision.
Do you think the Seahawks can jump the Cardinals in the NFC West next season?
Mike Sando (12:13 PM)
Can they? Sure. Will they? I think the health of key players will tell us what we need to know about Seattle. Hasselbeck, Kerney and Walter Jones are coming off pretty significant injuries.
Do you think Gus Bradley will succeed as the new defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks?
Mike Sando (12:13 PM)
He's in pretty good shape because the head coach is a defensive head coach. I think that sets him up to succeed in the role.
Better player for the Cards to spend money on, T Suggs or Karlos Dansby? Dansby sounds like he is looking for 10-12 mil a year.....
Mike Sando (12:15 PM)
Go with Suggs in this imaginary either-or, but realize the Ravens will probably keep him.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Mike, thanks for taking care of us NFC West fans all year. Great job. Do you think the Rams will do it right this time and build up the offensive line or will they get too giddy over the skill position players at the #2 slot?
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
I think they're in better shape to get it right this time because their front office has some people with football backgrounds. However, I think it's fine for them to fill a skill position with the second overall pick, as long as they load up on the line later in the draft.
Philip Camp Lejeune NC
What happened to Chris Long? He was drafted #2 overall and then.......nothing. Did he have a good season, bad season? His stats say bad.
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
He steadily improved over the first half of the season (or longer) and then I lost track of him a little once the Rams imploded. I think he met realistic expectations for a rookie in that defense. Remember, they were behind quite a bit, so he wasn't getting prime chances to pressure quarterbacks. I saw a relentless player and an improving player, but not a dynamic one.
Another NFC West Picture? Can the 49ers pull what the Cardinals did this season and what are their chances of maybe prying Matt Cassel from the Patriots?
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
I don't see the 49ers scoring enough points to cover for other weaknesses. The Cardinals could flat-out score. I'm not sold on the 49ers for next season, at least at this point. I see them as probably fighting to be around 8-8.
Seahawks fans haven't seen this much turnover for the coaching staff in quite a long time. Knowing the team as you do, do you think the players will embrace the change (as they're doing in the public eye), or will they pay lip service publicly and resist it privately?
Mike Sando (12:21 PM)
I think they'll embrace the changes. The 2008 staff dynamics were not normal. There's a sense now that everyone is pulling in the same direction, and there's a sense that the generation gap has closed some.
Has their been any talk about moving lienart? If so where?
Mike Sando (12:23 PM)
I haven't heard that type of talk. The Cardinals might need him to start in 2010 or even sooner depending on what happens with Warner contractually and on the injury front. If I'm the Cardinals, I would not want to bail on the Leinart investment unless I were sure Leinart simply wasn't going to develop.
Paul (Albany, OR)
So is being a dynamic player something that can eventually click for a defensive lineman. Your assessment of Chris Long makes me think a team would want more out of a number 2 pick - especially when you see what happened to the teams picking directly ahead and behind the Rams in 08 (phins and falcons)
Mike Sando (12:24 PM)
Long isn't the same type of dynamic athlete as some top picks. He makes up for it by being relentless and technically sound and physically strong, but I do not envision him as a pure pass rusher.
Jason (Yakima, WA)
Do you think the NFC West will still be looked at as the weakest division? We've sent two teams to the SB in the past 4 seasons, plus SF looks like they could be a much better team this season.
Mike Sando (12:25 PM)
That depends on how well NFC West teams do outside the division. The Cardinals will get some respect now. The other NFC West teams still have to earn some.
Daniel (portland Oregon)
Mike, As 49ers GM, what player in free agency would you want most on your team? notable positions in my opinion... (Safety, WR, OT, OLB/DE, CB?) Thanks
Mike Sando (12:28 PM)
Most of the best players scheduled to become free agents will not reach the market, in my view. That means the 49ers will not have a shot at them. If you study the FA lists, you see slim pickings. You'll see some older safeties with name recognition, but the 49ers probably need some young legs back there.
Jon (North Port FL)
What team would gain the most value with the signing of TJ Housh?
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
In the NFC West, possibly Seattle. The team needs established, healthy receivers. The Cardinals have no need. The 49ers haven't even named a starting QB, and they want to run, run, run. The Rams still have Holt (for now) and Avery is an up-and-comer.
Daniel (st. louis mo)
I was able to see every rams play this year. Chris Long did get better as the year went a long. What really made him better was a healthy Lenord Little on the other side.
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
And that is a great point. Long is not going to alter game plans by himself, but I do think he can be effective if teams have more than just him to worry about.
Rick (NY, NY)
Mike, since Todd Haley is a Parcells disciple, I thought he would want to run the ball more. Was it a personnel issue (o-line, rb) or does he have a different offensive philosophy?
Mike Sando (12:33 PM)
I think it was a personnel issue. They wanted Warner to be comfortable and they knew their WR corps gave them terrific matchups. They were not particularly strong at TE in the blocking game and they knew Warner was most comfortable throwing it around.
Is Tory Holt still a No.1 receiver and does he any trade value at this point or is his contract to big for another team to take him on as a No.2?
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
I would not put Holt in that No. 1 category at this point but I think he could have borderline No. 1 WR numbers in the right offense, with the right quarterback. His knee was healthier last year. They just weren't very good on offense and they wanted to feed Donnie Avery for a while.
Any chance Seattle releases Branch or Burleson. Both are paid pretty well considering their injury history.
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
Branch played well enough late in the season to buy him another year, I think. Burleson's contract isn't as fat. His deal was never a big-money deal even though people mistakenly thought he was going to get $49 million over seven years. He was never going to get anything close to that.
When healthy do you think Justin King can be a big contributor to the St. Louis Rams?
Mike Sando (12:37 PM)
The toe injury he suffered raises concerns about his long-term health. That was a serious injury and a bad one for a DB to suffer. If he comes back healthy, yes, I think he has a chance at developing into a good player. But if you are the Rams, you have your fingers crossed on that one.
Curtiss Charleston, SC
Do you see the Cards putting the tag on Dansby? He would look great in uniform for the Phins!
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
The price would be north of $9 million, so I'm not sure they would want to do that. At the same time, I think he's a player they would be wise to keep. It's just tough when you have good players looking for great-player money. Calvin Pace showed the way on that one.
When will the Rams figure out that Witherspoon is a WLB. Their DT's are too small to protect him. He has pro-bowl talent outside.
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
The Rams need to strengthen the middle of their defense all the way through.
Do you think Singaltery can get Vernon Davis to become a football player and not just an athelete.If he can the offense of run run run dump to Davis could could be efficient until they get a weapon on the outside.
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
We saw signs of better things from Vernon Davis. That TD grab he made against the Cardinals on Monday night showed promise. But here we are again with the 49ers changing their offensive system. We all know Davis has had problems mastering the finer points of these offenses. Does he take one step back learning this offense? I'm still skeptical about his ability to become a polished route runner and who combines a strong knowledge of the game with superior athletic ability in defeating coverages.
Holt will not be on the Rams in 09, his salary is prohibitive, and he got slow...also Bulger is amongst the worst QBs in the league the last 2 years, and it is NOT the line's fault. The Rams will go either QB or Crabtree at #2, as they should.
Mike Sando (12:44 PM)
Agreed that Holt is probably gone. Bulger is beaten down. The Rams won with him way back when, but he's not the same player right now and I do fault the protection for some of that. Put him behind a strong line and I think he can run the offense effectively.
Tyler Laguna Beach ,CA
Mike thanks for all the great reporting this past season on the blog.......IF you were the Niners GM who or what would you do with the 10 overall pick?
Mike Sando (12:46 PM)
You're welcome. I would draft a future HOF pass rusher. Good luck finding one there, of course, but that would be the goal.
What do you think of Otogwe? I think he is overrated because of his hight INT totals.
Mike Sando (12:46 PM)
I don't know where people rate him, but I do think there is a gap between his turnover totals and his consistency as a safety. However, those turnovers do count, and he has a knack for forcing them. I think that makes him valuable.
You mentioned Kearney earlier. Any chance they cut him, or would the remaining signing bonus value prohibit that.
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
Cutting Patrick Kerney would force Seattle to take a huge cap hit. I just do not see how the Seahawks could justify that at this point.
Daniel (st. louis mo)
What do the Rams do with Alex Barron? He is not that bad, just average with lots of false starts. Do you see him being released, moved to another spot on the line, or just moved down the dept chart?
Mike Sando (12:49 PM)
Barron is in the final year of his deal (in 2009). His cap number is less than $2.5 million. That's bargain money even if he's a backup. I think the Rams should try to upgrade the position while keeping Barron as insurance.
Josh (Pittsburgh, PA)
Will Gore be back to himself this year?
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
If he can hold up physically, yes. The 49ers are going to run the ball a lot.
Hey Mike! What do you think the Seahawks running game will look like next year?
Mike Sando (12:51 PM)
It's going to look different. I think the numbers will improve. We'll see multiple backs sharing the carries. We'll see a zone scheme with quicker-hitting runs. The changes Greg Knapp is talking about seem like good ones if they can coach it right.
brent Carmel ca
Any chance the 49ers go after Jeff Garcia in free agency? He seems as if he would fit a ball control type ofense that they will be trying to run.
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
I think that would be a great move. The 49ers would have considered adding him last season but they did not want to undermine J.T. O'Sullivan as a starter. I do not know what the 49ers are thinking at this very moment -- they just hired a new OC and they are presumably evaluating their situation -- but I do know they have wanted to add a veteran.
I know he's their best player and a top 5-7 RB, but should the Rams consider trading S.Jackson? They are 2 good offseasons from being competitive and RB is the easiest postition to fill. They could then draft Crabtree 2nd overall and still get Smith or Oher with the 2nd 1st rounder.
Mike Sando (12:54 PM)
Jackson is too early in his deal. The cap consequences would be horrible.
Do you think part of the 49ers problems on offense can be traced to constant changes in coordinators and systems?
Mike Sando (12:54 PM)
I think that's a big part of it. That complicated their efforts to develop Alex Smith.
Kingman , AZ
Cardinals talk, Yes we have shocked the world. But, is it to far fetched with the recent balance in our new found offense that we keep James?
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
I don't see James returning at his $5 million salary. And because James probably wants to play where he can get more carries, perhaps that leads to a somewhat amicable split. The reality, though, is that more teams are going with RB by committee and James might not find a long list of better situations.
Daniel (st. louis mo)
Wow lots of Rams questions been posted. You can tell there is some excitment because of a new coach and a new GM with a football background.
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
And I am thrilled to indulge the Rams-related questions. We haven't had enough of them this season. I've been asking myself what I could do to engage Rams fans. Here's hoping they're joining the conversation.
Is it fair to say that the Seahawks are a bad team? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the Hawks are a good team that had a down year?
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
I would consider them to be a POTENTIALLY good team that went through a down year. Questions still linger.
Byron Leftwich to the 49ers any chance?
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
That type of move would make sense. The 49ers could use a veteran in the mix.
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by today. It was particularly nice to see Rams fans joining the conversation.