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!
Andrew (Westfield, NJ)
If the Cards were to trade Boldin, what players/position do you think they target with the draft picks, trades/FA?
Mike Sando (12:01 PM)
They would have more flexibility in targeting a need. Tight end would be one potential need. I still think the Caridnals have been best served going for best available (DRC) than need (Levi Jones). DRC matched need to value, which was ideal. The Cardinals were wise not reaching for a running back, which was also perceived as a need.
I have always loved Anquan Boldin, but even if he hadn't requested a trade, I'd support the idea of moving him. I mean, isn't the fact that we are 5-1 without him this season indicative of something?
Mike Sando (12:04 PM)
Larry Fitzgerald's continued rise has given the Cardinals some flexibility there as well. The Cardinals do need to proceed with caution here, in my view. They can't let players think a few complaints will trigger a trade.
I think you mean Levi Brown. Jones plays for Cincy.
Mike Sando (12:04 PM)
Yes, Levi Brown. Thanks.
Kelly Jennings was pretty lame last year. What do you expect Mora & Co to do about the CB position?
Mike Sando (12:05 PM)
Probably go with Josh Wilson and Marcus Trufant as the starters while trying to help the pass rush through the draft, scheme and possibly free agency.
Adam (Cedar Falls,IA)
Mike any idea who new Chiefs coach Todd Haley is looking at you fill the DC position?
Mike Sando (12:06 PM)
No. It sounds like Clancy Pendergast could land in Dallas.
I moved from AZ to Philly recently, and Imy head nearly exploded when I heard some guys in the locker room at the gym (Eagles fans) glowing about how the "the Cardinals are a fourth quarter team". I was in shock. The thing I'm most worried about is losing the leadership that Kurt Warner brought to the offense. I think that leadership has been lacking for a long time, and Kurt's heart more than his arm is what propelled us through the playoffs.
Mike Sando (12:07 PM)
Life without Warner will indeed call for adjusted expectations. I would think Warner could get the Cardinals through one more season, though -- particularly if they protect him better through improved pass protection and more balanced play calling.
Steve (Issaquah, Wa)
Mike, Any word on what the Hawks are going to do with Leroy Hill with his resent legal troubles?
Mike Sando (12:09 PM)
This is a tough one. Tim Ruskell, the GM, has talked a lot about "character" as a guide for acquiring talent. That doesn't mean he'll cut every player who runs afoul of the law, but it does mean he's more likely to pass on players who have established rap sheets before signing with Seattle. On the other hand, I have not perceived Jim Mora to be as insistent that way. From a talent standpoint, I'm sure Mora wants Hill on his team.
Clint Prescott Valley, AZ
Do the Cardinals have enough money to give Q a new contract and be able to sign all of there key players while still be able to add a couple of big name free agents?
Mike Sando (12:09 PM)
Yes. Cap flexibility will not stop them from making those moves, should they choose to make them. I do not know the Cardinals' cash situation, but with the new stadium, I think they would be OK.
Jason : Fort Washington and Md
With the Niners needing a WR.. Is it possible for us to land Chad Johnson???
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
I'm not sure Chad Johnson's antics would fit what Mike SIngletary wants from his players.
Dugan, GCD, WA
I heard Tez made it to the final 10 in the HOF ballot, I'm happy he's being considered. You think he'll ever make it?
Mike Sando (12:11 PM)
I think he has at least a 50 percent chance eventually, but it's going to be tough in the short term. The voters have too many top players and not enough slots to induct them.
Rick San Francisco, CA
If Warner does in deed re-sign, will it be a one year contract or is there a possibilty of it being longer? Does this affect Lienart's future with the team ?
Mike Sando (12:12 PM)
I would think it could be a two-year deal. Leinart would be affected if Warner remained the starter for 2010.
Sando why is this team giving Alex Smith another chance enough with this is already. What is your thoughts?
Mike Sando (12:13 PM)
As long as they aren't counting on Smith, I see no problem nursing him along and seeing if he can recover enough physically and mentally to become viable again.
Who do you see making the biggest offseason splash in the nfc west?
Mike Sando (12:14 PM)
I would lean toward the 49ers. They'll have the cap room. Their new principle decision maker, Jed York, is 27 years old and running a team for the first time. And then the 49ers have made some high-profile purchases in free agency over the last few years, from Jonas Jennings to Nate Clements to Justin Smith.
Steve (Issaquah, Wa)
Mike, I have heard Mora say there will be no limitations on the offense next year including running the wildcat with Seneca Wallace, do you think we could see that?
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
We will certainly see more of those things from Seattle. We certainly couldn't see less! Holmgren treated his offensive system as gospel. He seemed to find that other stuff to be sacrilege. The question I have with the new staff -- offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in particular -- is how much they'll get away from the passing game.
Mike please tell me you dont buy the Wildcat as a viable, reliable, consistent offense. Its a gimmick and wasnt as effective at the end of the year. It wont be back.
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
For a minute there I thought Mike Holmgren had joined us. He would have considered it a gimmick as well. The Seahawks will be more apt to try those sorts of things now that Holmgren is gone.
PantherDave (Wilmington, NC)
If Peppers is tagged and not traded, do you think he would sit out the season with his 30th B Day approaching?
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
Highly unlikely. The financial stakes would be too high.
Duane (Redding, Ca.)
Sando, Will the 49ers land ANY big name free agents or do you see mostly 2nd and 3rd tier players coming to SanFran?
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
Like I said, the 49ers haven't been afraid to go after free agents in recent seasons. Unless they change their thinking, I could see San Francisco making a splash again.
JJ San Francisco, CA
Would the HAWKS think about trading or possibly cutting Julian and go with Leroy Hill long-term? Seems like JP might have lost a step trying to drop back in coverage.
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
That would seem to represent a step back. Julian Peterson would be one of the Seahawks' three best linebackers if he re-signed.
Am I the only one that saw Warner poubt and throw his helmet when Pitt scored with 30+ seconds left. It looked as if he didn't even think they had a chance to drive down the field , and with that offense 30 secs and a couple stops of the clock are enough. He just looked shakey and with no confidence that last drive. I mean, he had jitter feet, and almost fell down the last play and never even got the throw off. He looked totally different there than the whole game up to that point. I would want a QB to grab his helmet and show some confidence and desire to pull it out, not act like he did. I lost some respect for him there.
Mike Sando (12:22 PM)
Sometimes older players seem to recognize the futility of certain situations more quickly than their younger peers. I noticed that with some of the things Warner would say during the regular season. For example, he repeatedly said it's tough to beat good teams when you're throwing all the time. It's just too hard to be perfect in the passing game. That was an older player talking, in my view.
how do the 49ers consistently have the cap space to sign a major free agent? If they did this year that would be three years running they would have signed one of the top free agents. Granted this has not led to any significant improvements but its frustrating as a fan of another nfc west team to continually watch they snag coveted players.
Mike Sando (12:25 PM)
The 49ers have won a few offseasons lately. They have a pretty shrewd cap manager in Paraag Marathe. One thing they did this past season was write unrealistic incentives into players' contracts. The effect was to increase their 2008 cap numbers, making use of available space. Once the players failed to meet the incentives, the 49ers were able to "carry over" the unused cap space. That will allow them to exceed the normal spending limits in 2009.
I think plax is done in new york, do you think the giants make a move for boldin? or go receiver in the first round, and what do you think of hakeem nicks being that pick
Mike Sando (12:25 PM)
I'm not sure the Giants would be willing to part with the necessary draft choices.
FytinIrish Greeley, CO
Aren't the Cardinals kind of shooting themselves in the foot by relying to heavily on Warner? I mean, ok, he signs one or two year deal but retires after one. What do we have? Leinart? Ok, and then if he doesn't work out the Cardinals are back on the bottom. Inevitable or you think they can come up with something?
Mike Sando (12:26 PM)
I wouldn't call it shooting themselves in the foot. They have a good quarterback and they are playing him. That puts them ahead of about half the teams in this league.
i think levi JONES for Cincy was a bigger reach a few years back, than Levi Brown was for the cards in 2007. I do not see any immediate needs for Arizona in April, even without Quan....so can you see them taking the best player at #31 (and if they get a 1st for Q? thanks, great work, Mike.
Mike Sando (12:28 PM)
The Levi Brown pick looks worse now because the Cardinals are playing a right-handed quarterback. As a result, they have a top-10 pick protecting the quarterback's front side. I don't think they are getting the intended value from Brown at this point. I don't know how the Cardinals will handle that 31st pick. If they have 3-4 players rated evenly at that point, they could probably afford to look at the need position.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Please tell me the Rams will build through the draft and not overspend for older players past their prime. Keep your picks, evaluate talent, resign your key players - oh wait that is the Steelers and not the Rams. Darnit
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
I definitely expect the Rams to get younger this offseason. They were the third-oldest team in the league for much of the 2008 season.
Michael Alameda, CA
Mike, When are you headed for the combine? And will you be blogging from there? Michael
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
I'm leaving Wednesday of next week and will be blogging from Indy on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
What can be expected from Obomanu this season?
Mike Sando (12:32 PM)
I would think he could be the third or fourth guy if healthy. Some of that depends on how early the Seahawks draft a receiver and whether they add one in free agency. If healthy, I see Obomanu probably making the team.
Dockett said that he was stunned when he found out that Pendergast had been fired. Were you?
Mike Sando (12:33 PM)
Not stunned. Mildly surprised. I knew Whisenhunt had inherited Pendergast and I knew only four teams allowed more points than Arizona this past season (Lions, Chiefs, Rams, Broncos). All four of those other teams fired their head coaches.
Albert Haynesworth, where will he end up? any talks with teams right now?
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
Tampa is one possible destination. The signing period opens Feb. 27. Rules prevent negotiations before then, but it's no secret teams have informal talks.
sando, please please let me chime in on this one as it starting to drive me crazy!!! ESPN keeps talking about the Giants and the (assuming the dumped TO) Cowboys as ideal situations for anquan. But when they say that they completely ignore the cardinals side of it. The cardinals are going to be looking for draft picks, does anyone really think they are going to trade Q to the giants for the 29th pick! The cards draft 31st, why the hell would that make sense for them? And the cowboys, a team with zero first and third round picks, that doesnt exactly sound like a smart move for the cardinals. What could the cowboys offer, a 2nd rounder and bobby carpenter?!?!?! Its absurd. Sorry Giants fans unless you pick up a mid round first round pick to trade to the cards Q is not going to the apple. If he gets traded look for it to be to a team who needs a receiver (obviously) and drafts between 15-22ish. Nothing higher makes sense and nothing lower due to finances of investing in that high a draft pick!
Mike Sando (12:35 PM)
We're happy to help you get that off your chest, Mike. I just can't see the Cardinals helping the Cowboys.
Mark San Francisco
Mike, why is everyone down on Shaun Hill when he's proven himself as a reliable quarterback? Most mock drafts I've seen have the Niners going with Sanchez in the 1st round. Didn't we learn our lesson with Smith?
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
The lesson they learned was not to rush the young quarterback onto the field. Mike Nolan also showed them how not to publicly handle a young quarterback. The 49ers could still draft a quarterback early, but they would probably be smarter about how they brought him along.
Dugan (GCD, WA)
Who do you see taking the NFC West next year? Arizona definetly proved they're worthy of the division crown, however they did it on a year Seattle was crushed by injuries...plus there's that whole "curse" involving the SB losers. Seattle back on top in 09?
Mike Sando (12:39 PM)
I caused quite a stir on the blog this week when I suggested a healthy Hasslebeck would lead me to rank Seattle ahead of the 49ers. Before the 2008 season, I told a couple of Cardinals coaches I thought they were probably one year away from taking the division. That was before they named Kurt Warner the starter and before Seattle lost Hasselbeck and 5-6 receivers. Assuming Warner comes back, I probably favor Arizona.
Matt (Mesa, AZ)
What do you think the Cards chances of making a deep play off run with out Haley are? Do you think these chances improve with Martz?
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
Forget about Martz. He is not part of the equation in Arizona. The Cardinals' chances for a deep playoff run weren't great this past season. They will not be great in the coming season. Sometimes a team comes together at the right time. In the Cardinals' case, they also were able to get the NFC title game at home against the sixth seed. They made their breaks to a large extent and also got some breaks. It was a special season and special seasons do not happen every year.
Dugan (GCD, WA)
Obamanu 3rd or 4th? Who do you see us cutting? The line-up I'm hoping for would be Branch, Burelson, Crabtree, Engram, K.Robsinson/R.Williams/Bumpus fightin for final spot. Do away with Kent, Obamanu, Taylor, and every other WR that failed to take advantage of an excellent oppurtunity.
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
That depends upon whether Bobby Engram returns. Is he part of the new regime's plans? Not sure. Koren Robinson's knees will not allow him to play extensively for a full season. Courtney Taylor could conceivably be in that mix. What the Seahawks do in the draft and free agency will affect where Obomanu and some of the others stand. We're also hearing a lot about how players will have an easier time learning this offense. If that is the case, perhaps Jordan Kent and Taylor have a better chance at overtaking Obomanu. Both have some physical attributes that make that a possibility.
Victor (Avondale, AZ)
Sando, what are your thoughts of Russ Grimm possibly taking over as OC of the Cards. Does he have any experience calling plays? Will he have the same type of chemistry as Haley and Warner? Honestly, I am a bit worried about having Grimm as the OC for these reasons. Thanks!
Mike Sando (12:45 PM)
Great question. The Cardinals would be a different team with Grimm. They would almost surely seek more balance from the start of the season. Grimm's personality differs from Haley's personality. Grimm's relationship with Warner would not be the same as Haley's relationship with Warner. No coordinator was going to step in and have the same relationship Haley enjoyed with Warner. The key now is to make the right choice for the next few years, not just for what might be one more season with Warner. Also, Ken Whisenhunt will likely call the plays in 2009.
Crag (Budd Lake, NJ)
Its amazing how now the Cardinals are so widely talked about, and they have so many "fans". Where were all the fans in the 90's when 49ers were king? Does it bother you, because it bothers me.
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
The 49ers added a couple fans during the 1980s. I know because I was living in Northern California at the time and suddenly all these people who knew nothing about football started talking about how much they loved the Niners. Winning attracts new fans. I'm sure some of the people who suffered through losing seasons at Kezar had similar feelings about people who jumped on the bandwagon in the 1980s.
Do you know the actual cap situations for all four NFC West teams?
Mike Sando (12:48 PM)
Yes, and we have analyzed those situations in depth on the blog.
Is it time to cut Walter Jones?
Mike Sando (12:49 PM)
If you want Matt Hasselbeck to get hit more frequently, yes. If you want Jones going to the Pro Bowl with another team, yes. I think the Cardinals might be able to use him, to cite one example.
Does Donnie Avery seem like a prime candidate for a sophomore slump?
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
He hit the wall late last season, so perhaps he already suffered it. We will have to see how quickly he grasps the new offense.
Adrian San Francisco
Mike, with the signing of Jimmy Raye in San Francisco, do you think the Niners offense will take another step back?
Mike Sando (12:51 PM)
That would not surprise me. However, I do think the 49ers will be truer to their personnel. The Martz offense didn't really fit the people they had.
Steve (Issaquah, Wa)
Mike, Do you think Spencer would better serve as a guard? it would take a lot of pressure off him making line calls.
Mike Sando (12:52 PM)
I'm not sure his mentality lends itself to guard. I think he just needs to get healthy. Perhaps the new offensive system will help him.
Well, do we even know if Big Walt will be ready to play next year? Do you think he would restructure?
Mike Sando (12:54 PM)
His cap number does swell to $9.8 million. And he doesn't fit the mold of a typical zone-blocking offensive lineman. His base salary is $6.2 million. If anyone on the Seahawks has earned that money, it's Jones. I'm not sure I would ask for him to take a cut.
Ruben (Highland, Ca)
Hey Mike, Let's say the Lions take a Tackle, no QB or WR, who in the top 5-7 might trade up with the Rams for Crabtree or Stafford?
Mike Sando (12:55 PM)
It's tough to find examples of teams trading into the top five from positions lower in the draft. I know because I've looked. It just doesn't happen much.
Does Matt Leinart go in the offseason if Warner is resigned? Whiz doesn't seem enamored, Leinart has no interest in sitting for another year, he's eating up cap room, and his agent is Rosenhaus. It seems like a recipe for disaster. Will there be any interest? What could they get?
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
Matt Leinart's agent is Tom Condon and his cap number is about $2.6 million for 2009. I see no disaster on the immediate horizon.
Dugan (GCD, WA)
What AFC division does the NFC West face next year? When do the new schedules come out?
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
We discussed that at length on the blog. I hereby offer you a lifetime subscription.
Re Crag (nj): Some of us "real" fans that you are referring were baking in 110 degree heat sitting on metal bleachers of sun devil stadium watching our favorite team strive for a 6-10 record. I agree lots of bandwagoners but there are also some real ones out here in the desert.
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
Well said. I know some of those die-hards personally. There's room on the bandwagon for new fans.
Speaking of "just doesn't happen"... All the Cards fans seem to think they can get someone for Boldin, but when's the last time teams actually traded players? Only one I can think of was the Hass/Green trade way back when.
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
The Hasselbeck trade was for picks. They traded first-round picks. Seattle took Steve Hutchinson with the 17th choice, acquired from Green Bay. The Packers took a bust of a pass rusher with the 10th pick, acquired from Seattle. Jamal Reynolds. That was not a player-for-player trade. Those are indeed rare.
i dont think the cards are looking to trade Q for players but just an example, portis for bailey...
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
That was the player-for-player trade I was trying to remember. Thank you.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
Time is up. Hope to see you on the
NFC West blog.