Chat with James Walker
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Dispatch. Walker grew up in Hyattsville, Md., before attending Temple University, graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in communications and mass media. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Send your questions now and join Walker on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Hello everyone. We have a lot to talk about so let's get into it. I thought about doing players only this week. But with free agency, there is so much going on that I want to keep it serious. So maybe we will fool around next week.
Kumar (Pittsburgh, Pa)
What is going on with the Steelers and James Harrison? Also, I think re-signing Bryant McFadden is a must, do you?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Kumar, Harrison and the Steelers remain far apart. It's been that way from the beginning, but since they started early, I thought the process would go a lot easier than it has. Money is a major issue, so it could drag out a little longer. I don't think signing McFadden is a "must." He's a good player who is more of a luxury for Pittsburgh.
Do you think Rolle is actually going to be released?
James Walker (5:02 PM)
Steiny, what's good buddy? Samari Rolle will either be released or a very expensive nickel back. My hunch is that Baltimore will let him go and save the $4 million.
James, what are the chances Ozzie picks up the phone and makes a play for Antonio Cromartie?
James Walker (5:03 PM)
Matt, as far as I know the Cromartie stuff is a rumor at this point. Even if something does develop, I wouldn't hold your breath of him coming to Baltimore.
Bill (Youngstown, Ohio)
Do you think the Browns will do anything with the free agent market because it appears that they wont
James Walker (5:05 PM)
Cleveland will jump in eventually. The Browns are more concerned right now on acquiring draft picks than players, because they want to turnover their roster. I think you will see another trade or two before the draft, with a sprinkle of free agents added here and there.
John carlsbad, CA
Hey James love the blog,how much affect will Haynsworths contract and Bart Scott's contract affect the steelers signing the DPOY, I'm sure you know who that is
James Walker (5:07 PM)
John, it's going to have an impact--more Scott than Haynesworth. Scott and Harrison are both linebackers so they are comparable. I doubt Harrison's agent would ask for Haynesworth money because he is a d-tackle. That's like a running back asking for QB money.
Justin (Queens, NY)
What is your opinion of the Jets moves (shepard, scott, leonhard) on defense? Will they be as "vicious" as Scott claims?
James Walker (5:09 PM)
All good signings for New York. Baltimore spends a lot of money on the defensive side of the ball and it appears Rex Ryan is taking that same train of thought with him to New York. You will like his scheme. It's very unique.
Hey JW, you think the Steelers maybe trade up in the draft and try and get Rey Maulaluga, I love Farrior but he's getting old
James Walker (5:11 PM)
I doubt Pittsburgh will take a linebacker high in the draft this year. The Steelers filled their gaps in 2007 with Woodley and Timmons, who both will become good players for a long time. Expect them to draft some other needs on the first day.
Tony Honolulu, Hi
Hey James, it looks like my Steelers have made up their minds about parting ways with Bryant Mcfadden. This wouldnt bother me except that Downtown Sheatown is 33 and going into the last year of his deal. Should the Steelers really trust Big Play William Gay as the new starter?
James Walker (5:12 PM)
I wouldn't rule out McFadden completely. The Steelers will leave the door open at their price, but most likley someone is going to offer McFadden a good amount. The Steelers like William Gay and believe he can step up. If not, they hope Deshea has another year left in him to fill in.
Nick (Youngstown, OH)
I'm sure you've heard the rumors James...Quinn and Rodgers to Denver for Cutler and a 3rd rounder OR Edwards to the Giants for Mathias Kiwanuka- Which do you think is more likely (even though I'm not buying into either)?
James Walker (5:14 PM)
Nick, I do believe the Browns will make another trade or two before the draft. But I don't feel these are the two proposals.
Shane (Westminster, MD)
Who starts at SS for the Ravens next year?
James Walker (5:16 PM)
Dawan Landry is coming off a neck injury and will be inserted back to the starting role.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
Don't forget the bengals are in the North also, jimbo. Opinions on the Benson signing and Mike Brown letting TJ walk with his lowball offers all year.
James Walker (5:18 PM)
JB, what's good? The Benson signing is decent since they couldn't get Derrick Ward. I think the Bengals should have franchised T.J. and got a draft pick or picks for him if they knew they weren't going to outbid everyone. They let him walk for nothing, because they franchised kicker Shayne Graham.
Do you think Flacco will take a big step forward next season?
James Walker (5:20 PM)
I'm really high on Joe. I think he has the physical tools and mental makeup to be really, really good. He's only going to get better.
Do you like the Benson move for Cincy? What other moves do you see the Bengals making?
James Walker (5:22 PM)
Like I said earlier, I thought the Benson move was ok, decent. The Bengals went after Ward first, which was better. But they couldn't get him. That's the nature of free agency. I don't see Cincinnati doing much more. The team may get a veteran receiver to compete with the young guys. I also think they will at least explore trading Chad Ocho Cinco.
JJ Evans (Greensboro, NC)
JW, why do you believe the Bengals have such gapping holes to fill. The breakdown below isn't too bad... QB? Palmer Starting RB? Benson Change of pace RB? Dee Dee & James Johnson WR? Chad #2 WR? Caldwell #3 WR? Henry/Simpson TE? Reggie/Utecht OT? Collins & Whitworth/1st round draft OG? Draft pick/Whit & Bobbie OC? HOLE!!!!! DE? Geathers/Odom/Fanena/Rucker DT? Sims/Peko/Shirley OLB? Rivers/Jeanty/Blackstock/Brandon Johnson MLB? Dhani & a backup/replacement needed CB? JJoe & Hall Safety? Crocker, Ndukwe, White
James Walker (5:23 PM)
JJ, they won four games with most of those players you just mentioned.
hey james how you doin? Who do you think cleveland should draft with the number 5 pick?
James Walker (5:25 PM)
I've said for weeks if LB Aaron Currry is there, take him. If not, take the next best linebacker on your board or trade down.
joedehring Hartford, WI
james do you think that the broncos would trade cutler for cassel straight up and if so would the chiefs do it?
James Walker (5:26 PM)
That's not going to happen. KC just made the trade, and Scott Pioli likes Cassel there just as much as Josh McDaniels in Denver.
Robert (Monrovia, Ca)
If you were the Browns what trade(s) would you make?
James Walker (5:29 PM)
I can't say trade "X" player for certain. But if the market value is worth it, I would look into trading Braylon Edwards and maybe Derek Anderson before his bonus is due. After paying the bonus, I would keep DA. Edwards is in the final year of his deal and not coming back. If next year is a throwaway/rebuilding year anyway...
hey james,do you agree with the decision of cleveland not making a splash in the free agency?
James Walker (5:31 PM)
It's not about that for me, Mike. I agree with the team establishing a clear direction and going with it. The old Browns, you didn't know if they were trying to ace the draft one year or ace free agency the next. Before you know it, you had a roster full of poor fits that need to be shipped out.
you said that you would keep Anderson if we gave him the roster bonus. why would you do that. if we the Browns paid the bonus wouldn't more teams want him?
James Walker (5:33 PM)
Yes, Pat. But the salary cap hit would be more than $9 million post-bonus. And you're paying a guy $5 million to walk. That's not good business and a lot of money for a player who will contribute elsewhere.
Mat (Cincinnati, OH)
Would it be a good move to trade Ocho Cinco for one of the best lineman out there and, if possible, get Crabtree in the draft?
James Walker (5:36 PM)
A trade for Ocho Cinco would likely bring draft picks. There are not a lot of player-for-player trades that go on this time of year. As far as drafting Crabtree, I'm usually against taking a WR that high in the draft. It's just not an important position.
Robert (Monrovia, Ca)
What about trading Kevin Schaffer and drafting Jason Smith at #5?
James Walker (5:37 PM)
Robert, I don't think anyone would take Shaffer with his contract. And I don't think Smith will be there at No. 5. He could be the top pick.
Hello Jim. Is there anyone in Cleveland that is safe with the oncoming ManKinis regime? Im thinking Joe Thomas is the only one.
James Walker (5:39 PM)
I would say Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs and surprisingly Shaun Rogers. I think Mangini and Rogers will have to make it work for at least a year with his type of contract.
Steve (Cincinnati, OH)
What do you think the number one move the Bengals need to make in order to get back to the playoffs this year?
James Walker (5:41 PM)
It's going to take more than one move, but they can start by getting Carson Palmer a good, borderline great, offensive line. People forget how good the Bengals' o-line was in 2005. Then age and injuries hit and they never had the same success.
I am doing pretty well, got my birthday coming up tomorrow so that's good. One last question though, what can we Jet fan expect from Little Jimmy?
James Walker (5:43 PM)
Happy birthday tomorrow. Jim is "football player." There won't be anything that stands out, but he's going to make enough solid plays in a game to help the Jets win. It could be a smart play here, a good punt return there. He's a solid role player.
WR and TE have to be the Ravens' biggest needs right now (assuming they sign Matt Birk). Any chance they can turn their first round pick into Anquan Boldin, or do you think the Ravens will stand pat and take the best player available (regardless of position) like they always do?
James Walker (5:46 PM)
I doubt the Ravens trade for a WR this year, JR. The receiver class is so deep this year, especially when it comes to speed, which is what Baltimore is looking for.
Will Ray Lewis sign with Baltimore again, or will he stay in the flow of free agency? If so, which team is best?
James Walker (5:47 PM)
Ray will likely be back in Baltimore. The Ravens will pay him the most money and the two teams--Cowboys and Jets--went after other players.
David (Bowling Green, OH)
What do the Steelers need to do in free agency and the draft in order to get back to the Super Bowl? Note they won the Super Bowl last season with a lack luster offensive line.
James Walker (5:50 PM)
To be honest, David, I think the Steelers are fine. Everyone has to catch up to them because they're the defending SB champs. The only starter they will likely lose this year is Bryant McFadden. They can patch a few holes in the draft.
Jeff ( West Deptford N.J. )
James,do you think Greg mattison will still be as agressive blitzing the quarterback as rex ryan was in years past?
James Walker (5:51 PM)
It's hard to be more aggressive than Rex Ryan, Jeff. I think you will see many of Ryan's principles still in Baltimore next year, but maybe taking a few less chances.
What about Marvin Harrison?
James Walker (5:55 PM)
What about him? Does he fit in the AFC North? I would say no.
gene (weirton wv)
james, we've heard alot about the "other" ryan over the last few days. what about the browns new d-coordinator rob ryan. turned loose, what can we expect from his defense.
James Walker (5:56 PM)
They are both pretty aggressive defensively. My big question is do the Browns have the players to (1) get the quarterback and (2) cover man-to-man on the back end if the blitz doesn't get there. I would say no with the current roster.
JP (Richmond, VA)
When Dick Lebeau retires or dies, whichever comes first, do you think Tomlin will revert to the 4-3 defense?
James Walker (5:58 PM)
That's a tough question, JP. It could depend on the replacement. But Pittsburgh has 3-4 personel with so many good linebackers so my guess is the Steelers will keep it that way.
Paulie (Slippery Rock, PA)
With Nasty Nate Washington bolting for Tennessee, do you think the Steelers will try to bring in a veteran receiver to fill the #3 slot, or do they go with Limas Sweed?
James Walker (6:00 PM)
Paulie, the Steelers are asking themselves this question right now. I have a feeling they like Dallas Baker a little and want to see if he can push Sweed, with the hopes that Sweed gets better. It will be interesting to see.
James Walker (6:03 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for the time. Sorry I didn't get to everyone, but these questions come in by the hundreds and it's impossible to answer every single one of them. If you have something else to ask, check me out at the AFC North blog.