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 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Let's see what everyone has in terms of AFC North questions this week.
joe flacco ratbird [via mobile]
james i know u think im good but im truly scared of the black n gold. being a kid who wears purple on the field... maybe theyll play beck against pit?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I figured to start the chat with a good joke. It may lighten the mood a little this week.
Ron Pittsburgh PA
wow. 4pm finally here! Greetings JW When is a released players salary held against the cap and when doesn't it count? Foote's release frees up $2M. Would cutting or trading Starks free up the entire $8M?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Hey, Ron. Salaries are always cleared when a player is cut because those payments are made every week during the season. It's the various bonuses (signing, roster, option, etc.) that usually counts against the cap when a player is cut. The team won't cut Starks, but if it renegotiated a long-term deal that would free up much of that $8 million.
Hey James, are you going to be showing the same amount of love to the rest of the AFCN when the rookie camps and minicamps come around? I am tired of reading about the Steelers.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Absolutely. I will be at the Ravens' mandatory minicamp this weekend. It will be all Ravens all the time. I also plan to make it to the mandatory camps from Cincinnati and Cleveland next month.
Eric (Aberdeen, MD)
James, I enjoy reading your blogs. Are there any other free agent wide receivers that the Ravens are looking at? Do you think Kelley Washington could be a good contributor to the Ravens offense?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
It's pretty slim pickings at this point, Eric. Marvin Harrison is one of the few big names left, but the Ravens so far hasn't shown much interest there. Washington could be good for Baltimore because he is good on special teams. John Harbaugh likes those kind of players.
In regards to Steelers training camp, did Sepulveda punt? He was sorely missed last year.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Good question, Matt. Sepulveda was present but the Steelers did not let him punt during minicamp. I think the team is just being cautious right now.
Hey James--love your work. Lots of optimism from the rookie camp for the Bengals this past weekend. Looks like Smith, Maualuga, and Johnson all looked great--Johnson may have gotten the highest praise of them all!
James Walker (4:13 PM)
The Bengals rookie class has the talent to really do something this year. I think the part that is most important is how well they are coached. A lot of their talent is raw and needs to be refined a little.
Ben (Frederick, MD)
G'day JW, I know not many undrafted free agents make the cut out of camp every year, especially for solid playoff squads like Baltimore's and Pitt's, but do you see any guys to watch in the players the Ravens have signed?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Good day to you, Ben. Kicker Graham Gano and LB Dannell Ellerbe are two rookie free agents who I think have a chance.
MauiTom (Kahului, HI)
How did the Steelers' rookies look at their minicamp? Any standouts?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I like Evander Hood's mentality. He has good size and a good motor. But without contact, I don't want to read into that too much. Mike Wallace is really, really fast.
James, love your chats. Do you think A.Smith can play LT in the NFL?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
The Bengals are going to have to pay him at least $50 million as the No. 6 overall pick. So Cincinnati must believe so. Some feel he could be great at guard or right tackle, but for that kind of money, he needs to be your best lineman and playing at left tackle.
Elliott (Springfield, MA)
The Steelers are NOT the team of the decade and they will not be even if they win Super Bowl XLIV. They won their only two SB's this decade when the quarterbacks of better teams (Bengals in 05, Pats in 08) went down with injuries. The Bengals would have beaten the Steelers if not for a cheap shot to Palmer. And the Pats would have dominated again last year if Brady wouldn't have gotten taken out in week one. So please, don't talk about a Steelers dynasty anymore because it's just not happening.
James Walker (4:22 PM)
It would be a good debate, and that is all part of it Elliott. Also, don't mistake "team of the decade" for "dynasty" because those are two separate things. If Pittsburgh wins its third Super Bowl in five years, it would be a dynasty. As far as team of the decade, that is debatable.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
The Patriots of 2001-2004 also are a dynasty, by the way.
Ryan (Cleveland, OH)
Do you think that theres any truth to the possibly Braylon to Jets for Thomas Jones rumors? What do you think the chance is of him being traded?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
A lot of Browns fans are asking about this, and I don't have much light to shed, because I haven't heard anything about it. There are dozens of Browns stories in the past few weeks that never materialized. So I'm not sure if this will fall into that category.
Hey James, do you feel that the Browns have added decent depth to the D's front seven, even if not adding any spectacular talent?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Yes, I think Eric Mangini did a good job of accomplishing his goal, which was to bring in players he's comfortable with and turning over the roster. The Browns don't have a lot of stars, but we will see if this strategy works.
Marcus (Andrews AFB, MD)
James when do you expect Suggs and the Ravens to reach a deal.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I do expect the Ravens to reach a deal with Terrell Suggs. But I can't say when. It can happen in a few weeks or it can drag to the brink of training camp.
Mike (Altoona, Pa)
When it's all said and done, who wins the WR3 position for the Steelers...Sweed, McDonald, Baker, or Wallace?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Unless the injury bug comes into play, I think Limas Sweed wins this job. I saw a lot of good things from him last weekend. He's going to be fine in his second year.
James -- is there any chance whatsoever that Mack may play RG for a year before completely replacing Fraley at C?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Sure there is a chance. Mack can play all three positions. But he was drafted to be a center, so the Browns obviously feel that is the biggest need.
Alex (Cincinnati, OH)
I heard Quan Cosby had a good weekend at the rookie minicamp for the Bengals. Does he have a chance with the team, if just for special teams at least?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
The Bengals have a crowded field at wide out. Check out the AFC North blog for more on that tomorrow (hint, hint).
Chris (Columbus, Ohio)
So you don't think the Browns will keep Edwards, franchise them and then give him to Washington for an arm and a leg? I think he is going to be very productive.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
It's hard to predict anything beyond this season, Chris. There could be labor issues where Edwards would be a restricted free agent. He could have a repeat of '08 where he wouldn't be worth a franchise tag. There are a lot of variables that will have to play out.
Why even post what Elliott (Springfield,MA) wrote? It brings nothing to the chat except his own weird insecurities.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
I wanted to explain the difference between "team of the decade" and "dynasty."
Andy Prough, Kyle, TX
Hi JW, Love your blog - I've never been so informed on the AFC North. Did you get to see Keenan Lewis run with the DB's in Steelers camp? How about Joe Burnett? Either of them look like they could potentially see some playing time?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Thanks, Andy. Of the players you mentioned, Keenan Lewis did catch my eye this weekend. He has pretty good size for a corner and moves fluid, which is important for the position. I want to see how physical he can be with pads on, because ultimately that will determine if he plays on that defense.
Stringer Bell (Baltimore, MD)
Out of all the players and staff that you have met in the AFC North, which one has the best sense of humor?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
That's a tough one. I'd say Terrell Suggs. He's hilarious and has a great personality. Bart Scott was funny, too, but he's out of the division now.
Matty Ice (The Burg, PA)
James, Hate to lose Foote but Timmons seems ready to take over. Should the all us Steeler fans be worried?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Lawrence Timmons is ready. He's had two years to learn the system. I'd be more worried about who's behind Timmons in case someone gets injured.
Brett from Canton
Hey James, any chance the Browns go after Foote since his release? We could always use another inside backer.
James Walker (4:52 PM)
I think the Browns are pretty happy with what they have. Larry Foote is visiting Detroit on Wednesday, and the Lions may seal the deal pretty quickly.
Andy (Columbus, OH)
I know Brian Robiskie fills a need for the Browns, but was part of the reasoning on that pick to give the fans something to be excited about?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I've seen that written or stated a few times. Honestly, Eric Mangini is so locked in to what's he's trying to do that I don't believe that was a consideration.
Is/was there any chance of Foote renegotiating with the Steelers? Seems like Foote didn't want a reduced role and almost forced the Steelers to release.
James Walker (4:56 PM)
Larry Foote's days are done in Pittsburgh, Danny. This wasn't about money. He had a good salary. This was more about not being on the field as much when he could probably be a full-time starter for 20 or so other teams.
Walker, I don't really do chats anymore. I just wanted to stop by and see how u have been. Hope all is well my friend.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Steiny, everything is going well. As a Jets fan, you're going to enjoy Rex and Bart in New York this year. Win or lose, you will be entertained.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
On that note, I'm going to have to exit. Thanks again for all the great questions this week. -JW