Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
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 now and join Sando on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Sando, what do you think if this situation had happened to the 49ers? Say that the 49ers got lucky and a CBA was signed before the draft and they were able to land a QB like Carson Palmer in a trade. Then on the draft board somehow you either have Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton drop to them with Patrick Peterson still on, too? What would be the 49ers' need at this point? Do you spend the first-rounder on a project like Can Newton or Gabbert and let them sit behind Palmer or do you select a another big need in Petersen and select a QB in the later rounds?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
If you think the quarterbacks are projects, as you called them, then you move in another direction and take the best value at a position of greater need. If you think Gabbert is a franchise quarterback, you draft him anyway and have Palmer play the role Jon Kitna played for the Begnals when Palmer was a rookie way back when. You never pass on a franchise QB when you do not have one.
In your opinion, do you think that Jake Locker would be a good fit for Darrell Bevell's West Coast offense? I think we in the Pacific Northwest have been somewhat hyper-critical of Locker because we saw him all the time. It cannot be denied that he is a very talented athlete with a good head and a passion for the game. That said, he's coming from a team (on which he did struggle, no question) that on the college level looks somewhat similar to how the Seahawks looked last year, with a fair-to-poor offensive line, limited reliable weapons, leaky defense, etc. Is this Seahawks/Huskies fan fooling himself that Jake Locker would be a good fit for Seattle, or will it depend on the other moves that Seattle makes in the offseason?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
I saw a recent Locker interview in which he blamed his relatively poor completion percentage, in part, on the fact that he was making better decisions with the football. He was throwing away the ball instead of scrambling for a short loss. The answer was worth considering, but ultimately not convincing. Here is what I do not understand about Locker: Was he really a top-five pick if he had come out a year ago? If so, why would he be considered a marginal first-rounder one year later, with playing horribly or suffering a serious injury? My feel right now is that Locker probably wouldn't be the best fit for the offense without stronger assurances that he could improve that accuracy.
Clyde (Richmond, VA)
What's up Mike. I'm a die hard 49ers fan and I'm really concerned about our QB situation. What are the chances that we could land a Vince Young?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
It's tough for me to envision Jim Harbaugh wanting Vince Young, based on the things Harbaugh seems to value about the position -- accuracy, preparation, maturity and the like.
Kalen (Kodiak, AK)
I have been reading quite a bit about the possibilities of Seattle trading for Kevin Kolb once a new CBA is reached. This seems like a horrible idea considering what they already gave up to acquire Charlie Whitehurst. It would most likely take their 1st round pick and Kevin Kolb isn't a proven Quarterback at all. Don't you think they would be better off resigning Hasselbeck and perhaps drafting a franchise quarterback this year or next year?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Seattle did not necessarily give up a great deal for Charlie Whitehurst. It cost them 20 spots in the second round of the 2010 draft, at which point the Seahawks drafted Golden Tate. And it cost them a third-rounder this year, which was valued as a fourth-rounder when the trade was made, given that San Diego got nothing from that pick in 2010. I think it would be OK to make the move for Kolb if the Seahawks thought he would be a long-term starting quarterback. Look at the players teams draft 25th overall, or in that range, and most will not have the value a starting quarterback brings to a team.
Any chance the Cards go after a big name corner (Nnamdi Asomugha or Johnathan Joseph) in the offseason so that they can focus on the pass rush in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
The Cardinals haven't really been a team to overpay for other teams' free agents. They've been the team that watched other teams overpay for their players. I could more realistically see the Cardinals targeting a cornerback -- Ike Taylor? -- familiar to new coordinator Ray Horton.
Bob (Aberdeen Wa.)
Any idea yet when the compensatory picks will be assigned?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Yes, those are revealed at the NFL owners meetings each spring. Those meetings run March 20-22 this year. I am planning to attend.
Edward (Tempe, AZ)
Sando, what do you make of Coach Ken Whisenhunt asking Cam Newton to throw specific types of passes and then being the only coach to shake his hand as he left the field during Auburn's Pro Day? Does this give any insight as to the direction the team might be going with regard to QB?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
It tells me Ken Whisenhunt wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to fully investigate Cam Newton. It would not tell me anything about whether the Cardinals were likely to draft Newton, however.
Eric (Baltimore, MD)
Hey Sando,What is your feelings about this CBA deadline and effecting the Rams? I personally don't think it will be as catashprohic as most people believe just because we have a new offensive coordinator. Every team will have to take some time to get adjusted back to game speed. Also, if we do have free agency before the draft and we pick up a WR -- say, Mike Sims-Walker or a Sidney Rice -- do you see us drafting Julio Jones if he is available at 14?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
A lockout would hurt the Rams more than it would hurt some other teams. The Rams will want Josh McDaniels and the offense to have as much time as possible to prepare for the upcoming season. Sam Bradford would benefit from that specifically. But the lockout would hurt teams without established quarterbacks even more than it would hurt the Rams, particularly in cases when those teams are also breaking in new coaches. If the Rams do address receiver before the draft, they gain flexibility or at least the ability to feel better about neglecting that position early. I think the Rams would still take Julio Jones if he were clearly the best value, though.
Kevin (Silverdale Wa.)
Great work on the blog Mike. Two questions. Robert Gallery, it seems to me, is getting on the backside of of his career, will ask for a high-dollar deal and is injury prone. Who else is out there is a bit younger? I'll ask the second question later in the chat. Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Thanks, Kevin. Yes, the Seahawks would ideally target younger players in free agency. Gallery fits because Tom Cable is there. He's also more talented and better than most guards, and he would want to play for Cable. He's convenient, and an upgrade. Remember, they spent last season hoping Chester Pitts could be the answer, and Pitts had been told by doctors that he career was likely over. He was out there on one leg, basically. Gallery would be much, much better than that. Seattle has so many needs and cannot be too picky when patching some of them. Gallery seems like a good fit.
Even if a CBA is reached, it seems like the 49ers run the risk of taking a step back as a whole. I mean, you have to look at the potential losses of Manny Lawson, Aubrayo Franklin, Dashon Goldson and Nate Clements on defense, coupled with no QB and a new offensive and defensive system. As a Niner fan, I feel like I am taking crazy pills every time I see them take a couple of steps forward just to slide all the way back. Am I missing something?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
You're missing the presumption that Jim Harbaugh will provide vastly superior offensive coaching and direction, helping the 49ers get more from their talent -- enough to more than compensate for whatever is lost in the transition. But your concerns are legitimate ones to keep in mind. We do need to see what happens personnel-wise this offseason. There is no quarterback solution. A lockout could prevent the 49ers from getting up to speed with their new schemes.
Sando, with Nate Clements' sky-high salary for 2011, what are the chances he gets traded to let's say Arizona, and both teams swap picks in the first round? That would ensure the 49ers their guy and Arizona would save a little money by moving down.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Arizona wouldn't save money, though, because the Cardinals would inherit that fat contract for Clements. Clements has no trade value without reworking his deal.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
At what point do the Rams acknowledge that the backup RB spot needs to be upgraded? Steve Jackson would be even better in a tandem.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The Rams know this. They should have closed the deal for Brian Westbrook, in retrospect. That would have helped them. Draft-wise, the team had more pressing needs than backup running back. Sam Bradford was the first-round choice. Rodger Saffold was the second-round choice. Tough to argue with those selections. And if you are going to draft a running back, that rookie has to be quite talented to earn playing time because he's not going to be that great in pass protection right away.
Brad (Topeka, Ks)
What do you think of Arizona going after Palmer or Orton if available and who do you think would be a better fit?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Carson Palmer seems intriguing for Arizona. Kyle Orton would be an upgrade, too. One issue, though: Could Palmer hold up behind the Cardinals' offensive line? Kurt Warner was brilliant at getting rid of the ball quickly. Palmer is also an experienced, smart quarterback. The Cardinals would have to make sure he would fit. Adding him would bring some excitement and upgrade the position.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
Robert Gallery is asking for $8 million a year. Oakland was offering $2.5 million a year. How much do you think Seattle would be willing to pay? Keep in mind we dumped T.J. Houshmandzadeh and got rid of Deion Branch, so that gives you an idea of our approach to spending/saving money (don't know if that means we would be more or less likely).
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I do not know what Gallery wanted from the Raiders, but he might have wanted more from Oakland to play there, and he might take less to follow Tom Cable to Seattle, and no one is going to pay him $8 million a year, anyway. As far as Seattle's spending, the team paid more than $6 million to Houshmandzadeh last season. Most of the payroll moves Seattle made seemed to be pointed toward having great flexibility this offseason if a salary cap returned. The Seahawks are not averse to spending money.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Any room for Tiki Barber in the division, or does he even make it to someone's camp?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I do not see any NFC West team considering him. Barber indicated he was coming out of retirement, but the 32 NFL teams will determine whether it actually happens. I am skeptical.
Hey Mike, do you think there is a chance that Matt Hasselbeck could wind up playing for Arizona this season? It seems to me that with the labor issues, and the number of teams looking for a QB, that Hasselbeck's value could be greater on the open market than it is to the Seahawks.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
You phrased that well. I think Seattle would like to have Hasselbeck return at the right price, but the team also wouldn't mind moving on, either. This is conditional love right now. If Hasselbeck wants the type of deal that effectively makes him the starter for multiple seasons, he isn't going to get that from Seattle, in my view. At that point, do feelings get hurt enough for him to go elsewhere? And would he even fit in Arizona? The Cardinals probably want a stronger-armed quarterback, but Hasselbeck's experience and work habits would appeal to them. I think Minnesota would be the better fit for Hasselbeck based on scheme and supporting cast.
Kevin Kolb has 319 passing attempts and a 73.2 QB rating, Charlie Whitehurst has 99 attempts and a 65.5 rating. What has Kolb shown for those who suggest he's worth a first- and a third-round pick, as many speculating about his worth have suggested?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Discount the numbers for those players. Neither has played enough for us to rely on the stats. I would also throw out the first- and third-round compensation angle. That price seems too high. If you go after Kolb, it's because he fits your system, you cannot get anyone better, you trust Andy Reid's initial judgment and you like what you've seen from Kolb.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Calling Palmer & Orton upgrades over current Arizona QBs isn't a stretch. At this point, Jeff George would be an upgrade.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
At least you didn't say Phyllis George.
Armen Dacity (Winter Park, FL)
There have been reports suggesting that the Rams might be interested in Mike Sims-Walker. What have you heard and do you like the fit? In my opinion, he would be a nice addition, though not the final answer to the WR question.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
It's tough to know what to believe on some of these reports, but in general, Sims-Walker is the type of player the Rams should pursue. He is young, has very good size and has produced better than some of their current receivers. But I think it's also important not to over-project value by rewarding relatively unproven players as though they're elite.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Do you think the Hawks are happy with Marshawn Lynch? Yeah, he had the run of the year, but it was preceded by a few 15-carries-20-yards kind of performances.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
The Seahawks know their run blocking was horrible for much of the season. What they saw from Lynch in the playoff game against New Orleans showed he could be an effective player if the circumstances were right. It doesn't mean the Seahawks think Lynch is a great player, but it could allow them to go through this offseason without seeking an upgrade at the position. They need to focus their resources on the offensive line to get the most from their running game.
Sando, my 49ers are making me a little nervous, I am reading and hearing talking of maybe giving Alex Smith another year? Maybe even start? Am I the only one that think that 6 years is enough of him trying to prove himself?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
No. The 49ers agree in theory, but upgrading is the name of the game. Who else do they have?
If the Vikings move to LA, do you think they would flip divisions with the Rams?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
That would make a lot of sense. I would not want to see a storied franchise ripped from its fan base, and I would miss covering the Rams, but having NFC West teams in Arizona, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle would streamline travel for people covering the NFC West. I'll admit to thinking of that!
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Is Mike Williams just starting to scratch the surface of his potential, or do you see teams figuring a way to take him out of a gameplan?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Teams will pay more attention to him, for sure. Mike Williams needs to meet that challenge. He failed to meet the challenge against Chicago in the playoffs, and it seemed to bother him. He is a work in progress. He's a recovering first-round bust. He must guard against a relapse. It is a daily challenge for him. He has met that challenge far better than expected, and he could be just scratching the surface -- but he must continue working at it.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sando, regarding your comment about Alex Smith (who else do they have): Who else does anyone have? There are too many teams needing QBs and not enough QBs. If I was a 49ers fan, I would be more nervous that Alex Smith might head out and leave you with no QBs on the roster and not able to trade/sign one in FA.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Right. People should not confuse re-signing Alex Smith with committing to him or denying his career failure to this point. It's just a pragmatic consideration.
Albert (El Cerrito, CA)
What's the deal with Donovan Mcnabb? Is there any chance he could be traded to an NFC west team this year?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
There's no reason to trade for a player who is going to be released. It might be worth asking whether the 49ers might have some interest. I do not see Arizona considering McNabb. Seattle seems like an unlikely place for him as well.
Quote of the day, "Seattle has so many needs and cannot be too picky when patching some of them." - Mike Sando. That means best available instead of targeting positions right?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
In theory, but you have to still lean toward addressing the biggest holes -- quarterback, potentially, and offensive line, definitely.
Drew (Cedar Rapids, IA)
If Seattle were to re-sign Matt Hasselbeck and decided to focus their first and second picks on other needs than quarterback, what sort of QB options do you think will be available from the fourth round on? I live in Iowa and have watched their quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, pretty closely for two years now. Do you think he might be a good fit for Seattle's West Coast offense if he were available later in the draft?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Teams have had decent luck drafting quarterbacks in the sixth round, for some reason (at least relative to other rounds after the first round). The way I see it, the Seahawks already have their backup quarterback in Charlie Whitehurst. They likely would not go into the 2011 season banking on Whitehurst as the starter. He could be in the mix, but would not be the declared starter, most likely. So, if we assume the top two quarterback jobs will be filled, it's tougher for me to justify Seattle adding a third-string quarterback in the middle rounds. Picking up someone in the later rounds makes sense. As for Stanzi, scouts have raised questions about his footwork and accuracy. Those things are important in every offense, but accuracy is at a premium in West Coast systems, generally.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Re:Casy, it's not just what you have, but the alternatives at QB. See, Cardinals, Arizona, 2010.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Bart Kelly (Belgrade)
Why don't the Seahawks give Leon Washington a chance at RB? He was doing fine with the Jets when they let him I thought.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Well, he was coming off a devastating injury and providing great value on returns. Justin Forsett is pretty good as a change-of-pace guy. I do think the team could have given Washington more carries, but I also think Forsett can do that job.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. Time flies!