Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
It's getting crazy already in the AFC North. Let's talk about it.
Al (Wausau, WI)
James, I'm a Minnesota Vikings fan with a Cleveland Browns question. Do you think the Vikings' Ray Edwards might be of interest to the Browns? Do you feel he may be a good fit for them?
James Walker (4:01 PM)
I think there is a good chance because it matches need and available money. The Browns have both. The biggest question is will Edwards want to play for a rebuilding team. The Browns, overall, are a tough sell to free agents, especially if there are other suitors with a better chance to compete for a championship.
If the Steelers lose Ike Taylor, could Johnathan Joseph be a possible target to sign?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
No. Both players will be in the same range in terms of salary. If the Steelers can't re-sign Taylor, they probably won't be able to get Joseph, either. Joseph is younger, too, and will command more years. Carlos Rogers and Richard Marshall are more likely as replacements.
Joshua (Timonium MD)
What are the chances the Ravens cut Mason, Heap, McGahee, and Gregg in order to sign Nnamdi? And if they do sign him does that make them the favorite to win the division? He would shut down a whole side of the field giving Ed Reed even more of a chance to dominate.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
A lot of people have been throwing out that theory, but I still don't see it. The Ravens needed to get under the cap so they can make several moves. I doubt they're doing all of this for one player. Nnamdi will cost a team $15-$16 million. The Ravens will be fine without him.
Should Browns focus on signing Joe Thomas to a long-term deal now? Would JT stay in Cleveland or go to a winner?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
Things are moving so fast right now that it's not the Browns' primary focus. Thomas is making a good salary this year as a former No. 3 overall pick, so he's not clamoring for a raise. The risk Cleveland runs is allowing him to hit the open market next year if they don't use the franchise tag. Thomas has shown no signs of wanting out.
What is the best combination of players to bring back at an agreed upon lower salary from gregg, heap, mason, and mcgahee?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
Mason and Heap would be my picks. They are some of Joe Flacco's favorite targets, and I think you have to keep your QB happy. But the Ravens will only do it if the price is right. If not, they're moving on.
Jason (Dayton Ohio)
is the new spending rule going to force Mike Brown to field a more consistent and competitive team for the next ten years?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
In theory, yes. More spending should make for a more competitive team. But ownership still has to pick the right players. The front office will still separate the good teams from the bad teams.
Big Fan first of all. What are the chances the Bengals keep both Joesph and Benson? Which QB should the Bengals go after in FA? Do you think Dalton or the expirenced veteran should start?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Thanks, Donnie. The Bengals have plenty of cap room to keep both players. Joseph would like to stay in Cincy, but he wasn't offered market value when the team had a chance to earlier. Maybe that will change this week. I would stay away from Benson right now until he figures out his legal situation. But the Bengals really wanted him back and could probably get him on the cheap now. So we will see what happens.
Does Gregg have much left? Does he catch on somewhere else?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Gregg could probably get a short-term deal somewhere else for another year. I think Baltimore really likes Terrence Cody and is ready to move on with him and Haloti Ngata.
Do you see a Hasselbeck-Holmgren reunion in Cleveland heating up?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
No. The team is invested in Colt McCoy this year. The only QBs they will look for is a developmental type to serve as the No. 3 and replace Jake Delhomme.
Puckett (Fort Collins)
Many players have commented they dont want Palmer back from his own locker room, did you ever hear of Palmer having any issues with other players on the Bengals?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
It's not a matter of locker-room issues. Players know how important the QB position is, and if that player doesn't have his heart into it, it impacts the entire team negatively. Palmer has been a great teammate and is probably one of the nicest guys I've ever covered. If anything, I think he was too nice and needed to be more in-your-face as a QB.
Mike (Ann Arbor)
Do you think any of the 15 undrafted free agents can make an immediate impact for Pittsburgh?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
It's going to be tough for any undrafted rookie in Pittsburgh, which has a veteran team. But one player who stood out was RB John Clay. The Steelers have had success in the past with undrafted RBs like Willie Parker and Isaac Redman.
Do you think James Harrison and/or Hines Ward will be suspended for the week 1 showdown in bmore?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Nope. Both players should be safe. At most, Harrison may get fined for his comments. But that's about it.
Pickleman (Burlinton, Ontario)
Do players really care about winning a championship or getting paid? If it's getting paid, why wouldn't guys want to go to Cleveland or Cincinnati where they can get paid a be the stars on their new team?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
A lot of it depends on the stage of their careers. Getting paid is probably the biggest factor. But sometimes a player can get paid AND play for a contender. Bad teams aren't the only ones with money to spend.
A bit of an obscure question...what's the story with Limas Sweed? has he recovered from the Achilles and is he in the mix for the Steelers at WR?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Sweed is recovered and healthy. The issue is he's way behind on the depth chart and would need a couple injuries ahead of him to show what he can do.
I'm a little concerned about the Steelers dumping Aaron Smith. Do you think it will happen?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
I wouldn't rule it out. The Steelers have a ton of respect for Smith, though, and would probably ask him to restructure his contract first. If Smith refuses, they may have a decision to make.
Which veteran Steelers are likely to be cut?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Most likely cuts are OT Flozell Adams and WR Antwaan Randle El. I think DE Aaron Smith will be asked to restructure his deal, as well.
David (Gahanna, OH)
How safe is Robiskie on the Browns?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Brian Robiskie is safe. He will be on the team. But if Cleveland can find a starting WR, that will put Robiskie on the bench. Greg Little may eventually be that guy. But we have to see how quickly he develops.
James - Do you see the Brownies trying to hold on to Lawrence Vickers? If not, do you think Marecic is capable of coming in and making an impact?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Vickers is gone, Tony. The Browns are already going forward with Owen Marecic and feel he's a better fit. Vickers, a free agent, will sign somewhere else.
GM for a day (Bmore)
I think dropping McClain and signing Vickers is the move, your thoughts JW
James Walker (4:36 PM)
That would be a great move for the Ravens in terms of what they're looking for. Browns fans won't be happy about that.
Rob (San Antonio)
What does your camp schedule look like?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Thanks for asking, Rob. I'm starting in Latrobe with the Steelers Thursday and through the weekend. Then I'm doing the Browns next week, leading into the HOF ceremony in Canton. From there it's up in the air to do Baltimore third or the Bengals third.
So after hearing Mike Brown say "Carson signed a contract. He made a commitment. He gave his word. We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment." can we assume that there will be no cuts in Cincinnati? Anything else would be hypocritical.
James Walker (4:40 PM)
Good point, Will. I never understood why teams and fans use that argument, because it doesn't make sense. Teams cut players all the time before their contracts are up either because of injuries or underperformance. Doesn't that mean teams don't honor their word? It's the NFL, which is a rough business.
I wish the steelers would be more active with free agents, i feel they're behind the times, any thoughts?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Behind the times? They've gone to two Super Bowls in the last three years? The Steelers are doing things the right way, which is building through the draft. Pittsburgh is not the Cowboys or Redskins or Raiders. Steeler Nation complains every year about the team not signing other team's players. But they spend money to keep their own guys, who they feel are more valuable.
Why has Delomme not been cut already?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
The Browns and Bengals are taking their time, because they have plenty of cap room to sign players. It's the Steelers and Ravens who have to move fast and free up space. With or without Jake Delhomme on the books, Cleveland can pretty much go after anyone they want.
Do you think the hard line Mike Brown is taking on Carson Palmer hurts their chances with free agents; or do players look at each case individually?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Money means a lot to free agents. But if the money is similar, and the player has a choice between the Patriots or Bengals, chances are they will choose the Patriots. But I don't know if Mike Brown's stance on Carson Palmer has much to do with that. Everyone around the league is already aware of how Cincy does business. This is nothing new.
Any chance Ocho stays in Cincy just because they've got to reach the cap floor?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
It definitely increases their chances. But Ochocinco was not in the plans before mandatory spending became an issue. Maybe that will change.
Donnie (Miamisburg, OH)
What do you think the Bengals should do at QB?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
They've already made their decision to go with Andy Dalton. I expect them to sign a veteran backup without a huge name, maybe a Bruce Gradkowski-type who is familiar with the West Coast offense. He could also fill in as a starter if Dalton flops or gets injured.
Hey James,Does Carson Palmer have any more cards to play to try and be released or traded, such as showing up at the last moment and training camp and forcing Mike Brown to pay up or cut him? Or is this really the end of the story?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
It's the end of story if Palmer stays put. His only option now is to return or stay home. I don't expect Mike Brown to change his mind. He seems pretty staunch on setting an example.
Dan (Oklahoma City, OK)
Surely you don't think the Bengals will start the year with Dalton as the starter?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Yes, I do actually. The Bengals loved him in the draft. Whether he's the answer is another question. That remains to be seen.
Can Palmer show up at camp if he files retirement papers? He can't, right?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
There is really no reason for Palmer to file his retirement papers. He doesn't want to retire. Palmer just doesn't want to play for the Bengals. Filing papers with the league won't help his situation.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for the great questions. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant update on the division.