Chat with Pat Yasinskas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas will stop by to talk about the NFL.
Yasinskas joined ESPN.com in January 2008 after covering the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer for nine seasons. He began his journalism career with The Tampa Tribune in 1990 and began covering the Buccaneers and the NFL in 1993. A winner of Florida Sports Writers Awards for Best Feature and Best News story in 1997, he is a graduate of Saint Leo University and attended law school before coming to his senses. A native of Dalton, Pa., Yasinskas lives in the Tampa area.
Send your questions now and join Yasinskas Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott (Sugar Hill, GA)
Hey Pat...Happy Friday! Let's get this party started.With all of the talk about how soft Carolina's defense was last year, I think people overlook how much the loss of Edwards, Beason, and Davis had both on the group and psyche of the Defense overall.With a new DB coach, and Rivera's history of turning defenses around, some help from the draft, and the return of some important injured studs, do you see any reason that Carolina won't be much better on D right away next year?
Pat Yasinskas (12:50 PM)
I think Edwards and Beason instantly make the defense much better. Not sure Davis will return, at least under current contract. But getting those two back is a good start. Make a few other moves in the draft or free agency and Rivera can make this a good defense.
Preston (New York)
After watching a lot of Bucs film from last year, it seemed to me that Kellen Winslow looked slower, had problems creating separation, and made a lot of silly mistakes during the season (How many offensive pass interference calls against him?). Could the Bucs be looking to work on finding a replacement for him going into the offseason?
Pat Yasinskas (12:51 PM)
Wouldn't totally surprise me. Sure new coaching staff is looking at film of everyone right now. If they see same things you do, there could be a move.
Thomas (Dalton, Ga.)
Big fan of Mike Smith. I like it when he shows the guts to make some tough calls. In No and against the Giants he's a genius if successful and the goat when it wasn't. I agreed with the NO call, didn't in Giants. But I respect his decision. After all there is a reason he walks that sideline and I watch on TV.
Pat Yasinskas (12:52 PM)
I respect him too, probably as much as any coach I've ever dealt with. But he's obviously under some pressure now to get his team to the next level.
Which piece is more important to NO...Nicks or Colston?
Pat Yasinskas (12:54 PM)
I've gotta go with Nicks. He's a big part of why Brees has been so well protected. Colston's great too. But you're asking me to pick between the two of them. I'll go with Nicks because they have -- and can add -- other guys that can catch the ball.
Jake Stone (Raleigh)
We're having a coin flip draft party for the Panthers 8 or 9 pick.
Pat Yasinskas (12:55 PM)
Wow, that's pretty impressive. Don't think I've ever heard of a coin flip party before.
Indications are that Tampa is actually going to be active in free-agency this year. Do you see them going after one big signing (Carl Nicks, Lofton, etc) or several smaller signing like Porter, Manningham,or Meachem?
Pat Yasinskas (12:56 PM)
Manningham's the guy I'd keep an eye on. Keep in mind, Mike Sullivan, the new OC is coming from the Giants and coaches like to bring guys they know.
Pat, you were getting hammered by Saints fan when you posted the Saints had lost their first playoff game for the second year in a row. Do you read that stuff? Would you like to correct the record?
Pat Yasinskas (12:57 PM)
If I typed it in wrong, I apologize. But I think my implication was obvious. They got beat earlier than they would have liked for the second year in a row.
Jules Winfield (walking the earth)
Biermann and Abraham are both free agents, right? Can Atlanta bring them both back? Should they?
Pat Yasinskas (12:58 PM)
Both are free agents. Could both return? Yes. Will both return? I doubt it. I think it'll be one or the other.
Chris (Richmond, VA)
Do you see the Bucs making a play for D. Bowe if KC lets him test FA? He will take up a lot of cap room for a team that has many needs. Or do you see them looking at Reggie Wayne (who would be less costly) to also fit the role as a veteran leader for FREE? thanks
Pat Yasinskas (1:00 PM)
I'd say Bowe fits the profile of what they're looking for more. Yes, they'll be more active in free agency, but I think they'll be looking at younger free agents. Besides, as a general rule, you usually don't get a lot of leadership out of wide receivers.
Whose more likely to become the panthers next wide reciever....Ward or Moss?
Pat Yasinskas (1:01 PM)
Neither. But I could see Ward before Moss.
Butch (On the run)
Any particular free agent cornerback you see the Bucs targeting? Personally, I think Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr would look great in Pewter
Pat Yasinskas (1:02 PM)
I like both. But let's see if they're out there and what else is out there when free agency actually starts. Lots can and wil change between now and then.
Hi Pat I am tired of folks questioning Matt Ryans ability. When he ran the no huddle last year their offence was very good. The Jacksonville game and Tampa game they put up big points. Against Carolina in the second half as well as the Eagles second half. I would like to know how the stats looked between running the no huddle and not being in the no huddle. I am sure its huge.
Pat Yasinskas (1:04 PM)
I don't have stats on that, but will try to get some. But, just from watching him in the no-huddle, I can assure you he was dramatically better in it. I think Koetter will realize that and use it more. I know he's already had talks with Matt about what Matt likes to do. I'm pretty sure Matt told him how much he likes the no-huddle offense.
Other than Thomas Davis and Jimmy Clausen, what are some other players we can expect the Panthers to release to free up cap room?
Pat Yasinskas (1:04 PM)
Don't know that there will be a huge amount of players getting released. I think there are plenty of guys they can restructure to create cap room.
Cj South Carolina [via mobile]
Can the Falcons sign Nicks?
Pat Yasinskas (1:05 PM)
I still think he'll stay in New Orleans. Would he help Falcons? Absolutely. He's the best guard in the league. But I think the Falcons need to take care of left tackle before they do anything else.
Have you heard anything on Shockey negotiations with the Panthers? I know he wants to come back.
Pat Yasinskas (1:07 PM)
I don't think there are a lot of talks going on right now. I think they've probably touched base. But the real window for re-signing guys will come right after everyone returns from the combine. Agents and front offices will be touching base at the combine.
Matt Riddle (Atlanta, Ga)
Regarding all of the Ryan talk, what would you say is his biggest need for improvement? The Deep ball? And how much do you believe he is able to improve this?
Pat Yasinskas (1:08 PM)
I think he might be able to throw a better deep ball if he had an offensive line that gave him time to throw the deep ball.
What will the falcons do at left tackle?
Pat Yasinskas (1:10 PM)
Marcus McNeil? Maybe. But they better do their homework on the medical side. Other than that, it's tough to get a good left tackle in the draft when you don't have a first-round pick and the current list of free agents isn't all that attractive.
Will Sullivan work exclusively with Freeman or will Tampa also look to bring in a dedicated QB coach?
Pat Yasinskas (1:10 PM)
Not entirely sure, but my guess is there will be a QB coach as well.
Jeff (mobile phone) [via mobile]
With the Ravens already discussing extending Flacco, is it time for the Falcons to be thinking about extending Matt Ryan?
Pat Yasinskas (1:13 PM)
They could help their cap situation a lot this year by doing that. I think it would make some sense to do it now. But, at least fans and some media, suddenly seem to doubt Matt's THE guy. We'll find out if the Falcons share that opinion or not.
Carter (Atlanta, GA)
When do teams start to have contract talks with their free agents and when will we mprobably see the Falcons resign their free agents?
Pat Yasinskas (1:14 PM)
Technically, they can re-sign their own guys now and I'm sure there are talks going on. But I wouldn't expect to see a lot happen until after the combine.
How does this sound, Carolina releases Trevelle Wharton and Resigns Geoff Hangartner and have Geoff Schwartz and Byron Bell compete for the other starting guard spot.
Pat Yasinskas (1:15 PM)
Wouldn't totally surprise me. Wharton's got a high cap figure and isn't getting any younger.
G (north of NO)
Pat, regarding the Saints. When would they start cutting vets to clear up cap space to get more money to work with. Does that start with the free agency date?
Pat Yasinskas (1:16 PM)
They have to be under the cap by the time free agency starts in mid-March. Bucs already cut Haynesworth. You'll see more of that soon, but the bulk of it probably won't happen until right before the start of free agency.
Saints getting Thomas Davis...could that be a possibility?
Pat Yasinskas (1:18 PM)
I could see Saints taking a shot on him. They have a history of taking shots on guys whose careers have been stalled by injuries or other reasons. If Thomas can get back to being what he was before the injuries, he could be a steal. But obviously that's a lot to expect from a guy who has had three torn ACLs.
Tj (Aurora, CO)
Hey Pat do u think the bucs should wait on a running back and go with a lamicheal james in the later rounds of the draft
Pat Yasinskas (1:19 PM)
Just my personal opinion, but history has shown you can get a good RB beyond the first round. I think they have other needs that they might be better off addressing in the first round.
Will the Panthers bring back Kasay, even for a day, just to let him retire as a Panther?
Pat Yasinskas (1:20 PM)
If and when John decides to retire, I would expect the Panthers to do exactly that. But I'm not so sure he's ready to retire.
who is a better fit TO or RW for the falcons if douglas leaves?
Pat Yasinskas (1:21 PM)
Assuming RW is Reggie Wayne. I'd go with Wayne. I think he'd be the better locker room fit.
Will/Should Dan Connor reunite with John Fox in Denver?
Pat Yasinskas (1:21 PM)
I think there's a decent chance that could happen.
Pat do you think Fua and McClain will be backups this year?
Pat Yasinskas (1:22 PM)
Possibly, but also possible one of them starts. Either way, both will play a lot. They'll want to use a rotation and those guys have some experience now.
Duke (Austin, TX)
If teams can sign their own free agents, why aren't we hearing more regarding teams talking to or signing players? Like Drew Brees......
Pat Yasinskas (1:23 PM)
They're talking, but teams and agents have a way of waiting to the last minute. They're playing the negotiating game and each side is fighting not to leave any money on the table.
Pat is there a realistic market for Clausen?
Pat Yasinskas (1:24 PM)
As far as a trade? Not much. Maybe a seventh-round pick. But, is there a market for Clausen to sign elsewhere if he's released? Absolutely. He's still young and I think several teams would be interested in him as a backup.
I agree with you call on the Saints priorities in dealing with free agents Nicks and Colston. Do you expect the Saints to try to restructure the contracts of Vilma and Smith to free up cap space?
Pat Yasinskas (1:26 PM)
Yep, they could restructure both of those and some others. I also wouldn't be totally surprised if Saints released a big name or two.
Do you think Jason Baker will be replaced in the near future? No one talked about it much last year because punting isnt a really fun topic, but our net punting avg was horrible.
Pat Yasinskas (1:27 PM)
Ah, yeah, there's a good one. I should have mentioned him before when reader asked about potential releases for Panthers. I could see that one happening. He's making pretty big money for a punter.
Pat there is some talk about the Panthers being interested in Russell Wilson as a backup QB. Personally I would rather see Derek Anderson return as he has some experience. What are your thoughts on it?
Pat Yasinskas (1:29 PM)
I like Russell a lot. Just did a story on him yesterday. I don't see the fit in Carolina. I know some people think you could use him and Cam in tandem and really do some fancy things on offense. But why would you want to ever take Cam off the field? I think Russell could fit lots of other places. If I were the Saints, I'd consider taking a shot on him in middle rounds. He's a lot like Brees and he could be the heir apparent.
Just joined idk if anyone asked this but, you think should take a risk and sign Mcneill
Pat Yasinskas (1:30 PM)
Only if your medical people check him out thoroughly and give you a very good report.
A coin flip party is impressive? Not quite the adjective I would use there Pat. But they are Carolina fans so it's somewhat understandable.
Pat Yasinskas (1:31 PM)
Oooh, it's the offseason and the rivalries already are rolling!!!
Kirkpatrick or Brockers for the Panthers?
Pat Yasinskas (1:31 PM)
I say Brockers right now. May change after combine.
Based on pure defensive coaching ability? Who is better? Spags or GW?
Pat Yasinskas (1:32 PM)
I'll take Spags. He runs a more conventional defense. But they will need to make some adjustments in personnel to make it work.
Brian (Baton Rouge)
There has not been much talk about Pierre Thomas this offseason. His contract number is pretty big for a rotation guy. Any chance they might dangle him for a pick and clear the cap space?
Pat Yasinskas (1:34 PM)
I would think chances are better another team approaches them about Pierre. You get better value if a team comes to you. I wouldn't go shopping him.
If you could be a fly on the wall in any lockeroom, which room would you want to be the fly in?
Pat Yasinskas (1:34 PM)
I'd like to be a fly on the wall of Mickey Loomis' office right now so I could hear what he and Brees' agent are saying.
That's okay CC, enjoy your 55 overall pick...whenever they get around to it.
Pat Yasinskas (1:35 PM)
And it works both ways.
Who do you see the bucs taking at pick no. 5? Offense with Richardson or defense with claiborne?
Pat Yasinskas (1:36 PM)
Honestly, too early to even answer. We don't know who their DC will be. We don't know what future holds for Barber and Talib.
how long before you answer any of my questions?
Pat Yasinskas (1:37 PM)
Tony, as I frequently tell readers, please continue to post your question if it's not getting answered.Questions come in very fast and furious and I do not even get to see all of them.
Why does everyone think the panthers need reciever help? Smith is back to his old self, Lafell did great whenever they decided to pass to him, and we have Gettis and other young recievers who are waiting to shine!
Pat Yasinskas (1:39 PM)
I'm pretty much with you on that. I could see them adding another guy, but I'm talking like a mid-level free agent or a mid-round draft pick.
Any word on S. Smith restructuring this offseason. From what has been discussed recently it sounds like he is only planning on playing 3-4 more years.
Pat Yasinskas (1:40 PM)
Given their cap situation, it might be in their best interest to extend Steve's contract now. He's heading into final year of contract and has cap figure over $10 million. They could extend him and knock down this year's cap figure significantly. They could also pretty much guarantee that he would finish his career with the Panthers.
Will Rogers (New Port Richey, FL)
Hey Pat, i saw you told TJ that waiting on a RB in the later rounds would be more clausable. I agree that we need help in other areas. But wouldn't adding a RB like Richardson and giving our offense another true weapon help our offense be less predictable and maybe open up the big play ability? Then maybe waiting to the second round to steal a first rounder that dropped like bowers.
Pat Yasinskas (1:42 PM)
I'm not opposed to them going with a RB early. I believe the question was if it makes more sense to take a CB or an RB early and I recited the conventional wisdom on that.
Jeff B (CT)
Why do people claim that Ryan doesn't have enough arm strength? Most of his deep pass misses are overthrown...
Pat Yasinskas (1:43 PM)
Agree. I can assure you his arm is strong enough. I've seen him on practice field many times and he can chuck it. Might not have quite as much arm as Cam Newton or Josh Freeman, but he has enough to throw the deep ball. Just give him an o-line that can give him time to find guys deep.
Hey Pat, you ever get a laff when reading how ans of OTHER teams are always claiming how well Brees, Nicks, Colston, etc. would look in their team's colors--but when they had a chance to get them--THEY NEVER WANTED THEM! FAs & late-round draft picks.
Pat Yasinskas (1:44 PM)
That is a very good point on all three.
What are the chances the falcons move to Los Angeles since they don't seem to be a solid playoff team?
Pat Yasinskas (1:45 PM)
I think there are a lot of teams that would be WAY ahead of the Falcons on the list for LA. And that's assuming LA can ever build a stadium. I don't see Falcons going anywhere.
Shiano (One Buc)
Who the heck can I get now for DC? Do you think Monty would be interested?
Pat Yasinskas (1:46 PM)
Haha! If you could coax Monte back, I'd be all for it. But I don't think that one is going to happen.
Pat shouldnt the Panthers be concerned about replacing Otah?
Pat Yasinskas (1:47 PM)
I think so. Lot of fans seem to think Bell is fine. I'm not as sure on that one. I'd bring somebody in.
Steve (Palm Springs)
If Mario Williams hits free agency he's probably gonna end up the highest paid defensive lineman in NFL history. Do you think the Falcons have any chance at that?
Pat Yasinskas (1:48 PM)
I wouldn't totally rule it out. I expect at least one or two dramatic moves from the Falcons.
Steve SMith (Charlotte, NC)
Pat, I'm not taking a pay cut, dont give Jerry Richardson any ideas. I need to be paid like an elite pro bowl wr
Pat Yasinskas (1:49 PM)
Wouldn't be a pay cut at all. It would be an extension with new signing bonus money up front. And it would help the team by spreading out this year's cap figure over life of the contract.
Thomas (Jacksonville, NC)
You spelled your own name wrong Schiano! Baby steps Schiano, baby steps.
Pat Yasinskas (1:50 PM)
Give him a break. He's distracted. He's trying to hire assistants and chat at the same time.
Thomas (Jacksonville, NC)
I love Briscoe, why isn't he a starter in Tampa?
Pat Yasinskas (1:51 PM)
Thought he did some good things when he had the chance. Let's see what the new coaches think after they see his film.
JVil (The U)
What are Saints trying to tell me looking at Lofa?
Pat Yasinskas (1:52 PM)
I'd call that hand writing on the wall.
Otah definitely needs to go but I dont think Bell is an amazing replacement. Do you see them going draft or free agency for help there?
Pat Yasinskas (1:53 PM)
Not sure of Otah's exact medical situation these days. But the state of his contract is such that there's no real advantage to cutting him now. If there's a chance he can get healthy, bring him to camp and see what he's got. But be ready to go in another direction if he doesn't have anything left.
What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?What do you think of the odds of Tampa trading away 5th overall pick for additional 1st or second rounder?
Pat Yasinskas (1:54 PM)
Appreciate the persistence. I think they'd have to at least listen if there are offers, but there aren't always offers.
I love Curtis Lofton, but do you really believe the Falcons will pay "David Harris" money- around 9 million for him?
Pat Yasinskas (1:55 PM)
No, I wouldn't go that high.
So what is that other direction you go with Otah?
Pat Yasinskas (1:56 PM)
Maybe Bell can be that guy. But I'd also either draft someone or bring in a free agent. You can't count on anything out of Otah. If you get something out of him, it's a bonus at this point.
What free agents off the top of your head do you see the bucs going after?
Pat Yasinskas (1:57 PM)
We'll preview that right before free agency starts. Lots of guys will re-sign with own teams between now and then and lots of others will be released, so we really don't have full picture of the free-agent class yet.
Thomas (Jacksonville, NC)
Your thoughts on this Pat. Posted the comment below of Florio's video about the Bucs and he deleted it 5 times in a row. Wondering what you thought about this subject.Hey there Mike, big fan of the site but honestly I?m really tired of the consistently wrong opinion that bringing in a veteran backup makes a tremendous difference for a young QB. I mean come on, what are coaches for? Do you honestly believe spending extra money on a QB that MAY have SOME advice for a young QB? You can?t honestly believe that as a professional writer/?analyst? of professional football. There have been plenty of cases of young QBs succeeding without veteran QB help and plenty of cases where a young QB has failed with veteran QB help. Now I obviously know that you don?t mean that?s the only problem here but that?s the way it?s perceived when fans constantly here ?they should bring in veteran leadership for a young Josh Freeman.? Veteran leadership is a must in a locker room but not to be an additional coach. They are there for that mature behavior and to set a good example for young players. They make a tremendous difference on the discipline of a team because of their experience in the NFL not because they are good coaches.
Pat Yasinskas (1:59 PM)
Situtations can vary. But my opinion is that Freeman doesn't need the veteran backup. He's fine with a good OC and QB coach.
Brian (Baton Rouge)
Great chat, Pat. Looking forward to the next one!
Pat Yasinskas (2:01 PM)
All right, we'll wrap it up on that. Thanks to all for stopping by. We'll see you next week.