Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, Gary Horton, stops in to talk some football and other news from around the league.
Horton, from Scouts Inc., works year-round on ESPN's NFL-related shows, including NFL32, where he breaks down film, earning him his Caveman nickname.
Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Send your questions now and join Horton Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, Will Osi Umenyiora be back with the Giants or is he headed to Atlanta and Will Brian Urlacher be headed to Denver or is there someone else interested in the linebacker?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
It certainly doesn't look like it. I know a lot of teams allow their free agents to test the market and come back, but I think there are enough people out there interested in him that I would be surprised if he ended up back with the Giants. This is still really a good veteran defensive end pass rusher that's available. So, there will be more teams to choose from than you might think.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - will the way the free agent market has developed this year make it easier for the top tier teams to add even more talent and depth? I would imagine the Urlachers, Freeneys and other older veterans would prefer joining teams with Super Bowl aspirations if all that is out there are 1 year deals.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
The problem is that your upper tier elite type teams usually don't have a lot of salary cap room, because they're forced to pay players that ahve been productive. There isn't a lot of wiggle room. If I were a veteran near the end of my career, I would definitely look at teams that are ready to win, because that's important to me and the difference in money isn't going to be that big of a deal. These veteran players still out on the open market don't have a lot of bargaining power now, especially with so many still being out there.
John (Cleveland OH)
Hey The browns keep saying they won't draft a quarterback like Geno smith or Matt Barkley or any other quarterback. I feel like they are hiding that they will take a QB. What do you think?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I've gone back and forth in my own mind on this. On the one hand you would like to think that you could give Weeden one more year with better weapons around him to give this new staff and front office to evaluate and see if he can be the guy. If not, make the change in the offseason. However, I also think this new group feels like they have a good group in place and they want to get off to a fast start. I get the feeling they don't really beileve in Weeden. It would not surprise me for them to make a trade for a veteran. I don't see them going into training camp with what they have at QB right now.
Gary Gross (Rapid City, SD)
How hard should the Broncos go to get Elvis Dumervil back into the fold? Would signing Freeney be a better option?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Oh I think Freeney is probably the next man up for them to sign, partly because of his relationship with Peyton. I think he could be an effective situational pass rusher. I'm not sure they ever wanted to re-sign Dumvervil. I think Freeney is a guy they had their eye on.
If Branden Albert is "almost" considered All-Pro and signed, why would the Chiefs want to trade a player of his caliber? To obtain more draft choices? Or, do they want to avoid a huge payday? Thanks...
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
To be honest, I don't know, because with him at one tackle and the fact that they could draft a tackle in the first round to be their bookends for the next 10-12 years seems to me to be a very appealing way to go. Especially at a position that would be very important to them. I'm not sure how to read what they're doing there. They have good picks. They can play with the No. 1 pick, if someone wants to move up.
Can the Raiders really find out how good of a coach Dennis Allen is while they work through the cap mess that the current regime inherited? I know it needs to happen but what a disaster.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Your natural assumption is can he hold on long enough to coach this team to come out of this funk? Right now when I watch them on film, they're just not that talented. Because of those cap problems, they don't have a chance to get better. They'll be forced to play with one of the worst rosters in the NFL this season. Even though everyone says they understand it, I'm not sure how deep the patience will go. This will not be fixed over night. If they have to start over, that will even further magnify their problems.
Ryan(panama city) [via mobile]
Do you think Minnesota should trade up to get Tavon Austin!
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Signing Greg Jennings certainly helps replace that Percy Harvin void. But they still need another receiver to go along with Jennings and Rudolph. Ideally, they need a great slot guy, like Harvin was, who was really quick, great after the catch. That could give them an interesting passing package. They'll be able to find guys like that in the draft. I'm sure that they will add a WR early, even if they don't trade up. They haven't improved the position, they just kept it the same, with Harvin leaving and signing Jennings.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - from a scout's perspective does it make sense for the Jets to hold out for Tampa Bay's 1st round pick this year versus next? Even if the Bucs improved dramatically is there more value in their 2014 pick if it allows the Jets an opportunity to package it and move up to draft one of the more attractive QB's like a Bridgewater or Manziel?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
You have a coaching staff that doesn't have a lot of time, so what's interesting is that the organization may be OK with a future pick, which could be good for the long term. But I would bet this coaching staff wants something they can use in this draft to upgrade this team. I just don't think the Jets have a lot of bargaining power and Tampa knows it. I do believe this will get done before the draft, but I don't think the Jets will get a much better deal.
Old Fisherman (Petersburg, AK)
Hi Gary - On average, is it fair to say that the quarterback position is eating up more of the salary cap per team than it was say 10 years ago? Would you agree that this is creating a salary crunch at other positions across the league? What can non-quarterbacks do about this?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think it's a good and a bad thing. Because of the rookie wage scale, these QBs in their first contract are really good bargains. The QB play in the NFL right now is really good. We have several elite QBs and you have to pay them to keep them. This game is about the QB position and that forces teams to take a lot of the cap and give it to those guys. What's good is most of these guys have a team mentality where they are willing to restructure to help the front office get some salary relief. The problem is once one QB sets the bar another QB comes along and wants to set it higher. These numbers may continue to go up, though it may level off once guys like Tom Brady retire.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Team do you think will be very bad so bad in 2013 that they are awarded the First Pick Overall in the 2014 NFL Draft?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
The worst offseasons are probably the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets. The Jets haven't lost a lot of difference makers, but they've lost several solid players that give them depth and now their margin for error is really thin with very little chance to upgrade this roster. We know what's happened to Baltimore. Both of these teams start the season with a very thin roster. Any injuries will dramatically impact them on a negative basis.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
On the positive side, I probably look at Seattle and San Francisco as two teams that really have a good feel for their roster and what they need. When I look at them, it really seems to me that they have a plan in place. The Falcons not only signed Steven Jackson, which dramatically upgrades their run game, but they also brought back Tony Gonzalez, which gives this offense a chance to be terrific.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I also thought a week ago Houston took more hits than people realized. But the thing that makes them different is their roster has good depth. It's unique to see a team suffer significant losses in free agency and yet not take a step backward. But that's how I see it.
Assuming Eddie Lacy is gone when the Broncos pick, what running back would you take, if you were going to take a running back?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think the Broncos seem to be comfortable when they have to look at the running back by committee approach. They have a couple of good young guys that they like. They've been successful in the past in finding guys in the draft. Remember, this is a team that's probably a pass first offense, so they need a running game that keeps defenses honest and gives them some balance, but they don't have to dominate.
Gary, during an offseason that featured Woodson, Urlacher, Welker, Harrison, etc leaving their teams for different pastures, much has been made how money is ruining some of the great traditions in the NFL. Couldn't you counter that the new school of thought, moving on from players that can't do so themselves, is creating better franchises that don't need to fold up the tent waiting for so and so to retire? I am a huge Packer fan and love Charles for what he's meant to the franchise but also love the fact Ted Thompson realizes retaining him at any cost will have a detrimental effect on the development of other, longer term options. I think Charles realizes this as well but many fans don't.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think you have a great grasp on today's NFL. I remember Bill Walsh when the 49ers had their dynasty was uncanny in his ability to see his player starting to go downhill. He would part ways with those players about a year before they fell apart. We're talking about good, productive veteran players who were beloved by the coaches and fans. It's a tough business decision, but I think your really good teams have to make those decisions and don't keep a guy around too long. To be honest, in today's NFL, you're not rewarding for the past, you're rewarding for now. As cold as that seems, that's the reality of the league.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
As we mentioned at the beginning of the chat, I'm still really surprised at how many big name, productive veterans are still out there. What's interesting is that the market was not nearly as lucrative as a lot of them and their agents thought in some cases. In other cases, salary cap problems forced teams to cut these guys. I think a lot of teams have decided to go younger and cheaper as they see the end of the career coming. It's a tough reality and I think it will be very interesting to see if all of these guys can find a home or how long teams wait to sign them. Do they do it before the draft? After the draft? Some interesting philosophies in the next month.
Buzzmaster (4:30 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!