Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFL Insider 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!
Mike, do you think the Jets move away from Geno Smith? Or should they just put better skilled players around him via draft and FA? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Hi Robin. I think they will put better skilled players around him through the draft and, to the extent possible, in free agency. They will try to give themselves another option at the position, probably a veteran. And then they will evaluate Geno Smith through the preseason and regular season while figuring out whether they need to go in another direction. The good news is that Smith played a ton last season. The bad news is that he did not play very well overall. They should have a very good feel on him after the 2014 season.
Hi Mike, do you think the Dolphins will be able to get one of the top FA left tackles they desperately need?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Yes, I think there's enough urgency there and enough recent track record on the spending front to think that either Branden Albert or Eugene Monroe will find a pretty lucrative deal there. This is something I'm covering in an upcoming piece on free-agent fits. I just don't think the Dolphins can realistically sit back and wait for the draft before addressing the line. They need to address it now and in the draft. The needs created by Jake Long's departure and the subsequent Incognito-Martin fiasco create a situation where the team is going to have strong enough short-term needs to act quickly. The team also has a lot riding on Ryan Tannehill and cannot really afford to throw him out there behind a horrendous line.
Julian (Tracy, CA)
Any chance 49ers sign a top CB (maybe Charles Tillman) in free agency if they don't re-sign Tarell Brown? Or sign Kenny Britt on a low one-year deal?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I found it interesting this week when I saw Brown ranked at the top of the free-agent cornerback list published by Bill Polian, Matt Williamson, Gary Horton and Field Yates. Whether or not Brown should really be ranked that high wasn't the point in my mind. The point was that personnel people weren't seeing a ton of other vastly superior options at the position. I just don't see the 49ers funneling big money into a free-agent corner. Instead, I see them looking for free-agent values at the position and then using early draft capital for a corner, possibly in the first round (they have the ammo to move up, if there's a corner they really want, much the way they did for safety Eric Reid last year). I wouldn't be surprised if the 49ers let Brown hit the market and then waited to see if they could bring him back on a reasonable deal. On Britt, that type of signing for the right money could make sense, yes.
Assuming the Colts possess the information from today, do you think they would have still released Peyton Manning two years ago?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yes, because of Andrew Luck.
Justin (Johnson City, TN)
Word around Denver is that several teams are inquiring about Brock Osweiler. Is a first round pick too much for the Broncos to ask for him?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
It's more than they would probably get for him, but why should the Broncos trade him for less than that? They used a second-round choice to pick him, and they have invested time and resources in developing him. They do not have another option behind Peyton Manning. It makes no sense for Denver to wash its hands of Osweiler in the absence of an alternative. He has value to them.
Toby (Corner Office)
Any chance Big Red comes back to the Hawks at a reduced rate?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I wouldn't rule it out, but I'd consider in a long shot. The team is probably ready to move forward.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where will the San Francisco 49ers will play their Home Games in 2014?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
At their new Santa Clara stadium.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
The Cowboys haven't cut Austin or Ware yet and they are only $1 million over the cap. How much do they need in order to sign their draft picks, and do yout think they will try to create room in the next 4 days to make a run at 1 or 2 decent DL free agents?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
They will probably need north of $5 million to sign their draft choices. Jason from overthecap.com has broken it down recently. Dallas still needs to create some room before free agency opens. Releasing Demarcus Ware is one option. Ware's contract is one of the few Dallas could address for cap purposes without pushing cap charges into the future. At the same time, he is potentially their best player on defense. It's a tough one. There is no reason to cut him before the last minute, though.
Ed (Queens Village)
Do Seahawks make a play for Revis?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
No. The Seahawks will mostly focus on re-signing their own players. They are not going to be huge spenders for players such as Revis.
Kris G (Indy)
Are you a believer in any of the QBs in this draft, not just projected 1st rounders? Who do you think is the smart pick for a team like the Texans or Vikings that could have success sooner than later?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I agree with the GM who suggested to me that this draft has some similarities to the 2011 draft featuring all those overdrafted QBs such as Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert. While I do think Houston needs a QB, I'd probably rather draft for another position with the first pick, then see which QBs are left at No. 33. The team could sign a veteran before the draft, then have some flexibility. When I look back at the 2011 draft, I remember how much better those QB-needs teams came out when they selected elite talents at other positions instead of QBs. Arizona with Patrick Peterson and San Francisco with Aldon Smith come to mind. This draft feels like that one a little bit. Sure, you might hit on one of those QBs early, but the risks seem high. Not a lot of consensus.
Aaron (Des Moines, Iowa)
Hi Mike! What do you think the 49ers biggest priority should be right now? Ending the Harbaugh drama, extending Kap, drafting a WR/CB in the first round or something else? Like you, I don't expect them to be big players in free agency.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Putting to rest some of the Harbaugh chatter would be the top priority for me, whether via a contract extension or whatever. Right now, Harbaugh gets to have it both ways a little bit. Some of the reports about a possible trade involving him put the organization in a bad light, as if the 49ers don't appreciate their coach. Then, when Harbaugh issues a forceful denial after a rather extended delay, he looks like the good guy again. I'm not saying Harbaugh orchestrated this whole thing, but I am saying it's natural to wonder whether that is a possibility, and whether it suggests deeper problems in the organization relating to a possible extension. From there, I think addressing CB is probably a high priority. Kaepernick could wait until before camp or even next offseason, if need be. He is not going anywhere.
Are you surprised there hasnt been much talk of teams looking at Ryan Mallett? He is entering the final year of his contract, has probably had good training under Belichick and Brady, was considered a top QB if not for the off-the-field issues, and has seemingly been a model teammate? He could likely be had somewhat cheaply as well...Houston?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Not really surprised. As far as other teams go, what about the last few years would have changed their impression of Mallett? He has been invisible and therefore irrelevant to them. Also, when you acquire a guy, you give up draft capital and then often have to reach a contract extension identifying that player as the guy. You have to really like that guy a lot. Why not just draft someone you really like a lot, and have him cheap for three years without giving away anything more than the pick used to select him?
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Essentially, the Colts just paid D'Qwell Jackson 11 million over two years. Do you believe any other team would have offered that?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I have not seen the deal. In 16-plus years of covering the NFL, I cannot recall one time when a contract wound up being worth more than what initial reports suggested it would be worth. Many times, I recall contracts being worth less than initially reported. So we'll have to see for sure what this deal is worth. But my first impression is that other teams would not pay that much, and that the Colts are over-investing in a non-premium position, same as they did in trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson. It all might work out in the end because they have Andrew Luck, but I don't think this is the way to go, by and large.
Do you think the Bears will push hard for Michael Bennett and get him? Seems like a great fit and not sure Seattle can pay what he's likely looking for in free agency with other players to lock up.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I wondered about a team such as Atlanta also. Seems to me the Seahawks are in position to step up a little after cutting Red Bryant. I'm also guessing they will part with Chris Clemons or at least reduce his salary significantly. So they could give a good deal to Bennett. But there is an "X" factor possibly favoring the Bears in that Bennett's brother, Martellus, plays for Chicago. In the end, money will talk, most likely, and I expect the Seahawks to be competitive on that one. Then, it's up to Bennett.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What type of market do you think is out there right now for Brandon Browner after multiple PED/substance abuse suspensions
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
No market or very little market. Older player, specialty player, facing suspension to start next season, has had some lower-extremity injuries lately, lost some playing time for performance reasons in 2013, was not missed when he was out of the lineup, one violation away from long-term banishment.
Mike, please tell me that the Raiders have a plan. Why didn't they tag either Veldheer or Houston? They have the $$$ and need good players.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
There's a feeling around the league that Veldheer would not be worth either tag and that Houston probably would have been worth a tag. I agree with you in principle. The Raiders have very few people worth paying. They should pay the guys who have good value to them. Remember, even if they draft well, they cannot re-sign selections for three years.
Jim (St. Paul)
I am not a fan of Roger Goodell. The NFL is not broke, but he continues to try to fix it. This extra point debate is more about him wanting to leave a legacy, rather than fixing a problem. Agree or not?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I think Roger Goodell has pushed hard to create a legacy in relation to player conduct. I don't think he's a driving force behind extra-point rules.
D Jackson just signed with the colts, how can players who are released after the season sign before FAs can? Any reason for this?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Yeah, the free-agent signing period that opens Tuesday affects players who become unrestricted free agents through the expiration of their existing contracts. Players who have been waived or had their contracts terminated are free to sign anywhere. They are free agents, but they are not true unrestricted free agents or UFAs, who reach the market only when their deals expire naturally.
Jean Claude (Vermont)
Which happens first, Kaepernick extension or Harbaugh extension?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I would guess Kaepernick. Harbaugh still has two years on his deal.
Put on your Steve Keim hat and tell me the top 3 on your board in the 1st round of the NFL Draft considering you've addressed a LT in free agency.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I would focus on offense and look for another offensive lineman, a speed receiver and an all-around tight end. Those are things Bruce Arians could really use. The defense is already good and should remain good enough, but the offense is where you want to really arm Arians, an offensive-minded coach who has a specific plan for that side of the ball. Arians loves a deep-threat receiver and doesn't really have one.
do you think the Vikings spend all of their FA dough on Defense? with the exception of bringing back a care taker QB like Cassel?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I think they'll skew heavily toward defensive spending in free agency because that is where they have the primary needs beyond quarterback. I'm interested in seeing whether Mike Zimmer targets any of his former players from Cincinnati, including Michael Johnson.
Paul (Amherst, NY)
Have you read the report that Portland, OR is interested in trying to bring the Raiders to the Northwest? Do you believe this? I always thought the Raiders would go back to L.A.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I saw something on this but haven't studied details. It would be great if the Raiders and Seahawks could be back in the same division again. The Raiders would not want to lose rivalries with the current AFC West teams, but imagine if they were in a reconfigured NFC West with Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco. Wow.
Mike:As a Jet fan, Im intrigued at the possibility of us signed Golden Tate. How much will it cost to get him, and do you see him being a fit as a legitimate #2 receiver?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Golden Tate has really grown on me as a hard-nosed, versatile player who carries special-teams value. I would think the Jets could get a deal done if they went to $6 million a year or close to it, but remember, this draft is loaded with enticing wideouts. Tate might be best off re-signing with Seattle for $5 million a year or less, because the market might not appreciate him sufficiently given the draft dynamics.
A 1st round pick for Osweiler? Apparently the new laws in CO are taking hold. Must be some good stuff!
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Well put, but remember, the question was posed from the Broncos' perspective. Why would they take a second-rounder for him? They would have to ask for a first, knowing no one would likely give up a first.
Wouldn't Nicks be a better option for the Rams than Watkins since they already have a plethora of young, and smaller, WRs?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
A healthy Nicks signed to a team-friendly deal could make sense for the Rams, but I would not want them to be counting on him. He was not right last season physically, and there were questions about how he competed in the Seattle game specifically.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Will there be a market for Champ Bailey? I am surprised he wasn't offered a pay cut, if you are to believe what he says...
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I don't anticipate much of a market for him. Bailey was the oldest cornerback in the league. He is declining. He has had injury problems lately. I just can't see a team giving him much more than the minimum at this point.
Is there a minimum amount that a team must be spent each year similar to the NBA's rule? If there is no minimum, might a team decide to spend as little as possible one year, like all the NBA tanking, and carry that difference from the salary cap over to next year, getting a top pick and lots more salary cap space the next year. Some teams must know they are years away from contending
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Teams have to average a base level of spending over a four-year period, so they could take on a strategy along the lines of the one you outlined. There is a balance, though. Sometimes there really aren't enough players worth spending on.
Follow-up, RE: Mallet. On one hand you sounded like you arent sold on the QBs of this draft, going as far as comparing it to Locker, Ponder, and Gabbert, but then say teams would be better off drafting a guy they like for cheap over Mallet. In a way you made my point for me, which is that Im surprised anyone would view these QBs (which also require the use of draft capital) as superior to Mallett. We have also seen the Pats let go of other decent/good backup QBs, but still have Mallet. Im guessing that isnt because Belichick thinks he is terrible. They seem comfortable with him as the QB if Brady goes down. That alone means more to me than Manziel's 40-time.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Yeah, good point. I was not trying to draw an equivalency between Mallett and QBs who were over-drafted in the top 10. Mallett was not a top 10 pick. The point I was making was, why trade something for Mallett, who has one year left on his deal and is now eligible for a renegotiation, when drafting a QB would bring to your team a player who will not be eligible for a renegotiation? We would have to ask ourselves whether the experience Mallett has gained in New England plus any other traits he possesses would justify the move. I don't know how comfortable the Patriots are with Mallett. Are they any more comfortable than Green Bay was with its backups? They could be, but might not be.
When are draft comp picks announced?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Usually at the NFL owners meetings. Those are scheduled for March 23-26 this year.
Manziel except for the LSU game has a pretty good completion percentage, is his passing game under rated?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I think it's fair to question his decision making as a passer specifically when it comes to checking down and taking what the defense is giving him. He seems like a QB who could wind up making huge plays for both teams in the NFL.
Away from the P.C. reporters, who will kill any player that says a slightly negative thing about Sam, how do most players feel about the prospect of playing with Sam?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I don't know the answer to that as I have not polled the players, and even if I had polled the players, would we know what their answers would be in alignment with their true feelings. Two relevant bottom lines: Head coaches set the tone for an organization, and if a head coach makes acceptance a priority, I would not expect trouble. Two, I think players embrace teammates who work hard and play well. If Sam could do those things, I think he would be just fine in the NFL.
I know players are going to get the most money they can, but would signing Kap to a 18-20 mil contract, contradict what he said about how he wants a deal that allows the team to keep players. Or would that price not handicap the niners like Flaccos deal did?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
The 49ers are in a pretty good place from a salary-cap health standpoint, but they would still lose flexibility if they signed Kaepernick to that type of deal. They are better off than the Ravens, though, because they have quite a few key players under contract. They are better throughout their roster. That's why the 49ers should be so frustrated about losing in the Super Bowl. They had the better roster, without question, but lost the game.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. My pleasure as always. Looks like my latest Insider column has posted. It looks at some potential free-agent fits this offseason. Hope you enjoy.