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 Sando (1:01 PM)
Greetings. About to get going here.
I know you're down on the Raiders but their off season has gotten better and so has the team with these cap friendly signings...Do you agree?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
I do think the Raiders have improved their team. They received a harsh review in our free agency grading because we thought their shorter-term gains were coming at the expense of longer-term team building. For example, their top two younger free agents, Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston, quickly signed elsewhere. Meanwhile, the players Oakland added or re-signed averaged 30-plus years old, the highest average in the league. We just thought that wasn't the best way to go for this team.
Hi Sando - Have the 49ers painted themselves into a bit of a corner (can't think of a way to get rid of the lame pun) with the offseason developments at CB (i.e., losing Brown & Rogers, Culliver's situation, no solid FAs left)? Now, it seems like they absolutely have to walk away from the draft with a starting caliber CB, and even then, the transition for rookie is notoriously difficult. SF also still needs a deep threat at WR. Given these factors, I'm thinking it makes good sense to use their cache of picks to grab a CB and WR somewhere in the 15-40 range. What do you think about something like that?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
You could say they have painted themselves into a corner while knowing they would have the draft resources to get out of that corner. They really have so much draft capital and flexibility that they can be assured of addressing that position with younger, cheaper players. I do not necessarily think they should have paid market prices for any of the corners who signed elsewhere this offseason. It is not an ideal situation but the team is strong and like I said, they have options in the draft. They could also trade a pick for a corner if they wanted to go that route.
Scott (Sparta NJ)
Who do you suspect will open against Seattle to start the season?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Green Bay is my best guess. Seems to me they would save the 49ers games for later in the season, knowing those will be huge anyway.
Ed (Queens Village)
What to make of John Idzik playing it safe in free agency? He seems like a GM who would be conservative than going for the big play.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
They did put out some decent coin for Eric Decker, but you are right, they have stayed on the sideline for the most part. I would look at it on a case-by-case basis. Should they have taken a more serious look at Revis? Overall, I think Idzik is taking a longer-range view. The question is how that fits with his coach's situation. Overall, a lot of bad money gets spent in free agency, so I'd rather win the long term than win March.
Everyone used to criticize the Cowboys for their contracts and living in cap hell. Now the team approaches free agency with caution and gets Melton at their own price, yet still are criticized. Please explain?!
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
We put Carolina and Dallas in a similar category from one standpoint because both had severe cap limitations. We cut Carolina some slack because the current regime inherited issues from the previous regime. We did not cut the Cowboys as much slack because their current leadership created the untenable situation. Hopefully that makes some sense.
Hi Mike - I'm curious how you see the Seattle RB position shaking out next season. Lynch will obviously still be the main guy, albeit with a lighter load. Does Michael supplant Turbin as the #2 guy, or do you see it being a split on the back-up side?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I think Christine Michael has a better shot than Robert Turbin at becoming the eventual No. 1 back when Marshawn Lynch is no longer in the picture. However, Turbin probably has a better shot at being the primary No. 2 in the meantime. With Michael, I just think it's a matter of time. He will get some opportunities and I tend to think he'll stand out, and from there, he'll get more time. But my guess is that Turbin would probably have the edge in the No. 2 role for now.
Pete (Over there)
Asked this last week and you got off on a tangent about money. Don't you think that the Broncos' response to Seattle trouncing them in SB48 by going out and getting a lot of expensive defensive FAs does nothing to fix the issues Seattle's defense was able to exploit on their offense?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Right, the moves Denver made to address its defense would not affect whatever struggles the Broncos' offense had in the Super Bowl.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Have the Giants improved themselves enough to compete for the NFC East title? Are they giving up on Andre Brown?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
One thing I notice about the Giants is they won't have as many 30-plus players from an age standpoint. I think they'll probably be healthier this year and improve as a result of that and as a result of the moves they've made. And I do think they will compete in that division. Philly is still my pick in the NFC East but I think the Redskins and Giants will have more to say about it than they did a year ago, for sure. Expecting better QB play as well. On the Giants, here are the ages of some of the people who have come off the roster: Shaun Rogers 35, David Diehl 33, David Baas 32, Corey Webster 32, Brandon Jacobs 31, Aaron Ross 31, Justin Tuck 31, Kevin Boothe 30, Terrell THomas 29, Ryan Mundy 29. Now, it hurts that Hakeem Nicks flamed out at age 26, but all in all, they should be younger and healthier.
If the Cowboys draft Barr and resign Spencer to a one year deal, does that take care of their needs at DE?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I would see a draft choice such as Anthony Barr improving the longer-term outlook, but some rookies do not make immediate contributions. Some struggle. Some never develop. I would say drafting Barr or someone else at that position would make a lot of sense, but it would be more of a start than an immediate solution.
Toby (corner office)
Just saw that McCoy signed with the Skins. Does this mean there may be ia deal in place to trade Cousins?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
It might give them some flexibility to consider their options, but Colt McCoy could really just be a third QB at this stage, too. I do not taking his addition to mean a deal is in place.
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Will Jim Caldwell bring stability and a playoff berth to Motown this season?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
It's a tough road in the NFC. I would not pencil the Lions into a playoff slot at this stage until we see a little consistency on the field. I do think Jim Caldwell can be good for Matthew Stafford, but will he instantly change the mindset there? Will the Lions instantly stop making some of the mistakes that have really hurt them? I do not yet trust them. Need to see action.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
How much improvement do you think we'll see in the Redskins offense with Jay Gruden at the helm, along with a healthy RGIII, and a dynamic receiver like DeSean Jackson who should be motivated after the way he was treated in Philly?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I think the offense was going to improve anyway just through Robert Griffin III getting healthier. Last season was just a bad season all the way around. One thing I want to see is whether Jay Gruden lives up to his reputation for favoring the pass at the expense of the run. Cincy seems thrilled to move forward with more of a run-based offense under Hue Jackson. I think the Redskins need to emphasize their ground game, and while I know Gruden has acknowledged a need to do this, what will be his tendencies during the season? Answering your question directly, I think this offense will improve a great deal and Griffin will look more like the player he was in 2012 than the player he was in 2013.
Eagles play NFC West, AFC South + Packers & Carolina. Still the class of the East, but any chance they come back to earth next season?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Yeah, they won 10 games last season. I would think they would be in that 8-10 range this coming season. They get Seattle and St. Louis in Philly, while having to visit San Francisco and Arizona. They could easily go 1-3 in those games. I like them at home against Carolina and Tennessee. They could really go 6-2 or 7-1 at home pretty easily. Well, not easily, but realistically.
Without any glaring need, do you see the Cardinals trading down if the top CBs are off the board?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
That really depends upon which players are available and who might want to trade up. I could see the Cardinals trying to add picks, sure. But lots of teams want to add picks in this draft. What would be really interesting from this standpoint is what Arizona would do if they liked one of the QBs available at their pick. They pick 20th. What if Derek Carr is there?
MG (San Francisco)
The more I look at it, it seems like 49ers should trade up to 15 or so for Odell Beckham (or Cooks, secondly), then use both 2nd rounders to either trade UP for a guy like Verrett or Fuller, then pick BPA rest of draft. How is this NOT a brilliant plan? :)
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I agree with the thought that San Francisco should use its draft capital to move up the board for a specific player, simply because the team cannot make room for all the players it could add with its current allotment of picks. That was the strategy used to get Eric Reid last year. I'd probably like to see them take that route for a cornerback in this draft. People love the WR depth in this draft, so why move up necessarily? Maybe they can find WR help later than the first round, adding low-cost flexibility that could come in handy as Michael Crabtree approaches free agency.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
RGIII may be healthier physically, but what about mentally, and how he carries himself in and out of the locker room? Will RGIII be more accountable and team oriented this season/offseason? And why should Redskins fans believe that a rookie coach can handle him, when Shanahan couldn't?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Those are tough questions and I've heard skeptics ask those questions. We do not know the answer to those questions. My thinking is that Griffin was pretty good when he was healthy and then not as good last season when he was not as healthy. We will find out over time whether the questions you raise are career-altering ones. They could be.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
The Patriots appear to be more active in free agency than in previous years? Is this a sign that Belichick & Co realize that the window is closing on the Brady Era and that they need to be more aggressive and make their move now?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I do not sense that. The Darrelle Revis situation was a little unique. That type of player isn't available very frequently, and in this case, New England had a need after losing Aqib Talib. Things lined up. Without that move, the Patriots probably would not see to be so "aggressive" in nature. But were they really aggressive, or just opportunistic? From there, they added Brandon Browner to a highly conditional deal. They re-signed Ryan Wendell after letting him hit the market. They kept Julian Edelman and Mike Hoomanawanui. They added Brandon LaFell, which was not a big move.
Mike, name me the last time Dan Snyder signed a free agent that panned out in the long term. Pierre Garcon has injury issues, Albert Haynesworth, etc. I am bitter about Desean Jackson leaving Philly, but I would not have wanted him at $10 million a year for the next three. 16 mill guaranteed over 3 years seems like a lot. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
No one knows for sure why the Eagles released DeSean Jackson, which makes it really tough to fairly critique the move. I enjoyed Richard Sherman's perspective on the move, but it was dependent upon the risky assumption that suspected "gang ties" were a driving force behind the decision. I think teams are willing to overlook those types of concerns when they are deciding how to proceed with players who are fully committed to the team concept and whatever program the coach has implemented. There has been some evidence in the past that Jackson was a higher-maintenance player along these lines. Experience tells me the issues precipitating Jackson's release probably had more to do with internal dealings, not external fears, and that some of those issue will not just suddenly go away, and that eventually the Redskins will have to decide whether Jackson fits into what Gruden is doing longer term. In the meantime, Washington gets an upgrade at wide receiver, with a shot that Jackson will be good for the longer term as well.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Which cellar dweller from last season is most likely to continue to the recent NFL trend of going from the outhouse to the penthouse in one season and making the playoffs?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Probably one of the NFC South teams. Atlanta and Tampa Bay were both 4-12. I think both teams have bounce-back capabilities. Also, Carolina might not be quite as good. That is where I'd look for starters.
Pete (Right Here)
It's a 1 in 8 chance that you get a SB rematch in the following year (1 in 4 that the divisions match up, then it has to be a home game for the winner). I don't see any way the NFL passes up the chance to have that game as their season opener.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Too soon? It just doesn't feel great to me having the Super Bowl played again in Week 1. But I cannot really explain why I feel that way.
eniesfo (San Francisco)
Why do so many mock drafts have the niners choosing DL when the niners are loaded? Do east coast media simply not pay attention?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I hear what you are saying. They have Tank Carradine in the wings. Now, it is also true that Justin Smith is getting up there. Ray McDonald is not a youngster. Aldon Smith is an outside linebacker, but he's a nickel lineman, and his longer-term future is in some question. The 49ers have enough picks to have options, but I tend to think corner is the obvious place to focus.
Geoff (Easton, PA)
As a Jets fan and a Penn State alum... I would love to see Allen Robinson get drafted by the Jets, maybe round 2? He's a big playmaking WR that they need... think there's a strong possibility of this happening?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
No, but that is mostly because there are so many possible combinations. The Jets hold the 49th overall pick. We have no idea which players will be available to them at that time. It's very difficult making predictions when there are so many possibilities. Now, will the Jets address the WR position in the draft? Of course.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. My pleasure as always.