Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger 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!
Do you know how bad it sucks when you love the NFL but your team has a QB that cant get you to a Superbowl? The Vikings are probably the only team that could get there without a top QB because of Peterson but they arent doing anything to help him. They have only released there best CB and traded the most dynamic player in the league in Harvin. Why are they dumping salary? They got to the playoffs so shouldnt they be trying to get as much talent as possible?
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
Kevin Seifert would be your man on that one, but I wonder from afar whether there's a little bit of a cultural housecleaning going on there. By that, I mean a housecleaning that makes the Vikings younger and more of Leslie Frazier's team. Harvin out, Antoine Winfield out.
Brian (New York)
With Percy Harvin becoming a Seahawk we all assume they will throw the ball a lot more. What affect do u think this will have on Marshawn Lynch
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
We saw Lynch get fewer carries late last season as the read option developed. Also, the Seahawks won some games by wider margins. I would expect a more efficient use of Lynch so that his yards per carry increases but his total carries do not increase. Seattle threw the ball infrequently relative to other teams last season. That reflected Carroll's philosophy and also the presence of a rookie QB. Gotta think they pass more frequently this coming season.
Can Gronk, Hernandez, Edelman, Lloyd and co. fill the Wes Welker's role?
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
Danny Amendola, mainly.
Do you think the Cardinals could have received draft compensation for Kerry Rhodes vs just releasing him? Seems like he was good enough to get at least a 3rd or 4th rounder.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I would say no, because any team acquiring Rhodes would also be acquiring a $6 million salary on a one-year contract. Teams are going to give up draft compensation for that type of contract. Plus, teams would have known Arizona was likely to release Rhodes anyway. It's interesting to me that some of the analysis on Rhodes (and Greg Toler, for that matter) rated them pretty highly. Looks like the Cardinals disagreed to some extent.
Mike which NFC W team has made the most questionable signing so far?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
I don't really quibble too much when teams acquire younger players such as Jared Cook, Percy Harvin or Cliff Avril. Usually you're more worried when someone pays big for an older player on the decline. I haven't seen that happen. Certainly there are some risks associated with Harvin, and there would be some risks associated with Jake Long if St. Louis signed him. But I don't see any egregious signings so far.
How does dead money workout in a trade scenario? Does the original team have to pay it? does the new team take on a portion or all of it? or is it case-by-case, depending on trade terms?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Dead money is, by definition, money left on the books after the player leaves a team. So there could not be dead money on the acquiring team's roster, if that makes sense. I'm guessing you're asking more about prorated signing/option bonus charges associated with the traded player's contract. Those accelerate against the trading team's cap.
Sloppybeast (Traverse City, MI)
The Seahwaks and the 49ers seem to be making a lot of moves in FA, this doesn't leave many holes to fill through the draft for teams that already had very few holes. What is the thinking here, what could they be planning to do with their draft picks?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Every team hopes to go into the draft without glaring needs. Seattle and San Francisco are closer to doing this than most teams.
Have you heard anything regarding the trade market or lack thereof for Matt Flynn?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Yeah, I don't think much is going on there. I could see the situation remaining pretty quiet until the draft. Maybe by then, QB supply will be exhausted, some team will not get one in the draft and Seattle will get something in return. I could see that happening, but it seems quiet now.
What's the salary cap situation in Seattle? Are we going to have to make any more cuts to offset these two big acquisitions?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
We hear about the $123 million salary cap quite a bit. Seattle has a higher cap this season after pushing forward cap space that went unused last year. The Seahawks also are not carrying much dead money because they have a younger team and have drafted pretty well without missing on expensive free agents. So they're really able to maximize their spending this year. The cap really isn't a big problem for the Seahawks.
What did you think of the 49ers signing Dorsey? Can he have an impact on that d line because he had great potential when Kc drafted him
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Kansas City fans will laugh me off the stage for saying this, and I get it, but I thought Glenn Dorsey was one of the more intriguing defensive linemen out there. Teams were so high on him coming out of college. There's a sense he just needed a better scheme fit. I'm very interested in seeing how the 49ers want to use him. Intrigued would be the word.
Sloppybeast (Traverse City, MI)
Can you create a scenario for how the 49ers could afford to sign Nnamdi?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Yeah, the scenario would be Nnamdi Asomugha signing a modest contract. Cannot see the 49ers going overboard.
How will the niners use Boldin in their passing game?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Can see Anquan Boldin factoring in the red zone and making tough catches over the middle against tight coverage. The 49ers should feel better about matching up against Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman because Boldin is 220 pounds and fearless.
kurt 5bowls (belmont, ca)
Mike, what are the cards doing? It seems they don't want to win this season.
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
What should they be doing? Read the "Around the NFC West" item from this morning for some of my thoughts. Every team is at a different stage. Sometimes a new regime does more subtracting than adding in the beginning.
How do you think the Rams can improve the quickest through the rest of FA? Target Jennings? Or Long? Or Delmas? None of the above?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I'm really intrigued by the possibilities with Jake Long and think he could help stabilize that offensive line. That is the one I'm thinking of the most. The WR situation probably isn't as bad as perceptions suggest.
With Colledge about to make ~7 mill (6.3 dead if released) and Snyder making 4mill (4mill dead if released) how can we upgrade the Cardinals Guard position without having too much money tied up at that position?Cardsramshawksniners
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I've been looking at the Cardinals' OL options and wondering some of the same things. They also paid Levi Brown last offseason. So they have money tied up in four offensive linemen: Lyle Sendlein, Levi Brown, Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder. They also have a couple decent young tackle prospects in Nate Potter and Lyle Sendlein. So maybe they just draft a couple offensive linemen, bank on better health and revisit in one year.
Bevell must have felt comfortable with Harvin's attitude. Does that make it a home run for Seattle?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
It's really only a home run if Percy Harvin is healthy and produces.
Any word on John Abraham? Seahawks and Niners, among other teams, were interested. With the Seahawks signing Avril that is one less suitor the Niners compete with
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I didn't really understand the 49ers' interest in Abraham, but with the team signing a 4-3 defensive tackle in Glenn Dorsey, maybe there are some tweaks coming. The Abraham thing could have just been a look-see situation. Revisit as needed.
Niner fan here in Connecticut. I loved Goldson's presence in the open field, but there is no way I would pay him $8.25 million a year like the Bucs did. Safety is a support position - and the Niners need to think about who they need to extend next offseason(Kaepernick, Ald. Smith, Crabtreem Iupati, A. Davis). Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Yeah, I'm with you for the most part. Did really like the physical presence Goldson brought to the back end of the defense, though.
Kyle (St. Louis)
Steven Jackson hasn't appeared in the news too much during the first wave of free agency. Do you have any idea about who he is set to visit?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
It's got to be a little humbling for a player as accomplished as Steven Jackson to hit the market without anyone really caring too much. Reports suggested Green Bay might have been posturing with him a little bit. Atlanta was an option. Teams aren't interested in overpaying older players. That is a theme of free agency.
John (Palo Alto)
Loved your piece on the niners 3-4 4-3 adjustment. But Fangio has always called it a hybrid 4-3. Its almost like we play both with 4-3 players for the most part. Aldon being a DE, with just trying to create different matchups. Reason I love it? No DL is really of the table. And we have LB's that will be with us longtime
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, we've been discussing this throughout the morning and I wouldn't get too caught up in semantics. Let me put it this way: 12 teams ran 299-569 snaps of base 3-4 defense last season, according to charting by ESPN Stats & Information. Five teams ran 1-27 snaps of base 3-4. Fifteen teams ran zero snaps of base 3-4. The 49ers were in the first group. That does not mean they play a 3-4 all the time or that their 3-4 is a straight old-school 3-4. But they are paying for a 3-4.
what happened to rumors of the cardinals getting josh cribbs? And honestly what can cribbs to besides special team duties?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Sounds like Cribbs decided he wanted to sign with the Cardinals before the sides talked about a contract. So, it could happen, but has not happened. I'm not convinced there would be a great fit, so I would want to hear the coaches' explanation. They usually have reasons for targeting specific players.
What does the Cliff Avril signing mean for Bruce Irvin in Seattle? Will he still only be used as a situational player? Will he need to bulk up to become an effective run defender?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I do not know. The Seahawks might not know for sure, either. We'll hear from Pete Carroll later Thursday, I suspect.
People keep saying niners and seahawks super active in FA. Last I checked the niners have llost 3 key players, and only signed Glenn Dorsey to a 3.5 mil a year deal max. #overblown.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Most people probably count Anquan Boldin as a free-agent acquisition even though he was acquired by trade. Either way, if you're going to count Percy Harvin in the equation for Seattle, you gotta count Boldin as well. I do think Seattle has made the more significant moves, but that doesn't mean the 49ers have fallen short of their goals by any means.
Will Kevin Kolb be released today ot tomorrow in your opinion?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
By Friday, because that is when he's due a $2 million bonus. I see no advantage in cutting him sooner unless the team needs the salary-cap flexibility.
nicky v (bay area)
who do u think would b the best fit at safety for the 9ers? a veteran or one of these young draft prospects? i think the 9ers should move up in the draft and get the best safety available. your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
I think it would be best for the 49ers to develop young talent at that position. Why pay anything substantial to a stopgap veteran when Dashon Goldson could have been kept at $7.45 million under the franchise tag?
Spencer Meloche (Windsor , Canada)
What needs are left for the Seattle Seahawks ?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Nickel corner, backup tight end. Those are a couple that come to mind.
How shocked are you to see Amendola leave St.Louis? Or is that my biased opinion as a fan? Also, do you know the latest on Rams signing Long?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Not shocked at all given his injury problems recently. You had to figure he would only re-sign before free agency if the Rams really stepped up and paid him. They weren't willing to do that and I understand their rationale. Once Amendola hit the market, it was tougher to keep him.
Please elaborate on your "the Rams' receiver situation isn't as bad as it's perceived" statement. I would take that to have been the case for 2012, but with the 'senior' member for 2013 right now only having three years of experience, it seems pretty bad.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Well, this is a young team starting out. They have Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis -- three young prospects they like a great deal. Givens has already shown game-changing abilities. They also added Jared Cook, who made all but six of his 2012 receptions from the slot. They still have Lance Kendricks. That means they have two 25-year old tight ends drafted in the first three rounds, plus those young receivers. You figure they'll draft another receiver, perhaps in the first round, and who knows what they'll find in free agency.
Sando-- How big of a need is offensive line now for the hawks, or are they content with what they have?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
They are content with what they have, for the most part. They think J.R. Sweezy can start at guard. They are OK with Paul McQuistan at the other guard spot while hoping James Carpenter turns the corner medically. They love Russell Okung. They really like what Breno Giacomini brings to the team. I could see them drafting one but probably not early unless the value is really off the charts.
Justin (Los Angeles) [via mobile]
If the Rams end up signing Long, what needs do you think they will address with thier two first round pics?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I lean toward running back or receiver for one or both of the picks. And then I could see them going any number of directions with the other first-round choice. Defensive tackle, safety, offensive line, etc.
ancientage530 (Lake Tahoe)
Sando...can you please say something regarding the two trades at WR the Hawks and Niners made so people will stop comparing the two moves...its driving me crazy. These are two completly different moves by two teams with different cap situations
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
The moves are completely different. Anquan Boldin looks like a short-term rental. He's a hard-nosed veteran who can help the 49ers win right now. Percy Harvin is a long-term investment and a cornerstone player -- someone the Seahawks envision building around for the next several years. The 49ers risked almost nothing by signing Boldin. It's a low-risk, moderate-reward move. The Seahawks risked a lot more for Harvin. They made a higher-risk, higher-reward move.
Bill (Kalispell, MT)
Is the Boldin/Crabtree vs Browner/Sherman war going to be on PPV? Those Hawks-49ers games this year should be epic
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
There will be fisticuffs.
Mike -- many fans are diffusing the importance of the first round pick in the trade for Percy Harvin. There was a time when I felt that way, but now I'm starting to lean the other. I'm realizing there are some players I love we could have taken in the first round, even if they aren't at positions of "need." How much do you think the Hawks are giving up with that first round pick?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Well, they are giving up an opportunity to acquire young, low-cost labor. But they are getting a young player, so that mitigates some of the risk. I'd say the fact that Seattle has had success drafting in later rounds mitigates the downside. Also, Harvin is young, which is a huge part of this. Let's go back to the 2011 draft for a comparison. Seattle took James Carpenter with the 25th pick. The team got KJ Wright in the fourth round and Richard Sherman in the fifth round. If Seattle can get those types of players in later rounds -- and we've seen Kam Chancellor hit as a fifth-rounder, and JR Sweezy become a starting guard candidate as a seventh-rounder -- then the Seahawks can make this a win-win.
James Fry (Mesa)
Is there a reason we don't know contract details for Rashad Johnson?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Usually the numbers that do not get our right away are the ones the agent isn't excited about.
ramhorn33 (Saint Louis)
is a deal gone get done with Jake Long in St. Louis
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
It feels that way given how much time Jake Long has been in St. Louis. Sounds like they really want him, and where there is a will, there often is a way. Sam Bradford and Jake Long share the same agent, Tom Condon. Bet Bradford is hopeful.
Nick (Chicago, Illi-noise)
The world is dying to know what the Niners may do in regards to a backup QB. With Kaepernick being a runner, there is a tremendous injury threat. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Colin Kaepernick took huge shots at Nevada and kept coming back for more. I don't think he's at huge risk for injury. He takes fewer sacks than Alex Smith took. He probably needs to become a little more selective with his sliding so he can make that tool work for him more. But I don't feel like Kaepernick is an injury waiting to happen.
Hey Mike, if the Titans release Hasselbeck in lieu of a contract restructure, what are the odds he lands with the Hawks as a backup for a year? This is assuming the Hawks trade Flynn.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Just don't see the Seahawks going down that road again. Had not even thought about it. I guess it could happen but I'm thinking not.
Aren't the Rams setting up similarly to the Bengals from a couple seasons ago? Still learning how to win, but good nucleus and poised for a surprise season sooner or later?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
That is not a comparison I have made, but the Rams are definitely on the rise. They set the bar pretty high by going 7-8-1 last season. They'll probably need to do better outside the division this season. Probably unrealistic to expect them to win as much within the division for a second year in a row.
Is this a rebuilding year for the cardinals, with battles in the RB position and uncertainity in the QB position. Can the cards be a contender in the powerhouse NFC WEST
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Yeah, there's a rebuilding feel to things, but the cupboard is not bare. I think the Cardinals were going to have a better record in 2013 regardless of the changes they made. Ask me later this offseason, though. I need to have a better feel for the QB situation before answering the question with confidence.
Josiah (Burlington, VT)
Mike - how would you expect the Niners to fill their nose tackle need? Are there even any remaining free agents that could? If not, is it realistic to think a rookie would start?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
They have Ian Williams and just signed Glenn Dorsey. Do not really see them making a big investment in one.
What kind of money do you think Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are going to command in 2015? $60 mil? $70 mil? Can the Hawks pay these men?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Seems to me they should reward Earl Thomas first, and do so in a way where the cap charges are staggered. That way there would be room to stagger the charges for Sherman so that the hits are distributed in a more manageable way.
Tigre (South Of The Border)
At this point n' time, are you leaning toward picking Seattle or S.F. to win the West? (*throws fuel on the fire)
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I think the Seahawks were gaining on the 49ers last season and just ran out of time. Right now, I would pick Seattle to win the division.
Bill (Kalispell, MT)
If you think the Rams will use on of their 1st rd picks on a WR why not sign Victor Cruz, a young known quantity, to a deal and give up the pick...or force the Giants in to a bad cap place by keeping him. Either way you are hurting one of your competitors for a WC slot
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Salary would be one reason. For example, receiver Kendall Wright was the 20th pick of the 2012 draft. His contract is scheduled to consume about $8 million in cap space over a four-year period. The contract Vincent Jackson signed last offseason consumed $15.4 million in cap space for the 2012 season alone. It is scheduled to consume about $55 million in cap space over a five-year period. If you can draft an impact receiver in the first round, you come out so far ahead.
Kv [via mobile]
Why does Seattle get the word "risk" used all the time? It's like an echo of Mel kiper when a "questionable" move is made. When will positive comments ever be made before a move is made. Check their track record before using the word Risk. Everybody else's move in the NFC seems to be the best move ever!!!
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I think you're being oversensitive.
Do you think we will see marked improvement from the Cardinals offensive line now that we have hired additional coachs just for the oline?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I think most of the improvement will come from the fact that the young tackles improved with experience, and from the likelihood that Levi Brown and Lyle Sendlein will be healthier. Some people will confuse these improvements with the improvements brought by coaching, and it will make for a nice narrative, but it will be true only to an extent. Also, improved QB play and RB play will help the line tremendously.
So sando most sub 500 teams that win 11+ are due for regression unless its SEA then they are just coming into their own?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I don't know if 11+ is the cutoff, but if Seattle had won 13 games last season, I would take the under on that figure the following season for obvious reasons.
Kristian (Wall Street)
Even with all of the signings and moves by Seattle, it still comes down to how Wilson plays. Any chance of a second year slump much like Newton?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I don't see a big comparison between Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. If Wilson struggles in 2013, I don't think it would be related to anything Newton went through, or even related to second seasons specifically. Also, Wilson was much better as a rookie than Newton was as a rookie, especially when we look at where Wilson was over the second half of his rookie season.
Craig (New Hampshire)
The majority of people who have watched seattle seahawks games noticed that Breno Giacomini has trouble in pass protection. Are the seahawks not aware of this?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I think they felt his play improved later in the season.
I know the Rams are set up nice with multiple 1st's, but can you imagine the buzz level if the Rams picked RGIII and traded Bradford away for extra picks. You would have a division with RGIII, Wilson and Kaep! WOW!!!!
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Yeah, if only that would have been more feasible from a salary-cap standpoint.
If the Rams sign Long as it seems they are and they get a good guard in the draft like Cooper or Warmack would you agree all the sudden the Rams line is elite?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
It would suddenly be quite good, but they also probably need Scott Wells to get healthy, and there are some concerns on Harvey Dahl as well.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. See you on the blog.