Mailbag: Fans want Vincent Jackson

Alex from Lake Stevens, Wash., writes: I understand that the prices on Marshawn Lynch and Vincent Jackson may be a little higher than the Seahawks want to spend, but these two are big playmakers and game changers. What is holding them back from attacking this from all angles? The 12th Man wants to see one, if not both, big playmakers at Qwest Field.

Mike Sando: Players tend to be available for a reason. Lynch and Jackson would carry at least moderate risk based on their recent histories. If you're the Seahawks, you're already without a third-round choice in the 2011 draft. That pick financed another speculative move (taking a chance on Charlie Whitehurst). How much more 2011 draft capital should the Seahawks risk for flawed players? How many other teams are bidding for these players? Why overspend? Is Jackson even available? Recent reports suggest the Chargers might not be shopping him.

If I were the Seahawks, I'd monitor Lynch's situation closely and see if he comes available for a reasonable price. He's not a player Seattle absolutely has to have. He's a player who could be worth acquiring at a discount price. The Bills might be best off waiting to see whether they'll need him or whether another team will suffer an injury at the position during training camp or early in the season. The price could then go up.

Ryan from Phoenix writes: I just read a question in the NFC North column and I found it to be a really good read so I thought I'd ask you the same question. What team in the NFC West has the best five-year plan? I'm not so sure my Cardinals have the best five-year plan after watching the 49ers destroy them in the regular season and watching them add potentially two stud offensive lineman to strengthen their run game when the Cardinals run defense, while good statistically, I believe was overrated due to seemingly always being in a shootout. The Seahawks made good strides and I'm not sure what to make of the Rams.

Mike Sando: Teams used to have 10-year plans. That was the setup for Tom Landry and Chuck Noll way back when. Time have obviously changed significantly. The stakes are much higher. Ten-year plans became five-year plans, but even five-year plans are fantasies in the modern NFL. Coaches have two or three years to win in most cases. The Rams don't even have a firm owner, let alone a five-year plan, although they do now have a quarterback to build around. Arizona has pretty good stability with a proven head coach signed to a long-term deal. Pete Carroll signed a long-term deal, but the Seahawks have proved they'll dump a coach after only one season if they think things aren't working out.

I don't see great five-year plans in place for teams in the NFC West, but neither do I think five-year plans are the mindset in the current NFL.

Dan from Missoula, Mont., writes: Mr. Sando, I was hoping you could clarify why Kentwan Balmer is taking so long to develop. I have heard that it takes defensive lineman longer to acclimate to new techniques, especially in the 3-4, but he was a first-round pick. Is this a make-or-break year for him? If so, what can we expect from him? Thanks for keeping us up on all the news.

Mike Sando: Balmer has played 27 games. That's not a ton of experience. The position he plays makes it tougher for him to make an obvious impact. For those reasons, I wouldn't go overboard in criticizing his career to this point. It was unlikely the 49ers were going to get a high-impact player at that position in their scheme. Selecting Balmer that early seemed a little curious as a result. But it is realistic to expect him to become a starter at some point this season, his third in the NFL. He looks like he can become a good player against the run in particular, but if you're expecting him to become an impact player, you'll be disappointed, most likely.

Patrick from Dallas writes: Hey Mike, I love the work your doing with the blog. Very insightful, you also seem to deliver stories in a unique way. It's a very refreshing atmosphere. We very much missed you while you were on vacation. My question is this: What chances do you think there are of the 49ers trading for Tom Brady at the end of the season if Alex Smith has another poor season and the Patriots are unable to sign Brady to a long-term deal? I say this because Brady lives on the West Coast now and he grew up a fan of the 49ers. I'm a huge Alex Smith fan, but I would imagine San Francisco would dump him if he underperforms again. Thanks for answering my question.

Mike Sando: I had to answer your question after the way you prefaced it. Thanks for the support. Niners fans know even the greatest quarterbacks can be traded. If Joe Montana can be traded, anyone can be traded. You're right about Smith needing to play well this season. I just don't see the Patriots trading Brady because it's not like they have the next Steve Young in waiting. It would surprise me unless it were clear Brady's skills were diminishing and New England had a solid prospect behind him.

Will from Cincinnati writes: Hey Mike, I love your blog. Quick question though. I know the Rams say they are happy and content with their young yet unproven/inexperienced wide receivers but what is the possibility of them going after Vincent Jackson? I know you don't want to give up a lot in the rebuilding stage, but what exactly would it take to get a deal like that done and what are the chances of it? With the future of the organization resting in bradford's hands it would be nice to arm him with a big-bodied, sure-handed vertical threat. Donnie Avery, Brandon Gibson, Laurent Robinson and Mardy Gilyard seems like a pretty shallow receiving corps, but throwing Jackson in there makes them pretty legit. Your thoughts? Thanks again.

Mike Sando: No prob. Rams general manager Billy Devaney seems pretty tired of hearing about how bad the team might be at receiver. I think he's determined to prove the team has more talent at that position than conventional wisdom holds. Acquiring a player unhappy with his contract also means paying that player good money up front as part of a long-term deal. The Rams have budgeted for Sam Bradford and their rookie class, but even if they wanted to acquire Jackson, they might have a hard time pushing through such a move given the pending ownership change. It's a long shot at best.