Mailbag: Locker, Palmer and labor

Jayson from Bloomfield, N.J., wonders whether the Seattle Seahawks might trade up to draft University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker.

Mike Sando: My general sense is that Seattle needs more choices, not fewer of them, and enough questions about Locker persist to head off a move up the board for him.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's unsigned status is combining with the lockout to prevent the Seahawks from addressing the position. That could put pressure on them to resolve the quarterback position, or at least address it, in the draft. If the Seahawks think Locker is a front-line starter, sure, they should consider moving up for him. But if there are enough questions about Locker to send him down the board and within striking distance of the team selecting 25th overall, the risk might be too great.

If Seattle is going to invest a first-round choice in a quarterback, I think the team needs to emerge with a clear starter or clear future starter, not another Charlie Whitehurst type with an undefined future.

Mike from Portland, Ore., suggests players are being hypocritical when they cite injury concerns when opposing an 18-game season, then turn around and ridicule the NFL for becoming "weak" by punishing players too harshly for illegal hits.

Mike Sando: How the game is played and how long the game is played are separate issues, in my view. Also, the players complaining about overzealous punishment for illegal hits aren't necessarily the same ones speaking out against 18-game seasons or other issues.

John from Phoenix wonders how the league would accommodate a larger-than-normal pool of free agents within a salary cap if a new labor agreement allowed players with four accrued seasons to become unrestricted.

Mike Sando: There are a few scenarios to consider.

One, the courts could grant an injunction against the lockout, in which case the NFL would presumably implement rules as they existed in 2010. That would mean no salary cap, no salary floor and players needing six accrued seasons to become unrestricted. The pool of free agents wouldn't be all that massive.

Two, the sides could agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement, and that agreement would address the issue. Either the cap would grow enough to accommodate the larger pool of free agents, or it would control the size of the pool.

Three, the sides could agree to restore the unrestricted threshold to four accrued seasons while implementing a more restrictive cap. This is the scenario you raised. Players held back from free agency under the more restrictive rules in place last offseason would suddenly hit the market -- along with new qualifiers.

I don't think the more restrictive cap would be a huge problem for most teams. Millions in cap space was going unused anyway. Several teams slashed payroll quite severely last season. I suspect lots of teams would be in good shape from a cap standpoint even with a more restrictive cap in place for 2011.

The best players would get paid handsomely, as usual. We would see more signings because there would be more players available to sign, but I don't think the cap would legitimately stand between teams and contract agreements, even if teams suggested the cap were the issue. Where there's a will, and cash, there is a way.

Joe from Fort Collins, Colo., thinks Carson Palmer could put up 30 touchdown passes and a 10-6 record in the NFC West, where he wouldn't have to contend with Pittsburgh or Baltimore twice each season.

Mike Sando: There is some logic to what you are saying. Palmer tossed 26 touchdown passes last season, same as Matt Hasselbeck and Alex Smith combined.

The chart shows Palmer's career regular-season stats against Baltimore, Pittsburgh, everyone else and overall.

Carson Palmer Career Stats