MORT'S MAILBAG: March 6
Q: All right, Chris, you're the GM of the world champion New England Patriots: What do you do about Drew Bledsoe? I think they should let him go for a No. 2 this year and future picks (No. 2 in 2004, No. 2 in 2005). I thought the opportunity was there last year to trade him because the Seattle Seahawks had three No. 1 draft picks. What do you think? -- Junior Clemetson, Boston, Mass.
|Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe will likely be celebrating touchdowns with a different team next season.|
MORT -- Junior, I think that Bledsoe's marketability has been hurt by the glut of quarterbacks that hit the market this year. But I would agree that the Pats must (and probably will) lower their price tag and build some future picks into a trade that could be conditional upon Bledsoe's success.
As for Seattle, the Patriots were reluctant to do a deal last year because Tom Brady was just a promising young QB without any experience; in fact, he started as third-string and had to beat out Damon Huard for the No. 2 job. Seattle's Mike Holmgren wasn't willing to pay a ransom because he thought Matt Hasselbeck could get the job done. Obviously, Hasselbeck was somewhat disappointing, but I think the Seahawks had a great draft that included both No. 1 picks, Steve Hutchinson and Koren Robinson, who I suspect will be Pro Bowl players.
Q: With the Miami Dolphins' situation at running back, why aren't they talking to Seattle about Ricky Watters? He has a rep for being a hard worker and would probably fit in great, since he can also double as a receiver out of the backfield. Plus, he would be much cheaper than Ricky Williams. -- Preston, Allentown, Pa.
MORT -- Preston, I almost agree with you, except that Watters appeared to be breaking down in 2001. It might have been a fluke, but when you're over 30 (like Watters), you're a running back and you have injuries, teams get leery of you. Still, I would not write off Watters.
Q: Do you think the Dallas Cowboys have a legitimate chance at making the playoffs this upcoming season with all the coaching changes, different schemes and the No. 6 pick? Plus, we saw how Quincy Carter can really play in those last six games. -- Daniel, Richmond Hill, Ontario
MORT -- Daniel, I guess anything is possible in the NFL, but I haven't seen anything overwhelmingly positive that has happened this offseason that makes me believe the Cowboys will be a playoff contender. I do think Bruce Coslet will do a nice job as offensive coordinator, but it means Quincy Carter has to learn another scheme.
Q: Since Shannon Sharpe's stint in Baltimore is over, do you have any ideas where he'll end up next? Is Denver a possibility? -- Jon Cole, Omaha, Neb.
MORT -- Jon, Denver is a possibility for Shannon, but I really think there is mutual intrigue in Tampa. Jon Gruden loves veterans. He always has yearned for a tight end to throw to in his offense. If the Bucs can make something work salary-wise, I think Sharpe will be in Tampa. I think the Broncos, the Giants and the Raiders also are potential spots, too.
Q: I thought the Philadelphia Eagles would have wanted to go after free agent Cris Carter. When I heard they didn't have much interest, I was fairly shocked. Why would they not want a standout receiver like this, and would you see him as a good fit for the Eagles? And if not Carter, what do you think the Eagles should do about their weak situation at WR? -- Daniel Spear, Philadelphia
MORT -- Daniel, I also join your "shock" -- well, maybe not quite shock -- that the Eagles dismissed Carter without serious pursuit. Cris wanted to play in Philly -- end his career where it started, but on a totally upbeat note. I think Andy Reid, whom I admire and respect, is miscalculating the fear that Carter is a locker-room lawyer, or that he'll vie for the leadership with Donovan McNabb, or that he'll stunt the growth of the young receivers. Cris did what was asked of him in Minnesota. He is a Hall of Famer who is still productive. I truly believe he will have a great season in 2002 and we'll be talking about this again.
Q: Since the Chicago Bears have re-signed Jim Miller, Seattle is sticking with Trent Dilfer and Elvis Grbac apparently has retired, the Redskins have to trade for Drew Bledsoe, right? Isn't a proven veteran QB a must? And I don't mean Tony Banks or Danny Wuerffel! -- Justin, Newport News, Va.
MORT -- Justin, you probably have heard by now that Steve Spurrier sounds like he would be content with his ex-Florida guys, Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel, competing for the job. It will be interesting to see if Daniel Snyder will force a more proven QB on Spurrier, but there does not seem to be an inclination to pay a fairly high draft pick, or Bledsoe's salary.
I think one guy a lot of people are overlooking is Chris Chandler. The guy is a very, very good quarterback who might be a better bargain. One last thought: Spurrier said his motive to try the NFL was based on his curiosity to see if his "system" will work in the pro game. He believes in his system. He thinks Matthews and Wuerffel can make his system go. This will be interesting.
Q: Now that the Bears have signed Jim Miller, do you think they will have any interest at all in upgrading the QB position? -- Mark Mazzenga, West Warwick, R.I.
MORT -- Mark, the Bears look like they have declared Miller as their guy. I think Dick Jauron sees some of that efficiency and leadership in Miller that Trent Dilfer and Tom Brady have exhibited in winning Super Bowls the past two years. Then again, Miller's contract is a pretty good one for the Bears, and it certainly allows them (financially) to pursue another QB.
Q: How are the Miami Dolphins a major-market team in the free-agent market? How do they expect to sign Larry Chester, Olin Kreutz and a running back if the Ricky Williams trade falls through? What happens to the only boys from the Shula days, Tim Ruddy and O.J. McDuffie? -- Seth Glantz, Easton, Pa.
MORT -- Seth, I am a little surprised at the amount of money the Dolphins apparently are giving Kreutz. But he was a guy that Dave Wannstedt and Tony Wise (the line coach) drafted in Chicago, and obviously he has turned out to be a Pro Bowl player. Kreutz also brings a nasty attitude that they desire for their linemen. Chester was a bargain buy and Williams also has very friendly cap numbers, although at some point he is certainly going to see a new deal. But running the ball and becoming more physical up front is a priority for this team.
Q: New Orleans Saints WR Willie Jackson had the best season of his career last year; he was clutch and consistent. Why are the Saints willing to let him go when he has done everything that they have asked him? Why can't they draft or go after another faster WR to complement Joe Horn and Jackson? -- Bruce Hess, Biloxi, Miss.
MORT -- Bruce, I think the Saints have respect for Willie Jackson, but they will not overpay. They have targeted receivers this offseason (such as Cris Carter). At this point in the NFL, it's all about money and managing your cap. If Jackson doesn't find an offer to his liking, then he could always return.
Q: The Green Bay Packers seem to be putting a lot of confidence in Robert Ferguson to be their top wide receiver. Do you agree with their confidence? -- Mike Wuest, Fond du Lac, Wisc.
MORT -- Mike, I wouldn't say that the Packers have a lot of confidence in Ferguson. He wasn't a contributor in 2001. They have hopes for him, but there's a reason they are acquiring Terry Glenn. Like most teams, the Packers can't keep all their players because of the salary cap. However, it's also possible that guys like Bill Schroeder and Corey Bradford will discover that the market isn't what they thought, and perhaps they will be more receptive to what Green Bay has to offer them.
Q: What do you think will be the Kansas City Chiefs' focal point for the offseason, and who will they go after? -- Randy Huff, Omaha, Nebraska
MORT -- Randy, for all the speculation about the Chiefs wanting another WR like Az-Zahir Hakim (they do, but won't overpay), Dick Vermeil has made it clear (and rightfully so) that they need to address the defense. They got shoved around a lot last year, which is why the Chiefs really want John Parrella, the DT free agent from the Chargers. If I had to make a "most underrated" list from the past five years, Parrella would have made it and maybe would have been No. 1. But he's 32, and he wants a lot of money. I think he would be a great pickup for the Chiefs.
Q: What do think of Dusty Bonner's chance in the NFL? He shined at Kentucky and then at Valdosta. He seemed to receive a shady deal at Kentucky. Will it hurt his chances in the draft? -- Matt Falcinelli, San Diego
MORT -- Matt, as you mentioned, Dusty Bonner had great statistics at Valdosta State, but I am hearing from a lot of NFL scouts that his arm is very suspect. The problems at Kentucky won't affect his status one bit -- he will be judged on his physical ability to play in the NFL.