Rolle decision would be Thursday

Posted by Darren Urban on February 28, 2010 – 7:05 pm

Unless Antrel Rolle bucks conventional wisdom and decides to sign an extension this week, the Cardinals are going to release him before he gets his $4 million roster bonus. That bonus is due on the first day of the new league year, which coincides with the start of free agency — in other words, 10 p.m. Arizona time Thursday night. That would mean, if Rolle stands pat as expected with his current contract, the Cards would have to act by then to let him go (And yes, the Cards could do it sooner if they feel there is an impasse, but I would doubt it).

If that happens, as general manager Rod Graves said this weekend, making an effort to bring Rolle back would remain a “top priority.” Market forces will dictate a lot in this situation, and how it impacts the Cards. Even if free agency comes first, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rolle in Arizona again in 2010.

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Levi leaning left

Posted by Darren Urban on February 28, 2010 – 2:42 pm

Ken Whisenhunt would like to have Mike Gandy back as his left tackle. The coach made that clear, noting Gandy’s versatility and how Gandy “fought his butt off to play for us.”

“I have great respect for Mike Gandy,” Whisenhunt said.

The problem is that Gandy is a free agent, and after playing for a $5 million salary last season, the Cardinals probably would want to sign him for less in 2010, and Gandy may not be amenable to that. If Gandy doesn’t come back — which my gut tells me won’t happen — the plan for now is to slide one of the young linemen (Brandon Keith or Herman Johnson) into the right tackle spot and move right tackle Levi Brown to the left side – where Brown played in college.

Whisenhunt said he doesn’t think the transition would be difficult for Brown, who has practiced some on the left side during his three NFL seasons as a starting right tackle. Clearly, Brown is now more comfortable on the right side given it’s where he has played as a pro. But Whisenhunt has talked to Brown about a potential change, and “I don’t think Levi really cares.”

“The only thing he cares about is running the football,” Whisenhunt said with a smile, “because he likes getting on guys and mauling them.”

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The talk of trading Q

Posted by Darren Urban on February 27, 2010 – 10:28 pm

The equation makes sense: One Pro Bowl wide receiver disgruntled with his contract + one lingering drama + one year left on his contract + one media contingent at the Scouting combine desperately looking for “buzz” = Anquan Boldin is available in trade!!!!!!

The bottom line is nothing that happened today is new news. A couple places across the Internet have presented the idea that the Cardinals will take calls from other teams in regard to dealing Boldin is something different than it has been. The Cardinals took calls about Boldin last year before the draft and made it clear last week that the same would happen this offseason.

It’s simple. Three things can happen with Boldin:

1) He signs a contract extension.

2) He plays out his contract in 2010 and is scheduled to become a free agent next offseason.

3) He is traded.

The contract extension seems incredibly unlikely. That’s reality right now, and I think the feeling is probably mutual on both sides. That leaves the other two possibilities. General manager Rod Graves said Saturday, “I’d be remiss if I said you could easily replace a player of his caliber,” and he’s obviously right. And if the Cards kept him for a final season, he’s an affordable piece.

But the business of the NFL is about so much more than that. A team is a constantly evolving entity. If the Cards aren’t going to end up extending Boldin (and, in theory, they could use the franchise tag next season if they really wanted to keep Q and he wasn’t willing to sign another deal), getting something for him is an attractive option. But as Graves keeps repeating, whatever the option the Cards choose, it will be in the best interests of the team. Will that kick into overdrive the trade discussion that started last season? Maybe it does. Maybe it means the Cards don’t necessarily want/need a first-round pick for him.

Again, none of this is new. Maybe the chances of Boldin finally being dealt have increased, but really, is that anything — given the events of the past couple of years with Anquan — anyone wasn’t expecting?

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Dockett’s request for Suh

Posted by Darren Urban on February 27, 2010 – 3:35 pm

Via Twitter, Darnell Dockett had a plea for Nebraska defensive tackle (and certain top three pick) Ndamukong Suh today in two parts.

“Dear Ndamukong Suh I know u might be the 1st pick but can u whine like eli manning and go to another team like the cardinals”

“If u wait till we pic ill make sure u with us, me and u will dominate together something serious, thx NINE-0 –please fwd to SUH”

I’m not sure Suh would fall all the way to No. 26, but Dockett is at least efforting.

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Clearing up what the combine Cards said

Posted by Darren Urban on February 27, 2010 – 11:24 am

OK, here’s what wasn’t said today by the Cards at the Scouting combine, when Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves spoke to the media:

— The team wants Chad Pennington (Graves said Pennington, if he becomes a free agent, will be among the quarterbacks the Cards look at).

— The team is going to trade Anquan Boldin (Graves said, as he has said over and over and over, the team will consider all options — including a trade — with Boldin.

— That the fact Boldin could be traded is suddenly breaking news (It’s not, so keep that in mind in your comments).

Here’s what was said:

— The team wants to keep S Antrel Rolle, who needs a new contract before next week. Even if the Cards do cut him, they plan to fight to bring him back. They want to keep LB Karlos Dansby too, but the money is probably too huge in that case.

— Levi Brown can make the move to LT easily, Whisenhunt thinks, although Whiz added the team would very much like to keep UFA Mike Gandy. Gandy is going to have to re-sign at the right price, methinks.

— If Boldin were to be dealt, Graves said “I’d be remiss if I say it’d be easy to replace a player of that caliber.”

— Someone asked Whisenhunt if Matt Leinart “was his guy,” and Whisenhunt acknowledged Leinart is the only QB on the roster right now, so it was kind of obvious. As for competition for Leinart once the Cards do add QBs, “everybody on our team knows they have to play well to keep their position.”

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Levi Brown again

Posted by Darren Urban on February 26, 2010 – 12:41 pm

Levi Brown was here in Indy.

No, not the Cardinals’ right-soon-to-be-left tackle/Pro Bowl alternate Levi Brown, but the Troy hoping-to-get-drafted quarterback Levi Brown. Levi the QB has some size – 6-foot-3, 220 pounds – but Levi the tackle “is a little bit bigger than me,” he acknowledged.

(Levi the tackle? 6-5 and 324. Just a little bit bigger.)

If Levi the quarterback wasn’t aware of Levi the tackle once upon a time, he certainly was in April of 2007. “It’s weird,” Levi the QB said. “A couple years ago when he was coming out, people saw it on the news he got drafted and I had some people calling me, sending me text messages and asking my parents, ‘Did Levi get drafted already?’ I was like, ‘I’m only a sophomore. How am I going to get drafted?’ ”

At the time, Levi the QB was actually in the middle of transferring. He had been teammates with current Cardinals running back Tim Hightower at the University of Richmond. He sat out 2007 while transferring to Troy. And now he comes out for the draft after throwing for 4,254 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior, projected to be a mid-to-late-round draft pick in a year where the Cardinals are expected to draft a quarterback in the mid-to-late rounds.

He could be reunited with Hightower. Or meeting his eponymous tackle.

“Maybe there will be two of us on the same team,” Levi the QB said with a laugh. “That would be interesting.”

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Getting busier in Indy

Posted by Darren Urban on February 26, 2010 – 10:00 am

Yesterday seemed kinda slow here at the Scouting combine — at least, until that small piece of news late in the afternoon — but it’s picked up today. More coaches and general managers are streaming through the media room (and being accosted by the mob afterward, like new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan) and the quarterbacks are scheduled to come through today. Owner Bill Bidwill will be honored by the Fritz Pollard Alliance later today for his role in hiring minorities in his organization. And I am bouncing around collecting some video for some TV that will be posted over the next week or so.

The buzz around here — aside from the report the Rams are going to take quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick — has been the contract extensions for Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves. It’s clear the move ratcheted up the reputation of the Cards from a national perspective by keeping the men in place that have put the team on the right track.

Oh, and if you want to see Fitz atop an elephant

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Coach, GM get their new deals

Posted by Darren Urban on February 25, 2010 – 3:14 pm

As we have said, new contracts today for coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves. Given the possible roster churning going on, I think having stability at the top was crucial. It seemed like a no-brainer too, since this was the duo that guided the Cards to a Super Bowl. I’m headed down to talk to Whisenhunt and Graves soon and will have more info then, but again, there isn’t much more to say other than — Whiz is sticking around.

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Cards not using the tag

Posted by Darren Urban on February 25, 2010 – 11:46 am

No surprise, but the Cardinals aren’t using the franchise tag or transition tag this season. It wasn’t going to be used on Karlos Dansby. The only possibility was probably kicker Neil Rackers, but it in the end, it didn’t make much sense.

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The “grave mistake” to discount Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on February 25, 2010 – 8:49 am

Here at the combine, 49ers coach Mike Singletary was one of the first men to speak to the media, and he was asked about the idea that the NFC West was for the 49ers to take now that Kurt Warner retired.

Singletary slowly shook his head as the question was finished.

“It is a grave mistake for us as a football team that just because you take Kurt Warner out of the mix, to think it is our division,” Singletary said, building into one of those quotable moments for which Singletary has quickly become famous. “We have to make sure we are not looking at Seattle. We’re not looking at Arizona. I don’t care about those things.

“I was thinking it was our division before you get Kurt Warner out. I was hoping we’d think that last year. Think that way this year. I want them to think that way every year.”

I notice Singletary didn’t mention the Rams.

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