The next two weeks will heavily impact the direction of the Cards’ offseason, given that the annual Scouting Combine gets underway in Indianapolis in a couple of days and then free agency begins at the end of next week.
— The Cards want to keep LB Karlos Dansby and Dansby has insisted he hasn’t closed the door on the Cards. But in this depressed free agent market (thanks to the ongoing labor issues) Dansby could be considered the top free agent available in the entire NFL (especially with the glut of Julius Peppers’ bashing). Dansby was never going to get the franchise tag and given the circumstances, he won’t be getting the transition tag either.
— Antrel Rolle and the team have talked contract, but this close to Rolle’s magic date — he’s due that giant $4 million roster bonus next week — I expect him to be released into the open market. What that means is anyone’s guess. The Cardinals believe Rolle would like to come back, but again, it’s all relative when it comes to dollars. Could the Dolphins — and Miami is home for Rolle — come calling for big bucks given their issues with current free safety Gibril Wilson? Might the Giants, who had all kinds of secondary issues, choose to siphon away the guy who sealed their fate this past season? Someone else?
One of the other problems in the Rolle situation: When you’re talking numbers with a guy, I don’t see how the Cards can want to jump him over the deal Adrian Wilson just signed last season (I wouldn’t think Adrian would be all that excited about that either). Does that automatically set a ceiling for Rolle?
— The Cards are also going to have to give tender offers to their restricted free agents in the next week or so. The key RFAs for the Cards (assuming an uncapped year, which seems a foregone conclusion) are wide receiver Steve Breaston, center Lyle Sendlein, guard Deuce Lutui, tight end Ben Patrick and nose tackle Gabe Watson. There are slight differences in salary for RFAs this season now that guys might have three, four or five years of experience, but here’s how I think it’ll shake out: Breaston will get the first-round tender ($2.396 million) and the other four will get the second-round tender. In all cases, the Cards have the right of first refusal to match any offer another team gives, and that team would have to surrender the tendered draft pick if the Cards didn’t match.
But because of the rules changes, those second-round tenders could mean different things in terms of salary. For Sendlein (undrafted) and Patrick (seventh round), it would be $1.684 million. For Watson (fourth round), who has played four years, it would be $1.759 million. For Lutui, however, it could be two different salaries, since he was a second-round pick. He could get the same $1.759 million Watson would get in that situation, or the Cards could give him the salary for players who are tendered to their original draft round — $1.176 million — since a team would still have to give up a second-rounder for him.
— And then, of course, there is the combine itself, as the Cards begin to sort through their potential draft picks up close and personal.
It’s going to get interesting.
Tags: Antrel Rolle, Ben Patrick, Deuce Lutui, Dolphins, free agency, Gabe Watson, Giants, Karlos Dansby, Lyle Sendlein, Steve Breaston
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