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Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 3, 2012 – 4:21 pm

Here was a key line from coach Ken Whisenhunt’s season-ending press conference after the 2010 season: “As far as personnel change, there’s going to be change. When you go 5-11, there are going to be changes that are made. It has to be that way.”

Monday, Whisenhunt’s team still hadn’t made the playoffs, but it was three games better. Thus: “You don’t anticipate a lot of changes.”

There will be some of course. That’s inevitable. Some players will be determined replaceable. Some will be wanted back, but at the right price, which always leaves the door open for them eventually leaving. And there is always the chance an unexpectedly good player will come available that simply has to be had, even if there isn’t necessarily a place for him to immediately play.

If there is one thing Whisenhunt has repeated over and over and over in his five seasons, it’s that every offseason “we are always looking to improve.”

Free agency and the draft comes later (free agency is first, March 13, a Tuesday, at 2 p.m. Arizona time). First, the Cardinals coaches – after undergoing an evaluation process themselves – have to sort through the Cardinals’ roster. Not that they need it, but for your viewing pleasure, here is my annual breakdown of the Cards’ roster and what each individual’s contract status is as of today.

The top priority is re-signing DE Calais Campbell. I have no idea if anything is close. I know they’ve been talking, I haven’t heard anyone be pessimistic and Whisenhunt himself said he didn’t want to talk about it Monday because he didn’t want to jinx anything – and could that be a hint, since you don’t worry about jinxing something that won’t happen, right? Either way, Campbell will be back because they will franchise him if they must.

Other keys players to watch, in my opinion: DB Richard Marshall, of course, but the price will have to work both ways. The Cards have a load of DBs. Not sure exactly how they feel about A.J. Jefferson right now, but defensive coordinator Ray Horton sure likes Marshall. I’d think they’d want him to return. What about good locker room guys and defensive veterans like LB Clark Haggans and DE Vonnie Holliday? Or WR Early Doucet? The Cards also have all three specialists – K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil and long snapper Mike Leach – who have expired contracts.

This is what was missing last offseason. Oh, we had the questions in January, we just didn’t have the answers until late July. I love those who still ask what I do in the offseason – really, given the interest, there is no offseason. It’s already time to talk the 2012 season.


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63 Responses to “Breaking down the roster”

  1. By Rich on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    this is my favorite part………………..let the speculation begin !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. By Big D on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Cards this year should alot of heart and fight great job guy’s your awesome 2012 season 12-4 win the divison. Maybe supe Bow; that would be the icing on the cake. Faith Finish Focus

  3. By D on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Nice breakdown. The Cards are getting depth and competition at most spots. I agree if they can find younger/cheaper specialist they should kick some tires. I see just a few holes on each side, Off Tackles, second WR, OLB and Safety…should be fun to see who they bring back and what they do in free agency which will dictate the draft.

  4. By SteveG on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    So….When is the first OTA? :-)

  5. By MIKE G on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Great job covering the season in 2011. Great articles and blogs. What do you see happening with the Card’s coaching staff???? Do you see the team adding or changing a particular coach??? I know Whiz said he would evaluate his staff in the coming weeks!!!

  6. By Darren Urban on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Coaches

    If there are any changes, I’d think we’d know by the end of the week.

  7. By Scott H on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Darren –
    Forgive me for just not paying attention ( especially since it’s the 2nd time I’m asking in recent memory ) but what happened with Housler? Was he placed on IR at some point??? Was he active at all during the last month or so??? Though I’m sure you’ve mentioned some things along the way, I just flat out missed them. If you could hit it for me one mo’ time, I’d appreciate it.

    I ask because I REALLY wanted to see the TE position become more promiment in the offense this year. We stormed out of the gate that way, then just kinda fizzled out after that. I like King and really want to see this Housler kid become a play-maker for this team. I fail to see where we got anything from Heap. Doesn’t even score a TD until the last game…seems to me, we could have gotten that from anybody.

    I’d be happy to have Marshall back but don’t see him as a guy you over-pay for.

  8. By Burdoneski on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    yea man I am very proud of this squad. so much HEART and fight in them. so excited about our defense. ray horton is an amazing DC. let mike miller continue to progress as the OC in whiz’s complex system. special teams, well one name comes to mind (even though everybody else must play there part) PETERSON. wow and to think, they wanted us to grab “blaine gabbert”. sometimes i think the NFL wants us to make an epic mistake. great job rod graves. excellent general manager. if we dont win the division next year we will easily clinch a wildcard spot. THE ONLY ISSUE i have is our inconsistency in the offense. Johnny boy im rooting for you but like COACH says. lets play the best player. open competition Darren???

  9. By angel on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Are you guys thinking of singing Matt Flynn?

  10. By Darren Urban on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Housler

    You really must not be paying attention. He was playing. Actually lost a fumble in the season finale.

  11. By Darren Urban on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Angel —

    RE: Flynn

    I do not expect them to look at Flynn, no.

  12. By hector from phx on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Dear Darren,

    I was wondering since Braylon Edwards is a free agent and we definitely need a legitimate number 2 receiver, what are the odds of the cards picking him up as the number 2 and also to get a little rivaly seeing as in how he just came from the 49ers? Any thoughts?

  13. By Scott H on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Darren –

    TY. In my defense, I rarely SEE the games, being out here on the east coast and all. I’ve been following the games but don’t know what is happening on every play. Been paying too much attention to the QB position, I guess.

  14. By Scott H on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hate to beat a dead horse, but in regard to the WR position, it still burns me up that Brandon Lloyd was available and that the Rams picked him up for the price of a warm 6-pack. He would have been a GREAT fit here. He was the ONLY WR the Rams had during the time he played there this year and he was still productive. Imagine what he could do with Fitzgerald commanding the attention that he does!!! Those two would complement each other beautifully. He could have been the deep threat we really don’t have and is a better WR in every way possible than Doucet.

  15. By AndHeSansSupper on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Last year the 3 biggest question marks in the offseason were QB, pass rusher and inside linebacking play.
    Surprisingly, I still see the same.
    But, IMO, the pieces are there with all three passers, Acho and Schofeld and Lenon and Bradley.
    A receiver that can stretch the field has to be a priority (Meachem from the Saints?) and all 3 ST should be re-signed. (My apologies, Mr Zastudil, for doubting you over Graham.)
    Everyone is calling for a revamped OL, but I don’t see it. When teams have longterm success the line remains intact. Other than Mike Gandy being released a few seasons back, these guys have played as a unit. Definitely, Brown has to take a pay cut, but I could see him back next year.

  16. By C on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    I am unable to get a clear, consise look at the OT’s available that are UFA’s but one site I’m looking at shows D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Kareem McKenzie and Ryan Diem all as UFAs.

    Do you get the feeling that OT is something this team will go after hard via free agency? You know this organization better than us… is there a behind the scenes feeling of “We’re really close, we just need a few key pieces”, or do you get the ho-hum “We try every day to get better” company line we hear every week in Whiz pressers?

  17. By Brandon LA on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Both Kolb and Skelton missed touchdown passes to Housler over the season. He was also injured a couple time i think. He could’ve had a better rookie year. oh well. I think King was great looking this year. Dependable. Housler will look stronger next year hopefully.

  18. By Ukcardsfan on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Darren
    I was really expecting more this year from Stephen Williams and your comment on him being a mistery sounds about right, do the coaches still believe that he has the potential to be able to contribute to this team in the future?

  19. By GK on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    In honesty we need to start thinking about a quarterback because kolb may not be good enough… We need another top cornerback, we need a back up safety, a good right guard, a good tackle, another wide receiver,

    On a happy note, I am really looking forward to seeing ryan williams play next year :D

  20. By Mike K. on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, I think the biggest need is to re-vamp the O line. Given the dismal O-linemen we have drafted in the last decade, I’d hate to see them go after that in the draft. Do you think they will? And who, if any, top linemen will be available in free agency? Thanks for your outstanding coverage of our team!

  21. By Dave on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Much nicer going into this offseason compared to last. Hopefully we improve to playoffs next year!

  22. By Mark on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Will Rashad Johnson Be Back He’s Good And Add’s Depth To DB?

  23. By brad oneill on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    scott h- about heap, first of all i went to uofa so i am not partial to the guy just because he went to asu. but the guy was injured he wasn’t slacking. and when he was in the offense was more effective. the guy gets attention and when he doesnt get attention he gets the ball. i know housler had a rough final game but the kid looked great earlier in the year and i suspect being surrounded by pros really helped him along. Heap is the real deal, we just got a taste of what he will be able to do but there is no way i let that guy go.

  24. By KDubADub1324 on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Matt Flynn has worked himself up for a good pay day :)

    AZ is built solidly on defense and they are young. More experience and learning in this system will only make them better. I wouldn’t mind seeing another pass rushing LB come in to compete with Schofield (it appears to me at this time that Acho may be a starter next year.) But I think Marshall is a must to bring back. But I agree, has to be at the right price. Versatile and physical player. Fits good in Horton’s defense with his style of play. Let him and Toler compete for a spot next year. I think Toler has a chance to be a sold CB as well. Personally, I don’t miss DRC. Campbell is a must as well. Young, and a beast. I have no doubt something will get done. I just hope hey don’t franchise him. To me, that doesn’t leave a good impression. In a way, it can cast doubt on if a team is ready to commit or not. I just hope his solid play this year continues beyond this season.

    Darren, what do you think AZ looks to do defensively in the draft/free agency?

  25. By NJCardsFan on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Good season, not great but good. I love Skelton but I think our future is with Kolb. A full offseason of work will suit him well. We have to make some moves at OT for sure. Maybe with first round pick, hopefully the stud from USC will be available or pretty much any lineman from Wisconsin, those guys are beasts. Where’s our Patrick Willis? I say we keep the youth movement going at linebacker. I appreciate Lenon but his age is starting to catch up with him. If Cards don’t go o-line with first pick would love to get Hightower from Alabama. Schoefield, Lenon, Hightower, Washington. Thats filthy right there. Also, I think Cards should make a play for Braylon Edwards. They could probably get him on the cheap and he’s got a big chip on his shoulder. Big chip = production. Thoughts anyone ?? Go Cards ! Can’t wait to see them play the Jets in NJ even though the Jets fans are the worst.

  26. By azfancolo on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    People get off Matt Flynn its the classic back up plan has a awesome game and all of the sudden he should start some where look back to teams in 80s, 90s, and 2000s most all flopped had maybe two good seasons and thats it

  27. By Dre1368 on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    D good job all year long ! Even tho you wanted to choke half the people in here . I think we need to get bigger in the middle of the d line at nose to take out pressure off cc and dd but there numbers should not be good any ways that’s lb job in the 34 d. I want more speed on the wr position and lb d wash is a stud we need more like him . ToOd haley back

  28. By Shaun Church on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Scott H & Darren,

    Don’t forget that pass he let hit him directly in the numbers that would have kept a drive going late in the contest. He disappointed me Sunday. But, onto better things! 2012 draft, he we come!

  29. By ndpenner on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, do you own a Cardinals jersey?

  30. By kevin on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    As always thank you Darrin for the articles view the page everyday sometimes 4-9 times a day. We have the best site up.
    All looks good but need to get rid of DE Vonnie Holliday and Chester Taylor and Porter . Sure a few others but those three to start with. I like our core TE wise I think we are set and hope we get a few years out of Heap.. We dont need Flynn reason being no more experienced than Kolb. I like Kolb strong supporter for him.
    Was hoping Early was going to be more of a weapon, when he first came aboard to me thought he was the next Bolden. Strong physical WR. But we do need another weapon outside of Fritz. And since I been a fan we always had a weak front offensive line always huge but never played the way they should. That is keeping our QB’s upright. Going all the way back to when Lomax was our QB. Was hoping with Russ Grimm it would change but has not.
    Do you see him coach Whiz parting ways with Russ? We dont need Martz.
    Always believed we have had the talent but never has showed where it should. Defense very happy good group of core players. Acho,Rhodes and Peterson will grow into a good CB have no doubt. Again thank you for all the articles. Always looking for articles to read and none better than what you write.
    Kevin

  31. By Brian on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Sign everyone but Doucet in my opinion. He just didn’t make an up-lift… I think Calais Campbell will be getting the franchise tag.

  32. By garrett on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Do you think the Cardinals are thinking about drafting a playmaking WR with their first pick of the 2012 draft?

  33. By Keith on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    Glad to see whiz is satisfied with a team that went 8-8 with arguably the easiest schedule in the nfc that will be watching the playoffs at home in January. There is no doubt we got hot towards the end, but we did not leave 1 single game as the clearly better team. I think whiz needs to be more concerned with changing this team from an 8-8 team to a team that can win games through both sides of the field and can contend with these emerging power teams in the nfc in the playoffs. He clearly needs some building blocks (both tackles and a #2 wr for starters) to make a winning team before he can sit back and state that he is satisfied with his roster and does not anticipate much change.

  34. By Tiago on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    DARREN………PAYTON MANNING????

  35. By cardsalltheway on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Ken W.’s latest quote…”He’s(Kolb) in a new offense…” Blah, blah, blah, when won’t he be in a new offense Ken? And, why did you pay him like he wasn’t? I’m so sick and tired of excuses made on the behalf of Kolb by Ken W. Why would the “new offense” matter anyway when he wasn’t ever replaced for that reason? We were repeatedly told it was because of injury(first turf-toe and then concussion). I think Ken W. is making excuses for no reason, unless he feels a bit uncomfortable about the reason(s) John Skelton really did play? And, did Ken W. really suggest there will be an open competition at QB? Ha, that’s a laugh.

  36. By Sesai on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    i just hope we get all those players signed! we have a good team to build off from our defense is amazing and we need those players that have the new system of horton down to go out and keep it up!

  37. By cardsalltheway on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    We were the most consistent this year as ever, we lost 6 weeks in a row and then we won 4 in a row, which helps the reputation of Ken W. as being inconsistent. One thing still sticks though, he is still inconsistent handling our QB’s and coaching an offense.
    Despite being “in a new offense,” Kolb was automatically our guy(and was paid as such) from the beginning(2011 season) so are we suppose to believe that if/when Kolb in no longer in our “new offense” then he won’t be our guy because of the open competition? There’s just so much that doesn’t make much sense with our QB’s the past 2 years and it ain’t becoming any clearer now nor do I think it will in the future with such statements.

  38. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Hector —

    RE: Braylon

    He shunned them once, then was completely underwhelming in SF. I’m thinking no way.

  39. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    C —

    RE: OT

    Regarding offensive tackle, I’m not sure. If I had to guess today, it would be that they will look for new tackles, but they have been pretty consistent in defending Levi and maybe they will end up trying to bring him back. We are so early in the process, I really haven’t gotten a chance to get a sense of what will happen.

  40. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    UKCards —

    RE: Stephen Williams

    I think, as I said, he has to show a lot this offseason.

  41. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Mike K —

    RE: Offensive line

    Planning on blogging about that today. Not sure who will hit free agency. O-line, to me, is the biggest storyline of the offseason after the QBs.

  42. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: Rashad Johnson

    I think he will be allowed to test the market. We will see on him.

  43. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    KDubADub —

    RE: Defense

    I think they still need a high-end pass rusher. DE depth. A strong safety to groom behind Wilson. Those, to me, are the main things.

  44. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    ndpenner —

    RE: Cardinals jersey

    I have one of Jerheme Urban’s old jerseys, for obvious reasons. Not that I wear it.

  45. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Kevin —

    RE: Grimm

    I expect Grimm to stay.

  46. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Garrett —

    RE: WR

    Unless Blackmon would be available at 13 — which they’d have to consider — no, I don’t think they’d go receiver.

  47. By Kirk P. on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Are the coaches pretty disappointed in Stewart Bradley or more enthralled with how Lenon played? Bradley was a stud with Philly when healthy and could make big plays.

  48. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Kirk P —

    RE: Bradley/Lenon

    I think it’d be a healthy mix of both.

  49. By Larry Secrest on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Darren –

    Is there a website that has a good breakdown of the contract situations (Salary and or Roster bonus. Not necessarily all incentives) for each player? I know that several sites try to keep track, but fail to keep them updated.

  50. By cards62 on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Darren that is right just like us you do not get an off season so keep up the great work over the winter and spring.

    I think you selected 2 of the 3 biggest issues of the offseason, but you left out # 1.
    1) New offensive coaches, OC and line.
    2) OL
    3) Do we have the answer at QB
    What do other Cardinal fans think are our teams biggest issues?

    I read a Fox Sports Mock Draft today that had us taking David Decastro, Stanford G with our first pick. I know no way to tell who we will dratt until free agency. Maybe we trade down and try to pick up an extra pick as no first round pick after us really excited me until the 27th pick, WR out of South Carolina Ashlon Jeffrey. They say he had a bad year, but the kid did not have a QB and I have seen him play and he is a beast. Fitz teaching this kid would be great. I do not know what type of person he is so the Cardinals would have to check that out as money changes everything, but Jeffrey definitely has the skills.

    Go Cardinals & Go Rod Graves as you are now on the clock.

  51. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Larry Screst —

    RE: Salary breakdown

    Yes, the NFLPA site. Unfortunately, you have to be an agent to see all that stuff. Or have someone slip you the info.

  52. By kevin on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    “Glad to see whiz is satisfied with a team that went 8-8 with arguably the easiest schedule in the nfc that will be watching the playoffs at home in January”

    So did all the other NFC WEST. For that fact the Lions had a very easy schedule as well as did most teams that won just 5 games or less.

    Coach Whiz is very good and Kevin Kolb will be very good next year. The defense won most of the game for us. And 8-8 is good we will be better next season. If you been a fan as long as I have you will remember the days we where dwellers at the bottom almost every year. When we where in the NFC EAST. May not remember but coach Whiz took us to the playoffs and to the super bowl. About the same talent only exception we had Kurt Warner who will be in the hall of Fame.

  53. By angel on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Are the cardinals going to make Patrick Peterson play as a RB for a few plays this season?

  54. By Denver on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    What’s up with the turf at UoP stadium this season? Seems like a lot of players were slipping and losing their footing all season long. Have any comments been made regarding the slippery turf?

  55. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Denver —

    RE: Turf

    I thought it was noticeable the last two games. Not before that.

  56. By Chuck on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Darren,If Colts draft Luck and Payton Manning is a free agent why not Payton to Cardinals?

  57. By jocards on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    IMO Early Doucet just drops too many passes. I had high hopes for him a couple of years back but he has trouble getting open consistently and dropped too many that were put right on him. I’m not impressed with Jefferson in the least…Certainly keep Campbell and Marshall.

  58. By joe67 on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Denver: I agree. seemed like a lot all year. Did they go to a different grass?

  59. By Darren Urban on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Chuck —

    RE: Peyton

    Let’s see if he is released first.

  60. By Scott H on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    brad –

    OK. Respect your view. But when I look at Heap, I see a guy whose best years are behind him as evidenced by the fact that his numbers have been on the decline for years now. And you mention the injuries…well, didn’t we pretty much know that was gonna happen with him? Because that has also been consistent with him in recent years. Injuries and declining numbers are not what I want. Maybe we aren’t gonna have a dynamo like a Grontkowski or a Jimmy Graham at TE. OK. But what about a Brent Celek type? That would do us just fine. And I just don’t think Heap is capable of that anymore. I’d rather have a guy whose best years’s are in front of him – or at the very least, going on right now! Heap’s best days have come and gone. I think the Raven’s knew that and that ‘s why he was available.

    Again, respect your view. But I think we need to be done with the Todd Heap’s, Joey Porter’s, and Alan Faneca’s of the world.

  61. By brad oneill on Jan 6, 2012 | Reply

    scott h- i see housler fitting the “celek” role you speak of. i think at this stage of his career heap can still help but i totally understand where you are coming from. guys breakdown after years of football. i also think being home can rejuvenate a guy and give him a few more productive years.

    on the turf- i have seen the slippage since the preseason, i thought it was because the turf was getting dried out but it continued all year. both our guys and the opposition are slipping on it. if its worked right and solved with equipment it could be a huge advantage.

  62. By Scott H on Jan 6, 2012 | Reply

    brad –

    I hear ya. I would love to see Housler become a solid Brent Celek / Owen Daniels type. I think King was also soild at times, so…hopefully, we already have what we need! I just want to see more of the TE involved in this offense. Appreciate the dialogue. And right now – with our DC being interviewed in St Louis – we have bigger concerns!

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