Obviously the Cardinals have already been working on offseason business for more than a month. Such is what happens when your team doesn’t make the postseason.
But the final play of the Super Bowl officially ends the 2011 season and allows the whole league to turn the page. With that in mind — and knowing a new coach (probably for receivers, with receivers coach John McNulty sliding over to coach the quarterbacks) still will be hired sooner rather than later, here is a look at some of the key dates over the next few months:
Feb. 20 — First day teams can attach the franchise tag (That process goes through March 5. The Cards could end up using theirs on defensive end Calais Campbell.)
Feb. 22-28 — Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
March 13 — Free agency begins (2 p.m. Arizona time)
April 26-28 — NFL Draft
Usually the team’s first on-field work is the minicamp the weekend following the draft. While no dates have been announced, I don’t see why that wouldn’t stay the same this season. While we have a long time to get into free agency — more than two weeks from the end of the combine, which is much different than years past when it used to start right after the Combine ended — one thing to note is on restricted free agents. The Cards have four restricted free agents (guys who could leave but the Cards, if they tender an offer, have right of first refusal): running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, linebacker Reggie Walker, safety Rashad Johnson and cornerback Greg Toler.
There are three tender offers that can be used in the new CBA: $1.26M to receive a player’s original round pick as compensation, $1.927M for a second-round pick, and $2.742M for a first-round pick. Just a guess, but I could see Toler (originally a fourth-rounder) and Stephens-Howling (a seventh-rounder) each getting a second-round tender. Johnson (originally a third-round pick) would probably get an original-round tender. I think the Cards want Walker back but I could see them declining to tender and then signing him later.
If the player is tendered and signs with another team — and the Cards didn’t match — the Cards would receive the compensatory pick when the player left.
Tags: free agency, Greg Toler, John McNulty, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker
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