Cards have a little cap room, still looking

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2012 – 6:33 pm

As of today, came out with a list of the current salary cap space for every team, revealing that the Cards have $2.1 million worth of room after their moves thus far. It’s no longer the least space in the league — four teams have less and the Cowboys are also at $2.1M — and gives the Cards a little breathing room right now.

The latest Demetrius Bell information is simply that the tackle has yet to sign anywhere, and I believe the Cards remain interested in signing him. As I have mentioned before, his number of visits while remaining unsigned usually points to a salary desire that’s higher than market value. There’s always a chance that could change. Bell has reportedly visited the Packers and Redskins besides the Cards, and he’s now in Pittsburgh and has a visit lined up with the Eagles, who lost stud starter Jason Peters to a ruptured Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. Demand is climbing, so Bell might have been smart to wait. He may not leave Pennsylvania.

The Cards will continue to monitor the free-agent market and by now, Bell aside, most players are coming down in price because teams are beginning to set rosters. The last thing you want as a free agent is to be without a team by the draft, because once teams draft players, they aren’t filling holes with anything but guys that can be had on the cheap, usually.

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Beanie takes the mound

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2012 – 4:34 pm

Back during the season, running back Beanie Wells was excited about back-to-back games with the Browns and Bengals, given that he was from Ohio, and he was blunt about the allegiances he developed when he was younger,

“I always wanted to play in Ohio,” Wells said then. “I made no bones about that. I love Ohio, and Ohio sports teams.  It’s the Browns, Bengals, Cavaliers, Indians and Reds. If you’re from Ohio, that’s how it is. I love the Arizona Cardinals, no question. But I still root for Cleveland and Cincinnati.”

So Friday, Beanie lived a little bit of home right here in Arizona. The Indians and Reds were playing in a spring training game, and Wells was invited to throw out the first pitch (taking his young son Christian along for the fun). He split his fandom, wearing a Reds jersey and an Indians hat.

Apparently Beanie didn’t bounce the pitch, which, when you are throwing out the first pitch, is always the key. The one downside: He threw to Reds outfielder Ryan LaMarre, who just happens to be from the University of Michigan. Here’s hoping Ohio State product Wells was able to handle that OK (although they look friendly enough in the pictures, which are courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds Goodyear Ballpark.)

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Bits and pieces on a slow day

Posted by Darren Urban on March 29, 2012 – 7:00 pm

Not a whole lot going on right now, and I expect that to carry through the weekend. I spent part of Thursday talking to Adrian Wilson at a charity event at University of Phoenix Stadium. I’ll have more in a story tomorrow, but Wilson gave a speech to a few hundred employees of Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart kicking off a fundraising drive and, in the middle of his talk, surprised everyone by offering up a $100,000 donation of his own to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Following up on the salaries tackle Levi Brown received on his new contract, Kent Somers found out the rest of the numbers for Brown, including the signing bonus ($7 million) and the all-important salary cap figures ($2.65M in 2012, $6.4M in 2013). Not a huge surprise, given the circumstances, which included Brown being one of the more attractive available tackles on the market (OK, I know what you want to say, but it’s reality.)

— Todd McShay’s newest mock draft (Insider needed) has the Cards taking — with Martin and DeCastro on the board still at No. 13 — pass-rusher Melvin Ingram of South Carolina. Wouldn’t surprise me. As I have said, I think they need more at pass rusher, and if they deemed Ingram a difference-maker, you don’t want to reach for an offensive tackle just to fill a need. That’s when you get in trouble. That said, draft meetings still haven’t started, there is no draft board, and as anyone can see when looking over the mocks out there, 13 is the no-man’s land. Up until pick 5 or 6 or 7, you can probably narrow down the names. After that, though, all bets are off and there are always surprises. It’s so hard to know what will be available when the Cards pick.

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New rules instituted at owners meetings

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2012 – 9:40 am

With all the overtime games the Cardinals played in 2011, it’s amazing that, had the playoff overtime rule been in place at the time — the one mandating a possession for each team, unless a touchdown was scored first — it wouldn’t have mattered in any of Arizona’s four OT wins. Three came after the Cards had held a possession on defense, and the fourth came after the Cards scored a TD on the opening possession of the overtime.

Nevertheless, the NFL owners voted to make the playoff overtime rule the regular season rule. Basically, a team can’t win on an opening possession of overtime on just a field goal.

The rule that was passed that will have a greater impact will be automatic replay review of all turnovers. Now all turnovers and all scoring plays don’t have to take up a coach’s challenge.

Tabled until further discussion at the owners’ May meeting were a couple of other proposals: One allowing the teams to have rosters up to 90 players in the offseason (80 is the current limit; teams had 90 last year because of the lockout) and the other would be to have an exception to the injured reserve rule. Currently any player sent to injured reserve cannot return that season. The new rule would allow a player to return after eight weeks. Also tabled was a suggestion of moving the trade deadline two weeks later, from Week 6 to Week 8.

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Toler signs, ready to “unleash the beast”

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2012 – 3:59 pm

In the morning, Greg Toler came in for his rehab/workout carrying a big bag of Wendy’s breakfast sandwiches for the athletic trainers and teammates, and in the afternoon, the cornerback was confirming via text the news (first reported by Howard Balzer) that he had indeed signed his one-year restricted free agent tender offer, which will pay him about $1.26 million this season. (There has been no official announcement from the team.)

The text was a lot more than a confirmation on the signing, however. Clearly, Toler — who missed all of 2011 after tearing his ACL in the preseason — is anxious to play.

“Yea (I signed) and ready to unleash a year of waiting with built up emotions and hunger inside of me,” Toler wrote. “The Man above does what he does for his own reasoning.  So we just have to know he will never lead us astray. I’ve been waiting to put back on some cleats and just unleash the beast which path I was on coming into last season. Just rewind the film. It has clicked and that’s scary for a guy like me, lol. Line ’em Up. Blessings GT28…Red Sea Let’s Get it. 2012 is our year. One play and game at a time. We do this together.”

Toler’s recovery will impact greatly what happens in the Cards’ secondary. Patrick Peterson is the clear No. 1 cornerback. Toler, who was a starter before he got hurt, should be in the mix but until he proves where he is on his reconstructed knee, A.J. Jefferson and newly signed William Gay will compete to start. Toler has made good progress, has been out running around, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be ready for training camp.

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Cards’ draft picks set

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2012 – 8:01 am

With the draft just about a month away, the NFL — having released compensatory picks Monday — then Tuesday released the official seven-round draft order. The Cardinals have seven picks: None in the second round (dealt away in the trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb) and two in the sixth round (an extra one coming in the trade of running back Tim Hightower to Washington for defensive end Vonnie Holliday).

The Cardinals’ picks:

  • Round 1 (13th overall)
  • Round 3 (80th)
  • Round 4 (112th)
  • Round 5 (151st)
  • Round 6 (177th from Redskins)
  • Round 6 (185th)
  • Round 7 (221st)

Before anyone asks, yes, there is a chance the Cards could trade down in the first round, grab an extra pick. But someone has to want to trade up to make that happen. And to get a second-round pick back, the Cards would probably have to drop pretty far down in the first round.

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LS Leach, LB Walker agree to new contracts

Posted by Darren Urban on March 26, 2012 – 1:54 pm

The Cardinals continued to take care of free-agent housekeeping Monday, getting long snapper Mike Leach and linebacker Reggie Walker to agree to new three-year and two-year contracts, respectively. Both have been key players on special teams. Leach becomes the second of the three free agent specialists to return (kicker Jay Feely was back last week) and is a good component both on the field, in the locker room and in the community. Punter Dave Zastudil remains the unsigned specialist.

Walker was second on the team with 16 special-teams tackles (O’Brien Schofield had a team-best 17) and continues to be a contributor after arriving as an undrafted free agent, although he played little at linebacker most of last season.

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Colledge restructures contract

Posted by Darren Urban on March 26, 2012 – 1:14 pm

After we just talked about the mechanics of restructuring contracts, news comes out today (via plugged-in NFL blogger Brian McIntyre) that Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge has restructured the contract he signed last season to help create cap room. Colledge had been due $3.8 million in salary; he gets $3.1M of that immediately as a signing bonus, lowering his salary to $700,000 and spreading that $3.1M over the final four years of his contract. It lowers his 2012 cap number from $5.5M to $3.175M, although it increases the cap number the last three seasons from $6.5M to $7.275M.

Where does that leave the Cards under the cap? I do not know. That moving target has been a mystery for now. The Card still have some free agents of their own they want to bring back, so they will continue to be judicious I would think in parceling it out. That said, I still believe they still have interest in T Demetrius Bell, although I’m not sure where that situation is at this point. I’d guess they aren’t the only ones looking at Bell.

It doesn’t look like any other players have restructured at this point. Given that it takes a hefty check handed out immediately to do these deals (because of the signing bonus), most teams hold off on restructuring until it is absolutely necessary.

— The Cardinals did not get any compensatory draft picks this year, no surprised since they signed more key free agents last year than they lost. The comp picks were just announced at today’s owners’ meetings in Florida.

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William Gay a Card? Yes, William Gay a Card

Posted by Darren Urban on March 25, 2012 – 7:31 am

So overnight — I was sleeping; I do that in the middle of the night — free agent cornerback William Gay tweeted out a message about watching college track and added, “O yeah by the way I’m #Birdgang now west coast

Not sure what that means to you, but I’d interpret that as Gay choosing the Cards to play for in 2012.

Now, there is nothing official. Haven’t seen anything reported anywhere else, and there certainly has not been any official announcement from the team yet. If this is true, I wouldn’t expect to hear anything official until Monday. Maybe it hasn’t happened. If they do get Gay, there is a veteran replacement for the just departed Richard Marshall. The Cards need that depth (which is why they are/were chasing Gay in the first place.)

UPDATE: It is official. Confirmed that Gay has agreed to a two-year contract to reunite with defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

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Assessing the next moves

Posted by Darren Urban on March 22, 2012 – 10:29 am

It’s relatively quiet in Tempe right now. I know Adam Caplan reported that the Cards are re-signing reserve tackle D’Anthony Batiste — nothing official from the team yet, No surprise. There is a dearth of tackles on the roster and the Cardinals need players at the position (plus Batiste does have flexibility; he filled in for an injured Daryn Colledge at left guard at Minnesota last year.) Kicker Jay Feely also went on Sirius NFL radio today and said he is working on a new contract with the Cardinals.

The Cards have a few representatives at Stanford’s pro day today — including head coach Ken Whisenhunt — and part of the Stanford attraction is projected first-round offensive linemen Jonathan Martin, a tackle, and David DeCastro, a guard. At this point, free agent tackle Demetrius Bell, who visited last week, has not signed anywhere. Multiple possibilities remain in play.

Speaking of free agents, defensive back William Gay said on Twitter yesterday he was done with visits and now had to pick a team among the Cards, Steelers (where he has played his whole career), Broncos and Titans. So that decision should come soon. Gay would be a replacement for the departed Richard Marshall.

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