Training camp is a couple of days away. Rookies are going to show up to the Tempe complex tomorrow, there will be the run test at University of Phoenix Stadium Thursday — yes, even with the coaching change, the run test lives! — and the first practice of training camp Friday. At this point, the burning question is when unsigned first-round pick Jonathan Cooper will be a part of it.
As of right now, 15 of the 32 first-round picks have yet to agree to contracts, with every team set to start camp by the end of the week. The only unsigned guy picked higher than Cooper is No. 1 pick Eric Fisher. Again, because these deals are slotted, there is relatively little work involved. I know there has been a ton of talk about offset language and I do not know if that is something the Cardinals are considering asking for from Cooper. But I have never once gotten the sense there is any concern from the team a deal will be done on time, although there isn’t much being said right now.
“We continue to have ongoing conversations with his representatives but no deal is imminent at this time,” General Manager Steve Keim said Monday morning.
I had mentioned before I didn’t expect anything until this week anyway. Plus, in the big picture, I’ve seen too many situations where this — a No. 1 pick not signing quite on time for camp — meant very, very little. As I look back on my 14 years covering this team, I can only think of one lengthy holdout that ultimately had a impact. That was defensive tackle Wendell Bryant in 2002, when he didn’t sign until into September and was worthless to the Cards all season. Then again, given hindsight on Bryant, I’m not sure he would have been salvageable even if he would have been there Day One. Matt Leinart was a couple weeks late in 2006, but he was supposed to sit behind Kurt Warner all season anyway. And when Kurt struggled, it didn’t stop Denny Green from putting Leinart in early in the season and he actually played well right out of the box.
As for all the other guys who didn’t quite sign on time — Patrick Peterson, Levi Brown are two that come to mind — did you even remember they weren’t there that very first day?
Cooper got plenty of work in the offseason with the starting unit. He’s a smart guy and driven. This contract isn’t complicated, given the slotting system, nowhere near it was for say, Peterson in 2011 when he was the No. 5 overall pick. I still think Cooper is signed this week on time, but again, I’m not sure a day here or there matters. When he is in the starting lineup Sept. 8 against the Rams, no one is going to be thinking about the day he signed his first deal.
Tags: contract, Jonathan Cooper
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