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In the wake of the free agency week

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2014 – 4:00 pm

A quiet day, finally, around the Cardinals. I know many were hoping for Antonio Cromartie free agent news but there isn’t any. Until he signs somewhere though, I wouldn’t rule out the Cardinals. Again, if he comes, it’ll be on the Cards’ terms. Beyond that, I think the Cards will keep looking at options but the market is going to be a buyer’s market now. That’s right up Steve Keim’s alley.

– The Cardinals have about $11 million in cap space. I don’t know if that yet includes Ted Ginn’s deal. It’s definitely not going to count the new contract for LB Matt Shaughnessy, since Shaughnessy hasn’t actually signed yet, and there might be a couple other lesser deals yet to be counted. That will come soon. Still, it’s plenty of room to work. It doesn’t hurt the space that Jared Veldheer’s cap number in the first season is just $2.5M and Ginn will be a mere $1.75M.

Overthecap.com, which broke down the Ginn deal, notes that $2 million of Ginn’s $3.25M salary for 2015 is guaranteed if he is on the roster on the third day of the league year next year. In other words, if the Cards decide to release him it will be right around the time free agency begins.

– The Cardinals exercised the option bonus they needed to pay linebacker Daryl Washington this week. Washington’s assault case is still ongoing — his next court date is scheduled for April 23 — but he’s a cornerstone of this defense and isn’t going anywhere. There is still a chance he is suspended depending on the outcome of the court case, but the Cards will deal with it.

– It was a fruitful and smart start to free agency for the Cardinals. Get a left tackle, get a speed receiver/return man, get some interior OL depth, get running back depth. Re-sign a key linebacker like Shaughnessy, and as much as they wanted Karlos Dansby back, let him walk when the money got crazy. I also think, the way Keim operates, that from this point forward is even more important for the Cards. They have an excellent sales pitch right now and two guys in Keim and Bruce Arians who know how to sell it. There will be another Dansby-Abraham-Winston or two this offseason.

– As I pointed out on Twitter last night (@cardschatter, if you want more immediate updates from yours truly), we will have a video on azcardinals.com soon about Fitzgerald’s trip up in an F-16. Until there, here’s a taste of Fitz in the cockpit.


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52 Responses to “In the wake of the free agency week”

  1. By SteveG on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    You KNOW there is a different feel around this team when you don’t see any of the garbage “Same old Cardinals ” crap around town…..

    Sane fans know we have a good/great front office and team structure after too many years in the wilderness…

    GO CARDS!

  2. By Chris Lewis on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    I was hoping we wouldn’t let Cromartie leave town but Keim is playing it smart, no matter how good a player is, even if they’re worth it, you can’t pay too much for one player (Dansby’s a perfect example), there are plenty of bargains out there. Who knows, we still might sign Cromartie. I’m sure Keim’s not done yet, and we still have the draft coming up. It’s gonna be a fun year, I think we’ll be even better than last season, but we have to keep improving just to keep up with SF and Seattle, and don’t forget about the Rams either. GO CARDS!!!!!

  3. By Skylar on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Any thoughts on what we do with the remaining 11m? Two days ago I’d say a bigger nammed cb, but with almost everyone signed elsewhere I have no idea now.

  4. By louis on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    What happened on trying to get demarcus ware. Is he a free agent?

  5. By georgiebird on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,
    SK and BA have had a great couple of weeks- from the redo of Larry’s contract to parting with guys and then bringing in some key FAs.
    We still need some more defensive help at DL, LB, DB and safety.
    But BA must be agonizing over the QB position:
    1) if Palmer has an injury is there a backup?
    2) is there a QB in the draft that BA likes?
    With the Cards probably winning about 10 games in 2014, they will draft about 20th again in 2015. The 20th position is not great for picking top flight QBs unless you have an eye for a Brady or Wilson (which BA hopefully does).
    I feel that BA is chomping at the bit to get that franchise QB in here and begin the next phase of development. The draft could show the Cards going QB right away.
    For now, BA & SK are BASKing in the nice feeling of a job well done-So far, so good.

  6. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Louis —

    RE: Ware

    He signed with the Broncos.

  7. By ralph on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    What are your grades so far on the signings by the Cardinals?

  8. By Dennis on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Hated to see Dansby leave; but it reminded me a lot of another Linebacker we lost years ago after having a great year before Free agency. That guy was Jamir Miller. He left and where did he go? To the Browns. After that he was never the same player. I have to believe Dansby will experience the same fate as Miller. Playing in Cleveland is usually career suicide.

  9. By Andrew on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    As far as the left over 11.11M, and I may be wrong, but im certain that atleast 4.25M will have to be left over to accommadate Draft picks.leaving a shade under 6M in usable Cap.

    However, im pretty sure that there can be some sort of restructures achieved within the current roster (Campbell, Dansby, etc) to create that 4.25M in space, or, i believe there are “lesser-to none” penalties for teams that end up over the cap due to signing their Draft Picks.

    Either way, AZ is in a position to win it all, but that may require them to hold off on extending Peterson this offseason in order to bring in a newer version of last years Dansby/Winston/Abraham. Also, the team has some serious issues with Fitz’ Cap next year, we all know this, so it may be wise (depending on who they can get out of the Draft) to carry over that excess Cap to next years. But again, the Cap may be wiser used this year, if it translates to a Championship next Feb.

  10. By Andrew on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Edit: meant restructure to Dockett, etc

  11. By MikeinMesa on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Its still the same old Cardinals. If you don’t look past last year. :) I like what they are doing so far. If Palmer gets anywhere near the time to throw that Brady and Manning do, look out. May have to draft him as my second QB in fantasy this year. Just in case.

  12. By joe holst on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    I would think the end is near for Ryan Williams with the addition of Dwyer. They need cover linebackers and safeties.. The will have to build front seven thru the draft. the skill positions are pretty much set. I would like a right tackle high in the draft.

  13. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Ralph —

    RE: Grades

    I’m not a grade guy.

  14. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Andrew —

    RE: Rookie cap

    Not true. Only top 51 in offseason accounts for cap. Bottom 3 or 4 picks won’t have a high-enough cap number to qualify, so only a portion of that 4.25 — 2.75? 3? — will count against the cap.

  15. By clssylssy on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Caught a bit of Fitz on the news last night…GEEZ, what a guy! Can’t wait to see your upcoming video on his experience in the F-16! So far, while the Cards didn’t make a big splash like the Broncos, it would appear that the signings we have made are good ones although, I too, was hoping to hear Cromartie was now a Card. We’re needing a good TE of the Vernon Davis variety which I don’t expect to find in the draft and a good Safety. Still sorry to lose Dansby as I think everyone is beefing up their defenses in light of the Hawks crushing defeat of Denver in the SB and we can’t afford to lose our momentum going forward. He was given a fair offer and so I don’t feel like we whimped out, nor did we allow ourselves to get robbed either. Looking forward to Training Camp to see how Minter, Cooper and some of the other guys from last year will look this year along side the rest. GO CARDS, football fever is in the air!

  16. By Andrew on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Thanks for the heads up

  17. By D on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    I would reach out to Z Strief to see if any interest to compete for the R. Tackle spot….

  18. By cardsalltheway on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    @ georgiebird,
    “But BA must be agonizing over the QB position:
    1) if Palmer has an injury is there a backup?
    2) is there a QB in the draft that BA likes?”

    AJ McCarron can thrive on Titans, Cardinals, analysts say

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000334231/article/aj-mccarron-can-thrive-on-titans-cardinals-analysts-say

    “Fellow analyst Daniel Jeremiah suggested that a team out West should strongly consider McCarron.
    “I look at a team like the Arizona Cardinals,” Jeremiah said. “You’ve got Carson Palmer in his mid-30’s. Get another year or two out of him and groom AJ McCarron. He doesn’t have a big arm, but I don’t think you need one in that division. You’re playing indoors and on the West Coast a lot. I’d think he’d fit nicely in there and get the last couple of years of Larry Fitzgerald’s career.
    “If he goes to the right fit, we could sit here seven or eight years from now saying that was the guy teams missed on.”
    Oh look, there’s Saban nodding along in agreement”

  19. By Coach K on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, let’s assume we don’t sign a Corner in FA, then would the Cardinals consider moving down a few spots in round one to get extra picks, and grab a top corner like Kyle Fuller?

    Does that make sense, or just keep our position and take the best player available? There will be D-Tackles and D-ends available at pick #20.

  20. By steve on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Darren: A little off topic, I’m sure you have heard about Warren Buffets billion dollar NCAA Mens Basketball bracket challenge with all the correct wins winning someone a cool billion dollars, are you planning to take a shot at it?

  21. By Dr. G. on Mar 14, 2014 | Reply

    Well, here’s some interesting tid bits. I still think there is much merit to consider this choice. A good link for review – has he gotten a bad rap?

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000334231/article/aj-mccarron-can-thrive-on-titans-cardinals-analysts-say

    Nick Saban ((One of the very best ever)) has issued warning that clubs need to pay attention to quarterback AJ McCarron as one of the best options at the position in this year’s NFL Draft… Be well Cards Fans….

  22. By Dana on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Since you mentioned overthecap in the article, they estimate a mere 1.7 million of the rookie money will count against the cap.

  23. By br on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,
    Question on compensation picks for free agents lost, i was reading where Ravens only have 4 picks in draft but expect to get 4 “comp” picks for fa’s they lost. Does it look like Cards are in line for any exta “comp” picks for free agents lost this year? How do they determine what round a player signed away to another team is worth?
    On a totally different subject I believe Cromartie was probably asking for way to much money just like DRC think they both priced themselves out of alot of teams budgets and could be setting themselves up for 1yr prove it deals lke last years haul that the Cardinals ended up with right before camp opened. Any word on Casion returning to Cards?? Thanks keep up the good work!

  24. By Big Ken on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    I don’t know who if any college quarterback the team has their eye on. I haven’t heard his name lately, but that Logan Thomas had a great combine. Up until then I didn’t think much of him as a prospect.

  25. By shannon robinson on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    We have six draft choices. Mr. Keim has whittled the Cards’ needs down to six areas. A couple other observations include market prices for Offensive Tackle, Defensive Ends/OLB’s, Cornerback, and Safety are really high.There are also three tiers of talent becoming free agents and a lot of these guys coming out are 25/26/27 years old – the middle group of veterans is pretty darn good! Three weeks from now the reality of available jobs will crush some excellent ball players. For example: John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Frostee Rucker, Eric Winston, and our favorite Los were all picked up in the lastwave of free agency – Blue Light Specials. We are now in the waiting game which requires an appreciation of the excitement of patience. I find it hard to believe the solid additions to the roster the Cards have made. A tip of the Cardinals’ wing to the FO.

  26. By CDJ on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Maybe hopefully it wont come to it at the end of this season, but if Fitz decides to not take a pay cut and the Cardinals have to let him go, what would his cap penalty be?

  27. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: CB

    I don’t see them moving up for that. They have a No. 1 CB. If they went into the season with PP and Powers as their starting CBs, I think they could live with that. Moving up means losing draft picks, and Keim isn’t in that business.

  28. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Hoops

    Probably not. I like March Madness. I don’t know much about most teams.

  29. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Dana —

    RE: Rookie pool

    Well then there you go.

  30. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Br-

    RE: Comp picks

    I doubt Cason returns. Never say never. As for comp picks, the Cards signed more FAs last year than they lost. So no.

  31. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    CDJ —

    RE: Fitz

    IIRC, the dead money if Fitz is released after 2104 is in the neighborhood of $14M. But his cap hit if he stays is $23.6M. It’s not a good situation. We’ll see how it works out. Fitz will have all the leverage. Again. At some point, though, the Cards are going to have to suffer the consequences of the Fitz contract — unless he takes a big pay cut.

  32. By Chuck 1 on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Re: Fitz 2015 Dead Money and Cap Hit, $14M and $23.6M, respectively.

    Thanks, Rod Graves.

    Now, sanity has returned in the person of Steve Keim.

  33. By Andy Kw on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Why don’t we bring in RB Knowshon Moreno? He is only 26, in the line RB, and played really well in the 2013 season. Let him and Jonathan Dwyer battle it out for the backup role behind Andre Ellington. Dwyer is still questionable when it comes to the passion for the game. We keep Stepfan Taylor as a 3rd Down RB.

  34. By ored on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    i’m not so sure larry has all the leverage anymore,much rides on this years performance.a younger larry,yes,but the last few years,not so much,and last season he became even more mortal learning a new system,many mistakes that all the recievers made,were blamed on palmer.at some point larry will suffer the same fate older vets share,declining speed and skills and ballooning cap hit.does’nt mean he can’t play the game anymore,just not at the same level he once did.

    i look for keim to start the search for an early jump on future qb and reciever,two positions we are showing age and two positions that go together like soup and sandwich(sorry,lunchtime,lol).we may already have the future #1 in floyd,if that’s the case then larry needs to accept a new role or we need to draft one that can be young playmaker.larrys red zone production last season was his strength,and i think that can be attributed to his experience and football IQ,so he has place and can contribute,just not at his dollar amount.

  35. By Dre on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    The Cards have done a great job thus far in free agency. Getting the left tackle position taken care and doing it quickly was key. I believe resigning Jake Ballard and signing John Carlton was huge as well as getting their fast WR in Ginn.

    Jake and John have had success in this league at the TE position and I believe BA is more then capable of getting these two guys back to a high level of production. Rob Housler had his chance but he left the door open which is on him.

    I didn’t understand Johnathon Dwyer signing, easpically on the second day of free agency and being one of the first RB signings in 2014. As i see it, the signing must be more about the level of trust in Taylor then it has to do with Dwyer.

    Collectively on offensive side of the ball the Cards have done a wonderful job and as a result, I believe Carson Palmer, Fitz and Ellington will have a even better year then their first together.

  36. By Ryan W on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but because the cap is scheduled to increase about $20M in the span of the next two years, how much room do you expect Steve Keim to leave after this offseason? Also, how do the recent signings across the league affect the Cards chances at getting certain players when pick #20 comes in the draft? Thanks!

  37. By Eric G on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    The only problem with having a front office and coaching staff that has done this awesome so far is that eventually other teams will take notice and offer gobs of cash to lure them away. It’s a good problem to have, but nonetheless still frustrating since we haven’t had it good for long. I know we can keep Arians, hope Keim stays for a long time too. The hope is keeping Bowles around, but no amount of cash can replace a head coaching opportunity.

    In the end, the real difference has been Michael Bidwill and we all know he isn’t going anywhere, so that’s a good thing.

  38. By Coach K on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, I did not say move up. I said MOVE DOWN to get extra picks and still get a quality Corner.

  39. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Ryan W —

    RE: Cap room

    Some of that will depend on when the Peterson extension comes about and who else they get in free agency.

    The No. 20 pick will be BPA among a handful of positions. I think if they get a FA, they will have flexibility to do whatever they want.

  40. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: Move down

    Sorry for misreading your post.

    Possible. It’ll depend on who is on the board but I am sure Keim wouldn’t mind getting an extra pick.

  41. By MartinK on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Cromartie is a great CB but I am not sure that we need one. Powers is a solid corner and Bethel is going to get more time. I would have preferred a hard hitting safety for that kind of money. Someone who can take care of the tight end from the bay area — I forgot his name. I like the Dwyer signing because he fits into the mold of the undervalued player with a chip on his shoulder that Keim and BA have such great talent to pick. I sense that we have a locker room that is positive and infectious for someone like Dwyer to get in shape and get another chance. I am looking forward to seeing him go behind Coop on left — whoohoo! This guy can be a beast.

  42. By br on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Thanks for the info so it actually runs 1yr behind and you have to lose more than you sign. Thanks for educating me learn something new every day.

  43. By br on Mar 15, 2014 | Reply

    Dre,
    I think i read somewhere that Dwyer signed very cheap (like so cheap his signing bonus was like $45k and he could be cut in preseason and it wouldnt effect cap) may be wrong on cap hit but he was signed very cheap…seems to be another ex steeler who loved BA when he was there and BA can motivate him to play his way back and get a much bigger payday in 2015.

  44. By Ryan W on Mar 16, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,

    How do you see a potential signing of Maurice Jones-Drew (or maybe even LeGarrette Blount?) playing out now? I know that Bruce likes to have a power back, and Steve Keim can work magic if he stays on the market long enough. Is the MJD or another RB signing possibility slim because of the signing of Jonathan Dwyer?

    Also, I read how the NFL Network has thought about the Cardinals as a good fit for former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. Based on what BA has said in how he wants to be able to “play with his new toy right away” rather than keeping a quarterback as a backup for some time, is this a good player to invest in? Do you believe that he could come to the desert and be able to have success after sitting on the bench for a couple of seasons?

    On another note regarding Antonio Cromartie’s potential signing with the Cards: do you believe that Steve Keim would rather sign a free agent veteran who could want more money than he is worth, or could the Cardinals go another route and possibly draft a cornerback (possibly Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard)? There could be about four or five corners who could be first round picks and be ready to play on a bigger level right away.

    Thank you!

  45. By Darren Urban on Mar 16, 2014 | Reply

    Ryan W —

    RE: Questions

    1) Don’t see those vet backs unless they are willing to work very cheap and know Ellington is No. 1. Doesn’t make much sense now that they have Dwyer.
    2) I’m not going to rule anything out at QB. But Arians talked about not messing up chemistry in the QB room. You better be sure because you kept telling Stanton you believe in him.
    3) Could be either way.

  46. By ored on Mar 16, 2014 | Reply

    BA may say what he feels at the time…or is misdirecting,so far levi was the answer,stanton was his starter,and we would’nt platoon rbs,so he’s not shy about changing his mind…or he says what’s expedient and does’nt give away his plan and is flexible,which is a good thing…being able to change if it’s not working,i’m sure he made adjustments to the passing game last season when it was turning into a disaster.point is he has YEARS of experience and does’nt panic,maybe a few modifications here and there but i’m sure he is just as comfortable running a power ground game as a passing game,they just rely on personal and when to mix it up.he’ll be around for awhile and keim is just flexing,getting the feel of being the man,he’ll be around to parlay a new contract,besides what more could they ask for besides mo money,they think along the same lines,have no ego problems, and are just establishing themselves,pretty soon they’ll have a t-shirt with one on front and the other on the back.they know the value of continuity and they’re just getting started…it’s in the cards.

  47. By Coach K on Mar 16, 2014 | Reply

    I just want to say that IF a quarterback like Bortles or Carr falls to pick #20 in round one, Keim has already said they could pull the trigger and not to rule it out. With this class so deep at wide receiver and defensive ends, I would not be surprised to see this group of quarterbacks slide just like last year. And considering Palmer’s age, you cannot say no if a quality QB falls into your lap.

  48. By Coach K on Mar 17, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, interesting Cards mock draft listing by DraftTek today 3-17-14. They have the following players listed. I ran it against the player rankings by Bob Rang (CBS) to offer contrast.

    Rd. 1- Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech. (Rang gives him a round 2 grade) I like Dee Ford with this pick who has a round 1 grade and is a superior pass rusher.

    Rd. 2- Will Clarke, DE, W. Va. (Rang gives him a round 3 grade) I like Kareem Martin, DE, N. Carolina.. Much higher rating and more athletic.

    Rd. 3- Dion Bailey, SS, USC. (Rang gives a round 4 grade). I like Deone Bucannon, SS, Wash.St.

    Rd. 4- Bruce Ellington, WR, So. Car. (Rang gives round 3 grade) So this would be a steal for the Cardinals in round 4 just as his cousin was a steal in round 6 last year.

    Rd. 5-Joe Don Duncan, TE, Dixie St. (Rang grades same round). I love this pick. Duncan is a classic overachiever work-a-holic. Reminds me of Steeler tight end Heath Miller.

    Rd. 6- Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tenn. St. (Rang grades same round) I love this guy too. Very athletic and extremely long arm. Good base to handle a bull rush. Really great pick at #180 in round 6.

  49. By Dr. G. on Mar 17, 2014 | Reply

    Since this Blog has turned to the Draft somewhat, I would reiterate what I said early last season and after; :If Stanton was a starting QB, he would be one…” Another team would have called to ask for a trade long before now. He will be 30 on May 7th – that will be about 8 or 9 years older than a QB from the draft. This is a bunch of years at that position. And would Keim and Arians want to start the interim period with Stanton as a starter all over again, because that is what it would be? I would rather have a new QB tutored under Palmer…now… G’day

  50. By Big Ken on Mar 17, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K, ‘quality quarterback falls into your lap’? The last time that happened we ended up with Matt Lineart. Dennis Green called it was a gift. 20/20 hindsight, who knows?

  51. By Dr. G. on Mar 17, 2014 | Reply

    Big Ken – Leinart didn’t fall in the the Cards lap in 2006 – He was picked at #10 very high, given a huge contract with $14mil guarantee. He was not vetted properly and turned out to be a mess. Plus being a south paw screwed up the O-Line. The Cards staff made a mess of that draft.

    I knew he would have personal and work ethic issues when Paris Hilton was one of his stopovers; and he fell into “the trap” with a new baby momma who wanted her own support contract. He did not make it to camp as I remember, and was the last to sign. Now he and Blake Griffin have something in common with the same baby momma.

    Keim, and Arians would have run from Leinart. This is not a fair comparison to what would happen this year. This crew will vet all the players before guaranteeing anything— just as they most certainly did with Tyrann. Sometimes it is prudent to push your stack as long as you CYA.

    Drafting a QB is still somewhat a crap shoot… but that does not mean you should pretend like you don’t need one…. Be well….

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