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Potential extensions aren’t a given

Posted by Darren Urban on November 12, 2015 – 9:46 am

Last week, we delved into the number of Cardinals headed for free agency at the end of the season. General Manager Steve Keim has had discussions here and there with agents about particular players (no, he hasn’t been specific) in an attempt to get an extension or two done. But not surprisingly, it’s not a simple process.

Keim said the Cardinals would like to lock up a player or two before March but “any deal we do this early has to be beneficial to both team and player.”

“A lot of time, and it’s just the realistic way of business, sometimes these players want to see what is out there on the market,” Keim said. “Which is why our philosophy has been, go at them strong, be aggressive and let them know if they test the market, there might not be a home back here for them. That’s just the business, because you can’t be caught flat-footed.

“There are several key core players we’d love to have back but at the same time when you have a good football team, there’s only so much to go around with the salary cap and you have to be smart how you divvy up that money. The great thing is, in my opinion, with what has changed here, is the allure of playing here, of wanting to be part of something special.”

Half the Cardinals’ secondary are headed for free agency. There has been a lot of talk about running back Chris Johnson as well, although that’s a situation that will likely have to play out on the market. Johnson said he hasn’t even thought about a contract extension.

 


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14 Responses to “Potential extensions aren’t a given”

  1. By triing4wishes on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Some of our great players will leave, and can’t fault them for that. For our sake more than the player, I really hope we keep R. Johnson. But C. Johnson is one where I think he’d want to stay here for selfish reasons. Aside from how competitive we are, last year he had to face the reality that some teams might not use him in a way that lets him be the player he knows he can be. RB is a fickle position as it is, add in his age with how we’re using him and I’d think he’d love nothing more than to just stay here.

  2. By georgiebird on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Darren,
    Keim is echoing exactly what I said about FAs. Cards are not doing anything with extensions BECAUSE, at this time, the FO doesn’t know how good this team is.
    If the Cards do well in the 2nd half, it will be very clear what players to extend. If the Cards do poorly in the 2nd half, SK may want to get rid of some guys who can’t perform on the Big stage.
    What SK needs right now is Time. Time to decide how good this team really is.

  3. By Darren Urban on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Extensions

    I missed where Keim said that.

    I think they know exactly who they want to extend. I think they have an idea how much they want to pay. I don’t think the second half has much to do with it. If a guy has a huge second half, in anything, it’ll probably price him off the roster (depending on who it is.) It’s not going to suddenly change the team’s thinking. Why would play over eight games change what tape you have of a guy over 4, 5, 6 years?

  4. By DTL on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    “My wife keeps asking me what I’m going to do if the baby comes the day before the game or if I have to leave,” Peterson said. She keeps asking b/c she hasn’t gotten the answer she wants.

    Btw, thinking Bethel might be a good cover to give a Mathieu a break on Gresham, thoughts? fast, strong, physical, good tackler… DTL

  5. By georgiebird on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Darren,
    Re: extensions:
    You say, “Why would play over 8 games change what tape you have of a guy over 4, 5, 6 years”
    Here’s the reason. BASK have been here for 2.5 years. They have won a lot of games and BA has won a COY and should have won two.
    Yes, the Cardinals have won a lot of games the past 2.5 years. But more importantly, the Cardinals have won nothing the past 2.5 years. No division championship, no playoff wins. After the easy part of the schedule, the Cardinals will play very tough games in the 2nd half.
    BASK are no longer looking for wins in a vacuum- they want a division and playoff wins. Been there, done that.
    That’s why SK needs time to see if the current group of players can get him to the next level.

  6. By Darren Urban on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Time

    First of all, Keim has been in the organization a lot longer than 2.5 years.

    Second, nothing they do is based on one year. Or eight games. It’s just not. You can argue with me, but I am confident in saying they already have the plan with what they want to do with this roster, and how it performs in the second half — unless it goes 2-6, which it won’t — isn’t going to be affected, other than the players might earn more on the open market with how they play. But they already know what they have and don’t have.

  7. By mitchaz on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    I may be in the minority here, but i do not think it is good idea to negotiate contracts during the season. Now—in light of what happened to Carson Palmer after he signed a contract during the season last year has made me more than a little superstitious—I will not deny it. Further compounded during the Cleveland week when there was talk throughout the media of a Chris Johnson extension and he promptly fumbles twice and imho CJ did not run for most of the game with the same decisiveness he manifested in previous games.

    But—the main reason is the distraction it causes and really can this team afford any distractions?

    Thirdly—it would be prudent to know how the rest of the season goes for the players, like Chris Johnson, whom Steve Keim would like to re-sign. Another example would be in determining whether Justin Bethel should be paid as a starting CB. Right now Bethel’s contract would appear to be the trickiest, as some other team could offer him a Greg Toler type deal—therefore Steve Keim had better know in advance if Bethel figures as a starter next year and beyond.

    Finally—it appears that the team chemistry is such that most, if not all, of the Cardinals’ players would like to stay. So, if that is the case, Keim should be able to do just as well signing the players he wants to keep after the season as he would right now.

  8. By mitchaz on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Darren—I would agree with you that Steve Keim has a clear sense of what he believes is the fair market value for players he’s had in house for the past few years, such as Rashad Johnson, Jerraud Powers and Justin Bethel (although, his is the trickiest to figure, unless Keim already considers him worthy of starting CB money).

    If, let’s say, Keim signs Justin Bethel today to a contract similar to or most likely that exceeds what Jerraud Powers agree to three years ago (3 years/$10.5M/$3M guaranteed)—wouldn’t that be writing on the wall for Jerraud Powers?

    Without question Powers and his agent are going to seek starter’s money on his next contract. Whether they get it or not may depend on how well he plays over the next 8 weeks and how well he can bounce back from his Grade 2 hamstring strain—Powers has been pretty reliable, but the knock on him in Indy was his durability, which always makes teams leery, especially with players heading into their 30s.

    My questions to you are—(1) would it be worth it to secure Bethel for the next three years at the expense of possibly demoralizing Powers at this critical part of the season? (2) Is Justin Bethel the player the Cardinals want as the starting RCB for the next three years? And (3) is it feasible for Steve Keim to pay Bethel, Powers and Rashad Johnson under next year’s cap?

  9. By Darren Urban on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Mitchaz —

    RE: Deals

    1) If you have a chance to sign Bethel long-term now at the price you are comfortable with, then you do it. The flip side of your question — are you willing to risk losing Bethel to FA just because you might hurt Powers’ feelings?

    2) I think they have an idea, not that they are saying right now. I don’t think they need the last 8 games to determine this.

    3) I think Keim’s point that there is only so much cap room speaks to this.

    4) (I know there wasn’t a 4). I think there is a chance Bethel will get more money on the market that the Cards will be willing to give him. I think there’s a chance Bethel’s agent is willing to try and find out.

  10. By Scott H on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Not that this ( contract extensions ) doesn’t interest me, but I’m just so much more focused on Seattle and the here and now than I am on next season. Just saw a really interesting take on this 2015 season. Not that I didn’t know this, but being reminded of it was sobering. The Cardinals did not play a single team with a winning record during the first half of the season. In the second half, they will play ONE team that does NOT have a winning record. Which means, the level of play has to improve. Period. Not that the level of play wasn’t good at times, but it was NOT consistent and I think we would all agree on that. If not….OK.

    The same level of play cannot be expected to get us to the same record over the next 8 games. Simple as that. We can’t doom ourselves with penalties that negate first downs or TD’s. We can’t lose the T/O battle by a -3 and expect to beat the teams we have coming up. It did the job against Baltimore and Cleveland. It ain’t gonna work against Seattle and Cincy.

    The Cardinals ARE good enough to beat anyone they have on the schedule over the next 8 weeks. The question is, will they actually play well enough to do it.

    It all starts Sunday night. Can’t wait. Kinda nervous about it, but….can’t wait. It’s not a question of if we CAN beat Seattle. We can. NO DOUBT. It’s a question of if we WILL. Ultimately, I think WE are the biggest obstacle to over-come, not the Seahawks. And that is a good thing.

  11. By mitchaz on Nov 12, 2015 | Reply

    Darren—I fear that you may be correct about Bethel hitting pay dirt somewhere else. Further compounding the situation for Steve Keim is the fact that next year he is going to have to pay Tyrann Mathieu big money to stay in AZ. Therefore, already having Patrick Peterson signed to top money and with Mathieu in line to get his pay day, signing Bethel to a lucrative, over the market value deal would not seem business savvy on Keim’s part.

    The fact remains at this point as well, that no one knows whether Bethel can hold up as a starting CB. He’s been in AZ for 4 years and while the coaches have lauded his talent, he has hardly gotten a whiff of action until recently.

    Bethel looks the part to me—but that’s based on a very small sample size.

    What kind of money when all is said and done do you think Bethel, Powers and Rashad Johnson are going to get?

    My guess would be:

    Bethel ($4M a year)
    Powers ($3.3M a year)
    Johnson ($3M a year)

    If those number are in the ballpark—would you trade WR Michael Floyd (thus saving $7M on next year’s cap) if you could retain Bethel, Powers and Johnson?

    I would.

    Not that I don’t like Floyd. I do not think Floyd is worth $7M, however. But, I love the chemistry of our secondary and I would hate to break it up. If it means having to deal Floyd, I would do all i could to keep the secondary intact.

  12. By shannon robinson on Nov 13, 2015 | Reply

    George Allen used to cut Jack Pardee and Myron Pottios every year at the last cuts down to the final roster. They were both over 33 and had huge contracts for LB’s at that time. Nobody would pick them up at their age and salary so it bought him a few days to hide a young player. Now it’s all different of course with the salary cap. I personally believe the salary cap will make a geometric progression jump this year and be higher than a $15M increase because of enhanced TV money. I’m speculating. However the Cards have certain players they can sign later because of friendly associations, age of the player, and his desire to stay around. One such example for discussion is Drew Stanton who will be one of the last guys signed but will be a Cardinal next year. Extensions are an art form and also brutal in the truth of the money paid. Mr. Keim isn’t worried, but rather methodical and I believe they’ve already slotted the money they’ll pay for each player they anticipate signing. No matter what though the roster will change by 30 to 40% and that includes some guys we all like.

  13. By mitchaz on Nov 13, 2015 | Reply

    Steve Keim and Bruce Arians always talk about “identifying the core” of the football team—especially with regard to signing core players to long-term extensions.

    Therefore, come to think of it—what Steve Keim might be cooking up is a long-term extension for Tyrann Mathieu. Keim extended Patrick Peterson a year before he had to and ti could well be that he wishes to do the same for Mathieu. Mathieu is playing on a 3rd round rookie contract ($845K in 2016) and it would be attractive for him to start getting paid in the neighborhood of what he is worth, sooner rather than later.

    Mathieu is the priority.

  14. By jakeplummersghost on Nov 14, 2015 | Reply

    I dunno, do you really think they’d just let the best special teamer in the league walk right out the door in the prime of his career? Our coverage has always seemed weak outside of Bethel, who makes a ton of plays. I think although he won’t command as much money as a special teamer (although will relatively for a STer), guys like Justin are ones that you have to lump in with guys like Larry, Smokey, Calais, HB, Veldheer, Peterson and Palmer as guys that you try to keep at a higher cost than you would for any other Cardinals player (like Rashad Johnson) instead of just letting him walk if he doesn’t take your very team-friendly offer.

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