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Bethel pay cut means free agency sooner

Posted by Darren Urban on March 15, 2017 – 9:00 am

The NFLPA web site, which updates daily the amount of salary cap room each team has, listed the Cardinals at around $18.5 million yesterday and at around $21 million today. Turns out — with the new contract of Jarvis Jones not yet in the system — that cornerback Justin Bethel had his pay reduced for 2017 from $4.5 million to $2 million, (also on the NFLPA site). I would guess, given his ups and downs last season, it was not a shock. (The move, figuring in signing bonus proration, saves the Cards $1.75M on the cap.)

Bethel did get something in return, however. His contract, which was to run through the 2018 season, now ends after 2017 — meaning he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Next year was probably going to be dicey anyway, since Bethel had been scheduled to make $5 million in salary, but still, this will give him a guaranteed opportunity to reach the open market or to have some leverage for a new deal.

Bethel says he’s finally healthy from the foot injury that torpedoed his 2016 season. It’s a big year for him both on defense and to help a special teams unit (he is a multi-time special teams Pro Bowler who didn’t get there last year) that struggled.


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56 Responses to “Bethel pay cut means free agency sooner”

  1. By LadyBird04 on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    For both the Cardinals and Bethel, I hope he has a monster year. So much was expected of him last year and he was plagued with foot/ankle/leg issues all season.

    I also hope that if he does blow it up this year, the Cards and Bethel can re-negotiate and keep him. He is the best special teams player we have and that alone is hard to replace. It would be really wonderful if he can become our #2 Cornerback as well.

  2. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    Logically, this sends a message. You can’t read this any other way.

    To me, this signals that the cards do not plan on Bethel being the #2 CB opposite Peterson. If you did, you surely would not want your starting CB to become a FA at the end of the year would you? Seriously, think about it.

    If you felt he was your starter, you would extend him and lower the cap, not ask him to take a pay cut. You don’t see them asking Peterson to shorten his contract and take a pay cut. (or any other starting CB in the NFL)

    You also would not risk losing him, when you ask for a pay cut. (lose him when he says no and now you cut him).

    Bethel, seeing the writing on the wall, accepted his pay cut in order to leave next year. Bethel may get an opportunity to compete at CB, but at 2 million, that is in line with a good special teams player.

    I think BA and Keim do not see starting CB in year 6. To much evidence against it.

    Which begs the question, who is the starter? Williams ?? A vet after the draft? A draft pick ?

  3. By jasonc on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    I stay away from this blog during the season because football is actually happening and the incessant conversations from tv and radio are enough to feed my football addiction. During the offseason I find myself reading more stories on azcardinals.com which always lead me to the blog posts. On one hand, I like to read what other fans are thinking and feeling, but on the other, most fans who struggle with basic football concepts voice opinions like they have an intimate knowledge of football operations.

    For example, I read one post where someone wrote that we could have signed Stephon Gilmore, Kevin Zeitler, and Tony Jefferson then roasted Keim for not being aggressive in free agency. Those three players have a combined cap hit of roughly $22.5 million this year alone. Signing these players would have exhausted all of our cap space plus some without accounting for draft picks or the money needed to replace other free agents who would be leaving.

    Fans have to realize that we didn’t have the money to chase down big name free agents and re-sign enough players to compensate for who would be leaving. I understand the frustration that we were unable to re-sign Jefferson because I believe safety is our most concerning position as it stands today, but Bethea saved us 2 million and he is a solid veteran who will bridge the gap. Jefferson, Cooper, and Swearinger were all players we picked up for basically nothing so why do you not think we can find replacements for them?

    I guess I just want this blog to RELAX…it’s March. How many teams who “win” free agency go on to win anything relevant?

  4. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Jasonc —

    RE: No blog in-season

    This hits me where it hurts, Jason. I promise, we have lots of good stuff in-season too.

  5. By joe holst on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    I think if Steve Keim had his way all 53 players would be on 1 year prove it deals.

  6. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Great GMing, Bethel & Branch take cuts and stay. Jarvis on a prove it deal, has Buckner support to help him. Bethea history with coaches, very productive player. Expect Los to be Los. Like how this all rounds up. Optimistic on D, now Gunter Williams, Nke, Olsen can prove selves.

  7. By Big Ken on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    We already have a bunch pretty good players on the team already. Just say’n….

  8. By D on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG

    CB future opposite of PP is getting more clearer by the day.

    It will need to be filled by either Round 1 or Round 2 in this years draft with B. Williams competing with the rookie, keeping Bethel as backup to Mathieu in the slot position for 2017.

    It doesn’t appear a free agent CB will be signed who could be depended on more than just a veteran backup.

    The problem for AZ to fill starting CB, future QB, future ILB, future WR all in the first 4 rounds of the draft. Keim will need to make this his make or break GM draft for the Org. going forward.

  9. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    jasonc,

    Salary cap;

    Gilmore, Zeitler, and Jefferson have a cap hit of 22 million this year alone.

    But they don’t have to.

    You are smart enough to know if someone signs a 3 year / 15 million dollar contract that they don’t have to be paid 5 million a year for 3 years.
    It isn’t so straight and forward as that.

    Let’s take Gilmore, who signed a 5 year 65 million dollar contract. That is 13 million a year, right? Not really. It is a 40 million dollar guarantee with 18 million in bonus money. The cap hit of Bonus money is spread over the life of the contract, meaning 3.6 million over 5 years, even though he gets it in year one.

    The Patriots decided to give him 4.5 million in salary year one. That gives him a cap hit of roughly 8.1 million. He also gets a roster bonus of 500k bringing his cap hit to 8.6.

    So what if he got a bigger bonus of 22 million but 1 million in salary, how much would that count in year 1? Only 5.4 million instead of 8.6 right? He got the same amount of money in year one as the other contract, but less of a cap hit in 2017.

    That is how you get them done. If you cut 3.2 million off all 3 contracts, the 2017 hit isn’t 22 million but instead 10.5 million.

    It is not rocket science. It is simple math.

    Look at Mathieu. He got 5 yrs/ 62 million. Almost the same contract. What was his cap hit in 2016? Only 4.3. What is his hit in 2017? Only 8.1. It doesn’t balloon till 2018, when he will count as 14 million. But, if you released him at that point, you would save 5 million in cap space.

    So Gilmore, Zeitler and Jefferson could have been done with money to spare. And with anywhere from 85-100 million in cap space in 2018, it made sense.

    But as I listed above, I believe Keim has gone in a different direction. Good teams, Packers, Ravens , Steelers rarely get big name free agents because they replenish through the draft. It is a solid strategy and proven, IF you do well in the draft.

  10. By Fred Garvin on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Will never get over losing Campbell. We could have franchised him for the 2017 season, for our all-out drive for the Super Bowl. The negotiations with Jones took too long. That is a front office mistake.

  11. By Scott H on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Fred –

    RE: Campbell

    Your name is not familiar so let me first say welcome!

    Yeah….I’ve had some similar thoughts. If a new deal for Jones HAD been done sooner, they COULD have used the tag on Campbell. But the question is, would they? After a deal for Jones, could they / would they have been able to afford what the one-year tender for Campbell would have been?? I suspect probably not.

    Yeah, I wish the Jones deal would have been done sooner and at least made the franchise tag available for another player. But I will give the F/O the benefit of believing they probably tried. Because I think getting the Jones deal done sooner would have benefitted THEM, too.

    For purposes of maximizing our chances in 2017, I would certainly have preferred that Campbell stayed here.

    Regardless of what could have been done, doesn’t matter now. It wasn’t.

  12. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    D,

    Other CB;

    I agree, that it should be through the draft. This is the best year in many drafts to get a starting CB. But like you, Keim isn’t asking my advise.

    So, what will Keim do? He just drafted Williams and has touted how talented he is. They even tried to start him last year. Would Keim draft someone who would put Williams on the bench?

    Personally, I think there are a dozen CBs in this draft better than Williams. No joke, a dozen. I have no confidence that Williams can play.

    But would this surprise you if Keim drafted like this. 1st- QB, 2nd – Safety, 3rd – ILB, 4th – WR ?

    After all, in all 4 spots, the player drafted could sit for a year, which seems to be the trend.

    I think , even Darren, is surprised by the FA part of the off season so far. I really am in a wait and see mode with the draft.

  13. By D on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG

    I think it will come down to 4-5 players for AZ in the draft

    M. Hooker- S, M. Williams -WR, R. Foster ILB, M. Lattimore – CB
    I don’t see Keim being able to pass any of them at 13 if available.
    Although, with their recent success at finding good WR’s later in the last few drafts, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would pass on Williams.

    If all 4 are chosen before 13, then I see Keim looking to move down a few spots if possible and then taking P. Mahomes QB. I agree with you, there are probably 8-10 CBs in this years draft that would be an upgrade from B. Williams.

    I would be enticed with F. Lamp OG, the OL player in the draft at 13 but I have a feeling, Keim and BA believe his young guys on the roster will fill that RG spot. (Toner, John, Wetzel, Boehm)

    There is a chance, that by the time AZ second round pick comes around, the only QB to draft would be Davis out of CAL. He couldn’t be out Mahomes at Tech.
    So the pressure on this draft his Huge for Keim and staff.

  14. By NJAzCardsFan on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    It almost seems that Keim/BA are cleaning house now .With last year’s Draft, the first few rounds, the players were basically BUST’S. NFL players drafted in Rounds 1-2-3 should start but neither did. I really can’t understand on what direction the Cards front office is going this year. Are they waiting to pick up bargains that are cut?, drafted? I can’t see anyone as trade material on the current roster. This year’s team could be called the Cardiac Cards, not because they are capable of winning close games but because of their age…. The recent pick up’s with the exception of C Jones most won’t be on the roster next year. I hope the Front Office has a plan, currently it doesn’t seem so……

  15. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    Got to know, why has DWash not been released yet?

    I know that the cap saving may not be what is being reported, but I am sure there are some savings.

    If Keim is looking for money and redoing Bethel and Branch’s contracts to get space, wouldn’t releasing Washington make sense?

  16. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: DWash

    I don’t know. Just so fans keep asking? And I’m curious why you would assume there would be some cap savings?

  17. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    D,

    “M. Hooker- S, M. Williams -WR, R. Foster ILB, M. Lattimore – CB
    I don’t see Keim being able to pass any of them at 13 if available.”

    I know I wouldn’t ! Those are game changers.

    I wouldn’t draft a QB this year. I would think about Watson or Kizer, but if it came down to it, I don’t think I make that move.
    The possible QBs in next years draft are so much better. It might be why Keim is gathering picks for FAs.

    This draft is almost impossible to mess up this year. Of course, not everyone will be a stud in round one, but I see this draft as good as 2011.

    But with the cards needing CBs and Safeties, they are all over this draft in the first 3 rounds.

  18. By D on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Draft stuff…

    Draft prospect players visits with AZ:

    •Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio (SR)
    • Avery Gennesy, OT, Texas A&M (EW)
    • Jimmie Gilbert, OLB, Colorado (PRO)
    • Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee (COM)
    • Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State (COM)
    • Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina (COM)
    • Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (COM)
    • Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (COM)

    Top QB’s 2017 Combine ball velocity numbers (MPH)

    60 – Mahomes
    59 – Webb
    56 – Kizer
    55 – Trubisky, Evans
    53 – Peterman, Kaaya
    49 – Watson

    Per Dane Brugler, so called draft expert from CBS Sports, “for many scouts, around 55 MPH at the NFL level is considered the “cut-off” point because the ball may travel too slowly to its target allowing DB’s to catch up”.

  19. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Oh, to add to the 2011 comment,

    Remember, there were 4 QBs drafted in rounds 1 and 2 after Newton at #1. Gabbert, Ponder, Kaepernick, and Dalton.

    Looking back, I think that is this years crop of QBs. With no Cam Newton in this draft, maybe only 1 of the top 5 makes it.

    Question is, who is the Andy Dalton of 2017.

  20. By jasonc on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Darren-

    I do read your stories during the season…specifically, the “Friday Before” column and the “Aftermath” columns are must-reads for me every week. My comment was meant to be directed towards the comment section of the blog, not the actual blog story content. When I lived out of state you were the only source of Cardinals media so I appreciate all of your work.

    JTDG-

    I’m smart enough to know that I’m not an expert on NFL contracts or salary cap management. I’m smart enough to know the bonus is prorated…but, I’m also smart enough to know that a player doesn’t have to take less yearly salary in the first year (which is considered part of the guaranteed money) of the deal to help the team out. A team he has never played for .and doesn’t owe anything to. In your model, you want to increase the bonus to 22 million which would include a salary of 1 million which would be a cap hit of 5.4….what happens in 2018? You still have to pay the 4.4 bonus and what is that salary now? In his current contract, the salary jumps 4 million. His contract as it stands is worth 31 million guaranteed. You want to increase the bonus to 22 million with a base salary of 1 million in the first year…can he be released in year 2? If so your contract is only a guaranteed of 23 million. I enjoy your comments, but you aren’t an expert.

  21. By clssylssy on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    How about the Honey Badger taking a paycut since he hardky played after getting the big contract? What ever happened to “merit” and “production? Seems like we’ve had a number of players on incentive based contracts see a rebirth to their careers. Lorenzo Alexander, Dwight Freeney, Chris Johnson,etc., those are the contracts Keim has been best at. Seems like that is A win-win situation that keeps the competitive juices flowing!

  22. By jasonc on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    clssylssy-

    Tyrann earned his second contract by outplaying his rookie deal…how does it make sense to ask for that money back? Especially when his performance was due to him coming back from injury?

    Players take pay cuts for one of two reasons: one, they either take a pay cut or the team will be forced to release them (Bethel and Branch); or two, well-payed players take cuts (restructure contracts) in order to make team more competitive to assist their legacies.

  23. By lloyd wolf on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    i lay off most of the stuff written in forums, etc. you folks who posted your thoughts do a fine job of thinking things through…nicely done everyone.

  24. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    jasonc,

    Never said I was an expert. Also, I hope I didn’t offend you with saying you are smart enough to get the concept I was saying. From you past comments and our past arguments, I know you are smart and that is what I was saying.

    Players care about two things regarding their contract; money in their pocket and guarantees. If the contract is 40 million guaranteed, then he will get 40 million, which includes bonuses.

    As for the first year, if he gets 22 million in his pocket plus another 1 million in salary, he receives 23 million in actual money in pocket for 2017. If he gets 18 million and 5 million in salary and bonus, he gets 23 million in 2017.

    I guess I dont understand why you are saying he is helping the team out. Bonuses are in your pocket on day one, salary is paid over the year. He actually is getting more cash upfront.

    So, the contract was 5 years/65 million with 40 million guaranteed, right?
    Now, if I am paying him 22 million in bonus and 1 million in salary, there is 43 million left on the contract over the next 4 years and 17 million in guaranteed money left.

    Take 43 million and divide by 4 years left and you get 10.75. So, if I paid him 10.75 million in salary in 2018, plus his prorated bonus of 4.4 making his hit of 15.15 million in a year where we have a ton of cap room.

    So after 2 years, Gilmore has received 33.75 million. He is guaranteed another 6.25 million. So year 3, the same salary of 10.75 with the same hit of 4.4 from bonus gives him the same 15.15 cap hit.

    After 3 years, nothing is guaranteed. His year 4 and 5 year cap can be lessened if released. It would only be 8.8 million in year 4 saving almost 7 million in cap space . If released after year 4, it would be a 4.4 hit and save the cap almost 11 million.

    So, in reality, you have a big cap hit in 2018 and 2019 and maybe 2020. But you will not have the huge salary of a QB or the Fitz contract. If you draft well, you could have contracts from Iupati and Veldheer drop off along the way. I would probably either release or redo Mathieu’s contract at some point (provided he stays healthy).

    After Chandler Jones’ contract, there is 53 million in 2018. But if Palmer retires as expected, another 16 million will be freed up. Bethel has freed up another 5 million also. Iupati could clear 6.9 million. Even after Jones’ huge contract, you could have 81 million of cap space available with only John Brown becoming a FA of significance.

    I know David Johnson, Bucannon and Golden all will be free agents after 2018. So 2019, they will need to pay up. But they will have the cap money. Remember, if you draft a first round QB in 2018, he is not due a new contract till 2023. You have lots of room to play with till then.

    That’s why I say, yes, if you are on board with Keim wanting to build through the draft, OK, I get it.

    If you say you don’t think it is wise to have these huge contracts and getting several smaller salary guys is more prudent, I get that.

    But if you say the cap wouldn’t allow us to bring in Gilmore and Zeitler and resign Jefferson, well , it is just plain wrong. Numbers don’t lie. Math is math.

  25. By Patrick on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Thanks to the cardinals caravan and the marketing team for visiting Yuma!

  26. By mitchaz on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Day 6, 7 of FA:

    Defections:

    OLB/DE Alex Okafor—the Cardinals said they wanted to re-sign Okafor. Despite tearing a tricep, Okafor played through it and was used creatively inside and outside in Bettcher’s 4 man rush. He recorded 3.5 sacks. However, Okafor signed a 1 year deal with the Saints with $1M guaranteed and a base salary of $935K, plus incentives that could earn him $1M more. Basically the deal is 1 year at $1.935M.

    That salary does not seem all that prohibitive if the Cardinals truly wanted to re-sign Okafor, as they kept telling everyone. Perhaps the $1M in guaranteed money was the sticking point, seeing as Okafor was injury prone the last couple of years. Regardless, the reality is, the Cardinals really did not want him back.

    Additions:

    OLB Jarvis Jones—seemingly minutes after Okafor signed with the Saints, the Cardinals signed Jarvis Jones to a similar 1 year prove it deal. Okafor had more sacks in one year (8) than Jarvis (the #17 pick in the 2013 draft) had in 4 years at Pittsburgh (6). However, a fresh start in AZ without the burden of the 1st round expectations may be just what Jones needs. The Cardinals can use him on the edge from time to time in the base 34. Jones is an effective edge setter. Then they can move him around in their various blitz schemes in passing situations. Because Jones is a solid edge setter, the Cardinals can do what the Patriots did at times with Chandler Jones, which is to slide him down into the 5 technique—the spot currently vacated by Calais Campbell. Thus, adding Jones gives the defense added flexibility and hopefully will help the Cardinals on STs. The Rams were very interested in adding Jones to their new 34 defense, but the Cardinals kept him in town and sealed the deal. Now the Rams are zeroing in on Connor Barwin.

    Perhaps James Bettcher, Tom Pratt and Bob Sanders can help Jarvis Jones improve as an edge rusher. However, it was curious that the Cardinals set their immediate sights on Jones with more prolific pass rushers like Marion Williams, Connor Barwin and Dwight Freeney available. Clearly, the Cardinals need to add a situational pass rusher either by adding another UFA or by drafting one.

    Paycuts:

    CB Justin Bethel—having just gotten Tyvon Branch to accept a paycut, the Cardinals did the same with Justin Bethel to create another $1.5M in cap room. In return for taking a $2M paycut, Bethel was able to void the last year of his contract and will become a UFA in 2018. What is somewhat surprising is why Bethel wouldn’t just demand his release right now. The guy tried to play through a broken foot, was deemed a “failure in progress” as a CB by his head coach and now agrees to accept a paycut to stay another year in AZ. If Bethel’s improved play the last two games as a nickel CB is an indication of how he responds to criticism, then his response to the latest humbling could be very impressive. After all, he is a 3 time Pro Bowl ST player and 2 time 1st team All-Pro STs ace. Plus, maybe this is the year he becomes a success in progress as a CB, especially now that he is healthy and able to compete in training camp.

    The Cardinals have basically done an all-out assault on the secondary—they have let Tony Jefferson, Marcus Cooper and D.J. Swearinger sign elsewhere in FA and they have gotten Tyvon Branch and Justin Bethel to accept paycuts. The curious thing here is that the secondary, aside from the inconsistency at the RCB position was one of the strongest and most successful units on the under-achieving 2016 team. Jefferson led the team in tackles and was the best tackler on the team. Plus, he was vastly improved in coverage versus TEs. Swearinger was the first FS in ages to make WRs, TEs and RBs think twice about catching the ball over the middle—plus he even started making interceptions and getting his hands on a number of balls. Cooper led the team in interceptions with 4.

    Adding SS Antoine Bethea for leadership and production was a good move, if Bethea can remain hungry and durable. But, what about RCB and FS? Those positions remain in total flux. Apparently, the Cardinals have been showing interest in CBs Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Jerraud Powers. Adding Carr or Claiborne as the starting RCB could be a boon. Then, what about FS? Some are speculating that Tyvon Branch will start there, but Branch is not physical enough or rangy enough to be a starter. Nickel FS, maybe. Branch was signed to be a nickel CB on tall WRs and TEs. Mathieu has insisted he is not a FS and Bethea, like Mathieu, thrives in the box. Maybe they coaches are thinking that Bethea can be the FS? Again, does that really suit his game? He can handle the run support and physical job of FS…but can he be a factor in deep to intermediate coverage? Can he be an effective defender in space?

  27. By clssylssy on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Jason…
    Re: Mathieu
    Fitz has done it (x2), PP has done it, consider it a “team friendly” gesture & investmemt in his legacy. No giarantees he’ll come back & be able to stay healthy w two injuries to his knees plus being older. His kamakazee style is what set him apart & that guy is a memory. If he were a horse, I wouldnt count on winning any money eith him. I have been a fan of his since his LSU days, but his contract is only good for the team if he can be “that guy” of his rookie year–one of the harsh realities of the NFL.

  28. By jasonc on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG-

    First off, let me applaud you for going full “mad scientist” with your make believe contract proposal. Don’t you know you never go FULL “mad scientist”?

    I was curious how you were going to make up the money, but now I see your plan would be to escalate the deal to a cap hit of $15.15 million in year two and three with . I will concede then that yes if this is all legal per contract negotiations then you could manipulate the numbers in order to sign Gilmore at a reasonable cap number for 2017. Here are my problems with your proposal:

    1. In year two your CB2 will have a cap hit of $15.15 million making him the third highest player on the team above Mathieu and Peterson and behind Palmer and Jones. That’s right Palmer is on contract, and as of yet, it is just speculation that he will retire at the end of this season…what is your plan if Carson wants to play in ’18? What about if Fitz wants another year?

    2. Your plan comes with so many assumptions that it makes no sense whatsoever. You assume Palmer and Fitz will retire, you assume we are are a CB2 away from winning a super bowl…not going to, but winning a super bowl. You assume that we will draft a franchise QB which will allow us to carry these inflated contracts for the next few years.

    3. You plan to allocate $45 million in cap space in 2018 to one positional group? That is one-third of your cap on three players who essentially play the same position.

    Again, this is why fans write on blogs and Mike Disner has a job in an NFL front office. The Cardinals can’t assume they will simply draft a franchise QB, they can’t destroy the hierarchy of the salary cap to chase players in free agency, they must always plan for the future in order to sustain success, they must balance contract money throughout the roster which is why they allocate for different positional groups. As a fan you have the luxury to focus on a single aspect and then construct a fictional contract that will meet your immediate desire without any consequences or real concern for the future. It is why I find people’s comments infuriating when they make absolute assumptions as seemingly authoritative figures when in actuality they are just fans.

  29. By Christian on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    clssylssy-

    If HB restructures, he will still get all his money. The cap hit would not be reduced, just spread out differently. That’s how we ended up owing Fitz over 22 million in one season.

    JTDG-

    The only reason I could think of players not liking your scenario is because it locks them up longer. So, if you get replaced in two years by someone outplaying you, you are stuck there and unable to play. Look at how uncomfortable the Romo situation is getting (which isn’t because of the money, but it’s not inconceivable that such an issue could happen). Also, looking at Revis, contract language could still force you to forfeit guarantees. This could definitely have altered negotiations this offseason. I am no expert, but I could see this mattering to players.

  30. By jasonc on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    clssylssy-

    Wrong PP and Fitz restructure their contracts…they move money around in order to manipulate the cap they don’t lose money.

    So if you want Ty to restructure his contract and convert some of his yearly salary to a signing bonus I’m sure he’d be happy to oblige the team, however, if you’re asking him to take a cut ala Branch and Bethel then you sound obtuse.

    I didn’t hear Ty complaining when he was a DPOY candidate in 2015 making less that a million a year.

  31. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    mitchaz,

    Bethea has played FS before.

    BTW, the cowboys were ranked 26th against the pass and two of the 3 CBs you say the cards are interested in were in that secondary. It also seems the cowboys are in no hurry to resign Claiborne or Carr.

    The only thing I know right now is Brandon Williams is the starting CB. Since it didn’t change in FA, I hope that changes after the draft.

  32. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Jason and clssylssy,

    I got to agree with Jason, there is no way in the world Mathieu is redoing his contract at this point. Why would he. The cards can’t release him. It would cost the cards 17 million in cap space.

    But his contract going forward is interesting. Starting in 2018, he has a 14 million dollar hit and a 5 million dollar roster bonus and if released, you do not pay that bonus and would save 5 million of cap space

    That is why I believe 2017 is a big year for him. If he plays like 2015, you have no issue with his 14 million cap hit. But if he is injury riddled again and can’t stay on the field, then you might consider redoing the contract or releasing him.

    But as a card fan, lets hope he plays all 16 games and is an all pro. Then, no one will mention his 5 million bonus or his 14 million cap hit.

  33. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Christian,

    You may be correct. there are several things that go into contracts.

    My purpose was to show it was possible to make the cap work while bringing in FAs. To hear people blame the cap for reasons players left or why we didn’t bring in players is just plain incorrect.

    Other factors may be in play. For instance , your example. Or maybe Keim didn’t think the player fit. Maybe there are behind the scenes stuff we dont know, or maybe he is just wanting to build through the draft. There could be lots of reasons player aren’t signed.

    But not being able to because of cap space isn’t one of them.
    Who knows, maybe it is the Bidwills not wanting to pay out big bonuses and tied Keim’s hands. As a long time card fan, it wouldn’t be the first time. But I think that is a thing of the past.

  34. By Darren Urban on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: “I think”

    I’ll admit I’m surprised you’re willing to qualify it as “I think” when this team just handed out $53M guaranteed to Chandler Jones.

  35. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    jasonc,

    Assumptions;

    There are a lot of moving parts with a team. So things can change overnight. But going into 2017, yes, I do believe there is a couple of spots we need to improve on that would give us the best chance to win the superbowl.

    A good Chance. You can’t ask for more. The cards were weak at CB2, ILB, The interior line, and WR in 2016 (not to mention special teams) .

    As for special teams, you get Bethel back healthy, you get Jaron Brown back, I would resign Taylor, Williams has shown promise as a special teamer. You change out your punter and kicker and by adding players in 2017 draft, have to assume you get better.

    So, now on defense, a healthy Badger in the slot and Peterson and Gilmore at CBs and Jefferson in the box with Bethea as FS (yes, he plays FS too), would be maybe the best secondary in the NFL. I also am drafting a CB in rounds 1-3. I just don’t trust Badgers health history.

    Then adding Dansby, which I like the move, is a perfect bridge player to a draft pick. I think Dansby is an upgrade to Minter.

    On offense, adding a player like Kevin Zeitler gives the team a right side of Zeitler and Veldheer to run behind. If Iupati is healthy, you will have a much better line than 2016.

    At receiver, you get the Browns back healthy. I would also add a draft pick to that group.

    If you build a team that can score points and a team that can sack the QB and take away the pass in the secondary, yes, I would assume you have a good chance to win it all in 2017.

    Again, as it stands right now, the cards have 53 million WITH Palmers contract.
    So they could handle Jefferson, Zeitler and Gilmores contracts as is.

    But for more cap money in 2018 . I would look in the draft in 2017 and 2018 for a LG and RT. If you are able to find those spots, you churn the roster and free up 13-14 million of cap space in 2018.

    Fitz is not under contract for 2018. If he comes back, you can get creative with his contract. As pointed out, Badger’s contract in 2019, if released could free 8 million in cap space.

    Assumptions that make no sense.

    1. a CB2 away – As mentioned above, we are a few pieces away, which all would be addressed. And yes, I think with a better CB2, Jefferson, and a better oline, we would have a better chance winning than we do right now.

    2. The secondary would not have all three contracts by 2019.

    3. As for QB of the future, that is exactly what they are doing. Assuming and hoping they will find one. What are you hoping for, that they pay a big contract on another old QB ? Or maybe steal Kirk Cousins or Jimmy G away next year?

    Drafting and developing a QB is the best way to assure you have a franchise QB.
    And , as the raiders, broncos, titans, bucs, eagles cowboys and others are doing, yes, you can get contracts done while you have that QB under the rookie salary.

    Look what the seahawks did while Wilson was under his rookie deal. They were able to get players to get them to two super bowls and won one.

    So tell me how I mortgage the future? I know you and others don’t want to admit it, but it works now and the future.

  36. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    I put “I think” for one reason.

    Where you here in 1998/99.? The cards watched FAs walk out after going to the playoffs and then paid Plummer a huge contract.

    Since 2006, with the new stadium, they have paid players. I can say I believe, I think, I assume, this is no longer an issue, but I don’t know for sure.

  37. By Darren Urban on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: 1998-99

    Also in 1980s the team didn’t pay its players market. Not sure how 1999 continues to count against a team in 2017. That’s like Georgiebird complaining about how the team didn’t get linebackers in the 1970s. Zero relevance.

  38. By D on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    My final post free agency plan / draft

    I don’t like any of the top 5 QB’s coming out this year. But, I realize it’s a good idea to get one this spring to learn for one year under Palmer.

    My plan would be to trade this years (2) 5th round draft pick, plus next year’s 4th round draft pick for QB Brett Hundley, from GB. ARod isn’t going to stop playing in the next 5 years, GB will have to trade him some day. He was drafted in the 5th round and has a strong arm, plus he played he locally in HS at Chandler

    Draft:
    Round 1- H. Reddick ILB
    Round 2- Q. Wilson CB FL
    Round 3- Noah Brown WR OSU
    Round 4- J. Jones, Safety NC State
    Round 5- N. Siragusa G SDST

  39. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Darren ,

    Oh no, you compared me to Georgie and his Linebackers. How did that happen?

    OK, I guess I have made my points about salaries and might have hammered it home too long.

    Time to get off this board for a while.

  40. By Darren Urban on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Points

    lol. You’re one of the anchors here. Hope you’re not gone long.

  41. By mitchaz on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG:

    Keep hammering away, great fan. You put a great deal of thought and effort into your posts—and I think you make very good points about how to work the cap by the structuring of contracts vis-a-vis signing bonuses—which makes signing multiple UFAs all the more possible, despite not seeming so.

    You’re one of the main reasons why I look forward to reading Darren’s blogs each day. You write thought-provoking posts and you ask great questions.

    As for Bethea at FS…that’s really not his forte. But, at least he has played there before. It’s similar to Tony Jefferson playing FS, but he struggled there. One could argue that FS is the most difficult position to play in the secondary because the good ones have a 6th sense of where the ball is going, they have the speed and range to cover over the top, and they have the aggression to storm the alleys and punish RBs or WRs and TEs over the middle.

    Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne >>> Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams.

    A one year deal with Carr would be ideal, because in year 3, Brandon Williams could be ready to start.

  42. By JTDG on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Dang,

    Have you seen the NFL.com article out today.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000793499/article/has-all-or-nothing-window-closed-for-cardinals

    Seems like someone has been reading my stuff.

    OK , now I am gone for a while

  43. By jasonc on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG-

    Alright man, I am 100% sure you believe everything you say. I have been retaught my lesson to debate with someone who is completely unyielding. This is my last response to this discussion.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting you numbers, but according to spotrac.com, we are $45 million under the cap in 2018 with the Carson Palmer contract. This number does not reflect the Bethea contract, or Deone Bucannon’s 5th-year option and only includes 31 active player contracts 12 of which are players who’ve never been on our active roster.

    Gilmore would count $15 against the cap, Zeitler would be a similar hit depending on how you manipulate his contract, and Jefferson would come in around $9 million. Add in the Bethea and Bucannon deals and you will come up to 0 dollars in cap space in 2018 with 17 positions to make 53.

    If Palmer retires and you release Vehldeer and Iupati you could clear around $27 million, but now you have to pay 20 positions and possibly upgrade 12 more. This is before you resign one of your own free agents and does not include the 2017 draft class ($6.8 for the draft pool in ’17 which escalates in ’18) or the money needed to sign the 2018 draft class.

    I think it is obvious that you do not have the financial freedom you think you do by simply proclaiming a cap number and our ability to absorb those contracts. Look at the players you’d have to replace! LG, RT, backup QB, starting QB, WR1, WR2…ect, the list really goes on if you look at who were losing. You’d have to hit on all 18 picks in the next two drafts and they’d have to be ready to contribute by year 2 in major roles. You wouldn’t be able to sign any notable free agents in ’18 and with David Johnson, Marcus Golden, and Deone Bucannon all free agents in ’19 you’d still be stuck with these inflated cap numbers or a large sum of dead cap dollars.

  44. By mitchaz on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG:

    Signing of Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne now a moot point as they sign with the Ravens and Jets respectively.

    The rumor is the Cardinals have been showing interest in Jerraud Powers. But, his durability is always a question.

    After drafting two CBs in last year’s draft, CB remains a top priority. Ugh.

  45. By clssylssy on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Christian & Jason…
    You guys are right, it’s that guaranteed money that’s going to kill us, which is part of what I hate about the Chandler Jones contract. Still, if so inclined, they could find a way to move some money ariund w the Badger however, I feel we will be moving on from him w the arrival of this year’s new flavor of the week.

  46. By jasonc on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG-

    LOL…you’re kidding right!?!!

    Please tell me you’re just saying crazy stuff to get people to engage in insane moot conversations with you. I get it, it’s the offseason, the news is slow.

  47. By JamesSamuels on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    The Cards signed Bethel a contract last year to be the starting corner but Bethels foot surgery ruined his first year to compete for that spot.
    How can we judge Bethels first year as being a failure when He was injured and didn’t even have a chance to prove himself.
    Honeybadger was hurt last year(and many more)…but no ridicule for Matthieu and his poor seasons.

  48. By clssylssy on Mar 17, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG:
    Thanks fot the link to Chris Wesserlings article; I recently saw a similar post on Twitter from Azsports & it sadly supports what I have been saying but is not popular with the Homers.
    As others have stated, I love reading your insightful and carefully phrased posts,you are obviously are a very knowledgeable and loyal longtime fan I hope you were joking when you said you were “going”.
    At this point & based on Keims previous drafts, I hold little hope of ever getting to a SB with this front office. I would love to be proven wrong!
    We were on the cusp of finally achieving legitimacy and a measure of respect, which the long suffering fans deserve, not to mention Fitz, who, rather than being
    proud to play his entire career in a Cards uniform will possibly retire with regrets and feeling unsatisfied.

  49. By JTDG on Mar 17, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, mitchaz, jasonc;

    Yes, I’ll still be around dropping bits of knowledge on this board. 🙂

    jasonc,

    If you think I am 100% serious on this board, I am not. I do this as fun. I don’t get autographs or beat my wife when they lose. I don’t sit and think about the cap for hours. I usually am making it up as I am writing. I do love the draft. Teams win or lose with the draft. Teams fortunes can change with, the Phillidephia Eagles choose Carsen Wentz announcement. Love that.

    But I do have one question for you. what I don’t get is why you keep wanting to be wrong.

    I mean, we argued about the Cooper/Minter vs the Vaccaro/Collins draft. I was right.

    We argued about Deone Bucannon being a bad pick even before they drafted him because of him not being a safety because of poor cover skills. Never has played a down of safety. I guess I was right again.

    We argued about Logan Thomas. And again, I was right.

    So do you really think I couldn’t sit down and figure out this cap. Come on man.

    Seriously, though, if you want to know how I make it work, here is my 5 minute plan.

    My quick look at 2017 and 2018. And yes, I have to make assumptions with the mock draft. Of course I could pivot need be.

    Let’s play fantasy cardinals with JTDG in charge.

    In 2017, we added, Zeitler, Gilmore, and kept Jefferson and Campbell.
    I have showed exhaustively how it would work.
    I release Branch and depending on if Williams can show anything at all, Bethel released also. I do not sign Bethea.

    Then on to the 2017 draft;

    1- trade down with the raiders, who are interested in Dalvin Cook, dropping to #24 and picking up another two.
    With the 24th pick – T Ryan Ramzyck
    With the two 2nd rounders
    Zack Cunningham ILB and Sidney Jones CB (due to injury, he will fall like Jaylon Smith) Jones is a top 10 pick healthy.
    round 3 – Zay Jones WR
    Round 4 – Justin Evans FS
    Round 5 – Nico Siragusa G
    Round 6 – Josh Reynolds WR
    Round 7 – Jalen Reeves Maybin ILB (drop due to injured shoulder)

    As we enter 2018;
    Veldheer and Iupati are released, saving 13.9 million in cap space.
    the Oline ;
    LT – Humphries
    LG – Siragusa
    C – Boehm
    RG – Zeitler
    RT – Ramzyck

    Recievers
    Zay Jones
    Josh Reynolds
    JJ Nelson
    John Brown and Jaron Brown if price is right.
    Draft picks/low dollar FAs in 2018

    RB – DJ of course

    QB – Trade 1st, 2nd, 4th in 2018 plus 1st in 2019 plus Patrick Peterson and Bucannon to Jets/Bears (who will have their QBs this year) to move up and take Sam Darnold #1 overall.
    The trade frees up another 10 million. Plus the 5th year option on Bucannon. Also, frees up 14 million on Palmer contract.

    Defense in 2018;
    CBs
    Gilmore and Sidney Jones
    OLBs
    Jones and Golden
    ILBs
    Cunningham and possibly Reeves Maybin or bring in another vet for a 1 year deal
    Safeties
    Jefferson and Justin Evans
    DL
    Campbell, Mauro, Nkemdichi, Gunter Olsen

    If Williams could ever work in the slot, you could release Mathieu and save 5 million more. Campbell will be released in 2019.
    Also, in 2019, I would offer up Humphries for draft picks and move Ramzyck over to LT.

    It is not like I wouldn’t have a plan. And two things, the cap would work and it would give us a shot at winning it in 2017.

    OK, yes, there are alot of assumptions players will be there in the draft and they will pan out.
    But to me, again, I will say 2016 was the biggest wasted opportunity a team ever had. 2017, I hear the vacuum of the window closing. You better go all in or you will win 9-10 games and either miss the playoffs or get in and lose.
    What we have now is not a superbowl team.

    Last point;

    The Denver Broncos paid 96 million to Manning. Then paid D. Thomas 70 million. They paid Clady 10.6 million a year and Miller was making 10 million a yr and they had Talib, Chris Harris making big money, YET, they brought in Ware and TJ Ward for big money. What did it get them? The superbowl.

    How do you think we match up against the patriots? . You know, the team that beat us with their back up. With Cooks, Edelman, Gronk and Allen and Hogan for brady to throw to. Can we cover those guys with people like Brandon Williams, Justin Bethel and Branch?

  50. By jasonc on Mar 17, 2017 | Reply

    clssylssy-

    Classic well poisoning. So if anyone differs from your opinion they are “homers” and thus their opinions are made from an inferior place.

    I do not discount what that article says because it was true that Palmer regressed statistically, it was true that our WR’s faceplanted, and it was true that our offensive line was overmatched last season. Furthermore, I do not discount that the loss of Jefferson and Campbell in inconsequential to this defense.

    Where we differ is why and our team’s ability to fix the things that plagued us last season while replacing the players we lost.

    In my opinion, we were hit with a swiss cheese model that forced us to lose so many games. The most easily identifiable was special teams where we saw three games lost due to this one facet of play. However, dropped passes, blown coverages, and poor game plans were also contributing factors in losses. My belief is that better offensive execution or better discipline defensively, and it may not have come down to special teams…the painful part is if you play well enough to overcome your mistakes and you expect the kicking game to come through.

    Our offensive line was hampered by injuries which is why they were overmatched. This year we will return 4/5 of our starters from last opening day and our backups have valuable experience. We relied too much on Floyd last year and for whatever reason, his regression paired with John Brown’s illness decimated our ability to effectively throw the ball early in the season. I believe losing Floyd will be addition by subtraction (for the record I feel for Micheal and I hope he can get his life back on track) and JJ Nelson provided that special game-changing playmaking ability and will be going into his 3rd year. If John Brown and Jaron Brown can get healthy and we draft a wideout this year we will be better in the passing game…and that is without considering how special David Johnson will be in the passing game.

    Finally, our defensive losses. I agree with this board that Jefferson should have been re-signed and it is my biggest concern for our defense. Signing Bethea saved money and he is a smart capable veteran so the loss of Jefferson should not be drastic, but I wonder about the rest of our safety room. Calais Campbell is another question because we do not know where his production replacement will come from. However, we have two dynamic edge rushers so instead of having our DE one gap maybe they two gap giving our linebackers more opportunities to make plays like a traditional 3-4 defense. My point is that while we lost two really good players our defense still has so many playmakers: Bucannon, Jones, Golden, Peterson, Mathieu, and Dansby. We will need improved play from our young guys to be a great defense, but sometimes game experience is the only way to get better…look at what Harlan Miller did at the end of last season.

  51. By jasonc on Mar 17, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG-

    It’s amazing how selective you are about those debates.

    I didn’t argue for Cooper/Minter I stated there was a reason the Cards selected them and when injury and DWash’s suspension happened their fortunes changed. Vaccaro is still just another guy at safety and Collins was traded. I was against Cooper at 7 for the same reason I didn’t like Vacarro at 7…but, yeah, you won.

    Bucannon was moved to linebacker out of necessity and now he is an evolutionary player because of his ability in coverage from the position. We will never know what kind of safety he would have been if DWash was able to stay clean, but, yeah, you won again.

    As far as Logan Thomas goes my point never changed. My argument was always that if you’re going to draft a QB in the late rounds why not take a chance on a guy with his physical gifts. I never once stated he was going to make it. The honest truth is that no one knows unequivocally why QB’s succeed and fail (although I’m sure you’ll write an exhaustive post about how you know) in the NFL. Brady, Prescott, Romo, Wilson are a few examples of QB’s who no one thought would be good NFL QBs, but given an opportunity proved otherwise.

    Please dazzle me with your Bill Polianesque evaluations and tell me how you had first round grades on all of these QBs.

    Maybe Darren can take your 3-year plan to Mike Disner…I’m sure he would be stunned by your brilliance and offer you a job in the front office.

  52. By JTDG on Mar 17, 2017 | Reply

    “Maybe Darren can take your 3-year plan to Mike Disner…I’m sure he would be stunned by your brilliance and offer you a job in the front office.”

    Will you Darren will you……

    After all, I am kind of old and it seems that is all the cards are signing these days.

  53. By JTDG on Mar 17, 2017 | Reply

    jasonc,

    I missed the 4 QBs you listed.

    Brady –
    In 2000, No, we had Plummer, so really wasn’t looking at QBs. But I will tell you I hated the Thomas Jones over Brian Urlacker pick. Most everyone I knew wanted Urlacker and it was disappointing when they said TJ.

    Now Keim joined the cards as a head scout in the east and TJ was from Virginia. Hmm.

    Romo –
    Never heard of him till he stepped in for Bledsoe with the Cowboys in 2006. He sat for 4 years without throwing a pass. So, he was signed in 2003.

    Ah yes, the draft of 2003, when the cards passed on fan favorite and local stud Terrell Suggs to trade down for Calvin Pace and Johnson. Lets see, Pace was from Wake Forest. Hmm that would be the east scout pushing for him.right??

    Wilson,
    Yeah, I remember Mike Mayock loved the guy. said he was a first rounder and his #2 QB behind Luck. I am a fan of Mayocks, but 5’11” was just too small. So yes, I was fully aware of him and would not of taken him.

    But remember 2012, the cards have suffered through 2 years of bad QB playing. It was the last ditch effort to turn the team around.

    I actually wanted the cards to trade with the rams to go get Tannehill (the rams did trade out of that spot). The cards choose no QB and Graves and Whiz are fired.
    In 2012, the Director of Player Personnel, heading up the draft, Yep, you guessed it, Steve Keim.

    Dak Prescott.
    I heard about his DUI and being sent home from the bowl game. So , no , I did not want to take him. But I remember someone on this board repeatedly kept saying to take Dak. Can’t remember who.

    In 2016, I actually agreed with not taking a QB. We were so close in 2015, and we needed a CB so bad and ….. Thats right Steve Keim, now GM took our 5th straight first rounder who disappointed. From Floyd to Nkemdiche, The first rounders have been underwelming.

    So, no, I did not have first round grades on them, although, because of Mayock, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Wilson go in round 1.

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