With the new league year commencing Tuesday, the Cardinals are expected to make more than a few moves. One of them will be releasing veteran guard Daryn Colledge, a not unexpected decision given the selection of Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford in last year’s draft and Colledge’s $4.8 million salary and $7.3M cap number. Colledge tweeted his goodbye Saturday evening:
Wanna thank you the fans and the Cardinals for an amazing opportunity. A great organization headed in the right direction. Wish ya the best.
— Daryn Colledge (@DarynColledge71) March 9, 2014
Colledge confirmed via text message his release was coming Tuesday. That makes sense as well, because if a player is let go after the league year starts, he can be designated a June 1 cut. That means the Cardinals can take the $4.55 million of dead money Colledge’s release would create and spread it evenly over this season and next season, although they have to carry the entire $4.55M in dead money on this year’s cap until June 1 actually arrives. This isn’t about Colledge being a cap casualty but instead a decision to move on. Colledge understands that. It’s the business. It’s the same reason he ended up in Arizona in the first place, when Green Bay let him walk away and turned to a younger, cheaper alternative.
The Cardinals want to get more athletic on the line, definitely younger (Colledge is 32) and the reality is if the team is going to chase a high-dollar left tackle in free agency, the budget for the offensive line needs to be trimmed elsewhere. It’s too bad, because Colledge was a solid member of the line and good in the locker room. He was a standup guy with the media no matter what was going on — he was willing to answer questions all the time during the long losing streak of 2012 — and it was always entertaining to see Colledge head into and out of the showers with his wireless speaker booming ’80′s hits that came out before many of his teammates were even born.
This now means Watford and Paul Fanaika will battle for the right guard spot, and the Cardinals would like Watford, a 2012 fourth-round pick, to take control of the position. And in the bigger picture, General Manager Steve Keim continues to overhaul the roster and clear out some of the contracts left over from the previous regime in an effort to get the salary cap under control.
Tags: Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Jonathan Cooper, salary cap
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The Cardinals made their first “big” free-agent signing Friday, getting tight end John Carlson to sign a two-year contract. Given the uncertainty at the position — Jeff King, Jim Dray, Jake Ballard and Kory Sperry all have expiring contracts — someone was going to have to sign to fill the spots.
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There is a really good article posted on SI’s MMQB, written by former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, about how offensive linemen are graded in the NFL and the inexact science that it is. I recommend it. Cardinals tackle Eric Winston is quoted in the story a few times, noting “It’s very hard to do it independently. Last season was my eighth year and I still can’t always tell who messed up when watching film of other teams.” There is no question that evaluating the offensive line has been the hardest thing to do in my years of writing about an NFL team, for all the reasons contained in the article (although such analysis isn’t going away. I know coaches and players get frustrated sometimes, but in the end, they don’t want to say exactly what is going on either, so they don’t throw anyone under the bus. Totally understandable, but it’s why it’s so hard to get the real picture.)
Noted in the article is the work of profootballfocus.com, how their grades have their own flaws, and even how agents are using those grades in contract talks. Again, interesting stuff and worth the time.
– Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu was an exclusive rights free agent, and even though he has to rehab a torn ACL, it was inevitable the Cards would keep him around. He turned out to be a fantastic waiver acquisition this season. Assuming he comes back OK, I could see him as a long-term component of that defensive line.
– Free agent talks with players from other teams can start Saturday morning, at least with their agents. The Cards will make their position known with a few players, but as GM Steve Keim said, the Cards are going to want a guy in for a visit before pulling the trigger. You want to be able to know the guy a little bit before cutting him a check.
– Free agent tight end John Carlson, cut by the Vikings this week, is reportedly visiting the Cardinals. Not a surprise, at least in terms of the position. The Cards have to stock up on tight ends, both in an attempt to upgrade and to make sure they have enough in the first place with so many with expiring contracts.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Eric Winston, John Carlson, offensive line, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals hired Buddy Morris as their new strength and conditioning coach Tuesday. Today, one of the men Morris used to train became his new coaching associate — and it is an interesting hire to say the least. Olympian hurdler Roger Kingdom, who won gold medals in the hurdles in both the 1984 Los Angeles and the 1988 Seoul Games, will be the Cardinals’ new speed coach. With assistant strength and conditioning coach Pete Alosi remaining in place, the Cards have grown their coaching staff yet again in a quest to have the Cards be a one-stop shop for however the players need to prepare.
Kingdom originally attended the University of Pittsburgh on a football scholarship, so he knows the sport. That’s how he knew Morris, who was the school’s strength coach from 1980-89 in his first of three stints there. Kingdom won the gold in the 110-meter hurdles. He retired from the sport in 1999 (he briefly tried a comeback a few years later) and spent time as the track coach at California University of Pennsylvania. During his track career, Kingdom was a five-time United States outdoor champion (1985, 1988-90 and 1995) and two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Games (1983, 1995). He also holds a World Cup gold medal (1989) and won gold at the World University Games in 1989.
Now he will try to bring his speed training to the Cardinals. That’s something Bruce Arians has harped on since he arrived. Meanwhile, Morris in past interviews has talked about how he doesn’t believe Olympic-style lifting helps guys play football. This will be a very interesting transition to a new strength and conditioning program, and will make for an intriguing offseason.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Buddy Morris, Roger Kingdom
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Karlos Dansby will be 33 this year. He is coming off a tremendous season. He is a free agent. And these are the treacherous waters Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim must now maneuver through in his efforts to bring the linebacker back to the Cardinals.
Former Bills and Colts GM Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, said today the tough part with a Dansby deal is the dead money it will almost certainly create at some point. Dansby believes he still has a few good years left, but there is always the possibility — again, because of his age — he could be released with years left on whatever deal he would sign.
“People make a big deal out of dead money when they count it up at the end of the year,” Polian said. “Free agency equals dead money. That’s part of the overpayment (in free agency) and it comes with the territory. You are going to have some, always. As a general rule, you want to avoid as much of it as you can, knowing you will have it.
“The issue becomes how do you structure a contract that pays the player commensurately that is cap-friendly and at the same time, avoids dead money. That’s a very, very difficult equation to try and solve. And I feel sorry for Steve trying to get that done. It’s difficult.”
It also makes Dansby’s re-signing before testing the market tough to envision. Dansby won’t truly know what’s out there for him — even with talks allowed as soon as March 8 — until he can really go on a visit or two. Then again, deadlines tend to spur action, and the real deadline here won’t come until next Monday night and Tuesday morning. It’s a fascinating situation moving forward.
Tags: Bill Polian, Karlos Dansby, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals signed a center yesterday, bringing in John Estes. Estes doesn’t have a lot on the résumé since coming into the league in 2010, playing in just two games with Jacksonville and spending two seasons on injured reserve. He was out of football last season. It probably is more of a sign that backup center Mike Gibson is an unrestricted free agent and might not return more than anything else. The other reserve centers on the roster right now are Tommie Draheim and Philip Blake. Meanwhile, Lyle Sendlein, the starter, plugs along.
It’s a question I get not frequently but also not rarely: Are the Cardinals looking to replace Sendlein? The answer, as it’s been for many years, remains no. That can of course change, if the Cardinals fell into a center in the draft later on that they felt they couldn’t pass on. But I expect Sendlein to stay right where he is, even as the rest of the line could change around him. Sendlein is no longer the cheap one-time undrafted rookie — his salary is $2.85 million this season and $3 million in 2015, the final year of his current deal — but he provides some stability in a unit that hasn’t had a ton. Sendlein might not make a Pro Bowl push (Profootballfocus.com ranked him 18th overall out of 35 centers, 12th in run blocking and 28th in pass blocking) but he a solid pro who is excellent in the locker room and as a leader.
If there was a time the Cards were going to move on from Sendlein it would have been last year, when the coaching staff changed and offensive line coach Russ Grimm — who loved Sendlein — left. But clearly Sendlein made a good impression on Bruce Arians and Harold Goodwin.
Tags: John Estes, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Gibson, Philip Blake, Tommie Draheim
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The season started great for Andre Roberts. And it finished on a high note. In between, it wasn’t what Roberts wanted, and now it also looks like it was the last season for Roberts — at least as a Cardinal. This is not a shock. Roberts will be an unrestricted free agent in a week and the math has said for a while now it probably didn’t make much sense for the relationship to continue. The Cardinals, with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, don’t need anything more than a third receiver. Roberts would like to be at least a No. 2, and certainly wants to be paid like that. Parting ways seemed the logical conclusion, and Roberts drove that home during an interview Tuesday on NBCSN’s “Pro Football Talk.”
“I don’t think I’ll be back in Arizona,” Roberts said. “I haven’t received any phone calls from Arizona and free agency is coming up here in about a week. I definitely feel I did the most with my opportunities, but I thought I would get a little bit more coming my way balls-wise. It’s part of the business. But I don’t think I’ll be back in Arizona. I’ll be testing the market.”
Roberts had 43 receptions for 471 yards and two touchdowns in 2013, his numbers dropping with the emergence of Floyd. In Bruce Arians’ offense and the desire to use two tight ends, three receivers just weren’t used as much, and Roberts was the odd man out. Can Roberts get the contract he wants this spring, with numbers that were down and a glut of receivers destined to be available? Probably not. He’s probably in a position like many free agents last year (some who signed with the Cards) to be better off inking a one-year deal and playing in a place that could feed him the ball. Where that is — and whether that team wants Roberts — is TBD. Roberts grew close to Fitzgerald over the years, and in their friendship, I’m sure Fitz has given counsel to find the money.
The Cards, meanwhile, will need another wideout. But they probably will seek one with more speed, and certainly one that will be cheaper.
– Speaking of free agency, Kent Somers reported today that the Cards and the agent for free-agent-to-be Matt Shaughnessy have been negotiating. After Karlos Dansby, Shaughnessy made the most sense of a guy whom the Cards would like to re-sign.
Tags: Andre Roberts, free agency, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd
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The Cardinals have hired Buddy Morris, who had just been hired at the University of Buffalo and who once worked with Bruce Arians when Arians was in Cleveland, to be their new strength and conditioning coach. He replaces John Lott, who was fired last week. Morris’ time in Cleveland was from 2002-05, and he also spent three stints as the strength and conditioning coach of the University of Pittsburgh. (Interestingly, the man who replaced Morris for the Browns? John Lott.)
Morris has a lengthy and impressive résumé – this blog post gives some good detail into his thinking. For the moment, Pete Alosi remains the assistant strength and conditioning coach. The Cardinals officially begin their offseason conditioning program April 21, but some have already trickled in here and there. CBA rules prohibit any coaching right now, but once Morris arrives, he can at least introduce himself.
“I’m a fanatic on technique,” Morris recently told the Buffalo News. “I’m a fanatic on the little things. The game’s still a game of discipline and it starts in the weight room.”
– The Cardinals also signed center John Estes Tuesday. Estes had spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars (where new Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough was previously in the front office) before spending last season out of football.
Tags: Buddy Morris, coaching staff, John Estes
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Today was the deadline for teams to use the franchise tag. There is still a week before free agency officially begins — although teams and free-agents-to-be can start talking Saturday — and there is still time for any of these players who are set to become free to still sign extensions and avoid hitting the market. That said, the tag was a possibility for a handful of prospective left tackle free agents, and all of them ended up dodging that tag Monday.
That means the left tackle market, barring a late extension, will include Kansas City’s Branden Albert, Baltimore’s Eugene Monroe, St. Louis’ Rodger Saffold, Oakland’s Jared Valdheer and Cincinnati’s Anthony Collins. (There are reports out of Oakland that think Valdheer’s non-tagging means he’s close to a deal, but if that is true, why not tag him just in case?)
Profootballfocus.com ranked the tackles on the market in this order: Monroe, Albert, Veldheer, Collins, Saffold. The money to sign these guys will not be insignificant, and the need remains high for such players across the league. But if the Cardinals are looking to grab a vet to plug in, there not only will be options but the ability to have a solid backup choice. That can’t be a bad thing.
Tags: Anthony Collins, Branden Albert, Eugene Monroe, free agency, Jared Valdheer, offensive line, Rodger Saffold
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Once, Bertrand Berry left, but he came back.
Having covered the Cardinals either for the East Valley Tribune or here at azcardinals.com for years, I’ve been through a lot of free-agent signing periods and watched the team have a lot of interest in various players. Sometimes they signed. Sometimes they didn’t. And those times pop into my head with the new philosophy of the front office. It isn’t necessarily take it or leave it, but it is close. The Cardinals these days have a number in mind to spend on each particular free agent and definitely a ranking system where they want a certain player first over others. But if there is hesitation, the Cards are ready to move on. They won’t be used as leverage, and that’s a good thing.
The Cards were frequently the team used for leverage once upon a time (the brief Joe Montana courtship is one I remember, but that was before my time on the beat.) There have been others, and that’s one reason why it’s good to see GM Steve Keim get past that. More importantly, it’s good to see the confidence the team has in its plan. The Cards want, for instance, Karlos Dansby to come back. But the possibility of him leaving breeds no panic. As Bruce Arians likes to say, next man up, and that’s an incredibly liberating stance to take this time of year. The Cards will reach out to a left tackle in free agency, I’d guess, and if whoever it is doesn’t like the offer or hedges, the Cards will move on to the next choice. I have no doubt of that. The Cardinals aren’t going to be cheap, but they are going to structure deal on their terms.
(This doesn’t mean the Cards won’t bargain shop later, like they did with Dansby/Winston/Abraham last year. Float a number, wait a guy out and if he’s willing to come in for a bargain, you put him on the roster.)
That brings me back to Berry, who the Cardinals really wanted as a pass rusher in 2004. The offer was on the table and the Cardinals really wanted him to agree to it that day when he visited the team. Berry told them he probably would agree, but he wanted to sleep on it. Fair, although it could have been a leverage ploy. It wasn’t. Berry came back the next day to sign, and proved to be one of the best free-agent signings the team has made, with 14.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl that year before injuries derailed his Arizona tenure.
I don’t see the current Cards letting that happen much at all. A free agent who won’t agree right away is risking that deal being yanked off the table quickly. Keim is going to be in control of this process.
Tags: Bertrand Berry, Bruce Arians, free agency, Karlos Dansby, Steve Kiem
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