It was becoming pretty clear the Cardinals were going to move on from linebacker Sam Acho once he hit free agency, but that became official Wednesday when Acho signed a one-year contract with the Bears. Acho flashed as a rookie in 2011 with seven sacks, although never quite found that pass-rush level again. His 2013 was cut way short after he broke his leg. Last season he had 46 tackles and one sack — in the finale — in a reserve role.
There is little question about Acho the human being, however. A better person you won’t find. Any interaction with a fan — and he made sure to do that plenty — led to that fan being his fan. It was nearly impossible to do otherwise. I happened to talk with him a bit at a Suns’ game last month and at the time — right after the initial binge of free agency — Acho said he was probably going to lay low for a bit. At that point, it seemed like his time as a Cardinal had passed, unless he might return post-draft had the team not found a replacement. Now, the Cardinals need to work on building their outside linebacking corps, with the only ones under contract right now Lorenzo Alexander, Alex Okafor, Matt Shaughnessy and LaMarr Woodley. Kareem Martin will also get work there this offseason, but taking one with in the first round of the draft remains a strong possibility.
You can read the farewell statement Acho wrote right here.
Acho, meanwhile, will leave a lot of happy memories with fans in Arizona, like this little girl after a Flagstaff training camp practice in 2012.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bears, Kareem Martin, LaMarr Woodley, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho
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Bruce Arians has never been shy about bold proclamations about his team, like after winning the Coach of the Year award before the Super Bowl saying that he planned on his players dressing in the locker rooms of the 49ers’ stadium at the same time the following year — when Super Bowl 50 is played.
Last week at the NFL spring meetings, someone pointed out that Rex Ryan often had the same kind of talk when leading the Jets, until Ryan apparently got to the point where he felt like he was putting an unnecessary target on his team. Arians was asked if he had considered those ramifications.
“No, because we talk about it in the first meeting and then we don’t talk about it anymore,” Arians said. “That’s the goal every year. Last year (the Super Bowl) just happened to be in our stadium. It was easy to look a guy in the eye and say, ‘Who’s dressing in your locker?’ We don’t have that so I have to come up with a new line this year.
“The goal is to win the Super Bowl. We won’t shy away. We talk about it the first day and then we talk about the process, every day the process.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Super Bowl
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Deone Bucannon was drafted as a safety, and then basically played linebacker all season. It was necessary because the Cardinals lost Daryl Washington and never quite found a linebacker replacement — so then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dropped the rookie into the mix in the nickel package as the new Washington.
Bucannon did pretty well in the role. But he sees himself as a safety and so do the Cardinals, and Bucannon will be a safety in 2015 — unless he isn’t.
“He’s going to play safety,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We know he can play dime linebacker. He’ll play safety until we find out we don’t have the other guy.”
What does that mean, exactly? Well, newcomer Sean Weatherspoon, if healthy, is a three-down linebacker. And there is still a chance the Cardinals will bring back Washington. If Washington does not return — or even if he does — the Cardinals could still draft another (speedy) inside linebacker. I don’t know if there is anyone out there left on the free agent market the Cardinals could sign for that role but it wouldn’t be unheard of for the position later in the offseason (Karlos Dansby, Larry Foote). Another factor: The Cards are flush at safety, with Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson along with Bucannon.
“We know we have the flexibility because we have so many good, quality safeties,” Arians said. “He’ll still play (some linebacker) because we will still have that package. We like to have that much speed on the field.”
Tags: Daryl Washington, Deone Bucannon, Karlos Dansby, Larry Foote, Rashad Johnson, Sean Weatherspoon, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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When Bruce Arians was asked about suspended linebacker Daryl Washington earlier this week, he declined again. Arians has been pretty straightforward with handling questions about Washington that way. “He’s not even a part of our team so there’s no sense in talking about him,” Arians said.
Washington recently spoke about his excitement about returning to the NFL. It’s still no guarantee. The NFL still has to reinstate him, and in terms of the Cardinals, he’s still going to have to rebuild the trust he shredded on his way to his year-long punishment. (And that doesn’t include any other possible NFL punishment for his assault conviction.)
In general terms, though, Arians was willing to talk about how suspended players are treated. Washington, like other players with long-term suspensions, has not been allowed to be around the facility.
“I would definitely not isolate them from the only structure in their life,” Arians said. “You have to make sure they have structure on their life. Hopefully, that structure will help them overcome the problem — not turn them loose on themselves because obviously when they’re by themselves they can’t handle it. … Not just the team, but structured rehab with the team.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington
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The Cardinals may or may not sign another noteworthy free agent (although knowing the history of Steve Keim, it’s likely they will at some point.) But there is little question, with the draft just about a month away, the Cards are going to be turning their attention there. Bruce Arians left little doubt what he wanted to see when the Cards use their eight picks.
“In the draft, it’s still speed,” Arians said. “Speed at running back, speed at receiver, speed at linebacker, another interior player.” (I’m guessing the speed isn’t as important for that last one.)
At this point, assuming no significant changes to the roster pre-draft, I would guess there is a chance the Cardinals could take a running back with their first pick. I still think that’s unlikely, although it’s so hard to predict anything when you are talking about the 24th overall pick. So many different options could be there. I still think the Cards would like to get that edge pass rusher in the first round. If he’s not there, would anyone be surprised if Keim tried to trade down? Maybe a young cornerback could be the pick (at this point, both Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers are scheduled to be free agents after the season.)
The running back will be the position that draws the attention. Nothing has happened to change my mind about a certain potential trade for a vet running back. Paying a running back who has been in the league a ton of money doesn’t make a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things. Not when the Cardinals could take a running back on a rookie contract and pair him with Andre Ellington.
“This might be the best group (of running backs) top to bottom that I’ve seen in about 10 years,” Arians said. “There’s some teams in college running the ball and not just at the top two or four guys but all the way down. There are 15 really quality running backs in this draft.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Steve Keim
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Bruce Arians talked for an hour today on a lot of subjects at the NFC coaches breakfast during the NFL spring meetings. We’ll have a lot of stories and video on the various topics today and in the coming days. Among the things Arians touched on:
— The Cardinals would still like to bring back Lyle Sendlein to compete for the center position;
— Logan Thomas will get a ton of reps in the offseason and could even get some “field one” work (the Cards have players working on two fields) depending on the health of Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton;
— There was nothing to say on Adrian Peterson (“Are you trying to get me fined?” he said);
— The Cardinals will look at Kareem Martin at outside linebacker. Arians thinks Martin has the body-type of Aldon Smith.
— He wants DE Calais Campbell to be more consistent, saying “he disappears too much.”
There was much more. But the line of the day came when Arians was talking about the reluctance of General Manager Steve Keim to accept his award for Executive of the Year from the Sporting News the other day in front of the other GMs and coaches. The trophy itself was a big glass vase-looking thing.
“You check your ego at the door, because everything is for the Cardinals,” Arians said. “We’ve both been fortunate enough to get some accolades. You can’t take them. The entire room got you there. Don’t think you’re special. We both laughed, he was embarrassed as hell the other day to get his. I said, ‘Dude, you got a cup. We can drink out of that.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Kareem Martin, Logan Thomas, Lyle Sendlein, Sporting News, Steve Keim
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The NFL released the full draft order for next month’s draft, and here are the Cardinals’ eight selections. UPDATE: The league acknowledged some mistakes in a few comp picks, so the overall order has changed one of the Cardinals’ selections:
Round 1: 24th overall
Round 2: 55th
Round 3: 86th
Round 4: 123rd
Round 5: 159th
Round 7: 241st, 256th
The final selection is the final pick of the draft — Mr. Irrelevant — and as a compensatory pick cannot be traded. All the other choices are the Cards’ original picks and are in play if General Manager Steve Keim wants to flip them in a deal.
Tags: compensatory picks, draft, Mr. Irrelevant
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Ken Whisenhunt returned to Arizona for the first time as a head coach since the Cardinals fired him after the 2012 season, and at Tuesday’s AFC Coaches breakfast, the current Titans boss talked about the “great memories” he has from his six years at the helm of the Cardinals.
“It’s good to come back,” Whisenhunt said. “The people, even in the short time I’ve been here (for the meetings) have been great. Lot of special memories about this place.”
Whisenhunt said Bruce Arians — whom Whisenhunt looked into hiring for his Cardinals staff — has done a “great job” as his replacement as head coach.
“I’m happy for him, I’m happy for the players, I’m happy for the fans,” Whisenhunt said. “To see the excitement around this team and what they are doing … this is a great area, it’s a great fanbase, and University of Phoenix Stadium, when it’s rocking, it’s a great environment. I’ve always enjoyed that.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Ken Whisenhunt
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The Cardinals were awarded one compensatory pick in April’s draft — an extra seventh-round pick that just happens to be the final selection of the draft. That’s right, the Cards will get 2015’s Mr. Irrelevant. (And they will too, because comp picks cannot be traded.) It means the Cardinals will have eight draft picks instead of just seven, although trades could change that number.
Officially, in the comp pick equation, the Cardinals added Jared Veldheer, Ted Ginn and Ted Larsen in 2014, and lost Antoine Cason, Jim Dray, Andre Roberts and Karlos Dansby.
The last time the Cardinals got Mr. Irrelevant? That was 2001, when they took BYU tight end Tevita Ofahengaue. That was memorable for me because on the conference call, we asked him how to pronounce his name. “Oh-fen-hen-NOW-way,” he said. Then there was a pause. “Simple,” he added. “Like John Smith.”
Tags: compensatory picks, draft, Mr. Irrelevant
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The NFL brought in 105 players to Tempe Sunday for their first Veterans Combine. They are leaving one behind. The agent of wide receiver Nathan Slaughter tweeted out his client was signing with the Cardinals. (And a little later, the player himself did the same.)
The team has yet to officially announce any move. UPDATE: It’s official now.
Slaughter ran one of the fastest 40 times Sunday (reportedly sub-4.4s), which is noteworthy after a workout with some notoriously slow 40 times. He is 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, a West Texas A&M product who was originally signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent last year. He was cut and then signed by the Jaguars in June, then waived-injured by Jacksonville early in August. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game. For a team looking for a return man, Slaughter averaged 41.7 yards per kickoff return his last year in college.
Tags: free agency, Jaguars, Nathan Slaughter, Roster, Texans, Veterans combine
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