Carson Palmer didn’t even get to play a full game after signing his contract extension late last season. Now, before the first season of that extension kicks in, Palmer reportedly could be restructuring it to ease his salary cap number of $14.5 million. Mike Jurecki first reported Palmer the possibility.
Palmer is due a roster bonus of $9.5 million (in addition to a $1M salary) this season. Add in his current $4M of bonus proration of $4M, and that’s his $14.5M cap hit. If the Cardinals were to turn the roster bonus into a signing bonus — which would then be distributed evenly over the remaining four years of the contract in terms of the cap — it’d take his cap number all the way down to about $7.4M for 2015. Of course, that also pushes more dead money on to future caps as well.
These are the choices a team makes, however, especially when it feels it can compete — as long as everyone stays healthy. Like Palmer. We’ll see if his contract gets an update. With more and more players getting released around the NFL and the market already flooded with players, there will be opportunities to sign contributors for reasonable prices. That’s why the Cardinals are trying to loosen more cap room. Neither General Manager Steve Keim or president Michael Bidwill has been shy of sharing the concept of the Cardinals being aggressive in free agency.
Tags: Steve Keim, Carson Palmer, Michael Bidwill, salary cap, contract
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Larry Fitzgerald may be taking less money than was on his original contract, but many have noticed that the $22 million he’s getting guaranteed over the next two seasons is a great deal. That was Andrew Brandt’s theme as he analyzed the situation in a MMQB.com piece. Brandt’s thoughts — “With NFL finances clearly tilted towards management, there are few outliers who have ‘won’ on the business side like Fitzgerald” — took me back to something Fitz said during training camp.
It was the day Patrick Peterson had his press conference for his new lucrative contract, and Fitzgerald — as a veteran around the team — was asked his opinion of where the Cardinals were in terms of spending money.
“I for one can tell you the Cardinals are not a cheap organization,” Fitzgerald said. “I will stand on a table and say all day long they are not. We can put that to bed.”
Indeed, Fitz has made around $120 million already from the Cardinals on his various contracts since 2004. That doesn’t include a dime he’s made in endorsements, just the cash he’s gotten from the team. Now he gets another $22M guaranteed. It also dovetails nicely with the first part of Brandt’s column, which explains how the salary cap — in the end — doesn’t have to kill a team in terms of getting players.
You want cap space, but in the end, when asking about a marriage between a player and a team, just know that if the team wants the player bad enough, it can happen — regardless of the cap space or how expensive the player might be. Now, there is a give and take. You might be causing cap complications down the road, or the player you want may want more than you are willing to give him. But it’s rare that a player simply can’t be fit under whatever cap you might have.
Bringing it back to Fitz, it would have been interesting to see what Fitzgerald might have been able to get on the open market. Conventional wisdom says it wouldn’t have been as much as the Cardinals gave him, but it was important on many levels to keep Fitzgerald around. The two sides made it work. The Cards are trying to do the same with Darnell Dockett — and GM Steve Keim said those talks are ongoing.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals have saved about $15.3 million in cap space for 2015 with just two moves thus far this offseason: Re-doing Larry Fitzgerald’s contract and releasing Ted Ginn. More moves are inevitable (the Cardinals are talking with Darnell Dockett now in an effort to re-do his deal and lower his cap number.)
Where are the Cards cap-wise? Right now, it’s kind of a moot point.
We still do not know what the salary cap will even be in 2015. Most estimates put it around $143M, but it won’t be finalized until we come upon the new league year March 10. (In 2014, the cap was $133M.) On top of that, the Cardinals will carry over about $4.2M of cap space from last season, meaning their cap number for 2015 (assuming the $143M number is correct) will be slightly north of $147 million.
When the league year opens, it’s only the top 51 cap numbers on the roster that count. That’s how a team’s cap number is determined until we get to the first week of the regular season (when everyone, even on the practice squad and injured reserve, counts on the cap.) In the always murky world of constantly changing cap numbers, the Cardinals apparently are going to have about $139M or $140M in their top 51 as of today.
Again, that’s before any other moves — before a Dockett decision is reached, before any other players are cut and before any free agents on the street right now (there was a report tight end James Casey, cut by Philly, will visit the Cardinals) might sign prior to March 10. Team president Michael Bidwill reiterated the Cardinals plan to be aggressive in free agency, so freeing up more cap space seems a foregone conclusion.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, James Casey, salary cap
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General Manager Steve Keim said last week he would be talking to defensive lineman Darnell Dockett (and his agent) about his contract, which has one year left to run and is scheduled to pay Dockett $6.5 million this season. It made sense, with Dockett carrying a $9.8M cap charge in 2015 and with he being a candidate, like Larry Fitzgerald, to re-do his contract in one way, shape or form.
“We will have conversations with Darnell moving forward,” Keim said.
The next day, Keim said in a radio interview that conversation was coming by the weekend. Now, Dockett has tweeted a couple of things in the past couple of days that indicate the talks have started, and may have left in question Dockett’s status for 2015. The latest came Sunday night:
No matter the logo Im gonna win that comeback player of the year….
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) February 23, 2015
We’ll see how this might play out. Like Fitzgerald, it can always play out a little differently with each player when it comes to contract negotiations. Dockett has made clear how he feels he has been loyal to the Cardinals and wants to be here. Dockett is going to be 34 in May and is coming off a major knee injury and a pay reduction would likely be in play. One way or another, this — like Fitz’s situation — figures to be sorted out by March 10 when the new league year begins.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, salary cap
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There were a couple of times coach Bruce Arians noted this season that the cornerback had dealt with some health issues aside from the badly sprained ankle Peterson played through after the Denver game. Peterson never talked about it specifically. Then Arians mentioned it during an appearance on Pro Football Talk that Peterson had some “blood issues” early in 2014.
“(Patrick) needs to have a great offseason which he is determined to have,” Arians said. “But to me, he had a bad September and he was battling some blood issues at the time that no one would be aware of …”
Arians was cut off by host Mike Florio to ask about the blood issues at that point. Arians said it was a “blood sugar issue” and that Peterson is fine now.
“It was cleared up in October,” Arians said. “He played four of the greatest games I’ve seen (later in 2014).”
Arians said the issue was “borderline” diabetes and Peterson had to learn how to manage the situation, which he did. He praised both the Cardinals’ medical staff and Peterson for finding a solution, as well as Peterson’s wife, who is studying to be a doctor.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Patrick Peterson
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Someone asked Bruce Arians how Carson Palmer was progressing in his knee rehab, noting by all accounts Palmer was doing well.
“Don’t jinx me, baby,” Arians said with a grin.
Palmer is doing well, Arians acknowledged, and Palmer is apparently still making noise that he hopes to be back for some offseason work. That, Arians added, is no lock if the Cardinals decide it might not be worth it. It’s not like they don’t already know what Palmer can do, and having Palmer available for training camp is much more important. Drew Stanton is also doing “extremely well,” his own knee issues nowhere near as severe as Palmer. Both are ahead of schedule, Arians said.
And if the Cardinals are limited in their quarterback availability this offseason? Not a problem, Arians said, because this will be the offseason of Logan Thomas.
“This will be a big spring for Logan because of the two guys,” Arians said. “We’ll see how much Drew can do. But I want to give Logan a ton of work anyway. If Carson is cleared and ready to go, we’ll put him out there.”
This is a big spring for Thomas regardless of where the other QBs were health-wise anyway. His rookie year is over. This is the offseason in which Thomas should be able to make the largest strides learning the offense. There is no transition to the NFL like he had as a rookie. He’s been around it for a year. His accuracy remains a question mark and while the Cardinals do not need him right now — again, assuming health for both Palmer and Stanton — there is in today’s NFL a short shelf life for “potential” and how long you work with it to see if it can eventually pay off.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas
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Former agent Joel Corry, who writes for the National Football Post and CBSsports.com, released the details on the Larry Fitzgerald contract on Twitter this morning. The key parts: The Cardinals picked up $12.75 million in salary cap space for 2015. And the deal, while it’s technically through 2018, will automatically void the final two seasons (2017 and 2018, on paper right now as $16M salaries for each year). The voidable years are added to help with prorating the cap numbers.
That means Fitzgerald will be a free agent after the 2016 season. We may not be done with stories of the Cardinals, Fitzgerald and contract talks just yet. Fitzgerald won’t even have turned 34 yet by the time his new deal ends — and I don’t see him retiring at that point. Fitzgerald also got a no-trade clause in the deal, although he could waive that if he so chose.
Fitzgerald’s cap number, which had been $23.6M for 2015, dropped to $10.85M. His money is pretty straightforward. A fully guaranteed roster bonus of $10 million on the second day of the league year (March 11) plus a salary of $1 million in 2015, and a fully guaranteed $11M salary for 2016.
His cap number for 2016 should be about $15.85M (still a hefty number, but not as bad as $23.6M). His dead money left in 2017 after the contract voids (which the Cards must still deal with, regardless of what happens to Fitz at that point) will be about $9.7M.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap
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Head coach Bruce Arians calls the plays and that isn’t about to change. But it’s also a goal to eventually get offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin — who is also the offensive line coach — hired as a head coach somewhere like defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did with the Jets. Last preseason, Arians allowed Goodwin to call the plays in the Cards’ fourth preseason game in San Diego. There will be more of that this year, Arians said.
“This year I think I’m going to let him do at least two (preseason games),” Arians said. “So he can continue to develop as a coordinator. He’s doing a great job with what he’s doing. He has really good command of his room also. I think that’s what set James (Bettcher, the new defensive coordinator) apart from a lot of young coaches I have been around, he has really good command of the room when he is in front of it.”
Goodwin does a lot of the gameplanning during the week for the Cardinals. It’s unlikely Arians will ever completely give up his role of playcalling — he said when he first hired he would call the plays “until I find someone who can call them better.” Who knows, maybe Goodwin will eventually be that guy. For now, two or three preseason games will have to suffice.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Harold Goodwin, Todd Bowles
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Bruce Arians did his media turn this morning in Indianapolis, and that possibility of veteran Larry Foote could coach is coming true.
“Larry Foote will join our coaching staff (Friday) to be our inside linebacker coach,” Arians said. “He still could play. We had to go through some different things with the league — there is no such thing as a player-coach — but we’ll add him to the staff to get his coaching career started, but his playing career might not be over.”
Foote will join the Cardinals defensive coaches in Indianapolis for the Scouting combine.
There’s a lot that can happen over the next few months and things that can happen. The Cardinals are going to address inside linebacker in free agency or the draft (or both) and they still have to find out what happens with Daryl Washington (Arians said this morning that until the NFL reinstates Washington “I don’t think about him.”) That all could impact Foote’s potential of playing again, as will Foote’s personal perspective.
But as I mentioned before, having Foote on staff as a coach — maybe taking Kevin Minter under his wing, because the Cards need Minter to emerge — is a good thing. Foote is excellent to have on your side, whether he’s playing or not.
“Larry was a very passionate player, but a very, very smart player, one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around,” Arians said.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Foote
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The first thing the Cardinals needed to get done was re-doing Larry Fitzgerald’s contract. That’s done. Cap space has been cleared. But the Cardinals probably will look for more.
GM Steve Keim said today he will be talking to DT Darnell Dockett about his contract, which has one year left and a cap number of $9.8 million. That’s lofty anyway, but especially for an older player who is coming off major knee surgery. Ted Ginn, who sunk to the fifth receiver by year’s end, is another player who seems likely to be looked at, contract-wise. There are other veterans with higher cap numbers who could get a look from Keim. But there are lines to walk; CB Jerraud Powers is due more than $4 million in salary this season, for example, but if Antonio Cromartie leaves in free agency, you have to make sure you have the depth you want. A total of 13 Cardinals carry cap numbers of more than $3 million for 2015, including Powers ($5.3M), C Lyle Sendlein ($4.3M), Ginn ($4M), and QB Drew Stanton ($3.9M).
Keim’s point that the Cardinals, with Fitz’s new contract, will allow the Cards to be active in free agency is crucial. There is little doubt the Cardinals need to upgrade, but what will the market bear? I could see the Cardinals looking heavily at running back, at linebacker (both inside and outside), perhaps interior offensive line. If Cromartie doesn’t return, they could look at cornerback. And one of the quieter stories of the offseason is the potential loss of nose tackle Dan Williams and what the Cards do if Williams does not return.
Fixing the Fitz situation was important. But it wasn’t the only thing in front of Keim that needs tending.
“There are some additional tough decisions we will have to make,” Keim said.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Drew Stanton, Jerraud Powers, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Steve Keim, Ted Ginn
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