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Blogs

Cards’ comp pick means Mr. Irrelevant

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2015 – 6:21 pm

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.”


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Cardinals add Veterans Combine receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2015 – 11:26 am

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.

Nathan Slaughter


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Optimistic Washington awaits reinstatement

Posted by Darren Urban on March 22, 2015 – 11:56 am

The future of Daryl Washington as a Cardinal remains vague, since Daryl Washington the football player remains suspended by the NFL for violation of the substance abuse policy. That suspension was supposed to last for at least a year — late May — although the CBA does allow for Washington to begin the reinstatement process right around this time. The Cardinals aren’t talking about Washington or his status on the team until he is finally reinstated. Even when that happens, Washington must find out if there is any league punishment on last year’s assault conviction (which, assuming he went through the proper post-plea steps, should have been moved to a misdemeanor by now.)

But Mike Jurecki scored a coup when he recently talked to Washington. Washington told Jurecki he had completed anger management courses and said he hasn’t failed or missed any of the random drug tests he has needed to take. If true, both are positive steps towards reinstatement, I’d think. Of course, even if reinstated, there are other issues with which to deal — not the least of which is being able to regain the trust of the organization and teammates. Washington did say he’s had support from a number of teammates.

“I’m looking forward to a fresh start, and excited about playing football again,” Washington told Jurecki. “I’ve even thought about changing my number.”

DWashBlog


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NFL descends on Arizona — again

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2015 – 3:59 pm

The NFL universe came to town in late January when the Pro Bowl and then the Super Bowl were played at University of Phoenix Stadium. On a much lesser scale, it’s being repeated over the next few days. The Cardinals’ Tempe complex hosts the NFL’s Super Regional combine Saturday, which is the best of the best of five previous regional combines over the last six weeks — the players taking part are draft-eligible guys who were not invited to the main Scouting combine in Indianapolis. Sunday the facility will host the first NFL Veterans combine, which is around 100 NFL vets who are essentially working through a mass workout for all the teams.

The reason the Cards are playing host is because the teams were already going to be in town for the spring owners meetings, which go from Monday through Wednesday at the Arizona Biltmore. Among the highlights of the owners meetings will be work from the competition committee to potentially tweak/change rules, commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference Wednesday, and the coaches’ breakfasts on Tuesday (AFC) and Wednesday (NFC) when each coach talks for an hour in an informal setting.

We’ll have coverage of the Vet combine and the meetings, including whatever Bruce Arians might have to say Wednesday.

— Finally, a quick congrats to my cohort, Kyle Odegard, who is getting married to Kelsey Perry Saturday and will not be covering any of these events. I’m on my own for the week.


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Super Bowl turf lives on the West side

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2015 – 1:43 pm

The Patriots won the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in early February. The turf upon which they won the Lombardi Trophy will live on for football too (and soccer and other sports.) The grass has been installed at Tolleson Union High School. Through Chandler-based Evergreen Turf (which, not surprisingly is a partner with the Cardinals), about 90,000 square feet of sod was moved from University of Phoenix Stadium about 6½ miles west.

It’s not the first time the sod (which was grown in Alabama, originally) has been shared locally. After the Giants’ Super Bowl win in February of 2008, that sod was moved to Phoenix Moon Valley High School.

Super Bowl XLIX Football

 


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Cards benefit from Fells’ basketball departure

Posted by Darren Urban on March 19, 2015 – 4:25 pm

The (real) opening of March Madness Thursday was a good time to break out the in-season Zoom episode of tight end Darren Fells, who spent a bunch of years away from the game of football playing first college basketball (no NCAA tournaments for him) and then pro basketball overseas. A couple of years ago he realized he would like to try his hand at football — he notes he wanted to be in a more physical game — and now he’s morphed into a feasible option for the Cardinals at tight end.

Fells actually looked pretty decent near the end of the season when he got a chance to play. The Cardinals and coach Bruce Arians really like 2014 second-round pick Troy Niklas (assuming he can stay healthy). John Carlson figures to be an option, and something could happen in the draft. The Cardinals are going to want four tight ends, given that Arians likes to use two at a time and, as the Cards proved in each of the last two seasons, injuries happen.

Fells should be in the mix. At 6-foot-7 and someone who has already admitted he likes the physical part of the game, Fells still must learn. You don’t play in college and the learning curve is a little more steep, and in football terms, Fells is still very young. He’s not going to be a Antonio Gates-type of basketball-player-turned-tight end. But if he continues to develop, he’s one of those down-the-roster finds that can really help a team become a contender.

Darren Fells, Pomare


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A chance at a comp pick

Posted by Darren Urban on March 18, 2015 – 12:26 pm

The spring owners meetings get underway Monday here in town at the Biltmore, and among the many things that will go on will be the annual reveal of the compensatory picks for April’s draft.

A quick refresher for those who don’t know about comp picks: Each year, there are a bunch of extra draft picks sprinkled in through the draft (starting in the third round) that are awarded to teams with a net loss of free agents from the year before. The exact formula for doling out picks isn’t public, but it’s a mixture of the player, his free agent contract and performance. Basically, if you lose more free agents than you sign, you’ll get an extra pick or two.

(Or more, perhaps. Baltimore often lets players leave as free agents with the idea of stockpiling comp picks to replenish the roster with cheap labor. It’s great if you hit on many draft picks. The Ravens have made it an art form.)

As for the Cardinals, overthecap.com has estimated that the Cards are in line for an extra seventh-round pick. Now, there are caveats to the various qualifying players in this admittedly complicated guesswork. The Cards could conceivably get an extra fifth-rounder instead of a seventh or maybe no comp pick at all. As it stands, the Cardinals have their seven original draft picks, starting with the 24th overall in the first round. Last season, the Cardinals added tackle Jared Veldheer, wide receiver Ted Ginn, guard Ted Larsen and running back Jonathan Dwyer in free agency. They lost linebacker Karlos Dansby, wide receiver Andre Roberts, tight end Jim Dray and cornerbacks Antoine Cason and Javier Arenas. (Players that are cut by their previous team do not factor in the equation, which is why bringing in Antonio Cromartie did not hurt the Cards in this example and why losing Darnell Dockett this year will not help in next year’s comp equation.)


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A rough time for 49ers in the NFC West

Posted by Darren Urban on March 17, 2015 – 1:42 pm

In a division where keeping up with the Joneses is important just to have a chance at the playoffs — and goodness knows the Seahawks have been the Joneses for a couple of seasons now — the Cardinals feel like they have made strides to compete with Seattle. Their free agent class filled holes in the front seven of the defense and on the interior of the offensive line. More importantly, their quarterback is doing well in rehab. The Seahawks, meanwhile, added arguably the most dangerous tight end in the NFL. The Rams bolstered their defensive line with Nick Fairley and think they have upgraded at quarterback with Nick Foles (at least, he should be healthy enough to play.)

Then there are the 49ers, who have gone through one rough offseason, which started when they moved on from successful coach Jim Harbaugh.

The Niners got the shocking news young linebacker Chris Borland decided to leave the game instead of risking his long-term health to play. Borland was supposed to be the guy who filled in for Pro Bowler Patrick Willis, who retired because his oft-injured feet ended his hopes for a comeback. Defensive lineman Justin Smith likely will retire. Then they allowed multiple free agents to leave, like running back Frank Gore, guard Mike Iupati (who came to Arizona), linebacker Dan Skuta and cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox. They probably won’t bring back Michael Crabtree either.

Now, the Niners have added some pieces. Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Darnell Dockett. Lions running back Reggie Bush (although he may be beyond his productive years.) But the way things have gone, it’ll be tough for the 49ers to right the decline they went through in 2014. That comes with the QB caveat all teams have — if Colin Kaepernick emerges as a star, that covers most issues.

While it could be considered the “offseason from hell,” the Cardinals did have one of recent vintage that they could put up in any argument. It’s tough to forget the offseason after 2009. In case you have forgotten, a refresher: quarterback Kurt Warner retired, safety Antrel Rolle was released for cap reasons (and subsequently signed with the Giants), linebacker Karlos Dansby left as a free agent and Anquan Boldin was traded. All were still playing at high/Pro Bowl levels. Those were a gut punch of transactions that eventually took out a coaching staff and brought the Cardinals to the Bruce Arians/Steve Keim era.

John Brown, Leon McFadden

 


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The speculation on Adrian Peterson

Posted by Darren Urban on March 16, 2015 – 10:09 am

It was quite the weekend, with free agency around the league slowing down and some tidbits floated here and there about the Cardinals and Adrian Peterson. No, I don’t think anything is imminent and I continue to hold to my original thought — that the Vikings will find a way to keep him. Keeping him, even at his salary, to help with young QB Teddy Bridgewater, is in my opinion the best football decision for the Vikings. Maybe Peterson is unhappy and doesn’t want to stay. But I don’t see them just cutting him, and the reality is, Peterson only has so much leverage. What’s he going to do — sit out a second straight season in his prime? That doesn’t make sense to me.

As for some of the other stuff that’s been said:

— Peter King is saying the Cardinals haven’t even had any discussions with the Vikings.

— Charles Robinson, who certainly seems to be talking someone in Peterson’s camp, keeps saying Peterson wants $25 million guaranteed over three years. OK. If you are just doing the guaranteed money, that’s a little more than $8M a year, but it’d be all guaranteed. Most deals have money beyond guaranteed too. Do you do that for a guy who will be 30 next week? Yes, it’s less than what he’s making, but …

— Robinson says Peterson is willing to restructure. What Carson Palmer did was restructure. Is Peterson willing to take a pay cut? If so, how much?

The draft is full of prospects. Cheap prospects. If you still like Andre Ellington — and there is no reason to think the Cardinals do not — the Cards could pick up a good between-the-tackles guy in the first or second round and pair him with Ellington and still be left with cap room.

— Everyone assumed the Palmer restructure was a harbinger of something. It still could be. But the Cards might have just been getting low on cap space — they have, according to the NFLPA, about $9.9 million in space, and Palmer’s move created about $7M — and if they were going to do something with Palmer’s deal they had to when they did because his bonus was due last week. It might’ve been as simple as that. The Cards need around $4 million in cap space to bring in their top draft picks. Without Palmer’s move, they had about $3 million.

Fitz isn’t being traded. Period. Forget the logistics or cap hit or anything. Ownership wanted Larry Fitzgerald in a Cardinals uniform. He is an important face of the franchise, and that’s why this new deal was done. The Cardinals aren’t going to let him go.

Again, I’m not saying a Peterson trade could not happen. But there are so many moving parts, between what his contract would be, what the Vikings might want in trade, whether the Vikings would even want to part with him, and what other teams around the league might offer (just because Peterson says he wants to go to this team or that doesn’t mean the Vikings have to accommodate him) it’s tough to get a true handle where this will go.

As far as “going for it,” I just keep coming back to this thought from GM Steve Keim, who has said a version of this to me many times: “You always have to think about the long-term health of the organization.” He’s talking in terms of the salary cap. Keim often mentions “sustained success.” That doesn’t mean you can’t add a veteran who costs some money. But any undertaking will have some deep thought, and deep research, behind it.

Adrian Peterson, Richard Marshall


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Sendlein fought to be Cards’ anchor

Posted by Darren Urban on March 12, 2015 – 6:31 pm

I covered Lyle Sendlein in high school.

It was only one game, a championship game he played in with Scottsdale Chaparral, and I mostly knew of him because of his older brother Austin, who had dominated as a sophomore at the school in my last full year covering high school sports. I paid attention that Lyle Sendlein went to Texas, playing for a national championship, and by the time he reached the NFL I had been covering the Cardinals for a few years. By the time he reported for his first training camp in Flagstaff, I was now doing the same job, but for the team site.

You never know how each undrafted rookie class will sort itself out. There are almost always a couple of guys who come out of “nowhere” to make the team, and it didn’t take much to find out that Sendlein had won over offensive line coach Russ Grimm. After his rookie year — and after Al Johnson’s career was derailed with injuries — Sendlein took over at center for good.

It soothed some of the hurt of never being drafted, although it never totally went away. Not that Sendlein was a complainer. He preferred to be quiet and plug along, often his body beat up without anyone knowing. He ended up as an offensive captain on four different teams, a designation that both underscored the respect he had earned in the locker room and that made him a team spokesman. Sendlein wasn’t going to fill the notebook but he knew it came with the job, and in those years where the Cards didn’t have success, he would stand there week after week trying to supply answers that weren’t easy to come by.

He didn’t play as well as he wanted to last season, and apparently, the Cardinals decision makers noticed the same thing. When A.Q. Shipley was signed Wednesday, after Ted Larsen did fine at center when Sendlein was hurt during 2014 training camp — and with Sendlein’s big 2014 salary — things for Sendlein were headed in the wrong direction. Then Sendlein was released Thursday.

It’s early enough in free agency that he should be able to hook on somewhere. But he’ll be missed in the locker room. He’ll be missed by the community arm of the team, since Sendlein was a mainstay in those events all year.

And truth be told, I always had a kinship with Sendlein because, like him, I graduated (much, much earlier) from Chaparral and that was an easy way for us to delve into a working relationship. There are plenty of good guys who have come through that locker room downstairs, and Sendlein was unquestionably one of them.

LyleGoodbyeblog


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