As the official start to free agency approaches, some quick lunchtime stuff:
— The Cardinals bring in outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley on a one-year contract. Woodley was recently cut by the Raiders. Woodley had no sacks in six games last season in Oakland, tearing his biceps against, of all teams, the Cards. Before that, Woodley had a solid career in Pittsburgh. He has just nine sacks since 2011, though, and will be depth. This year’s Larry Foote signing, a vet for cheap.
— That’s why it isn’t surprising to hear that the Cardinals still are pursuing Redskins soon-to-be-free agent Brian Orakpo.
— Cornerback Antonio Cromartie went on Stephen A. Smith’s radio show and said his decision where to sign is coming down to the Cardinals, Cowboys and Jets. Cro has said the decision comes down to family; we’ll see what that means. But money always talks.
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A few hours went by, so of course, another Cardinals/free agent report hits Twitter. Now, multiple people are saying Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters will find his way to Arizona. Peters, 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, is probably more of a defensive end in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment, but as the Cards spend, it’s looking less and less like Dan Williams will be returning to the Cards.
There is also a report that the Cards remain in the hunt for outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, along with the Colts and the Redskins, Orakpo’s current team (at least until 1 p.m. Arizona time Tuesday.)
Like current Falcons teammate Sean Weatherspoon, who missed all of 2014 with a torn Achilles and now looks like he could sign with the Cardinals, Peters hurt his Achilles in 2013 but played well in the back half of 2014 before the Cards came looking for him. Basically could be the guy replacing Darnell Dockett on the roster.
So with Tuesday’s official opening of free agency — at the aforementioned 1 p.m. — the Cards have been linked to Weatherspoon, Peters and (former) 49ers guard Mike Iupati. If that came to fruition, it’d be a nice haul of needs. Interior OL? Check. Inside linebacker? Check. Defensive line? Check. And you might still get the pass rusher in Orakpo, but you could still look draft there. That also might be where the Cardinals turn for a running back.
A quick reminder: Given that 1 p.m. start time, and given that prospective free agent signees still need to get to Arizona, meet the decision makers, take a physical and actually sign a contract, I would not be surprised not to have any official announcements before Wednesday.
Tags: Brian Orakpo, Corey Peters, Dan Williams, free agency, Mike Iupati, Sean Weatherspoon
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Well, if you are hoping for a splashy free agent move from the Cardinals, you may just get your wish: Three-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who has been with the 49ers, could be coming to Arizona.
49ers free-agent G Mike Iupati has told people he plans to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, per sources. Iupati vs. SF DT Darnell Dockett.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2015
Again, nothing is done at this point. (And if you aren’t sure about that, former 49ers running back Frank Gore was reported by many as a done deal to go to the Eagles — until the reports came out Monday that he now could back away from Philly. Until a guy is signed, he’s not signed.) That said, Iupati is considered by many as the top interior lineman on the free agent market. So when Bruce Arians said he wanted competition on the interior of the offensive line, that’s one way to get it, although it kind of ends the competition before it even begins. It’d be naive to think, if they sign Iupati, he wouldn’t be an automatic starter.
Iuapti is known as a devastating run blocker. His pass blocking is not nearly as revered, especially when trying to block for scrambler Colin Kaepernick. But if he is signed it would give the Cardinals a lot of flexibility on the line. You still have to figure Jonathan Cooper is penciled in to be a starter as the 2013 No. 1 draft pick. He, like Iupati, has been a left guard, so one of them would have to play the right side. Ted Larsen could battle Lyle Sendlein at center (although with his $3 million salary, Sendlein could still be a cap casualty at some point.) The Cardinals could still look for a center in free agency too.
It’s not as if the 49ers were planning to have Iupati come back, but still, it’s a shot against an NFC West rival. And it hasn’t been a good day for the 49ers anyway, since the news that linebacker Patrick Willis likely will retire and so too might defensive lineman Justin Smith. At this rate, Darnell Dockett is going to be one of the longest tenured vets on the 49ers in a short period of time.
Tags: Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Iupati, Ted Larsen
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Long-time running back Steven Jackson was cut by the Falcons and is looking for work, and in this day and age where multi-back-backfields are in vogue and few teams want to spend a lot of money on a running back, I came across this Jackson creation: Savetherunningback.org. The video is something else. It feels like a “Saturday Night Live” digital short. I kept waiting to hear laughter in the background.
Jackson’s point, tongue-in-cheek as it might be, still is made. It’s worth having an every-down back, in his humble opinion. It’s just that most NFL teams disagree, and certainly, even if you use a guy every down, you don’t want a lot of money sunk into that guy because his shelf life isn’t extended.
Bruce Arians said when he walked in the door in Arizona he prefers having one main back. Andre Ellington was mostly that guy last season, before he broke down. The Cardinals, meanwhile, continue to be linked with two of those high-priced, every-down backs that are (or could be) available: DeMarco Murray, who will be a free agent tomorrow, and Adrian Peterson, who for now remains locked up under a contract with the Vikings — although multiple reports suggest he could be available in trade. Peterson reportedly would choose Arizona as his preferred destination; another report suggested he’d like $25 million guaranteed in a new contract. Murray reportedly is hoping for $8 million a season.
It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Marshawn Lynch got more money from the Seahawks for (at least) one more season. The Cowboys supposedly don’t want to have to pay Murray the kind of money he probably can find somewhere else. As for Peterson, his trade value and his contract are gigantic logistical issues if he were to leave Minnesota. Murray and Peterson will get paid, they just might have to go somewhere they didn’t plan on going to get that money. The Cardinals are in the market for a running back and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they considered Peterson, but again, do you sink that much money into the position? In the end, maybe it shouldn’t be about saving the running back as much as saving up for one.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, DeMarco Murray, free agency, Steven Jackson
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Linebacker Alex Okafor, who led the Cardinals with eight sacks this past season, was arrested in Austin, Texas, early Monday morning for evading arrest after a disturbance. There are not a lot of details about the situation at this point, but for whatever reason, Okafor took off on foot when police tried to question him. Okafor also had a warrant out for a previous misdemeanor violation.
Okafor came into his own this season after an injury-marred rookie year in 2013. He also started 2014 banged up after hurting his quadriceps in the preseason, making him a non-factor the first four games. But he rallied to play well the rest of the season.
Tags: Alex Okafor
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It’s the first day that teams can officially speak to the agents of free-agents-to-be, and as always, there’s plenty of early info floating around about certain players and certain teams. It does not mean anyone is locked in to signing anywhere, and certainly, there is the possibility agents are leaking interest publicly to drive their client’s market price up. With those caveats, the Cardinals were mentioned in a couple places thus far:
— Trent Cole, who would be a linebacker/pass rusher and who was cut by the Eagles already (and could sign at any time) has been making multiple visits, but the Cardinals are reportedly among the teams interested.
— Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is “leaning toward” the Cards, according to Rand Getlin. Weatherspoon, who would be a nice addition as an inside linebacker, has had it rough injury-wise of late — he missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and played only seven games in 2013. If healthy, however, it’d upgrade the front seven. The Cards liked Weatherspoon coming out in 2010.
— The same reporter who broke Darnell Dockett’s release is saying the Cards have interest in Ravens UFA Pernell McPhee as a Dockett replacement. Not sure if McPhee would be a linebacker or defensive end for the Cardinals, given his 6-foot-3, 280-pound frame (although the Cardinals already have Alex Okafor and Matt Shaughnessy as linebackers at that size.)
— Perhaps interest in Bears DT Stephen Paea.
Again, free agents can’t even set up visits before Tuesday, and the Cards would have guys take physicals before they’d ever sign them. So there will be speculation like this for a couple of days. In the meantime, we see what is thrown out there as teams and players maneuver for the best deals possible.
— Last thing. I (surprisingly) have gotten multiple questions about Reggie Wayne. Yes, I know he played with Bruce Arians. But why would the Cardinals do that? Makes zero sense. They have their elder statesman receiver in Fitz. Arians said walking in the door he wanted to turn Fitz into what he turned Wayne into in Indy — so why would the Cards need another one of those guys? Plus, you wouldn’t want someone blocking the development of Floyd and the Browns, nor do you want someone else who would be unhappy if he wasn’t getting the ball.
Tags: Alex Okafor, free agency, Matt Shaughnessy, Pernell McPhee, Reggie Wayne, Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Paea, Trent Cole
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Carson Palmer raised some eyebrows when he mentioned Thursday he had restructured his contract to help the Cardinals create salary cap space. It wasn’t that the idea was a shock — indeed, the notion was out there – but the fact Palmer said it was done.
Turns out, Palmer wasn’t quite on point, of which he was informed after the fact. Palmer has indeed agreed to a restructure — which likely would include turning an option bonus into signing bonus, clearing about $7 million of cap space — but it has not yet been executed. So the Cardinals still figure to have around $14 million of cap space heading into next week. What it does mean is that the Cardinals and GM Steve Keim have some reserves in their back pocket if the team were to need more cap space during free agency. (And there are probably a couple of other players who might also be in that position to restructure if needed too.) If the Cardinals don’t need the space, they would hold off on doing the restructure, because any restructure would push dead money into future caps, and you want to avoid that if possible.
The question becomes, just who might the Cardinals be eyeing on the market that Keim would want to have such flexibility? That’s where these next couple of weeks turn fun. Let the speculation begin.
Tags: Carson Palmer, salary cap, Steve Keim
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I guess March 5th is a day that will live in Cardinals’ infamy, huh? At least when it comes to two of the bigger names on the Super Bowl team. It was on March 5 that Anquan Boldin was traded to the Ravens in 2010. And it was on March 5 — today — that Darnell Dockett chose to sign with the 49ers (and coincidentally, current 49ers Boldin) and not return to the Cards.
The emotions are pouring out as I write this, my Twitter feed blowing up with fans angry at the team for letting Dockett get away (not as many) or at Dockett for signing with an NFC West rival (the vast majority). They are mad he seemed to make a decision based on money after chiding Karlos Dansby for doing the same last offseason.
(Later Thursday, Dockett said the two situations between he and Dansby were “night and day.”)
I’ll say this on the latter — Darnell said many, many things in his decade-plus with the Cards. Heck, he tweeted in 2010 (from his old Twitter account) that he’d play for less money to go to the Seahawks than play for the 49ers should the Cardinals let him go. Obviously, things have changed. From my perspective, you cannot blame Dockett. He wanted the most money with his career coming to an end and him turning 34 in May. That’s the direction he decided to go. Perhaps getting cut stung Dockett enough, but in the end, this just feels like it was about cold, hard cash, and when you are still young in life terms, it’s hard to blame a guy for that. It’s why the Dansby criticism didn’t make much sense — I remember at the time thinking it could come back to haunt Dockett this offseason, because of exactly this. Jim Trotter of ESPN, who texted with Dockett, also said it was about “disrespect” of the Cards’ contract offer. Knowing how Dockett reacts to many things, that kind of blowback isn’t surprising either.
But we can parse this forever. Bottom line, Dockett is not coming back to the Cardinals. The Cardinals knew this could happen. Multiple reports say Dockett gave the Cards a chance to match the offer, but it doesn’t surprise me the Cards didn’t. They had the number at which they valued Dockett for 2015 given his age and knee injury.
None of this, however, should impact how Dockett’s career in Arizona is viewed. By any measure Dockett was an excellent draft pick and when you point out he was a third-round pick, it makes it an even better selection. So many guys talk about making teams regret passing them in the draft when they go in later rounds. Dockett said that, and he backed it up.
He was an emotional tornado. Sure, that got him into hot water at times on the field, and when mixed with social media and Twitter, it caused a headache or two within the Cardinals’ facility. In his heyday, he could be dominant. His performance in the Super Bowl was MVP-worthy, getting after Ben Roethlisberger as few have. There was little measured about him in the heat of battle, but he was the passion bellwether for the defense. And he was always there. He missed just two games before last season and, more impressively, just 13 practices in 10 years. Dockett was always there, an anchor.
But this is what happens with older players in this league. The happy ending is the outlier, like what the Cards are trying to have with Larry Fitzgerald. In this case, Dockett gets his money, and gets his chance to play the Cardinals twice a season. That’ll be interesting, right?
Tags: 49ers, Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby
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UPDATE: Thursday morning, Dockett signed with the 49ers.
It sounded good when it came over Twitter a little after 6 a.m. Arizona time. Adam Schefter reported that Darnell Dockett’s decision on a new team would come at some point today.
Former Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett expected to decide today between 49ers and Cardinals, though Rams and Seahawks also interested.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 4, 2015
It hasn’t happened, at least not yet. #DockettWatch2015 is ongoing. ESPN’s Jim Trotter, who has a good relationship with Dockett, said this afternoon it’s still possible Dockett takes another visit or two. Don’t know if that means the Rams and Seahawks — why wouldn’t he just cover the whole NFC West, right? — or elsewhere. No, I don’t know which way he is leaning, although you’d think if someone had really wowed him with an offer, he’d probably have taken it. It would also seem to me the Cardinals’ offer — reportedly $2.5 million for 2015, plus incentives — would at least be competitive to whatever else he has heard.
Could this stretch into Friday? Saturday? Maybe. You’d think some decision would come down by the start of next week, though, because free agency will start and other players will hit the market. Dockett’s early release leverage will be gone. And usually, teams will start moving on from (most) players if they haven’t gotten an answer. If you need a defensive lineman and are in on Dockett and he hasn’t committed, it’s probably necessary to go to Plan B.
Tags: 49ers, Darnell Dockett, free agency, Rams, Seahawks
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It’s as regular as taxes being due in April — a player is released, especially this time of year, and within minutes (seconds, sometimes) someone on Twitter asks if the Cardinals will be interested in him. It does not seem to matter the circumstances upon which the player was released, or where he might be in his career, or even that he’d probably just be redundant on the Cardinals’ roster with a player they already have. The questions come anyway. There have been times — few, but they have happened — when a guy is reported to be released and when I look into it, my sources hadn’t even heard he was cut yet. (Because sometimes he hasn’t officially been yet and the agent is leaking info.)
Here’s the thing: If a player is released, there usually is a reason. And while it can be for strictly monetary reasons, often, there is usually a parallel that includes some variation that the team doesn’t think the player is worth the current contract anymore — and so he’s cut.
Once in a while, it’s mostly about the money. The Cardinals want to keep Darnell Dockett, but at a price they deem better than what he was going to make, and Dockett wanted to test the market. That makes a ton of sense from Dockett’s perspective. But almost all the other guys released thus far aren’t going back and never were wanted back. That doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to a new team, but no matter how glittery the name, the players at the peak of their careers aren’t just cut. They guys flooding the market now are older, their play is declining, injuries have taken their toll, or all of the above.
Plus, when free agency starts, there will be even more players from which to pick and choose. Some are worth a lot of dough, others are like the guys being cut — they aren’t worth what they might be asking for anymore.
Just something to keep in mind the next time you see that the _____ just released ______ and want to jump to “Will the Cardinals try and get him?”
Tags: free agency
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