With free agent Jerraud Powers visiting the Giants last week (and the increasing reality that he is likely to move on), it underscores the shift at cornerback the Cardinals are going through this offseason. Drafting a cornerback at some point seems inevitable, although you never know how the draft will fall. As it stands, Justin Bethel — he of the 2015 contract extension — is in line to start across from all-pro Patrick Peterson. Tyrann Mathieu, once he returns to health, is a candidate to play the slot if needed too, especially since the Cardinals have Tyvon Branch and Tony Jefferson — assuming he signs his tender — at safety.
(Powers tweeted he isn’t in a rush while looking for the right situation.)
Beyond Peterson and Bethel, the cornerbacks on the roster include a couple with some experience (Asa Jackson, Shawn Prater), a couple who were on the practice squad last season (Cariel Brooks, Kevin White and Carrington Byndom), and one giant unknown in Aussie Joel Wilkinson. Not exactly the depth the Cards would like, which is why they visited with veteran free agent Leon Hall — who remains unsigned — earlier this month.
There could be a good cornerback sitting there at 29th overall and that will be tempting as a draft pick. And even if the roster stays status quo through the draft, finding another vet at some point before training camp wouldn’t be a surprise. We’ll see how the market plays out.
Tags: Asa Jackson, Cariel Brooks, Carrington Byndom, Jerraud Powers, Joel Wilkinson, Kevin White, Leon Hall, Patrick Peterson, Shawn Prater, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu, Tyvon Branch
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The idea has been floating around in my head for a couple of years now. Not sure exactly where it started, but there was the jersey (thanks Orlando), and there was the renovation and the lockers being removed, and above all else there was the knowledge that a movie was filmed here (even if it was before my time.) Plus, here in one of those dead offseason periods, the timing worked well.
It was fun to put together — obviously a lot different than everything else I write. The final draft looks little like the original, but that’s good. I had some good sounding boards that helped me take out/change parts that would’ve bogged it down (Sorry Bob Sugar — you were cut, as was Cardinals GM Dennis Wilburn.) The story is sad, really. What might have been, Plummer-to-Tidwell?
Tags: Rod Tidwell
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Recently, defensive tackle Calais Campbell noted he was searching for a new agent. Campbell has one now, according to the NFLPA, choosing power broker Tom Condon. Campbell, of course, has a salary cap number of $15.25 million this season and a salary of $9.5M in the final year of his deal, so he is a candidate to be extended if the Cards wanted to lower that number. Campbell recently said he wasn’t sure if the Cardinals were going to engage in contract talks, but that they had asked who is agent was going to be.
Interestingly, Condon is also the agent for safety Tyrann Mathieu, who figures to be in contract extension talks himself as he also heads into the final year of his contract. Mathieu, on his rookie deal, would have his cap rise with a new deal, however. Mathieu’s cap number is only $1.74M for 2016.
Right now, the Cardinals only have $3.62 million in salary cap space, according to the NFLPA. Some type of move seems inevitable for the Cards to get through the rest of the offseason. They still need to eventually sign draft picks, not to mention the possibility of adding a veteran at a later date.
Tags: Calais Campbell, salary cap, Tyrann Mathieu
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With the draft about a month away, the official draft order was announced Tuesday of all seven rounds. The Cardinals currently have six picks: One each in rounds one, three, four and six, two in the fifth, and none in the second or seventh. That could change if GM Steve Keim decides to wheel and deal at some point. The picks in the grand scheme of the draft:
— First (29th overall)
— Third (92nd)
— Fourth (128th)
— Fifth (167th)
— Fifth (170th)
— Sixth (205th)
The draft’s first round will be held April 28th beginning at 5 p.m. Arizona time (8 p.m. ET). The second and third round are April 29th starting at 4 p.m., and the final four rounds are Saturday starting at 9 a.m.
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The draft is near. It’s one month away today, actually, and as part of the countdown azcardinals.com will have six videos to mark the time to this year’s selections. The #CardsDraft Gems will feature one player who was found after the first two rounds who has shown he can perform past the limits some of the draft analysts gave him when he was coming out of college.
The series starts with running back Andre Ellington — a 2013 sixth-round pick — today. Two weeks out from the draft (April 14) will be 2015 fourth-round defensive lineman Rodney Gunter. One week out from the draft (April 21) will be 2015 fifth-round wide receiver J.J. Nelson. Three days before the draft (April 25) it will be third-round wide receiver John “Smokey” Brown. Two days out (April 26), it will be third-round safety Tyrann Mathieu, and the day before (April 27) it will be third-round running back David Johnson.
Tags: Andre Ellington, David Johnson, draft, J.J. Nelson, John Brown, Rodney Gunter, Tyrann Mathieu
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Friday’s news that Rashad Johnson was signing with the Titans was not a surprise. The safety had visited them, and it was becoming pretty clear the Cardinals were moving on at the position. Johnson confirmed as much when he said the Cardinals did not extend him an offer to stay. It’s a harsh business, the NFL, and this was one of those cases. Johnson was one of the few players left who dated back to the Kurt Warner era (Johnson was a rookie on the 2009 team during Warner’s final season). His stint echoed his college career, in which Johnson started as a walk-on at Alabama and finished a starter and team captain.
In Arizona, he was an unheralded third-round draft pick who took a while to find regular playing time. He re-signed the last time his contract was to expire before he hit free agency, and eventually became a key cog in the secondary. But he was more than that. Johnson was a leader on the entire defense, a coach on the field (the man will be coaching someday when his career is over. He once told me high school coaching appealed more than anything to him, but would I be surprised if he ended up in the NFL? Nope.)
Steve Keim has shown how he will move on from older players no matter what they have meant to the franchise. The Cards cut Lyle Sendlein last year (although Sendlein ended up coming back for one more year — I don’t expect him to return in 2016) and Keim even released good friend Adrian Wilson at one point. Johnson is still playing, of course, but it reminds me of Larry Fitzgerald’s line a couple weeks ago how, in this game, you are usually retired instead of retiring.
As has been the case with long-term guys around here, though, I’ll just remember the man. The Cardinals have plenty of good guys in the locker room, guys that are easy to go to when you need some comments in my line of work. But there was no one better than Johnson, who could talk with perspective on any subject (the whole 2015 secondary was pretty good at that, actually) and saw the big picture. As usual, he seemed to understand what was happening as the season was over and what the future was, that a full career in Arizona was probably not going to happen. This is, most of the time, how it works. Even in a different uniform, though, he’s a guy you root for.
Tags: Rashad Johnson, Titans
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Former player and announcer Joe Garagiola was baseball to me growing up. In those days, Arizona didn’t have a team, and games were on TV once a week basically — when Garagiola brought them into my house on NBC on Saturdays. Garagiola, who had been a part of the Diamondbacks since their inception (his son was GM at one point) passed away Wednesday. There was no better ambassador of the game. Garagiola was a St. Louis native, and had a relationship with the Cardinals and the Bidwill family from the franchise’s time in the city. Cardinals president Michael Bidwill released this statement about the passing of Garagiola:
“This is such a profound loss not only for the sports community but the nation as a whole. I literally know of no one who ever had a bad thing to say about Joe Garagiola. He was such a wonderful, gregarious and extraordinary man. Joe and my dad loved to talk about sports, ‘The Hill’ in St. Louis and their Catholic faith and we will always be grateful for the kindness he showed our family. Joe Garagiola was an American icon and he will truly be missed.”
Tags: Joe Garagiola, Michael Bidwill
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The trade that brought pass rusher Chandler Jones was a big move for the Cardinals, although it came with a semi-caveat — Jones is going into the last year of his contract, and given the market, he’s going to be in line for a large, large payday sooner rather than later. This is something GM Steve Keim acknowledged and said the Cards were prepared for when the trade became official. Now coach Bruce Arians is echoing that sentiment.
At the NFC coaches’ breakfast this morning in Florida at the NFL owners meetings, Arians told the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe he has confidence in Jones remaining a Cardinal long-term.
“When he hits free agency, we’ll have the dollars to make sure he stays,” Arians said.
Arians noted that Keim and director of football administration Mike Disner do a good job managing the salary cap three and four years out. The Cardinals undoubtedly are getting tight cap-wise for 2016 (the NFLPA has them with less than $4 million of cap space right now) but again, there is long-term focus. At the worst, there is a franchise tag the Cardinals can use on Jones (assuming, of course, they can extend a couple other guys, like, for instance, Tyrann Mathieu and probably Michael Floyd).
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chandler Jones, salary cap
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It’s not quite Pat Tillman choosing the Army Rangers, but it’s pretty similar: former Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge, who last played in 2014, tweeted today that with his football career over, he was joining the National Guard for the next eight years.
“After a year of retirement, a much needed vacation and overdue time with my family, I’ve decided to hit the free agent market,” Colledge wrote in part. “After much deliberation, and discussion, I’m proud to sign my longest-term deal of all time, 8 years, and have enlisted in the Army National Guard. After all my time in the NFL, traveling, meeting, and supporting the troops, I’ve decided to step up and stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
“This was not a decision made lightly. We live in an ever-changing world, at at this time in my life I feel it is best served with me in defense of my family, state, country.”
Colledge played for the Cardinals from 2011 to 2013, finishing his career with a season in Miami. Before the Cardinals, Colledge won a Super Bowl playing with the Packers. A good guy who always had a solid perspective. When the Cardinals cut him, he tweeted the Cardinals were a “great organization heading the in the right direction.” Given all that is going on in the world — and thoughts remain with those impacted by today’s events in Brussels — it’s a big step entering into any part of the military. Here’s acknowledging Colledge’s brave decision.
Tags: Daryn Colledge, Pat Tillman
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Cardinals president Michael Bidwill is at the owners meetings in Florida this week, and Tuesday morning talked about a variety of topics — including the new “All Or Nothing” eight-episode series coming on Amazon that will chronicle the Cards’ 2015 season from the draft through the NFC Championship. Bidwill, appearing on the “Doug and Wolf” Show on Arizona Sports 98.7, said it was just about a year ago when he started a dialogue with NFL Films to capture many of the behind-the-scenes parts of the team “many people have never seen before.”
“I think it’s going to be very good for the Cardinals and the players and coaches,” Bidwill said. “We’re going to be able to tell some great stories.”
Bidwill said he believes the series won’t just be on the premium Amazon Prime but “potentially in front of their pay wall,” which would open up the availability to many more people. Ultimately that’s what Bidwill would like to broaden the fan base and “continue to improve our footprint” as a franchise.
As for the comparison’s to HBO’s training camp documentary “Hard Knocks,” Bidwill said “it’s different and I think it’s better. I wasn’t interested in doing “Hard Knocks” but I thought there were elements we could do in a completely different way.”
— The owners will vote on various potential rule changes/new rules on Wednesday. One is the concept of player ejections with two unsportsmanlike fouls or some variation there (Bidwill noted rules, if passed, can often morph during discussions). “It should be the rare exception that any of our players or personnel on the field are acting in an unsportsmanlike manner, and if it happens a second time, I’m all in favor of getting them off the field completely and sending a strong message,” Bidwill said. “Because we have millions of kids watching us. … National Football League football is about playing hard within the rules, within the white lines and doing it in sportsmanlike fashion.”
— On the concept of commissioner Roger Goodell retaining the power to discipline players — something the NFL Players Association would like to change: “At a very high level, it’s about the NFL brand,” Bidwill said. “We don’t want to outsource that ultimate decision about discipline to a third party. That’s just my opinion. I feel like no one has more reputationally to lose than we do, and we don’t want our commissioner to lose that power.”
— Bidwill didn’t say the Cardinals are on tap to play any of the international games on the horizon — there have been reports of potential future games in China and Germany — but was clearly behind the concept. “When you think about the global brand, the NFL is an important American brand and everyone wants to continue to expand their presence in the global marketplace,” Bidwill said. “We want to continue to bring live games to the international scene, that’s how many global sports grow.”
— Not surprisingly, he was bullish on the Cardinals’ offseason moves, especially the trade for pass rusher Chandler Jones.
“We all recognize what happened in the Super Bowl,” Bidwill said. “Steve and his team did a great job of crafting a trade that is true win-win with the New England Patriots.”
Tags: All or Nothing, Michael Bidwill, Roger Goodell
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