Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, one of the founding members of the American Football League and a Pro Football Hall of Fame member, died today at the age of 95. The Cardinals released a statement from team president Michael Bidwill.
“At a critical juncture in the National Football League’s history, Ralph Wilson provided a level of leadership and vision that helped make the NFL what it is today,” Bidwill said. “He not only recognized the sport’s potential popularity and success but was pivotal in helping to achieve it. Our hearts go out to his wife Mary, the Bills organization and everyone in Western New York on their tremendous loss.”
Tags: Bills, Michael Bidwill, Ralph Wilson
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A few things as the owners meetings continue in Florida and things around the Cardinals’ Tempe complex have slowed down considerably:
– The Cardinals, as expected, did not receive a compensatory draft pick, meaning they still have six selections in May’s draft (the seventh round pick went to Oakland in the Carson Palmer trade.) The first three picks are No. 20, No. 52 and No. 84 overall. It is not surprising the Cards didn’t get any comp picks.
A quick review: Teams get comp picks based on a formula that starts with the free agents signed and free agents lost from the previous offseason. Included in the NFL’s secret formula are the size of the contracts signed by those players and various honors they earn that season. So the comp picks for the 2014 draft are based on the 2013 offseason, and so forth. If you come out “negatively” in the formula and seem to have lost more than you gained in free agency, you get as many as four extra comp picks. Those picks can come at the end of the third round at the earliest and cannot be traded.
Looking ahead, there will be a chance the Cards could come up with a comp pick next year. It’ll depend on the rest of the offseason and what all these players do. Something to keep in mind: Only true free agents — those whose contracts expired — count in the formula. That means the Cards’ signings of tight end John Carlson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie will not hurt them because those players were free because they were released, not because their contracts ran out. On the flip side, if Daryn Colledge signs somewhere, he won’t help the cause.
So for those scoring at home, the Cards (in comp pick math) have added Jared Veldheer, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen and Jonathan Dwyer. They have lost Karlos Dansby, Andre Roberts, Javier Arenas, Antoine Cason and Jim Dray. Veldheer signed a pricey contract, but so did Dansby and Roberts. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
– The NFL will be tweaking a few rules. The biggest one is outlawing the dunk of the football on the goalpost. There’s been a lot of blowback on this, but truthfully, as soon as Jimmy Graham bent the crossbar last season and delayed a game while it was fixed, you knew it was a matter of time before the NFL said no more.
Also coming is the ability for a central replay booth based in New York to begin video replays before a referee even gets under the hood, hopefully to speed up the process and to let the official know for what exactly to be looking. The referee on-site will still make the final call.
Tags: compensatory picks, draft, free agency, owners meetings, rules
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Part of the collective bargaining agreement is the performance-based pay system every season. Each team has a pool of money — this year it is $3.46 million — to distribute among all the players who played for it the previous season. The money is doled out based on playing time and the amount of money you made in the first place. In other words, think of the lesser paid players (rookies, cheap starters) who played a ton. They get the most cash. There is a caveat. Players don’t actually get the money until April 1, 2016, an agreement made by the players’ union in a trade to have a larger 2013 salary cap.
For the Cardinals, safety Yeremiah Bell made the most. Bell was paid just $905,000 last season (adjusted, with his veteran status, to a $621,000 salary cap hit) but played almost 80 percent of the defensive snaps. That earned him an extra $263,097.
Nine Cardinals total earned an extra six figures through the distribution:
– T Bradley Sowell $247,150 ($480,000 adjusted compensation last season)
– G Paul Fanaika $223,625 ($683,500)
– S Tyrann Mathieu $209,788 ($570,625)
– TE Jim Dray $165,375 ($647,850)
– S Tony Jefferson $131,510 ($408,366)
– WR Jaron Brown $125,954 ($408,000)
– RB Andre Ellington $125,680 ($430,966)
– DL Frostee Rucker $104,261 ($624,200)
Everybody who played in a game got something — even linebacker Vic So’oto, who signed in Week 4 and briefly played against Tampa Bay before suffering an injury that ended his Arizona tenure. Of the nine, Dray, of course, is gone, having signed with the Browns. Bell is unsigned but there is still a chance the Cards could bring him back. The other seven are on the roster and figure to be a part of the 2014 roster.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bradley Sowell, CBA, Frostee Rucker, Jaron Brown, Jim Dray, Paul Fanaika, performance pay, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu, Vic So'oto, Yeremiah Bell
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The Cardinals are counting on linebacker Daryl Washington as an anchor to the defense, a point underscored when the team not surprisingly recently decided to pay the large bonus he was owed. But he still needs to find out the consequences, if any, from the NFL after his ongoing assault case is adjudicated. That took a big step Monday, when Washington pled guilty to a lesser aggravated assault charge. It is a Class 6 felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 23, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court.
Once he is sentenced, then the NFL will take a look at the situation and decide what should happen to Washington, if anything. He already was suspended four games last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Whether that would factor in to this situation is unknown, but Washington has stayed on the straight and narrow since all this happened in a short offseason window last year, and he has insisted his issues are behind him. He has always said he’d like to be one of the main leaders of this franchise. The Cards would like that as well.
Tags: Daryl Washington
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The Cardinals have filled multiple holes in the process of free agency. And that is exactly the point. Building through the draft is the ultimate priority, but usually you aren’t going to have enough picks in one offseason to do that in the draft alone. So GM Steve Keim found a left tackle, a tight end, an extra running back, depth at center/guard, a speed receiver, a starting cornerback. The point? So that when the Cards are picking at 20 come May 8, they aren’t feeling forced to take a left tackle. Or speed receiver. Or anything else.
“As we get further along in this process over the next couple of years, I would like to minimize how much we do in free agency,” Keim said. “Our whole goal as an organization is to be able to go in, whether the 20th pick, the 52nd pick or the 84th, whatever the pick is, that we can sit and look in the mirror and say we are taking the best player available and the guy who helps the Cardinals the most. I think, through, free agency, we’ve afforded ourselves to do that.”
Keim would like playmakers in the draft — who doesn’t — and after scoring with Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Ellington last season, the Cards have done that of late. It will of course be better if they come at certain positions. For instance, a playmaking safety who can cover tight ends would be nice. An edge rusher who can get to the quarterback. Needs don’t completely disappear, even with an effective free-agent period.
Tags: draft, free agency, Steve Keim
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Antonio Cromartie was asked about moving into the NFC West. “Oh, I love it,” he said. “The competition is here.” Obviously, the division sets a high bar for the Cardinals this offseason. But General Manager Steve Keim isn’t going to get giddy about free agency improvements.
“I don’t want to step out on a limb and say that we’re there yet,” Keim said. “As a perfectionist, I think we all look at things and would like to be a little deeper in certain positions.”
To recap, the Cardinals have added a starting cornerback (Cromartie), a starting left tackle (Jared Veldheer), a probable starting tight end (John Carlson), a speed third receiver and return man (Ted Ginn), a potential replacement for Rashard Mendenhall (Jonathan Dwyer) and an interior offensive lineman who has been a starter (Ted Larsen.)
Cap space is shrinking. After Cromartie’s deal is worked in, the Cards should have only about $4 million of space left. There is more coming after June 1 when the Colledge release is figured in (and I was wrong on how that is considered. I knew the cap hit had to be carried through the actual June 1 date; I didn’t realize Colledge’s entire original cap hit for 2014 stays on the books until then. So that’s more than $7 million, although it means the Cards will clear about $5M in cap space come June — before they’ll sign any rookies.)
But there will be more moves of some sort. Now, roster building will be about bargains now for Keim. There are still spots that he’d like to address, whether there or in the draft:
– depth at defensive end
– depth at outside linebacker
– “length” at both positions
– depth at inside linebacker
Depth at inside linebacker is the call because the Cards are counting on, not surprisingly, 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter. “We’ll find out what Kevin Minter is made of,” Keim said. “Kevin is a guy that we drafted in the second round and is going to replace Karlos Dansby. He is in the audition stage. He’s got to prove that he is the guy that we thought he was coming out of college at LSU.”
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jared Veldheer, John Carlson, Jonathan Dwyer, salary cap, Steve Keim, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen
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The Cardinals and cornerback Antonio Cromartie have agreed to a one-year contract, and it’s official. It’s early in the story, but my guess is it will be a deal a lot like the one linebacker Karlos Dansby signed a year ago with the Cards. For not a lot of money, but the chance to excel in a good defense and then go back into the market in a year and make some cash.
It’s a huge get for GM Steve Keim, who again seems to be able to push all the right buttons. Cromartie figures to step into the starting role opposite Patrick Peterson, and the Cards have a very good inside corner combo of Jerraud Powers — who probably is more effective inside — and Tyrann Mathieu when he returns to health. It also would stand to reason that the Cards now target a young safety in the draft that can be the guy who can cover tight ends.
Cromartie isn’t without his risks. He dealt with a hip injury last season (although he played all 16 games) and despite back-to-back Pro Bowls and probably a not-very-big price tag, the Jets didn’t want to bring him back after releasing him and his then-hefty salary. Cromartie reportedly wanted to go back too. No matter. The Cardinals will take it, and take another “win” so far in free agency. Low risk, high reward. Keim’s plan continues to unfurl perfectly.
Clearly, Patrick Peterson is happy.
It’s about to be trouble, trouble, trouble. Dollar Bill voice
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) March 20, 2014
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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It’s time for the third installment of “Tenacious,” the occasional series about the rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu as he comes back from his devastating knee injury. (Click here or see below). Mathieu is back on his feet, walking without a limp, so that’s a great sign. He can ride the stationary bike. He mentions he isn’t going to rush anything, but it’s really amazing to see someone progress after how torn up his knee was on that December day.
Best line of the segment: Mathieu is talking about the Biodex machine, the one in which he is strapped into and it basically forces his knee to bend little by little over time until he gets his full range of motion back. As you can imagine, it’s not always a pleasant feeling. (Despite Mathieu facing away from the camera, you can see his body shake and flinch at one point.)
“The Biodex is like my girlfriend,” Mathieu says. “She’s good for me, but she gives me a headache sometimes.”
He chuckled. I’m hoping his girlfriend sees the humor too. But it’s a good segment. Check it out. Another episode is already in the works.
Tags: Tyrann Mathieu
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Eric Winston, currently a free agent but the Cardinals’ starter at right tackle last season, was elected president of the NFL Players Association Wednesday, replacing the outgoing Domonique Foxworth. Winston, who has started 119 straight games in his career, has been active in the NFLPA since 2010 when he was named one of the player reps for the Houston Texans. He has served on the NFLPA’s finance committee and the committee for agent discipline. It makes a ton of sense. Winston is intelligent and he understands the ins and outs of the business that is the NFL.
UPDATE: It’s been a big day for Cardinals and the top of the union food chain. Kicker Jay Feely and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander were elected to the NFLPA’s executive committee as well.
Winston said at the end of the season he wanted to return to the Cardinals, but he knows the reality. He made about $2 million last year in an incentive-laden deal. I’m sure he’d like more and for more years than just one, but the Cardinals will likely approach his situation much like last year — looking for younger options, and seeing where Winston stands after those options are explored. Bobby Massie is still around as a potential right tackle and there is also Bradley Sowell, but the Cardinals figure to add another possibility there.
Someone asked if I thought Winston’s position as NFLPA president would hurt his chances to return to Arizona. I don’t think so. What would hurt his chances is if the Cards sign a veteran right tackle, or if they draft one. Winston went unsigned until training camp was opening last season. I don’t know if that will happen again, but it wouldn’t be shocking if it did. He is a smart, stabilizing force in the locker room, however, so if he is on the roster, the Cards get more than just an offensive lineman.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Eric Winston, Jay Feely, Lorenzo Alexander, NFLPA
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This year’s Super Bowl is going to be at University of Phoenix Stadium, in case you hadn’t heard. And in the days leading up to the game, there will be a multitude of NFL busy-ness going on in downtown Phoenix, including the NFL Experience — essentially the league’s football theme park. For those interested, there is a map below of how it will unfold early in 2015. Click on the picture for a full-size version.
– A good story by Kyle Odegard about new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris and his philosophy resides on the homepage. One thing that struck me was this Morris quote: “From my perspective, we can do all this stuff to improve their physical performance – bigger, stronger, faster, blah, blah, blah – but the bottom line is, can we keep them from injuries so they can play every weekend? That’s where my payoff is.” That’s obviously important for every strength coach, but rarely do you hear it communicated as so much more important than the other stuff.
– The addition of Roger Kingdom as a speed coach is also intriguing. I, like some have said to me, am curious on how it will impact guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd — neither of whom are slow by any means, but are not known for their speed.
– Other than the Mike Jenkins visit, it’s quiet on the Cardinals’ free agency front. Players are hoping they will still drum up the contracts they want, teams like the Cards figure it’s moving to a buyer’s market. We will see if anything comes about by the end of the week, before GM Steve Keim heads to the owners meetings next week.
– Cornerback/kickoff return man Javier Arenas, who didn’t figure to come back, agreed to a one-year deal with the Falcons. The Panthers reportedly have interest in the Cards’ other veteran free-agent cornerback, Antoine Cason.
– Big congrats to media relations coordinator/king of great notes Mike Helm, who, along with wife Marika became a parent this morning to new son Landon David Helm.
Tags: Antoine Cason, Buddy Morris, Javier Arenas, Mike Helm, Mike Jenkins, Roger Kingdom, Super Bowl
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