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Blogs

Former Card Colledge joins military

Posted by Darren Urban on March 22, 2016 – 2:59 pm

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.

ColledgeBlog


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Bidwill talks “All or Nothing,” owners meetings

Posted by Darren Urban on March 22, 2016 – 8:42 am

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.”

Michael Bidwill


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Documenting a season with the Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on March 21, 2016 – 2:15 pm

It isn’t unusual for an NFL Films crew to show up in Tempe a couple of times a year, gathering practice footage or working on a piece. But last year, the crew didn’t leave. Some of the faces changed, sure — when you are embedding with an NFL team, that’s a bigger job than for just one group of three or four. But someone was around all the time, in the offseason, at training camp, through the regular season and playoffs (and a week in West Virginia). Sometimes they were even on the Cardinals’ charter flight.

And now, the reason is out there: “All or Nothing,” an eight-episode series on Amazon, is coming.

(There is no set date of when the release will be. That’s still TBD.)

It’s a massive logistical undertaking. It’s unusual for a pro team, for sure, and certainly for an NFL team, but team president Michael Bidwill liked the idea and pushed for it from the top. He couldn’t have picked a much more intriguing season for which to do it. A franchise record for wins, Tyrann Mathieu’s big season and subsequent knee injury, Carson Palmer’s MVP push, Larry Fitzgerald’s renaissance, Dwight Freeney’s midseason arrival, five primetime games. I’ll be interested to see how they manage to break down eight episodes. Clearly there’s enough to do even more.

People talk about distractions, but since nothing will air until after the fact, last season isn’t impacted by the series (unlike, say, “Hard Knocks.”) Also, once the crew was in place, it never seemed that overbearing. Cameras were installed in offices and meeting rooms, used remotely from a “control room” set up in the facility so no one would be bothered.

Even as someone who is pretty embedded myself, I’m looking forward to see this inside view — views I don’t get to see either.

AllofNothingBlog


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Agent issue puts Campbell contract on hold

Posted by Darren Urban on March 17, 2016 – 3:29 pm

Right now, defensive tackle Calais Campbell is scheduled to enter the last year of his contract with a $9.5 million salary and a salary cap hit of $15.25M. Both are sizable numbers that would seem to be open for a contract extension to lessen such a burden.

As of now, the Cardinals have not broached that subject with Campbell. They might not. But they couldn’t even if they wanted to.

“I don’t have an agent yet,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s agent had been Ben Dogra. Dogra, after an investigation, was in January suspended by the NFLPA for three years. Dogra can represent players while he appeals, but Campbell believes it makes sense to make a switch so nothing could mess up upcoming negotiations. Campbell has been meeting with agents and thinks he is close to a decision. The Cardinals have asked Campbell who his agent is — he just doesn’t have an answer quite yet.

“Once I figure out what I want to do and tell (the team) things will probably move along,” Campbell said. “I haven’t really given them the chance, which kind of sucks. I feel bad. But it’s the way things have fallen together.”

CCContractBlog


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Posted in Blog | 32 Comments »

On CJ and other free agency odds and ends

Posted by Darren Urban on March 16, 2016 – 7:49 pm

On a day when the Cardinals nabbed Evan Mathis for the offensive line — the team’s second outside free agent acquired, exactly one week into free agency — GM Steve Keim wasn’t sure how much more the team will do in signing players. “I think we’re at a point where you let it come to you,” Keim said. The price has to be right in every spot. And there are still some moving parts.

— Running back Chris Johnson was in Miami to visit the Dolphins Wednesday. The Cardinals could still bring Johnson back, but with David Johnson in place, both the money and opportunities for CJ2K in Arizona would be limited. From afar, it looks like the Dolphins — who lost Lamar Miller to free agency — could offer more of both. UPDATE: Johnson is coming back.

— Karlos Dansby was cut by the Browns Wednesday — interestingly, two years after going to Cleveland, after the Cards offered a two-year contract themselves back in 2014. (Although Dansby got more guaranteed money from the Browns, so financially, it made more sense). The Cardinals will look at Dansby, but a third term as a Card seems unlikely. At 34, he’s likely not the same physically he was two or three years ago. Plus, would Los go for a minimum salary-type of deal?

— The visit of guard Geoff Schwartz doesn’t figure to happen now that Mathis was signed. Haven’t heard anything else about tackle Andre Smith. UPDATE: Smith signed with the Vikings.

— Cornerback Leon Hall visited Dallas after Arizona, but Hall still isn’t signed (which likely says something about how Hall has overpriced himself at this point.) It still stands to reason the Cards want to sign a veteran cornerback. Maybe it could still be Hall. It could still be Jerraud Powers.


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A pass rusher arrives as Coop leaves

Posted by Darren Urban on March 15, 2016 – 2:55 pm

Not even 24 hours had passed since the Cardinals had lost the NFC Championship, and Steve Keim made clear his offseason priority.

Create a pass rush,” the Cardinals GM said.

Easier said than done. There were a few pass rushers on the free agent market, although none were coming off eye-popping seasons. That didn’t stop the money from flowing, however, and the Cardinals tried to get into it, making a push for Jason Pierre-Paul that ultimately came up short. It didn’t look all that promising going forward, unless the Cardinals could grab someone with the 29th overall pick in the draft. Free agency overall was quiet for the Cards.

And then suddenly, the news broke Tuesday. A trade, and Keim had his pass rusher. Chandler Jones, who made the Pro Bowl with his 12.5 sacks in New England, was coming to Arizona (pending physicals, of course) in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and the Cards’ second-round draft pick in April. It’s hard not to see this as a huge win for the Cards. The reality was Cooper had never really developed into what the Cardinals wanted, and flipping a second-round pick for a proven pass rusher was simply a good move. This trade won’t be evaluated fully for a while, but on the day it happened, it is a Keim win.

Some other thoughts:

— Jones is going into the last year of his contract (making $7.8 million this season). That’s reportedly one of the reasons the Patriots were willing to deal him, because they have others who can do his job and they have so many players who need to be extended. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are in the same boat. The laundry list of scheduled free agents after this season is, right now, frighteningly long: Jones, Fitz, Floyd, Mathieu, Campbell, Rucker, Gresham, Minter, Ellington, Jefferson, Catanzaro and Fells, for starters. But I am guessing there will be an extension or two the Cardinals will be trying to get done.

— Jones was hospitalized in the postseason, reportedly after a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana (which, apparently, has no actual marijuana in it and is not illegal). It was a mistake, but one source in New England said it was not reflective of who Jones is and shouldn’t be an issue going forward.

— The addition of Jones shouldn’t rule out further pass rush help if the Cards find some in the draft or elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if Dwight Freeney will remain in play, and what this could mean for Alex Okafor, who had been starting along with Markus Golden.

— Cooper’s departure leaves a lot of unknowns on the offensive line. Center is still a mystery. With the possibility Ted Larsen could leave as a free agent, so is right guard. The assumption is D.J. Humphries can play right tackle, but that is no lock, especially with the news Andre Smith could still sign. Earl Watford could have a big chance to win a starting job, and the Cards have been intrigued by Antoine McClain on the practice squad. But there is still work to do to fill out the group next to Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati.

UPDATE: This could change some things. Ian Rapoport reports veteran guard Evan Mathis visited the Cardinals and he was offered a contract. Rapoport also said veteran guard Geoff Schwartz is also supposed to visit the Cardinals.

— The saga of Cooper is over. He will not be playing center (I’m not sure that was ever really a serious option, to be honest). He will not be the guard, he will not be getting back to his pre-broken leg level, at least not with the Cardinals. Three years into his career, questions still swirled around Coop. He admitted after the season he struggled with criticism — including from coaches — which is tough in this business.

“I will work on that because that is a major key to me improving is me being able to have my headspace correct,” Cooper said. “Letting one or two mistakes snowball and keep me down, I can’t let that happen anymore. Even hearing negatively from outsiders, I can’t let than bring me down.”

CooperBlog


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T Andre Smith says he’ll visit Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2016 – 4:56 pm

Free-agent tackle Andre Smith, a former No. 1 pick of the Bengals who has started 73 of the 82 NFL games in which he has appeared, visited the Vikings Monday. And he told St. Paul Pioneer-Press writer Chris Tomasson that he was supposed to visit the Cardinals as well.

“It’s between (the Vikings) and Arizona. It’s even,” Smith told Tomasson.

It’s an interesting possibility. Smith, who has been the starting right tackle for the Bengals since 2011 (he was drafted in 2009), would seemingly be looking for a starting job and not just to be depth. The Cardinals, of course, have 2015 No. 1 pick D.J. Humphries sitting there after not being active for any games in 2015. And they have Jared Veldheer as a starting left tackle. If Smith were to sign with the Cards, does that mean a competition between the three (Humphries is a natural left tackle, after all). Would someone be asked to play guard? Intriguing to say the least.

Then again, maybe the Cardinals just want Smith for depth and Smith is trying to use what leverage he can in getting a better deal from Minnesota.

It was quiet around the Cardinals’ facility Monday. No word on how things have progressed, if at all, with free agent cornerback Leon Hall or free agent guard Amini Silatolu.

Andre Smith


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A return for Gresham

Posted by Darren Urban on March 13, 2016 – 2:07 pm

Tight end Jermaine Gresham, a free agent, had been looking around. He talked to the Bears, he talked to the Jets. But multiple reports have Gresham choosing to stick with the Cardinals, at least for another season. More interestingly, Adam Schefter reported that Gresham passed up a four-year deal with $12 million in guaranteed money to return the the Cards for less.

Gresham’s return would seem to solidify the tight end position if the Cardinals decide not to draft one. Already back after signing their tender offers were Darren Fells and Ifeanyi Momah, while Gerald Christian is coming off a knee injury and former second-round pick Troy Niklas heads into his third season. Gresham did have a career-low of 18 catches last season, although a career-best 12.4 yards per reception. The Cardinals liked the job he did blocking as well.

Schefter is also reporting that the Cardinals are getting a visit from Panthers free-agent guard Amini Silatolu. Silatolu played in only nine games, starting three, in 2015. He is coming off an ACL tear in his left knee suffered in November, and would be depth potential on an offensive line that is likely to lose Ted Larsen in free agency.

Jermaine Gresham


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Veteran cornerback Hall scheduled to visit

Posted by Darren Urban on March 11, 2016 – 3:00 pm

The initial wave of free agency is over, and the big money — for the most part — is gone. Now it’s a game of musical chairs, as the free agents left try to get in with teams that still have spots to fill. What money they can get, regardless of what is still a lot of cap space around the league, is to be debated. This is the area in which Cardinals GM Steve Keim thrives.

So comes the report that veteran Bengals cornerback Leon Hall is scheduled to visit Arizona Monday. Hall is 31, having played nine seasons, and has been solid in his career with 26 interceptions (including one of Carson Palmer last year). He’s had injury issues with a pair of torn Achilles, but he has played in 29 of 32 possible games the past two seasons. He would be a nice if short-term addition to a room with Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel and 50 percent of the time, Tyrann Mathieu. If Hall were to sign, it would also seem to signal the end of Jerraud Powers’ time in Arizona. Again, free-agent musical chairs is real.

Of course, things can change over a weekend too. We’ll see where things stand by Monday.

By the way, the Cardinals, according to the NFL Players Association website, have about $16.8 million in salary cap space (I am guessing that is before the Tyvon Branch deal.) The NFLPA site had the wrong numbers earlier in the week, after accidentally putting Mario Williams and Leodis McKelvin on the Cardinals’ roster following their free-agent deals.

LeonHallBlog


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Weatherspoon exits as rare one-year miss

Posted by Darren Urban on March 11, 2016 – 10:18 am

Steve Keim has proved excellent at bringing in players on one-year deals and having them make an impact: Eric Winston, Matt Shaughnessy, Karlos Dansby, Antonio Cromartie, Larry Foote, Chris Johnson, Dwight Freeney. They won’t all work out, though, and Sean Weatherspoon — which looked so promising when it happened — did not work out.

Weatherspoon is re-signing with the Falcons after his one year out West. Weatherspoon only had 12 tackles in an extremely limited defensive role (he played just 125 snaps all season) over 14 games. He needed to show he could stay healthy again and he did that, although it was a red flag to his time in Arizona when he was active but didn’t play against the Rams in October and then the next week, was a healthy scratch against the Lions.

It’s hard to believe that Weatherspoon played with the first unit through the entire offseason work, although at that point, Deone Bucannon was working a lot at safety too. But training camp came, Weatherspoon’s hamstring became a problem, and when he missed most of the month, he had dug himself a hole he could never escape — especially after Kevin Minter showed more than expected when he was on the field.

To Spoon’s credit, he never sulked (although he did seem resigned to the fact early on he wasn’t moving up the depth chart). It was clear he wouldn’t be around in 2016. And that’s the upside about seeking one-year deals. Yes, sometimes a guy like a Dansby blows up and leaves for another team. Then you have a “miss” like Weatherspoon who creates no issue because his contract is up and both sides can just move on.

SpoonBlog


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