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Niners QB Hoyer returns to where he started

Posted by Darren Urban on September 28, 2017 – 9:44 am

Brian Hoyer played for the Cardinals for a very brief time, less than a month, in the dying days of the Ken Whisenhunt era. He was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh in early December, with Kevin Kolb headed to IR, got in to the next-to-last game at home against the Bears and started the season finale in San Francisco. It wasn’t much time to learn the offense.

“Well, it definitely got you to the point where I remember just saying, ‘OK, where’s Larry?’ ” Hoyer recounted. “Like, throw to number 11. I remember (Fitz) telling me that in that huddle. He was like, ‘Don’t worry, just throw it to me.’ In the Chicago game, it worked, and then we came up to play San Francisco. They basically just tried to double him the whole game, and I remember Michael Floyd had a pretty big game that game.”

(Floyd did, the rookie notching his first 100-yard game — eight grabs for 166 yards and a TD.)

Hoyer comes back to Arizona Sunday as the starting quarterback of the 49ers. It’s been an interesting ride. The Cards gave him his first chance to play after he was locked on the bench in New England behind Tom Brady in his early years. But it got sticky after the season. Hoyer, because of the accrued seasons rule, missed out on being an unrestricted free agent by only a couple of days. The Cards tendered him an offer, even though new coach Bruce Arians was going to likely go in a different QB direction.

Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were cut. Hoyer remained on the roster, while the Cards intially signed Drew Stanton to be the starter in free agency, and then when they traded for Carson Palmer to be the starter. Stanton would be the backup. And Hoyer had to wait before the Cards finally released him, about five weeks after the Palmer trade.

“Getting released by the Cardinals was the best thing that happened to me because I was able to go to Cleveland and play,” Hoyer said. “I mean, had I been there, I don’t know if I’d have ever seen the field. For me, when Carson (Palmer) was traded, it became pretty apparent that I wasn’t a part of their plans.

“I remember (former Cardinals director of player personnel) Jason Licht was the main guy that I spoke to, and I just remember asking him, ‘If I don’t fit in here, just let me go sooner than later so I can get somewhere.’ ”

Hoyer was cut. He signed with Cleveland and actually had a winning record with the Browns before getting hurt in 2013. (Hoyer was actually 10-6 in 16 starts with the Browns over two seasons.) Arians said he had been impressed with Hoyer in the brief time he coached him. Hoyer said he’ll always have a “soft place in my heart” for the Cards because they gave him a chance to play.

“I was barely there,” Hoyer said. “I think about it, I was there for basically three weeks at the end of the season. I came back out, basically up until the draft, and I was there for a few workouts, and then I was gone.”


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A tale of four quarterbacks

Posted by Darren Urban on December 25, 2014 – 9:19 pm

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The former was 2009, with Kurt Warner, or 2013 when Carson Palmer took every snap at quarterback for the Cardinals. The Cards had quarterback stability because they stayed (pretty) healthy and because Warner and Palmer were good. It’s what you need in the NFL to win. The worst of times, well, the Cardinals have done that too. When you are on a merry-go-round of quarterbacks in a season, it turns painful. The Cards did that in 2010, when Derek Anderson was backed up by rookies Max Hall and John Skelton (with a sprinkling of Rich Bartel at the end of the season). They did it in 2012, when Skelton and Kevin Kolb traded starts and injuries and then ineffectiveness leading to then-rookie Ryan Lindley (and a sprinkling of Brian Hoyer at the end of the season.)

Those years were totally different than this one, of course. The Cardinals struggled in those years. They weren’t battling for a division title going into the final regular-season game and they certainly weren’t playoff bound regardless. The Cards have only played four quarterbacks this season because of injury, not because of choice. That’s good, but it’s bad too. As offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said Christmas afternoon, “Week-to-week different quarterback, do you like it? No.” It certainly isn’t a present you want to find under your tree.

Monday Bruce Arians said he was leaning toward starting Logan Thomas unless he saw something in practice that made him change his mind, and then Thursday came the Kent Somers report that the Cards would instead start Lindley again. Either way, the Cardinals are trying to find the best option — especially if Drew Stanton can’t come back from his knee injury for the first playoff game.

UPDATE: Ian Rapoport is reporting Stanton had to have arthroscopic surgery because of an infection and could be done for the season.

“All our quarterbacks looked good, even the kid (Jeff Mathews) we have on practice squad now,” Goodwin said after practice (which is closed to the media) Thursday. “We’ll be OK no matter what.”

The Cardinals don’t really have a choice at looking at it any other way. Lindley or Thomas, Nos. 3 and 4, are the options — perhaps even as the Cards play in the playoffs.

“If they both go out this week and throw for 300 (yards), that’d be great,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

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Shuffling QBs again and Dansby’s number

Posted by Darren Urban on May 13, 2013 – 12:52 pm

The Cardinals are moving on from quarterback Brian Hoyer — it’s not official yet, but it’s coming it’s official now — and that isn’t a big surprise. With a salary due of more than $2 million after getting a RFA tender, Hoyer didn’t make sense as a third-string QB and it didn’t look like he’d jump Drew Stanton, a Bruce Arians favorite, as a backup. It’s obviously good news for Ryan Lindley, who struggled mightily last season when he played as a rookie but still showed some flashes. It doesn’t mean Lindley is a lock to stay — you never know what young QB might fall into the market the Cards would want to jump on — but it’s Lindley for now. The Cardinals will have four QBs on the roster at some point. They did just have a tryout QB in this past weekend in Purdue’s Caleb TerBush.

— Karlos Dansby picked a jersey number and with it, the reality of being a rookie comes into focus. Dansby will wear No. 55, since Daryl Washington has Dansby’s old No. 58. Now, 55 had been issued to fourth-round pick Alex Okafor. Dansby gets what he wants though. So Okafor got No. 57 instead. That was taken, you say? Yes it was, by undrafted rookie linebacker Kenny Demens. Now Demens will wear No. 45, and the pecking order is established in exactly the way you’d think.

— The Cards restructured their front office with some promotions and new scouts. One of the big things to take from it is that the team continues to grow in numbers its scouting staff like it has with the coaches. Another step forward for General Manager Steve Keim as he reshapes the football side of the building.


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Time for some draft aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2013 – 5:42 pm

Some quick wrap-up notes after the draft, before I take my neglected sons to dinner:

— The Cardinals, obviously, did not take a quarterback. Keim admitted he had talked long about about subscribing to the theory he wanted to draft a QB every year. “I really still believe in that,” Keim said. So what happened?

“The difference is that our two draft choices came through free agency with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton,” Keim said. “So we didn’t feel like that was a necessary move that we needed to make. Quite frankly, the way the board shook out, the quarterback at no point was the top player on our board. So it made the decision quite easy.”

That means Brian Hoyer and his potential $2 million salary is safe for now. I’d think a trade might still be possible for the Cards, but post-draft, it’d be tough. Of course, if the Cards were to sign an interesting undrafted rookie QB, that could change.

— Speaking of the undrafted rookies, that list will grow into the evening and names will leak. (I won’t be keeping constant watch; the official list will likely be released Monday.) Already, Oklahoma safeties Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson have tweeted out they are coming to the Cardinals. San Jose State cornerback Ronnie Yell tweeted the same as did Florida A&M defensive lineman Padric Scott. Tony Pauline reports the Cards also got Arizona receiver Dan Buckner. Keim said he expected to sign 15 undrafted rookies.

— The Cardinals want to get another nose tackle/defensive tackle. That didn’t present itself in the draft, so Keim said the Cards will not only look at it among the undrafted rookies but also with veteran free agents and possible cap casualties as we head toward training camp.

— The weekend gave the Cards some options at return men. They have Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Andre Ellington and maybe Stepfan Taylor.

— As for the overall haul Saturday? It’s always wait-and-see for me. I can’t get very emotional because it’s impossible to know. On the surface, I like getting the speed receiver Ryan Swope assuming he can stay healthy. I like adding fresh bodies to the running back room. I definitely like the possibilities of interviewing tight end D.C. Jefferson, assuming he can prove he can play. I hope Okafor can do some things as a pass rusher because that’s still a segment of the Cards’ defense that leaves some question marks. But that’s enough for now. We have a whole offseason to analyze.


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To take a quarterback

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2013 – 11:38 am

It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.

“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”

So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?

Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.

(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)

The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.

Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.

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Skelton cut by Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on April 1, 2013 – 3:14 pm

There is nothing new on the burgeoning Carson Palmer trade front at the moment, but it seems a lock to be completed at some point after the Cardinals officially released quarterback John Skelton Monday. So ends Skelton’s wild ride since arriving as a fifth-round rookie in 2010, getting a couple of starts in that year and then having an amazing way of playing poorly yet rallying the Cards to wins in 2011. Then he beat out Kevin Kolb to start the 2012 season before spraining an ankle in the opener, struggling mightily as the starter after Kolb got hurt. Clearly the relationship between he and former coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t good at the end, but even a coaching change couldn’t save Skelton’s roster spot.

Skelton tweeted out his goodbye:

The release wasn’t a big surprise after the team signed Drew Stanton, brought Brian Hoyer back and now are close to getting Palmer. All along it looked unlikely that Skelton would survive into May on the roster if this didn’t come sooner. Now it has. Not that it would’ve helped him, but recalling how Bruce Arians lamented the inability to talk to Kolb while watching video — to ask why and why not of certain plays — maybe Skelton lost out too. Then again, Skelton’s troubles were seen first-hand by general manager Steve Keim. Keim had a good sense of what he had in both Kolb and Skelton, and Skelton ended up — even with an 8-9 starting record — with 12 touchdown passes, 22 interceptions and a 61.9 passer rating in 17 starts.

— The Cardinals also announced that tendered free agents William Powell, Hoyer and Ronald Talley officially signed their contracts. The Hoyer and Talley news had already been out there.

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The curious case of Carson Palmer

Posted by Darren Urban on March 25, 2013 – 2:19 pm

As the draft approaches and people speculate on (or fret about) what the Cardinals will do at quarterback, one of the storylines that could play out is the availability of Carson Palmer. Palmer is currently with the Raiders, due $13 million for 2013 which — like the situation with Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals — he probably was never going to see. If he were cut, it makes a lot of sense that the Cardinals would consider him, and the Adam Schefter report now is that is “unlikely” Palmer is willing to take a cut.

Yes, Bruce Arians says he is “comfortable” with Drew Stanton. Yes, he could start. But here was the key phrase last week when Arians was asked directly if he was going to name Stanton his starter.

“Once we get the roster set, if that (QB meeting) room hasn’t changed, he’s our starter,” Arians said.

That is one heck of a lot of wiggle room.

It brings us back to Palmer. Palmer isn’t in his salad days anymore, not the quarterback who was starring for the Bengals once upon a time. But he still did throw for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season for the Raiders, pretty decent numbers for a team that wasn’t very good. Depending on the cost, he might make a lot of sense to at least compete with Stanton, or maybe even just slide in ahead of him. Would he be a long-term solution? No. But the long-term solution might not be there this year. There has been a ton of talk about the Cardinals and a draft pick, and as has been stated — and after Arians talked about not forcing a QB pick high — a quarterback might not be the No. 1 pick.

The best part for the Cardinals is that they have a ton of flexibility at the position right now. Stanton is going to be here. He’s the one lock, but if he ended up as the backup, I think Arians would be happy with that (I’m not sure Stanton would be thrilled, but that’s a different blog post.) Brian Hoyer is under a $2M deal but he could be traded or cut with no salary cap implications — tough for Hoyer, but flexible for the team. Plus there is the probable draft pick somewhere and John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to plug in the equation if needed.

Palmer needs to be careful, of course. I have no idea what kind of restructure/pay cut the Raiders would be offering, but the market is thin. Kolb I think was hoping to have popped up somewhere already but that hasn’t happened. Then again, Palmer may figure — and he could be right — that hitting the market when the Cards, Bills, Jaguars, Browns or even the Jets could still be considering a different QB could make him in demand. (UPDATE: Palmer doesn’t have any bonuses due soon and the Raiders are under the cap, so this could very well go up until the draft so the Raiders can see if/when they draft a QB. This might hinge on that.)

We’ll see how the Palmer situation plays out in Oakland first and then go from there. We’ll see if the Cardinals’ “room” has a chance to change.

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Don’t you use that word

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2013 – 3:38 pm

The roster is churned, veterans are moved out and the program undergoes an overhaul. So, Bruce Arians, some think the Cardinals are rebui….

The word doesn’t even get all the way out.

“Never use that word. Never use that word,” Arians said Wednesday morning. “We are reloading not rebuilding. We refused to use that word last year in Indianapolis and it was 37 new players on the roster. (Veteran defensive end) Robert Mathis said, ‘I ain’t got time to rebuild.’ And we were in the playoffs. There is no rebuilding going on. We are just plugging in new faces and different faces. This team is not very far off.”

The won-loss record is going to determine that, of course. Certainly the Cardinals are headed toward underdog status at the very least, especially in a division with Seattle, San Francisco and a Rams team that — don’t forget — went 4-1-1 within the NFC West. Arians said the division reminds him of the AFC North, where he coached many years with both the Browns and Steelers.

“One year ago, I don’t think anyone had Seattle that high,” Arians said. “(Quarterback) Russell Wilson made all that happen. Pete (Carroll) did a great job with his defense. One guy can change your whole outlook.”

(Which is true — if a team finds the right QB to be the one guy.)

“I like our defense against anyone’s defense in the division,” Arians added. “We’ve got to make our offense up to speed so we can compete in the division. It starts with division dominance. We have beaten these teams in the last two years, so it’s not like they are dominating us. I’ve always said, win your home games and scratch out a few on the road, you’re in the playoffs.”

— During the meetings, the NFL officially set the date of Super Bowl XLIX (49) at University of Phoenix Stadium following the 2014 season. It will be Feb. 1, 2015. So plan your time accordingly.

— Restricted free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer officially signed his $2.02 million one-year tender offer Wednesday. He is now officially a Card for 2013 and can’t shop around. (Although, unlike a franchise tender offer, a restricted free agent contract is not guaranteed if he is released.)

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Who could work with Arians and (gasp!) QB talk

Posted by Darren Urban on March 6, 2013 – 4:54 pm

At some point, the constant offseason debate about who will be the Cardinals’ quarterback will end. In a perfect world, it’d be determined this offseason long-term somehow, but until then, I suppose a third of the posts here lean in that direction. So here’s a midweek base-touching on some quarterback-and-the-Cardinals topics:

— Former Colts general manager Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, was on a conference call the other day and gave his thoughts on what QB out there might be the best fit to work with new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. Polian sounded somewhat optimistic Arians provided a little flexibility in that regard.

“I worked with Bruce for five years, and my feeling is that he can adapt his offensive scheme to pretty much any skill level at quarterback as long as the guy is a good decision maker, as long as he has the ability to see the receiver deliver the ball on time and do it accurately,” Polian said. “Those three things are a must for quarterback play.  I think whomever he has can do that, and he’ll adapt the rest of it.

“For him, that’s not hard at all.  He’s very adaptive and creative.  He’ll figure out a way to make virtually any system work, as long as the quarterback has those (three things) … well, actually it’s four things.  Process information, see the receiver, anticipate his coming open get it out quickly, and be accurate.”

Is that Kevin Kolb? Is that Brian Hoyer? Is that John Skelton or Chase Daniel or Drew Stanton? Is that/could it be Smith/Barkley/Glennon/someone else in the draft? That’s the mystery building up to these next seven weeks or so.

— Speaking of Hoyer, Peter Schrager writes that, given the QB market, Hoyer could be considered by multiple teams in free agency even as a restricted free agent. I went over this before that the Cards probably will tender Hoyer and thus would have a chance to match any contract offer he signs from other team. The soft QB market, both in free agency and the draft, obviously plays into Hoyer’s attractiveness but that doesn’t make him any less of a legit option. One nugget Schrager notes — Ken Whisenhunt was telling teams he would like to bring Hoyer with him in some role when Whiz was interview for head coaching jobs.

— As far as Kolb goes, the fact his roster bonus is reportedly due March 17 could make a big difference. It buys the Cards time if they want, or if Kolb doesn’t want to take as much of a cut as the Cards want him to take. Teams can talk to free agents starting Saturday. In that extra week, the Cards could know for sure if they have another veteran option in place instead of Kolb and let him go if they want. Or, after wading into the free agent pool, they decide Kolb is the guy they want, they can make moves then. I’m speculating on this right now — both sides have been tight-lipped over how this is going — but then again, it’s the season of speculation.

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A time for money moves

Posted by Darren Urban on March 1, 2013 – 11:44 am

The moves today to release cornerback William Gay and linebacker Stewart Bradley aren’t really shocking. This is what happens when salary exceeds production, as general manager Steve Keim was talking about just a couple of weeks ago. Bradley’s story is well known, and after he didn’t do much last season and with his salary back to $5 million, his future was all but written. Gay’s 2012 playing time escalated his salary from $1.475 million to $3.225 million, and that too probably cost Gay any chance of returning. With around $7 million of cap savings, the Cards are under the cap now.

There is still work to do, of course, the most glaring the contract of quarterback Kevin Kolb. There has been no word yet of any talks or movement in that area. The Cards have fit his giant $13.5M cap number in for now, but nothing has changed from the fact something has to happen. Kolb is due a $2M roster bonus soon (do not know the date, but anticipate it being the start of the league year on March 12 or right around there) and I can’t see it being paid unless a new deal is in place.

The Cards were about $1.2M over the cap prior to the cuts today according to Adam Schefter, so the savings should put them a little more than $5M under — decent breathing room in the short term, although a tender offer to QB Brian Hoyer would eat up some of that space if one were made. Are further moves, aside from Kolb, coming in the form of a cut or a restructure? Perhaps. Don’t forget, a restructure basically means giving the player more money now for the privilege of pushing cap space on to a future year’s cap. Eventually, it has to be paid. And if there is anything we have learned about the new collective bargaining agreement and the salary cap is that it was set up to no longer have giant spikes from year to year — making cap management for every team a little more challenging year-to-year. Bradley and Gay were not the only NFL veterans cut today, that’s for sure.

It also underscores another NFL reality — for all the gnashing of teeth that goes on when free agency starts about why the Cards (or any team) didn’t sign this guy or that guy — that the draft is the way to build a roster. Ultimately, teams don’t let players get away that they think they can’t afford to lose.

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