A few days before Karlos Dansby made his first appearance at University of Phoenix Stadium after leaving the Cardinals – this past season when the Miami Dolphins visited – the veteran linebacker was asked his opinion of the man the Cards had drafted to replace him: Daryl Washington. Dansby replied in classic Dansby fashion.
“He’s a dynamic player, what more can I say about him,” Dansby said. “He’s very athletic, very fast. He reminds me of myself. They did a great job of getting the guy to fill that void.”
It was that moment when there was a little Dansby-envy swirling for those of us listening who had covered Los when he was in Arizona. He was always energetic and always could give a good quote. (One of the all-time favorites was when I was doing a story on teammate Sean Morey agreeing to donate his brain to science right at the beginning of the concussion talks first exploded. I asked Karlos what he thought: “That’s huge, man.” That was always one of his go-to expressions. Trust me, you had to be there.)
The man could play some football too. The Cards never wanted to let him go — they thought they had an extension ironed out before the 2009 season but that fizzled when Dansby changed agents — and his price tag got too high. His price tag might’ve been too high again (there was a reason he wasn’t signed yet) but Dansby’s chance to return home where he still has a home was too important. “I told my agent to bring (the salary) down,” Dansby said to me this morning, motioning his hands down like he was doing a version of his old dirty bird celebration. Dansby couldn’t stop smiling. Regardless of what the contract is, he is happy.
– He doesn’t have a jersey number yet. He won’t get 58. That’s Daryl Washington’s.
– No, his return doesn’t mean Washington is on his way out. Actually, you have to think the Cards have some decent plans to play them together. That would make sense, and Los could be a rusher from the outside if needed. He is versatile.
– DC Todd Bowles knows Dansby, because Bowles was in Miami in 2010 when Dansby was there. Bowles understands what Dansby can do.
– Between the addition of Kevin Minter in the draft and Jasper Brinkley and Dansby, the linebacker corps looks pretty decent right now, when it was a huge question mark back in early March.
– Only eight players remain on the roster that played with Dansby the first time around: Darnell Dockett, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Leach, Reggie Walker, Rashad Johnson, Calais Campbell, Levi Brown and Lyle Sendlein.
– It’d be great if Dansby comes full circle and could end his career here, but let’s remember this is a one-year contract. Right now, he’s in the same boat as guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Antoine Cason and Matt Shaughnessy. They all want to be getting paid more money, and are counting on good years to improve their stock and earn them that kind of contract. Dansby will be trying to do the same. We’ll see if Dansby-the-sequel has a long run in Arizona the second time around.
– That said, did I mention he was pretty happy?
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Todd Bowles
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It’s draft week, it’s voluntary minicamp week and it’s a busy time. A few quick things I wanted to note this morning:
– The annual draft party will take place Thursday afternoon out at the Great Lawn at University of Phoenix Stadium. All the information can be found here. Gates open at 4 p.m. The draft starts at 5, and the Cardinals should be choosing around the 6-6:15 p.m. range. Assuming of course they don’t trade the pick. It’s going to be an interesting one.
– For those who missed the TV show “Flight Plan” over the weekend, all five segments will be posted to the azcardinals.com video page later this afternoon.
– Calais Campbell is hosting a charity golf tournament May 10, and he’s looking for players. The CRC Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic presented by the Diamond League is already scheduled to have former NFLers Donovan McNabb, Jake Plummer and Kordell Stewart, former Phoenix Sun Cedric Ceballos and many of Campbell’s current teammates. It’ll be held at the Raven Golf Course. For more information or to take part, e-mail Ian Grutman at email@example.com.
– I doubt I will do a full first-round mock. I am leaning toward doing the top 10 sometime Wednesday afternoon, but even then, I don’t even know if it makes sense. I think this possibly could be the most confusing of the first rounds since I’ve been doing this. So many different ways it can go. So many trade possibilities. The sure things aren’t so sure. And it will make Thursday riveting television.
Tags: Calais Campbell, draft, draft party
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In a moment, a couple of words about the Cardinals’ new Frostee, the defensive end that agreed to terms Thursday. First, though, the NFL officially released the order for April’s draft. The Cards, as we have said a few times, have seven picks: None in the seventh round, dealt away in the A.J. Jefferson trade, and two in the sixth round, received in the A.J. Jefferson trade. The lowdown:
– Round 1 – pick 7 overall
– Round 2 – pick 38 overall
– Round 3 – pick 69 overall
– Round 4 – pick 103 overall
– Round 5 – pick 140 overall
– Round 6 – pick 174 overall
– Round 6 – pick 176 overall (from the Titans through Minnesota).
I guess I could try and analyze those, but the picks are what they are, and all I can think of is the chance to get out of there somewhat early Saturday since (barring a trade, God, don’t let there be a trade) the Cards’ last choice is 176 and the draft runs 254 picks. No seventh rounder.
As for the Frostee Rucker signing, he brings a great name to the roster (it is indeed his given name) and some depth. It’s no coincidence that Rucker and Matt Shaughnessy, the two free agent defensive linemen signed, have been assigned uniform numbers 98 and 91, respectively, since they were worn by the men they are replacing, Nick Eason and Vonnie Holliday. They will rotate with Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett, and the Cards have Dan Williams and David Carter in the middle. Rucker can also play some tackle (a la Eason) and Shaughnessy can play some standup off the edge. The draft could also hold something as well. Many have asked if this means something for Dockett, but I believe Dockett is here to stay in 2013. They think he can be a difference-maker, and obviously Campbell has grown into that role.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, draft, Frostee Rucker, Matt Shaughnessy
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The first afternoon of free agency is winding down. Twitter and the constant flow of information around the league is pushed everyone to the edge, it seems. To this I’m just making the point — it’s just March, and it’s just the first few hours.
(Here’s a post that’s sure to get everyone riled up at the end of the day.)
“Winning” March doesn’t mean you will win later. Can it help? Sure. But there’s no way to know now and certainly no reason to grade it out, good or bad, right now. Other than a couple of spots — like say, quarterback — what players will be the main ones talked about at the outset of camp? The ones who will have the heaviest influence on the season? Patrick Peterson. Larry Fitzgerald. Calais Campbell. Daryl Washington. The team’s best players, and the ones who are already here.
Every single player on the market has flaws. That’s why they are on the market. That too often seems to get lost in this discussion. I’m happy for Greg Toler if the reports are true he got $15 million for three years. He went to tiny Saint Paul’s, he worked a JC Penney’s for a while, for goodness sake. Today’s payday is the American dream on HGH. But with all due respect to Greg, a good person and a hard worker, did I see him as a $5M a year cornerback? No. And when Peterson’s deal has to be extended in a year or so, if Toler is making $5M, what would Peterson need to get?
The ebb and flow of emotions about this player and that player seem to happen in a vacuum too often. These are intricate puzzles being put together with talent, personalities, money and age all factored in. Every team must do it. They have to do it in the way they think is best. I have no idea how the team of Steve Keim and Bruce Arians will fare putting together this team. I’m not saying the Cards — like every team — haven’t made mistakes. But goodness, we are, as of this writing, less than five hours into free agency, weeks before the draft, and some insist Keim is a terrible GM. After, what, 63 days on the job? Not sure how you make that leap.
Heck, I’m writing this at 5:30 and by 7, there could be all kinds of news breaking about the Cards agreeing to deals. Who knows. If the Cards win in the fall, no one will remember or care about March. If they lose, no one will talk about March either. There will be other pressing business.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, free agency, Greg Toler, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim
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Are some difficult decisions coming with the roster for general manager Steve Keim?
“Absolutely,” Keim said.
In itself, that is no surprise. There are the reports the Cards are currently about $3.5 million over the salary cap (teams must be compliant by March 12) but that in itself isn’t a big deal. Contracts can easily enough be manipulated to make it work, especially that close to being OK. For instance, the Cards could work it just by, for example, releasing Kevin Kolb, because while Kolb will still count for $6 million of “dead” cap space if cut, his cap number currently is $13.5M so there would be a $7.5M savings on the cap alone. (Again, I expect the Cards to try and work out a new deal for Kolb, so if he came back, that too will clear space.)
But it’s the “tough” part of the tough decisions that Keim is considering that impacts the equation.
“Anytime you get attached to certain players it’s not only a tough decision from a business standpoint, but it’s a tough decision from a personal standpoint,” Keim said. “But you have to put personal feelings aside, and you have to do what’s best for the organization. But there are going to be some tough decisions, but at the same time, there will be some decisions we are excited about moving forward. Put young players in a position to grow and succeed.”
Keim, obviously, isn’t naming names right now. The first connect-the-dots that pops into your head when thinking about this is veteran safety Adrian Wilson, who carries a $5.4M cap number in 2013 and who himself wondered at the end of last season if his days in Arizona might be coming to an end. There is no player Keim is closer to than Wilson, after both attended North Carolina State and Keim was the one who scouted and pushed for Wilson in the 2001 draft.
As of now, the Cardinals have 10 players scheduled to have salary cap numbers in 2013 of at least $5M: Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald ($10.3), Calais Campbell ($8.8), Darnell Dockett ($7.7), Daryn Colledge ($7.3), Stewart Bradley ($6.5), Levi Brown ($6.4), Kerry Rhodes ($6.0), Wilson and Daryl Washington ($5.4). There are a host of moves any team can make, including extensions — for instance, with Rhodes, who is down to the final year of his deal — that can lower the cap number too.
But this is about more than just money and cap space. It factors in a new coaching staff, a new general manager, a team that went 5-11 and the reality rosters sometimes are purged in such a transition.
“Anytime you are in a position where you are dealing with the salary cap, you have some tough challenges financially, but at the same time, starting with (president) Michael Bidwill giving us the opportunity to do what is necessary to win, we won’t make decisions solely based on finances,” Keim said. “Now, what is hard in this business is that you have players making quite a bit of money and their production level doesn’t match their financial package.
“Those are the decisions where we’ll weigh the pros and the cons and make the tough decisions based on what are we getting out of this player. Does he schematically fit what we do? Are his finances in line for what we are getting from him?”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, salary cap, Steve Keim, Stewart Bradley
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If you were watching the Super Bowl (you were watching, right?) and you were watching the commercials, hopefully you noticed the NFL’s spot during halftime that was a thank you to fans, highlighting four teams that went out and surprised specific fans with a huge present – a present that happened to contain real NFL players.
The Cardinals were one of the teams, with Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson the hidden surprises in the box. Our video team was on hand as the NFL shot the Cards’ part of the commercial, and put together this great behind the scenes video.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Patrick Peterson
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We know that linebacker Daryl Washington was named second-team all-pro by the Associated Press — that’s the “big” one — but the Cardinals, at least defensively, did OK on a couple of recent all-NFC West teams that came out.
Defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Kerry Rhodes were all named to profootballfocus.com’s team, which isn’t a surprise. They had been pointing out the years of Campbell and Rhodes all season, pushing them for Pro Bowl status. And they had good things to say about Peterson, even if they didn’t see him as one of the top two corners in the conference. They acknowledged Daryl Washington’s big year, but didn’t pick him.
Mike Sando over at ESPN had the Peterson, Campbell and Washington, leaving off Rhodes. The play of that young trio is why people have such enthusiasm for the Cards’ defense, even as older vets like Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett move toward passing the torch.
– Ken Whisenhunt’s head coaching interview tour continued Monday. He had already talked to Buffalo, Cleveland (twice), San Diego and then Philadelphia on Monday.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Patrick Peterson
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Vonnie Holliday sat back a bit in his locker in the cramped, outdated visiting locker room at Candlestick Park. He hadn’t yet pulled off his uniform pants or his undershirt, quietly taking in the scene after Sunday’s loss.
Change is coming for the Cardinals. Holliday is part of the inevitable part of that change, even if the Cardinals were 11-5 and not 5-11. At 37, he sounds like he is leaning toward retirement. It was he and not Calais Campbell who was in the starting lineup Sunday at the insistence of his defensive linemates. They knew it was probably Holliday’s last NFL game.
“That’s the kind of guys we have in this room, on this team,” Holliday said. “Great character. Calais kind of joked about it on Saturday and then today, we came into the locker room and he said, ‘I want you to have it.’ It meant a lot to me.”
Holliday’s eyes welled up a bit as he told the story. He doesn’t know yet if he is retiring, but sure sounded like he might be leaning that way. “At some point, the sun sets on us all,” Holliday said. “It’s getting late in the evening for me.”
He mentioned to me last week he might actually want to coach – or more realistically, be a consultant. Already, he’s expecting some of the young defensive linemen to join him in Atlanta to train before the Cards’ offseason work begins.
“The season didn’t play out the way we wanted to play out, but it couldn’t be with a better group of guys,” Holliday said. “All the chances to point fingers or having a divide, guys never did that. It’s been a pleasure.”
Holliday is a class act. The Cards were better for him being in the locker room. Things must change to improve the team, but there was a universal feeling among the players that the character of the roster was impressive.
– As for the actual change that’s coming, I don’t know what will happen. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he expects to be back next season, which is what he should say. We will see how this sorts out and on what timeline upon which it happens. There is this assumption all kinds of things will happen Monday. I’m not saying they won’t, but I don’t know if it’s is a lock they do, either.
– The Cardinals will draft seventh. So there’s that.
– There are a lot of people wondering about the future of defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Including, I would guess, Dockett.
“I’m not one of those guys who wants to play 15 or 16 years chasing a ring,” Dockett said. “Wherever God takes me, he’ll take me. If it’s here I’m going to give them everything I’ve got. I just want to be somewhere to win a championship and where I’m wanted. And I want to be somewhere where they are committed to winning, standards all the way around.”
But Dockett went on to talk like a guy who wasn’t trying to get out.
“At the end of the day my loyalty is with the Cardinals,” he said. “I have given this organization everything I’ve got. I love playing here. I love some of the talent we’ve got. At the end of the day, we have to find a way for us to compete for a championship.”
– Running back Beanie Wells wasn’t into analyzing why he didn’t play Sunday despite being active. His fumble last week didn’t help. Whiz said he wanted to ride William Powell’s hot hand, and Powell did start well (50 first-half yards on 12 carries). I’m not sure Wells’ thoughts that he’d be moving on from the Cards after the season helped the cause.
– There were a few times when left guard Daryn Colledge and left tackle D’Anthony Batise swapped places. “It was an opportunity to kind of keep him guessing on what was going on and keeping fresh legs on the guy,” Colledge said. “Just kind of change it up and see how they reacted to it.”
– A rough year for Larry Fitzgerald ended with a two-catch-for-13-yard game.
“Yeah, it wears your patience pretty thin,” Fitzgerald said of the season. “(But) acting out, being a jerk, causing a scene doesn’t make anything any better either so at this point it’s important to make sure you’re a part of the solution and not part of the problem, going out and working hard every day in practice and doing everything you can in your power to make this team better. I’m just trying to stay that course.”
– The team gets together for a final meeting Monday morning. We’ll see how the morning turns out. I’ll be on Twitter (@cardschatter) for immediate updates and azcardinals.com for all the news.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, D'Anthony Batiste, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Vonnie Holliday, William Powell
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The Pro Bowl voting is over for the fans, which counts toward one-third of trying to assemble the rosters. The other two-thirds, from the voting of players and coaches, takes place today for the Cardinals.
The Cards will need some help on that end. Only two players ended up in the top five of fan voting at their respective positions in the NFC. Linebacker Daryl Washington, with 159,407 votes, was third among NFC inside linebackers behind the San Francisco tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was fourth among NFC cornerbacks with 154,736 votes, behind the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman and Seattle’s Richard Sherman (although I was reminded by someone via Twitter that if Sherman fails his appeal on his PED suspension, that also means he can’t play in the Pro Bowl.)
No sign of defensive end Calais Campbell or safety Kerry Rhodes among the top five. And while it isn’t surprising given how this year has gone, it’s depressing to see that Larry Fitzgerald isn’t among the wide receivers. No one can argue he should be in there, but no one can argue he isn’t one of the top five receivers in the NFC either.
The Pro Bowl rosters are going to be announced Dec. 26.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Charles Tillman, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, NaVarro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl voting, Richard Sherman, Tim Jennings
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Pro Bowl voting for fans is over and players and coaches will soon be doing their version for the teams that will be announced next week. I know there is a lot of speculation over how many Cardinals might be able to find their way to Hawaii. Profootballfocus.com named their Pro Bowl teams — not that it means anything with the actual roster — and included defensive end Calais Campbell and safety Kerry Rhodes.
Campbell impressed the PFF guys enough to remain even though he missed a couple of games. “(I)n spite of missing a long stretch of the season Calais Campbell’s impact for the Arizona Cardinals cannot be denied as he put up strong pass rush numbers (5 Sacks, 9 Hits and 17 Hurries) and also brought a greater presence as a run defender than he mustered in 2011.”
As for Rhodes, “Kerry Rhodes has re-discovered some of his best form as a coverage defender and all round safety after missing much of the 2011 season.”
Can’t argue with either one. As for the missing, well, there are arguments to be made. The PFF guys noted they left off linebacker Daryl Washington, who has been very, very good, but apparently not good enough (in PFF’s eyes) to beat out the 49ers duo of Patrick Willis or NaVarro Bowman. And I know a lot of people have wonders about Patrick Peterson. Peterson didn’t get a mention in a group of Seattle’s Richard Sherman, Chicago’s Charles Tillman and Green Bay’s Casey Hayward. Again, we will see who actually gets the call next week, and don’t forget there are always guys who beg off — meaning replacements will be named too as the weeks go.
UPDATE: PFF owner/founder Neil Hornsby saw my post and wanted to give his thoughts on Peterson: “He’s had a very good year and was highly graded and reasonably consistent but as with most things Pro Bowl-related it’s a numbers game. Only someone who doesn’t watch much football would argue against Tillman and Sherman so it comes down to one place. The choice of Hayward was tough because he’s only played nickel so we had to think long and hard especially putting him up against Tim Jennings, Tarrell Brown and Peterson.
“The truth is though, (Hayward) has been unworldly in his 633 snaps. In that time he has only one less interception and twice as many passes defensed as Peterson and quarterbacks have a 23.5 rating throwing at him. Those numbers are not a fluke and he’s one of the few people to live in the middle with Cruz for example. Peterson was our fifth man up, after Jennings but before Brown, but most significantly was much improved on last year and will almost certainly have his day.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Casey Hayward, Charles Tillman, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, NaVarro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Focus, Richard Sherman
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