Trades aren’t allowed in the NFL for another month and a half, but once March 14 does arrive, there is a doozy waiting for completion. News broke Tuesday night that the Chiefs were trading quarterback Alex Smith to Washington for a third-round pick and emerging star cornerback Kendall Fuller (and will be giving Smith a giant contract extension, since he was heading into the final year of his current deal.)
It means one potential QB for the QB-less Cardinals is off the table. (They reportedly had inquired.) But there is a trickle-down effect. The Chiefs, of course, don’t need a quarterback. They already have Pat Mahomes. But the Redskins, who at 13th in the draft pick two slots in front of the Cardinals, don’t need a quarterback anymore. Smith’s arrival means Washington will allow Kirk Cousins to finally reach free agency, so he will be available if the Cards so choose (although expensive.) But if Cousins goes somewhere, like for instance, the Broncos, Denver won’t need a QB either. And the Broncos currently are slotted fifth in the draft.
There is still a long time before the Cards can officially do much at quarterback, barring re-signing one of their own free-agents-to-be. But starting with the Smith move, the QB carousel has begun.
Tags: Alex Smith, Broncos, Chiefs, Kendall Fuller, Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Redskins
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The Saints acknowledged that they will indeed get that conditional draft pick from the Cardinals — expected to be a sixth-rounder — in the trade for Adrian Peterson. With the draft in April and the announcements of this year’s compensatory picks (based on 2017 free agency) coming in late March, here is an early look at what draft picks the Cards could hold this season.
Already gone are the Cardinals’ original fourth-round pick (dealt in the Bears trade that allowed them to move up for Budda Baker in the second round last season), original sixth-rounder (for Peterson) and seventh-rounder (in the 2016 trade with Chiefs for cornerback Marcus Cooper.) The Cardinals also acquired a conditional seventh-round pick from the Ravens for offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom at the end of training camp, but given that Bergstrom was released about six weeks later, it’s unclear whether that pick conveys.
On the plus side, the Cards are in line for three comp picks, according to overthecap.com, which always has a pretty good handle on the byzantine equation the NFL uses to determine comp picks. It’s based on free agents lost versus free agents gained, using contract numbers and snaps. According to OTC, the loss of Calais Campbell would earn the Cards the top comp pick in the third round (all comp picks are slotted after the regular round ends), the loss of Tony Jefferson would earn the Cards the top comp pick in the fourth round, and the loss of Alex Okafor would earn them an additional seventh-round pick.
The FA losses of D.J. Swearinger, Cooper and Kevin Minter are offset by the signings of Phil Dawson, Peterson and Karlos Dansby.
Peterson wasn’t a free agent signing, you say? He was with the Saints. The trade for Peterson looks like it could actually ding the Cards in two ways — not only costing the sixth-rounder in trade, but also a potential sixth-round comp pick because he was acquired in the season in which he was signed as a free agent. (This is one of the reasons it’s been reported that the 49ers released QB Brian Hoyer as they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. The Patriots wanted Hoyer, but to get him back in a trade after he signed as a free agent with the 49ers would have hurt the Pats in the comp pick equation. With the 49ers cutting him, there was no such issue.)
So, if the projections are right, the Cards picks are:
— First round
— Second round
— 2 Third rounds (comp)
— Fourth round (comp)
— Fifth round
— Seventh round (comp, and maybe a regular seventh-round if Bergstrom trade comes through)
Tags: 49ers, Adrian Peterson, Alex Okafor, Bears, Brian Hoyer, Calais Campbell, Chiefs, compensatory picks, draft, Patriots, Ravens, Tony Bergstrom, Tony Jefferson
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Nothing official yet, but multiple reports have veteran safety Tyvon Branch agreeing with the Cardinals on a two-year contract. Branch, who was in Kansas City one year after seven years in Oakland, is 6-foot, 210 pounds and also ran a 4.26 40-yard dash when he first came into the league. GM Steve Keim had said he wanted to add speed in the secondary.
In 16 games – one start – for the Chiefs last season, Branch had 43 tackles, a sack and an interception. Branch, 29, was a long-time starter with the Raiders, but played in just five games his final two seasons in Oakland because of injuries.
The safety position is one in flux for the Cardinals right now. Rashad Johnson is a free agent, and his spot is the one most likely taken by Branch as free agency gets underway. Tony Jefferson is a restricted free agent who could still sign an offer sheet elsewhere — the Cardinals have the right to match any offer — and Wednesday was the first day Jefferson was able to discuss options with other teams.
Tags: Chiefs, Raiders, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Tyvon Branch
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There will be frustration of missing tackles and poor plays from Saturday night, but there is a reason teams have 90 men on the roster now and when the games count there are 53 — many of those guys who were playing and struggling won’t be play this time next month. That’s why you look at what the Cards did at the start, both with their offense and defense, and if you are Bruce Arians, you have to be generally pleased. That and there were no serious injuries, and in the end, that might be the most important thing to come out of any preseason game.
Before it gets too late, a few thoughts after the opener — understanding there are still two week of training camp left. And three preseason games. We’re still a long way from anything counting.
— Carson Palmer was sharp, smart and altogether untouched. “I could’ve hitched three or four times on any of the passes we threw tonight,” he said. “Very clean pocket.” This gets repeated often yet can’t be understated: If Palmer is healthy and performs like this, the Cards will be in good shape.
— It didn’t take long for Andre Ellington to show what he can do, even after the hamstring issues kept him out of practice. No, he shouldn’t have been caught — “I just need to get my cardio back up” — but again, he’ll be the main guy in the backfield because of what he showed.
— Who will join him back there is still up in the air. Chris Johnson is coming in Sunday for his physical/tryout. Again, he’d have to be signed and he’d have to show well, but he could still be Ellington’s mate back there. The run game still only produced 2.8 yards a carry Saturday.
— The Chiefs went after Justin Bethel, starting for Jerraud Powers, on the very first play. Bethel was there to break it up. The Cards need Bethel to play well at cornerback. They are very thin there beyond Patrick Peterson and Powers. Jimmy Legree, the one who looked like he might have an inside track at a roster spot this summer, struggled.
— In the first salvo of the punting battle, Dave Zastudil’s night was four punts, 40.5 average, 35.3 net. I’d guess Drew Butler will punt next week against the Chargers.
— I thought Logan Thomas looked better in the game than he has at practice. Which is a good thing.
— The Chiefs’ lineman turned the wrong way to let Rodney Gunter blow past him, but Gunter showed impressive quickness to blaze into the backfield for that safety. Gunter is going to be someone to watch.
— That said, while I’d need to watch the replay of the game, there weren’t any of the non-draftees that really stood out to me as guys that popped, other than maybe Jaxon Shipley on his returns and one catch — and it’s hard to see Shipley as anything more that a practice squad guy given who is in front of him.
— The Cardinals are off until Monday, and like last Monday, do not have a morning walkthrough. The next time Arians will address the media is Monday afternoon. We’ll see if the Cards have a new running back by then.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Chiefs, Chris Johnson, Dave Zastudil, Drew Butler, Jaxon Shipley, Jimmy Legree, Justin Bethel, Logan Thomas, Rodney Gunter
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There is no “inactive” list for preseason games — everyone is eligible to play — but there are “not expected to play” lists. For the Chiefs, the most notable player not playing is defensive tackle Dontari Poe. For the Cardinals there is a long and wholly injured-induced list of guys sitting:
— WR Michael Floyd (hand)
— RB Marion Grice (hamstring)
— CB Darren Woodard (groin)
— S Chris Clemons (groin)
— RB David Johnson (hamstring)
— CB Jonte Green (hamstring)
— LB Shaq Riddick (hamstring)
— LB Sean Weatherspoon (hamstring)
— LB Darryl Sharpton (hip flexor)
— T Rob Crisp (knee)
— LB Zack Wagenmann (foot)
Tags: Chiefs, inactives
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The training camp of Palmer, Mathieu and hamstrings takes a brief break so the Cardinals can open the preseason Saturday night against the Chiefs. It figures to be what should always be expected in the first preseason game of the season — some good play, but also some stumbling out of the blocks. Vanilla offense and defense. A big game for those playing especially in the second half, because those are the guys fighting to stay on the roster. And as always, fingers crossed no one gets hurt.
Carson Palmer will get to make an appearance and that’s amazing, given that he tore his ACL last November. But as we’ve said multiple times, Palmer has been excellent in camp and now, it’s about the reality of exposing him to another team. He has to get ready for the regular season, even if Bruce Arians acknowledged he’d rather put him in bubble wrap for now.
Some other things to watch Saturday:
— It’s about time for Logan Thomas. He will get a lot of playing time. This is where he has to make a push to convince the Cardinals he will fit. His performance in the preseason opener last year was what first caught everyone’s eye. We’ll see if he can repeat that, and push aside a lot of the questions that surround him these days.
— Arians said there were a ton of players he wants to see, and it’s hard to disagree. Among what I’ll be watching: Jonathan Cooper as starting right guard. Tackle D.J. Humphries. Outside linebackers Markus Golden and LaMarr Woodley. Summer sensation tight end Ifeanyi Momah. Wide receiver J.J. Nelson. Undrafted rookie cornerback Cariel Brooks. All those undrafted inside linebackers, including Gabe Martin (pictured below).
— Defensive coordinator James Bettcher moves from the press box to the sideline. He’s been calling plays in practice, but now we get a chance to see what it’s like in a game.
— It’s a great story from the Chiefs side that safety Eric Berry — who was battling cancer last year — will be back on the field and playing.
— Watch the defensive linemen. With all those guys, someone is going to be out by the end of the preseason, either through trade or being cut. That’ll make for an intense competition.
OK. Football is back.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Chiefs, D.J. Humphries, Eric Berry, Gabe Martin, Ifeanyi Momah, J.J. Nelson Cariel Brooks, James Bettcher, Jonathan Cooper, LaMarr Woodley, Logan Thomas, Markus Golden
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The Cardinals officially announced this year’s training camp dates today, with players reporting for the run test July 31 and the first practice — open to the public too — coming Aug. 1. If you feel like that’s late, it’s because it is. The Cardinals usually report at least a week earlier but that’s because the season usually starts earlier. Rules say camp can start 15 days ahead of the first preseason game, and the preseason games work backward from the regular season. The Cards’ first preseason game isn’t until Aug. 15 — hosting the Kansas City Chiefs — because the regular-season opener isn’t until the Saints visit Sept. 13. The Saints game is so late, of course, because the NFL doesn’t want to open on Labor Day weekend, and Labor Day comes as late as it can this year, on Sept. 7.
The last time the Cardinals started camp so late was 2004, when Labor Day fell on Sept. 6 and the Cardinals opened the regular season in St. Louis on Sept. 12. That was also Denny Green’s first season, when the team reported to Flagstaff Aug. 1. (And Green shocked everyone by cutting starting center Pete Kendall that day, the jumping-off point to a wild roller-coaster of a season.)
In all, there are 19 open practices at University of Phoenix Stadium. Sure, there are about seven weeks before football starts but I know I’m ready for some down time. It’ll be here soon enough.
Tags: Chiefs, Dennis Green, Pete Kendall, training camp
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Apparently, he calls them a “Ker-wich,” because these are the details that emerge when you have, as Larry Fitzgerald said, “storybook stuff” like the Kerwynn Williams development. A Ker-wich, you see, is the specialty meal for Williams, the guy who had never had an NFL carry before the 19 he had Sunday and just happened to pick up 100 yards in the process.
“I have a Ker-wich every day,” Williams said. “PB and J. Four stacks. Two peanut butter, two jelly, stack ’em on top of each other. Have the milk, gotta dip it in milk too.”
Maybe it’s the diet of champions. Maybe it’s just the diet of a kid who, given a chance to play, provided the Cardinals something they so desperately needed. No one is going to confuse the Chiefs’ run defense with the Seahawks or even the Rams. But the Cards hadn’t been running the ball a lick for three weeks. Sunday they did. Jonathan Cooper got his first start at left guard and left tackle Jared Veldheer was battling a sore ankle but the lanes were there much of the game and the offensive line was at the heart of it all. And it was spearheaded by Williams, and the Cards came out with a win.
The celebration wasn’t exactly going to last long at all. It can’t. The Cardinals are back at it in just a few hours from now. They travel to St. Louis Wednesday afternoon for a brutal short week – especially with all the injuries – to play the Rams. Not fun.
“You have to love the NFL schedule though,” Fitzgerald said with a smile, and I’m thinking his true feelings are pretty much the opposite of love. “Eight o’clock meetings (Monday) morning and six o’clock treatment. This is the schedule.”
A schedule that’s a lot easier to digest, frankly, after a crucial win. Ten wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1975-76. You could see it in the locker room, this was important.
— Before we flash too far back, though, a look ahead. The short week is brutal for even the “healthy” guys. What about cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was feared down with an Achilles injury? Bruce Arians said afterward it turned out to not be the Achilles (exhale now) but still couldn’t specify what was wrong.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed for him,” Arians said. That might be more optimistic for the long-term, but can he possibly turn around to play in a game in four days? Same goes for linebacker Matt Shaughnessy, who hurt his shoulder late in the game and didn’t return. We also need to see how Fitz, playing for the first time in three weeks but not at 100 percent, can bounce back on such a short week.
— Arians took blame for a couple of play choices that didn’t pan out (and drew plenty of questions on my Twitter feed at the time — @cardschatter, if you need it). “I called a couple of really bad plays,” Arians said. He named the Robert Hughes run up the middle on third-and-1 – when the Chiefs loaded the line of scrimmage with what seemed like 15 men – and the screen down at the Kansas City 5 that lost four yards in particular.
— It’s safe to say the Chiefs feel they got the short end of the stick on the two key calls of the game – the Fasano offensive pass interference and the Kelce fumble. (Who knew the Cardinals would benefit so much from the other team’s tight ends?) The Cardinals weren’t apologizing and insisted they thought a) Fasano committed a penalty and b) Kelce definitely fumbled.
But, defensive end Calais Campbell said with a smile, “Hey, that’s part of the game. The referees are a big part of the game some times. Sometimes it goes against you, sometimes it goes for you.”
— Not ideal that rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro put not one but two field-goal tries off an upright. I’m not sure he could do that again in five attempts if he tried 100 more times. But I do like how Arians laughed it off. The Cards can’t be thrilled, but public backing is important because they are going to need him.
— Frostee Rucker with a big game Sunday. Two sacks, and he was the guy in Alex Smith’s face to force the bad throw/Alex Okafor interception. Rucker has had a solid year for the Cards.
— Okafor (the pick, another sack) has turned into a find for the Cardinals at linebacker.
— No question that the Cardinals got a huge boost because Jamaal Charles got hurt. He had that 63-yard TD run and dynamic 18-yard TD catch off a swing pass and that dude was destined for a big day. But he hurt his ankle which I assume cost him touches. Still weird they didn’t go to him more. Judging by his reaction postgame, Charles felt it was weird too.
— Drew Stanton wasn’t great, but he was good enough, and that’s all the Cards can rightfully expect. He didn’t turn the ball over (although the Chiefs dropped one sure interception), he threw a beautiful TD pass to Jaron Brown on third-and-18 and threw a beautiful bomb to Michael Floyd for 45 yards. He kept going after Tamba Hali wrenched his ankle early in the game (on a play that I thought at first might’ve ended Stanton’s season.) You cannot fault the guy’s toughness or effort.
Guess it’s time to go. Short week for everyone. Including me. But the Cards have 10 wins in the book, so that’s a nice jumping off point.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Chandler Catanzaro, Chiefs, Drew Stanton, Frostee Rucker, Jamaal Charles, Kerwynn Williams, Larry Fitzgerald
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Larry Fitzgerald will play.
That’s the best news out of an ugly injury week as the Cardinals announced their inactives for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. It’s a list that wasn’t that hard to figure, since Bruce Arians announced Friday four of the guys who were already going to be out: Andre Ellington, Paul Fanaika, Ed Stinson and Tyrann Mathieu. But Fitz will play. We’ll see how effective he can be — understand that his knee is not 100 percent, but all along, everyone involved said Fitzgerald wouldn’t play unless he could help.
The full inactive list:
— S Tyrann Mathieu (thumb)
— RB Andre Ellington (hip)
— DT Alameda Ta’amu
— G Anthony Steen
— DT Ed Stinson (toe)
— G Paul Fanaika (ankle)
— DE Kareem Martin
It’s been a rough year for Martin as the Cards’ third-round pick. He’s made much less of an impact than the Cardinals were hoping. Running back Kerwynn Williams is one of the active players. So is linebacker Matt Shaughnessy, after Shaughnessy missed eight games.
And as a postscript, the roof will be closed today.
Tags: Chiefs, inactives, Larry Fitzgerald
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It’s been a while since the Chiefs have come to Arizona. The last visit was in 2006, in the first season of University of Phoenix Stadium. It, like this Sunday’s visit, comes a week after the Cardinals made a trip to Atlanta and lost. Back then, the Chiefs’ game was the first NFL start of a first-round draft pick – quarterback Matt Leinart. This week it’s the first NFL start of first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper.
It’s an interesting parallel even if it doesn’t relate directly to Sunday’s game. Leinart actually played well that day with a couple of touchdown passes (even though Larry Fitzgerald left with a hamstring injury that would ultimately keep him out three games, the longest down-time of his career) and should have had a third if Bryant Johnson didn’t let a throw go right between his arms.
But that was then, this is now. Game-day decision Fitzgerald should play against the Chiefs after missing the last two games – keeping that three-game stretch back in 2006 as his career-high (or low?). And Cooper’s play, while important, won’t be as important as the play of quarterback Drew Stanton, who needs to bounce back. The QB is in the crosshairs, especially with the Cardinals without running back Andre Ellington and his problem hip.
— If the Cardinals win, they remain the NFC’s top team, regardless of any other game, with three games to go. If they lose, they will no longer be the NFC’s top team regardless, because Philadelphia and Seattle play each other and a win with a Cards’ loss puts either ahead in the standings. The Cardinals don’t want that.
— One running back the Cards won’t have is Michael Bush, who was released Friday. That could be a short-term thing, but for now, the non-Ellington backfield will feature Stepfan Taylor—who will get the start in a running-back-by-committee scenario — and Marion Grice. Arians had some praise for Grice Friday. And all season, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said he saw Grice as a player who could fill the Ellington role. Now he has to.
“We have a lot of trust in him,” Goodwin said.
— This is interesting: Cardinals punter Drew Butler was fined $8,268 for facemasking Falcons punt returner Devin Hester on Hester’s 70-yard punt return for a touchdown that was called back. It was called back because Hester was flagged for facemasking Butler. Except … Hester wasn’t fined for the penalty.
— So to recap, the man who was penalized was essentially exonerated with no flag, and the man who should have been flagged wasn’t. Throw in the fine-but-no-penalty for William Moore on Cards’ wide receiver Jaron Brown, and it doesn’t seem like the officials had the best game.
— For those who want to know, the Cardinals will again wear their red pants Sunday (with the normal red home jersey.)
— The Cardinals are holding their annual toy drive Sunday at the game. Partnering with The RoomStore, volunteers will join cheerleaders to collect unwrapped toys and donations for underprivileged children outside each entrance at University of Phoenix Stadium.
— If the Cardinals win, they will have seven home victories. That would be the most for the franchise since 1925, when the Cards had 11. Eleven home wins. It helps that the Cards that year played 13 of 14 games at home (which was in Chicago at the time.)
— In 59 career games before he infamously lost the tip of his finger trying to make a tackle in New Orleans, safety Rashad Johnson had three interceptions. In 22 games since, he has seven interceptions. To be fair, Johnson didn’t start really playing a lot until the second half of the 2012 season, but still.
— Larry Fitzgerald, asked if he takes pride in his run blocking in the offense: “I take a lot more pride in catching passes.”
Fitz laughed as he said it, and he did say he does want to help with his blocking. But let’s not confuse this. Later, Fitz said “I have nothing to do with the run game. I’m a wide receiver.”
— Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said the game in Atlanta was a “bad day at the office” for his unit. Bowles said they forgot it quickly, and have to move on. The defense needs to. They will be crucial down the stretch, especially as offensive injuries mount.
— Bowles was on the staff of Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid in Reid’s final year as Eagles’ head coach. It didn’t go well – the Eagles were bad, and Bowles, who eventually took over as interim defensive coordinator, was hammered by fans and media as the defense struggled – but Reid said now Bowles was the best interview he’s ever had. Bowles returned the compliment.
“It was great working for him,” Bowles said. “I probably learned more from him in one year than I have from a lot of people over a long time.”
— Hopefully for the Cardinals, it also means Bowles learned Reid’s tendencies. The Cards need every advantage.
See you Sunday.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Andy Reid, Bryan Johnson, Chiefs, Drew Butler, Drew Stanton, Falcons, Jaron Brown, Jonathan Cooper, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Michael Bush, Rashad Johnson, Todd Bowles
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