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Fitz: Contract about keeping good thing going

Posted by Darren Urban on August 24, 2016 – 12:22 pm

The recent contract Larry Fitzgerald signed — keeping the wide receiver in Arizona in 2017, assuming he is still playing — wasn’t something he was looking for, but he emphasized that winning and the Cardinals’ ability to win played a role.

“It wasn’t my idea,” Fitzgerald said. “I didn’t go and stand on Steve (Keim)’s table and asked for an extension. If that’s what you’re asking, that wasn’t the case. I’m down for whatever is going to keep this thing going as long as we can.

“As you know, it goes in spurts in this league. A while back we had some teams that were pretty good, had a couple down years, and now we’re at that point where we have a really good thing going. We have a good mesh of older veteran guys and a mesh of good younger guys like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Chandler Jones, D.J. Humphries. That’s a great blend to have.”

That wouldn’t be the only reason Fitz would want to play in 2017, but at this point in his career, it’s a must-have.

Other lunchtime stuff after a day off:

— WR Smokey Brown (headache) might not practice this afternoon. With Brown coming off a concussion, it’s something to watch.

— Fitzgerald isn’t practicing because of the slight MCL issue in his knee, but he waved off any concern. “I’m good,” he said. “I could probably go out there and be effective and do my job, but a setback now with less than two weeks to go would be less than ideal. I want to do what I can to help my team now but obviously Sept. 11 is when it really hits the fan.”

— QB Carson Palmer is getting a day off today. The injury list is pretty short right now, though. A good sign.

— Coach Bruce Arians shrugged off the idea the offense needs to get into a rhythm in a preseason game. “Not really,” he said. “I see it enough in practice.”

— Arians wouldn’t comment on the report he will be named the NFL’s competition committee. “Hasn’t been announced yet,” he said.

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Rookies signed at warp speed

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2016 – 3:22 pm

It’s not hard to remember, not if you have been following the Cardinals for any length of time, but signing draft picks used to be much, much more difficult. Yes, the ease in which picks are signed these days is rules-related — once the new collective bargaining agreement essentially slotted each pick’s money and took the hardest part (money) out of the negotiating equation, things were going to speed up.

But to think the Cardinals already have all of their draft picks under contract on May 9 is impressive. The time frame to finish up since 2011, when the new CBA went into effect, has gotten earlier and earlier:

2011: Amid the chaos of so many signings as the CBA was ratified post-lockout just as training camp was starting, first-rounder Patrick Peterson and second-rounder Ryan Williams signed July 31.
2012: First-rounder Michael Floyd and third-rounder Jamell Fleming signed June 11.
2013: First-rounder Jonathan Cooper signed July 29.
2014: First-rounder Deone Bucannon signed June 5.
2015: First-rounder D.J. Humphries signed June 1.
2016: Sixth-rounder Harlan Miller, third-rounder Brandon Williams and fourth-rounder Evan Boehm sign May 9.

The Cardinals aren’t unique — the Bears have been signing their entire draft class within a couple days of the draft the last couple of seasons, for instance — but to have all those deals done not only before the players break prior to camp but before OTAs have even begun is a good thing. The days of the Cards having their first-round pick sit out at least a few days of training camp — or more, Wendell Bryant — are long over.


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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.”


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Frostee gets an extension

Posted by Darren Urban on June 1, 2015 – 4:27 pm

It was fitting that Frostee Rucker got a one-year contract extension Monday so quietly. The veteran defensive end, who had been scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season, stays clear of attention. That topic has been covered before. When he first signed, he was in the background, playing less than he would’ve liked in 2013 but understanding his role. The day Darnell Dockett got hurt last year in training camp, Rucker was suddenly thrust into a spotlight you could tell he could’ve done without.

But Rucker is a leader on a team that has a few, and you can tell that just by watching a game or two. I’m lucky enough to see a lot more of the interaction — during OTAs (like below, talking to fellow vet Cory Redding), around the locker room — and Frostee is the kind of professional you seek out for a roster. Plus, he’s coming off a career-high five sacks. He’s fits perfectly into a defensive line that is built to rotate early and often with versatile pieces. Rucker’s added year also takes one more thing off the to-do list after the season when it comes to potential free agents.


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Possible Palmer restructure as Cards cut cap

Posted by Darren Urban on February 25, 2015 – 4:10 pm

Carson Palmer didn’t even get to play a full game after signing his contract extension late last season. Now, before the first season of that extension kicks in, Palmer reportedly could be restructuring it to ease his salary cap number of $14.5 million. Mike Jurecki first reported Palmer the possibility.

Palmer is due a roster bonus of $9.5 million (in addition to a $1M salary) this season. Add in his current $4M of bonus proration of $4M, and that’s his $14.5M cap hit. If the Cardinals were to turn the roster bonus into a signing bonus — which would then be distributed evenly over the remaining four years of the contract in terms of the cap — it’d take his cap number all the way down to about $7.4M for 2015. Of course, that also pushes more dead money on to future caps as well.

These are the choices a team makes, however, especially when it feels it can compete — as long as everyone stays healthy. Like Palmer. We’ll see if his contract gets an update. With more and more players getting released around the NFL and the market already flooded with players, there will be opportunities to sign contributors for reasonable prices. That’s why the Cardinals are trying to loosen more cap room. Neither General Manager Steve Keim or president Michael Bidwill has been shy of sharing the concept of the Cardinals being aggressive in free agency.



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Fitz, his contract and the Super Bowl firing line

Posted by Darren Urban on January 8, 2015 – 1:08 pm

The “deadline,” such that it is, comes on the fifth day of the NFL’s league year — which begins March 10 at 2 p.m. Arizona time. That’s when, if Larry Fitzgerald is still on the Cardinals’ roster and still has his current contract in place, he is owed $8 million. That’s the real date at which everyone is focused to see what happens with the wide receiver and whether he stays with the Cardinals and if so, what kind of contract he has.

GM Steve Keim has long acknowledged he has had ongoing discussions with Fitzgerald’s agent about redoing the contract and fixing that bloated $23.6 million salary cap number Fitz carries with him. There have been a couple of reports out there that the conversations toward a new deal have been positive. That’s good, although as we all know, something like this isn’t done until it’s done, and just because someone hasn’t hung up on someone else doesn’t guarantee anything.

Still, you start to think about that March deadline, and one other potentially artificial one: Super Bowl week.

Fitzgerald is usually a regular on radio row at Super Bowl week. Whether it’s for the company EAS or someone else for which he might be a spokesman, that’s the week where the sponsors want to capitalize on having the big name doing their work. When Fitz does a bunch of TV and radio interviews heading into the NFL’s biggest game, he’s answering a lot of questions.

And while Fitz always handles himself and his answers like a pro — he’s really, really good at that part of his job — it’s not always his favorite thing to talk about the more controversial of subjects (like, in years past, the chaotic quarterback situation with the Cardinals.) So what happens when he sits down for interview after interview and the first (and probably not the only) question he is asked is about whether he’ll be a Cardinal? His contract situation, which I know he’d rather not talk about, could end up taking up the entire segment.

(Except for the one EAS question at the very end, right?)

I’m not saying anything is going to get done with the Cardinals and Fitzgerald by Super Bowl week — to me, the only thing that would be done that quickly would be a way to keep him in Arizona, because a trade can’t happen until March 10 and they aren’t releasing him at that point — just because he’ll be doing some interviews. But it’s something to think about.


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The impact of losing Darnell Dockett

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2014 – 10:16 pm

Injuries happen every preseason. They are not all created equal.

Even the long-term injuries are not created equal. As much as Jonathan Cooper’s injury hurt the Cardinals last year — and at the time, GM Steve Keim felt Cooper was the Cardinals’ best offensive lineman — there is an jarring emotional slam with the news Darnell Dockett is done for the season. That comes on many levels. On a defense that already lost Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington from last year’s unit, losing Dockett is a difficult pill to swallow.

After Dockett was carted off and practice resumed with some 7-on-7 work, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner gathered his players on the field and they all took a knee. I don’t know exactly what was said, but it certainly looked like Buckner was helping his guys get through what already looked like a rough patch that was later confirmed.

Now though, it’s about moving on. It’s about the future, which is in the short-term the 2014 season and in the long-term where 2015 might take Dockett and the Cardinals. Veteran Frostee Rucker should move into Dockett’s starting role, but again, there was always going to be a rotation on the defensive line. There was a reason the Cardinals drafted Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson. Those rookies are going to have to play a bigger role. They are going to have to grow up very fast because Dockett won’t be there to anchor — along with Calais Campbell — the line. One potential free agent to look at is long-time 3-4 defensive end Brett Keisel, Keisel was cut by the Steelers this offseason but he knows Bruce Arians and Buckner from their time in Pittsburgh. I have no idea if it’s possible he could come — I have no idea what kind of money he might want — but the Cardinals will need to add someone.

What will happen next year becomes very interesting. Dockett will turn 34 in May. He will be coming off major knee surgery. He will be going into the last year of his contract and will be due $6.5 million in salary and will have a $9.8M cap hit. That’s a lot of money for an older lineman. Like Larry Fitzgerald and his $23.6M cap hit in 2015, Dockett’s bulky contract was always going to be an issue after this season. That certainly hasn’t changed, and perhaps, becomes more of an issue because of the injury.

In the moment, though, there is only the gut-punch to the Cardinals. And the long rehab Dockett faces while the Cards try to prepare for the season to come.

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Peterson contract wait no surprise

Posted by Darren Urban on June 27, 2014 – 8:05 am

I’ve gotten multiple questions about Patrick Peterson’s potential extension – or possible extension, or inevitable extension, however you want to describe it – and for now, it’s about waiting. There have been initial talks, but as Kent Somers breaks down, there are reasons for that. I’m not sure when this will get done, other than I feel confident in saying it will get done at some point.

The 2011 first-rounders are all in the same boat, however. Of the 32 first-round picks from 2011 – the ones who had the fifth-year player option available to the teams to lock up the 2015 season, as the Cardinals did with Peterson –a total of 21 had their 2015 option picked up. Of the 11 that didn’t have it picked up, three have been traded (QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Jonathan Baldwin, OL Gabe Carimi) and one was cut (OL Danny Watkins).

None have yet signed an extension.

Not all are going to get an extension. It’s very much up in the air if a Christian Ponder or Jake Locker will ever get another deal with the teams that picked them (actually, it’s probably a sure thing Ponder will not). Many, though, will, and while it’s on everybody’s mind here about Peterson, the top of that draft has plenty of players about which everyone will be waiting to see when they get their new contracts and how much it is:

(1) Carolina              Cam Newton                     2015 option picked up
(2) Denver                Von Miller                     2015 option picked up
(3) Buffalo               Marcell Dareus                 2015 option picked up
(4) Cincinnati           A.J. Green                     2015 option picked up
(5) Arizona               Patrick Peterson              2015 option picked up
(6) Atlanta               Julio Jones                    2015 option picked up
(7) San Francisco     Aldon Smith                    2015 option picked up
(9) Dallas                Tyron Smith                    2015 option picked up
(11) Houston              J.J. Watt                      2015 option picked up

There is cap room to get something done, but then again, a team can always find the cap room to get deals done if they need it anyway. Is it possible there won’t be any deals until after the season for any of the 2011 first rounders? I could see it. The wait will be, well, whatever the wait is. Guys like Newton, Miller, Green, Jones, Watt and Peterson — I know this, that they will all get a new contract with their current team. It’s about when, not if.

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Peterson will be smart during contract talks

Posted by Darren Urban on May 13, 2014 – 9:48 am

First of all, Patrick Peterson isn’t going to hold out. If that was a question, Peterson stepped on it and killed it when asked about his contract extension situation yesterday.

“There won’t be no holding out for me,” Peterson said. “I want to continue playing football at a high level. … I have two years left so there’s no sense holding out.”

Peterson was holding a presser yesterday to talk about his charity dinner and foundations (all details are at patrickpeterson.org) but inevitably it turned into a discussion about the Pro Bowl cornerback’s contract status. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman just got a big contract extension, Browns cornerback Joe Haden just received one Tuesday morning, and these days, most consider Sherman, Haden and Peterson the top three young cornerbacks in the game. Peterson is going to need an extension, and while the Cardinals have some time after exercising Peterson’s 2015 team option — hence the “two years left” — it’s coming sooner rather than later.

Peterson, though, understands the process. He talked of working on something “bigger” than just a contract, and insisted he’ll be patient.

“I think I’m definitely well-deserving of a new contract, but at the end of the day it’s a business,” Peterson said. “You’ve got (salary) cap numbers, you’ve got other guys you need to take care of, the rookie pool. All that stuff falls into perspective, but at the end of the day I know (GM) Steve Keim, coach (Bruce) Arians and Mr. (Michael) Bidwill, they want me here for the long haul.”

That’s true. Ask Keim and he couldn’t act more confident that Peterson’s situation will eventually get worked out. Will it get messy? I don’t see it. Peterson is a smart man. He works in the big picture, not unlike teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has had a couple of uncomfortable contract situations (always with the leverage over the team, but still) and he has deftly worked around any bad feelings it might have caused not only with the team but the fan base. Peterson knows a holdout wouldn’t go over well with anyone and it probably wouldn’t make a huge impact either given how much time is left on his deal.

Instead, he’ll work within the system. And in the end, like Sherman and Haden, he’s gonna get paid.

“They drafted me for the long haul,” Peterson said. “I want to be that Adrian Wilson of the organization, that Larry Fitzgerald, that Darnell Dockett. I believe I’ve done some great things here early in my career, and I want to be here for a while.”



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An option for Peterson

Posted by Darren Urban on April 21, 2014 – 1:58 pm

It came as little surprise, given the circumstances and previous reports that it was going to happen, but the Cardinals officially executed the fifth-year team option on the rookie contract of Patrick Peterson today. The option is for the 2015 season, and will pay Peterson a little more than $10 million. More importantly, it gives the Cards some breathing room as they move toward a long-term contract extension. Peterson was at the facility today (although I didn’t get a chance to talk to him.) Without the option, Peterson would have been an unrestricted free agent after the season.

What the timeline will be for a Peterson extension is unknown. This isn’t a new subject. The option year means the Cards aren’t really under any pressure to get a new deal done yet — this could be complicated, since Peterson is going to want a hefty new contract — but General Manager Steve Keim has left little interpretation about Peterson’s future. Peterson isn’t going anywhere. He has joined Larry Fitzgerald as one of the faces of the franchise, and that isn’t going to change.

The contract is part of the reason a guy like Antonio Cromartie gets only a one-year deal. There are other factors, of course, but in part it’s because the Cards will have a significant investment in the other starting cornerback. Given needs across the depth chart, having to pay both starting CBs big money probably isn’t feasible in this salary-capped world. Given who is involved, with Keim and Peterson, I still expect this to come out with relatively few issues. It might not happen right away, but it’s going to happen.



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