Blogs

The fifth-year option and Josh Rosen

Posted by Darren Urban on May 2, 2018 – 1:14 pm

The fifth-year team option for NFL teams for their first-round draft picks is always an interesting proposition, and it’s at the forefront of league topics right now since Wednesday is the deadline for team’s to figure out their choice for the 2015 draft picks. The Cardinals already made their call, exercising the option for tackle D.J. Humphries. It’s also part of the story for new first-round pick Josh Rosen, with whom the Cards will have a fifth-year option in 2022.

The Cardinals usually use their option, which began in 2011 after the new collective bargaining agreement came to pass. Of all their first-round picks since then that have come up for the option, the only time the Cards didn’t use it was on guard Jonathan Cooper (who was actually traded to New England for Chandler Jones before the option deadline arrived in 2016.) Patrick Peterson, Michael Floyd, and Deone Bucannon have all had their rookie deals extended to that fifth season — which does jump a player’s salary a good amount depending on their position and draft slot, but does keep the player from free agency another year.

Rosen’s case in a few years will be interesting. As noted in Kyle Odegard’s story today, finding a rookie quarterback to use is the best way for a team to build up its roster because the rookie wage scale makes a QB much cheaper — and there is more room under the cap to get players elsewhere. That’ll be the first four years. Former agent and cap expert Joel Corry does estimate that by 2022, assuming a similar climb in the salary cap, Rosen’s 2022 fifth-year option will be north of $25 million.

If Rosen is the real deal, there is no question the fifth-year option will come into play. (Next year, with Robert Nkemdiche, would seem to come down to his 2018 work.) Because of the timing — and because a player cannot get a contract extension or a new deal until he has played three years in the league — chances are good that Rosen will be optioned. But the Cards might make sure he gets a new deal before it ever kicks in. If Rosen is the player they hope he is.


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Sam Bradford and his contract

Posted by Darren Urban on March 19, 2018 – 1:47 pm

When Sam Bradford signed last week, the immediate reaction was tied in part to the contract he got and the numbers that were being thrown around. Monday, the details of the contract leaked out in multiple places, underscoring that the Cards did give Bradford a nice contract — but, given his injury history, he will have to be on the field for it to be as nice as it can be.

The key points: A $10 million signing bonus and a $5 million salary — the $15M guaranteed originally reported. Bradford can get another $5 million, but it will be doled out on a per-game basis, which works out to $312,500 each time he is active for a game. Interestingly, he also got a no-trade clause, perhaps not a shock after he was dealt right before the season started in 2016 from Philadelphia to Minnesota.

The Cardinals hold a team option for 2019, which has to be exercised a couple of days into the 2019 league year.


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David Johnson talks coach, contract, Fitz

Posted by Darren Urban on January 18, 2018 – 4:44 pm

David Johnson’s wrist is healed, with his strength and full range of motion having returned, and he’s anxious to play again given that he doesn’t even feel like he played football in 2017. And like everyone else, the running back is paying attention to the Cardinals’ current search for a head coach.

“I’m definitely staying aware but I don’t know what (GM) Steve Keim and (president) Mike Bidwill are thinking,” Johnson said on the PFT PM podcast. “I know they will get a coach that fits the team and is going to be ready to elevate this team and get us to that Super Bowl.”

Johnson touched on a few subjects, including the possibility of a new contract. The 2015 third-round pick has a year left on his rookie deal and now is finally eligible for an extension. The collective bargaining agreement prevents extensions for players on rookie deals until after their third season.

“I hope so,” Johnson said about talks for a new deal. “But I’m really focusing more on getting this injury (healed) and making sure I’m ready to play in 2018, that I am healthy as possible. Especially with so much going on in the offseason with the coaches and the quarterback and stuff, I can’t really focus too much on the contract talk.”

— On the subject of Larry Fitzgerald’s potential return, Johnson was blunt. “Larry is going to come back,” Johnson said. “He’s still playing at a high level.”

Johnson rattled off Fitz’s stats, including another year of more than 100 catches and more than 1,000 yards. “He’s gotta come back,” Johnson added. “He’s got to help us get us to that Super Bowl we’re trying to get.” Along those lines, Johnson had been hoping quarterback Carson Palmer wouldn’t retire and tried to “recruit him to come back.”

— Johnson said he was “hit hard” by the retirement of Bruce Arians, and that he believes he and Adrian Peterson “can really elevate each other’s game” if they play together this season.

— The running back said he has no idea who the quarterback will be, but that he has confidence in both Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton if one of them is the starting signal-caller.

— His injury and season on the sideline left him more grateful to play the game. “Football can end in the blink of an eye,” Johnson said. “So I feel more grateful to where I’ll do as much as I can to stay on that field as long as I can.”


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Fitz closes in on contract extension

Posted by Darren Urban on November 16, 2017 – 5:25 pm

Multiple reports — first by Pro Football Talk — have Larry Fitzgerald closing in on a one-year contract extension with the Cardinals. (Pure coincidence, by the way, that I happened to touch on Fitz’s future — and his lack of a contract — this morning.) It’s no secret that retirement has begun to be a possibility for the wide receiver. Whether that has become less of a possibility for Fitz, I can’t say. He’s been steadfast in saying he will consider such things when the season is over.

What this move does tell me though is that the Cardinals want to make sure that if Fitz does decide to play in 2018, it is as a Cardinal. They made a similar move much earlier last year — training camp in 2016, for the one-year extension for 2017 — to get that certainty. You don’t want to be in a situation when the contract expires in the spring and Fitz doesn’t have a contract in place and he is a free agent. The Cardinals — and ownership — want to make sure Fitz stays right here as long as he is playing. We’ll see if the news comes out Friday. It would make some sense.

UPDATE: And the deal is now done.


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Keim: No such thing as disappointing win

Posted by Darren Urban on November 14, 2016 – 8:10 am

Steve Keim was blunt.

“I don’t think there are any disappointing wins,” the Cardinals GM said during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7. “The one thing I’ve learned in this position is to respect and appreciate every win.”

The Cardinals are back to .500 after beating the 49ers. They have huge games coming up, on the road, with playoff contenders Minnesota and Atlanta. The good news is that Keim said the Cards came out of the game “relatively healthy” — Keim was not asked about the status of Larry Fitzgerald — and in keeping with the theme of respecting every victory, he found the positives from his team’s first game of the second half of the season.

— Keim said he was encouraged by the play of two players who struggled in the first half of the season: wide receiver Michael Floyd and kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Both continued to work every day despite their issues, Keim said. Especially for Floyd, “to see a smile on his face in the locker room was exciting for all of us,” Keim said.

— The offensive line did OK. Keim said new left tackle John Wetzel “played good” although Keim acknowledged the 49ers don’t have much of an edge rush (Wetzel will most certainly face a harder test against the Vikings.) The 49ers came in with a plan to jam up the run, so even going against the NFL’s worst run defense, “do you want to run into a wall?” Keim asked rhetorically. Instead, the Cardinals threw the ball. It led to turnovers, all on passing plays — two interceptions, a fumble by Palmer trying to buy time to throw a pass, a fumble by J.J. Nelson after a catch. The turnovers are what made the game close, Keim said.

— He praised Fitzgerald. “Fitz continues to be a warrior, making plays in critical situations,” Keim said. Again, no comment (or question) about Fitz’s health.

— The big picture says the Cardinals “have opportunities ahead of us.” And the Cards did finish in a close game, something they didn’t do against New England or Seattle (or Los Angeles, for that matter.”

— Keim said there was a chance safety Tyrann Mathieu will be able to return either against the Vikings or the following week against the Falcons.

— Keim still doesn’t give much vibe one way or the other about the possibility of a Chandler Jones contract extension. “Without getting into the dialogue of negotiations, when you make a trade you’re not sure how its going to go,” Keim said. “But he’s been a great teammate, fantastic in locker room, he works hard on and off on field. He’s been great fit for us, and hopefully we can iron out something long term.”


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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.”

CCContractBlog


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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.

FrosteePact


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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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