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The ’11 draft class, and that Peterson extension

Posted by Darren Urban on January 24, 2014 – 3:17 pm

Under the new collective bargaining agreement put together in 2011, draft picks must be in the league three years before they can negotiate a contract extension. That means that 2011 class — which features Patrick Peterson, Cam Newton, Von Miller, A.J.Green, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn, among others — are all now eligible for new contracts, and the assumption has long been that many of those will happen. Certainly that has been a subject of speculation with Peterson. The Cardinals want to keep Peterson long term (of course) and it was not a coincidence that Peterson recently changed agents with that opportunity now looming.

But, as usual when it comes to big-money deals, none of this is a simple process. Jason Cole wrote an interesting piece about the situation of the 2011 draft class (he never touched on Peterson, specifically). In it, he talked to 10 GMs and/or cap specialists, and all expected that instead of a long-term extension this year that teams will opt to invoke the fifth-year option on each contract. Every first-round contract now as a fifth-year team option that, inevitably, will be a more affordable (and non-guaranteed) salary. In the case of 2011 picks, all are locked up through 2014 and then the team can invoke a 2015 year. This doesn’t even include the option to franchise tag a player for 2016.

(Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick are in similar situations as a fifth- and second-round picks in 2011, except as non-first-rounders, teams do not have a fifth-year option on those players. It actually gives non-first-rounders more leverage this offseason.)

In short, there isn’t an incredible urgency to extend one of those 2011 contracts now, other than the fact some of those 2011 draft picks probably won’t be thrilled they wouldn’t be extended right away given the level of play many of them have reached already. It will make for an interesting offseason when it comes to those players — including Peterson.


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One year at a time

Posted by Darren Urban on July 26, 2013 – 9:28 am

Eric Winston, a player who when he was first released was expected to command a healthy contract for multiple years, signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. It was another impressive step for GM Steve Keim, who has managed to corral quite a few players in one-year deals, providing flexibility going forward and incentive to those players to try and earn an extension.

It also has created quite a lengthy list of players that, as of now, are set to become unrestricted free agents after the season:

— S Jonathan Amaya

— CB Javier Arenas

— S Yeremiah Bell

— CB Antoine Cason

— LB Karlos Dansby

— TE Jim Dray

— K Jay Feely

— TE Jeff King

— RB Rashard Mendenhall

— G Chilo Rachal

— WR Andre Roberts

— DE Frostee Rucker

— DE/LB Matt Shaughnessy

— TE Kory Sperry

— S Curtis Taylor

— LB Reggie Walker

— T Eric Winston

— P Dave Zastudil

Obviously, not every name on that list is someone that the Cards are going to want to keep around long-term. Others will have to earn that right. It also doesn’t include other situations, like the inevitable Patrick Peterson extension that is assumed to be coming at some point after the season. The Cardinals definitely have a plan, however. Flexibility is key for Keim, who is trying to rebuild the roster.

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Mathieu contract out of the way

Posted by Darren Urban on May 23, 2013 – 2:31 pm

There was some early concern about how the Cardinals would structure the contract of Tyrann Mathieu, given Mathieu’s issues. But it didn’t seem to make a big difference. The slot at which Mathieu was chosen was scheduled to get a $662,500 signing bonus — obviously guaranteed money — and instead the deal is broken down with a smaller signing bonus ($265,000, according to Albert Breer) and then roster bonuses of $99,000 in 2014, $102,000 in 2015, $154,000 in 2016 (according to Adam Schefter.)

Breer also said that extra bonus money is guaranteed for skill and injury, which is contract lingo meaning Mathieu would get the money even if he isn’t good enough to make the team those years. But it covers the Cardinals if Mathieu isn’t on the roster because of drugs, which sounds like a fair way to resolve what could have been a complicated issue. (Breer has those details here.)

The contract has standard rookie minimum salaries of $405,000 this season, $495,000 in 2014, $585,000 in 2015 and $675,000 in 2016.

(UPDATE: A couple of days later, here is a full analysis of how the bonus system is structured for Mathieu.)

Mathieu called getting the deal done “a walk in the park.” He smiled as he said it. He knows many are paying attention — while he was waiting for team president Michael Bidwill to arrive to sign the deal, he noted the news would probably blow up on social media — and he knows everyone is aware of his story. He prefers to be thinking about football and learning how to play safety. It was interesting, however, to hear him talk about how he feels obligated to not only the organization but the community now that he’s signed a deal. His well-being is going to be an ongoing storyline for as long as he plays with the Cards (and in the league for that matter) since one slip-up will generate news. So far, though, Mathieu has gone through a pretty routine rookie transition.

— On a somewhat related note, the Cardinals had $7.88 million of cap space prior to Mathieu signing. I’m not sure if his deal would put him among the top 51 contracts or not, which would be the only way it would impact the cap right now.


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Four draft picks sign contracts

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2013 – 10:29 am

The Cardinals have begun signing draft picks. The last four choices — fifth-round running back Stepfan Taylor, sixth-round wide receiver Ryan Swope, sixth-round running back Andre Ellington and seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson — have all signed their CBA-required slotted four-year contracts. Given that the rookies will be here until Sunday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more (if not all) of the draftees under contract by the time it is all said and done.

Rookie minicamp began today (and here’s a pic of Taylor, Earl Watford, Jonathan Cooper and Swope. What, you didn’t see the photo gallery yet?)


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Next up for a contract

Posted by Darren Urban on September 6, 2012 – 12:32 pm

With the news Daryl Washington got a contract extension, it changes the list of who might be next up for the Cardinals on the contract front. The obvious and probable choice is running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season and is a player whom general manager Rod Graves has already said is a target for a new deal. We’ll see if that comes to fruition, but the way the NFL is these days, a back who fills the Hyphen’s role is important to have.

Beyond that? The Cardinals have done a good job managing contracts at this point. Extensions are usually only there for younger players who you don’t want to hit the open market. Older veterans who play a role usually don’t get anything done until after the season and even then, after free agency arrives — if the team is going to bring them back at all. So some of the guys scheduled to be free agents after the season — defensive linemen Vonnie Holliday and Nick Eason, tight end Todd Heap, safety James Sanders, linebacker Quentin Groves, tackle D’Anthony Batiste — probably aren’t going to get into talks until later.

One intriguing name is linebacker Paris Lenon, but he likely falls into the previous category, even as he is about to start for a third straight season and was named captain again. Lenon said he thinks he has more in the tank for beyond 2012, but we’ll see if the Cards’ front office has thoughts that dovetail with that. Beyond Lenon, there are younger guys like linebacker Reggie Walker and defensive backs Rashad Johnson and Michael Adams. I don’t see any of them getting new deals in season.

Other than that, the Cards are in good shape through 2013 in terms of key guys under contract. I know some are asking about Patrick Peterson, but he’s already under contract through 2015. He’ll have to be locked up before then, but there is plenty of time for that.

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Missing rookies no longer an issue

Posted by Darren Urban on June 15, 2012 – 10:45 am

Once, the end of offseason work for the Cardinals wasn’t just a beginning but a much bigger deal, specifically when coach Dennis Green used it in his first season as a time to announce his starting lineup for the season. (That was a crazy time. It really was.)

Now, coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasizes competition and ongoing competition. Nothing up for grabs was going to be settled in a month’s worth of work in May and June. But there was one thing settled that is a significant step for the Cardinals — every draft pick was signed before the work ended. Michael Floyd and Jamell Fleming (below) signed on the dotted line, and just like that, a headache that had shrunk in recent years (yet still existed) was gone.

It’ll be league-wide, and it’s thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement. No longer will players be holding out. I’ve never thought, if a player missed a day or two of camp, it was a huge deal, but looking at the last 10 years and the number of picks that have missed at least some time in camp, this is a welcome change:

— 2011 Patrick Peterson, missed 1 day

— 2010 Dan Williams, 3 days

— 2009 Beanie Wells, 3 days

— 2008 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 2 days

— 2007 Levi Brown, 6 days

— 2006 Matt Leinart, 15 days

— 2005 Antrel Rolle, 8 days

— 2004 Larry Fitzgerald, 1 day

— 2003 Calvin Pace, 3 days; Bryant Johnson 4 days

— 2002 Wendell Bryant, all of training camp and two weeks of the regular season

“Knowing the first day of training camp you will have everyone there is a big deal,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “When they miss those first couple of days, it seems like they are always playing catch-up. It’s good we had all our guys here. It’ll be good to have everyone there from Day One. It’s great that our organization, (president) Michael (Bidwill) and (general manager) Rod (Graves), have been so proactive.”

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Changing Bradley’s contract

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2012 – 9:43 pm

There has been so much talk about the contract of linebacker Stewart Bradley. The news came down Tuesday, first reported by Adam Caplan, that Bradley had his $5 million salary reduced to $2.5M this season. Kent Somers added the detail that Bradley could recoup the money in incentives, but it is a cut. As we have talked about before (ironically, using Bradley as an example) a player doesn’t usually mind restructuring a contract because that doesn’t cost the player any money. In this case, Bradley does lose money. In reality, he probably wouldn’t get a $2.5M salary at this point on the open market so it’s still worth it for him to take a cut. And the last three years of his contract remain, for now, unchanged, meaning he can get back to a $5M salary next year if he plays well enough.

That’s the big question. He couldn’t beat out Paris Lenon last season. We will see what an offseason can do for Bradley, who right now is expected to help both outside and inside at linebacker. In some ways, he’s the defensive version of Kevin Kolb, both with the need of an offseason and the need for a rally year after 2011.

— Bradley can feel more comfortable in one way: He’s back to his familiar jersey No. 55 now that Joey Porter is gone. Cornerback William Gay also has switched already, getting No. 23 (from the original issue No. 29.) That probably doesn’t bode well for free-agent safety Hamza Abdullah. Wide receiver DeMarco Sampson switched from No. 89 to No. 10, and defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin went from No. 60 to No. 95.

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About those rookie contracts

Posted by Darren Urban on July 7, 2010 – 10:34 am

Ran into general manager Rod Graves yesterday before he was going to start a lunchtime workout and we had a brief chat. The Cards still don’t have any of their seven draft picks under contract, but I expect that to change sooner rather than later. A couple of tidbits when talking to Graves came up. One, even with all the talk and concern about the state of the labor talks, he doesn’t think that will have a significant impact on the signing of first-round draft picks. There figure to be a handful of guys who go down to the wire (or even a few days into camp), but no more than normal.

The Cardinals also are changing the way they are approaching contract length. In the past, the first-rounder has always had a longer deal (usually six years), the second-rounder got a four-year deal, and everyone else signed for three seasons (with the team knowing the player would be a restricted free agent at that point and he could be tendered for one year, extended or just let go). Graves said the lower picks will now get four-year deals. It’s the wave of the NFL and few teams are still doing it the way the Cards have been, so the Cardinals are just going to go with the league’s flow.

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Dollars and sense

Posted by Darren Urban on May 5, 2010 – 11:32 am

There’s been a lot of talk about contracts the last couple of days. The 49ers gave an extension to linebacker Patrick Willis, the Saints re-upped guard Jahri Evans. The totals are reported to be $50 million or more for each (although we all know that’s what former Cards’ coach Dave McGinnis once called “Roger Rabbitt money,” since much of the back end of the deal will never been seen). Still Willis is getting $29 M guaranteed, and Evans figures to do well in that regard too (the details haven’t leaked — yet. UPDATE: Evans will get almost $26 M in the first three years).

Inevitably, guys sign deals and that perks up the ears of others looking for money (I would guess Deuce Lutui, looking for a long-term deal and still unsigned, noticed Evans’ news). Markets are set and the watch for the next guy begins. And sometimes the watching comes from the guy himself. Obviously defensive lineman Darnell Dockett is hoping for a new deal and it’s not surprising he not only has noticed new contracts but in general, tends to have money on his mind.

But Dockett seems to have dealt with his current issues better this offseason. Maybe it’s because fellow disgruntled teammate Anquan Boldin is no longer a teammate. Maybe it’s because Dockett and agent Drew Rosenhaus have had multiple chats with management this offseason and, even if they aren’t agreeing yet, both sides at least have an understanding where the other one is coming from. Maybe it’s because Dockett sees how the Adrian Wilson extension happened, and realizes there may be no reason to give himself an ulcer about it.

Dockett, although he had left his stance vague, has remained here the last couple of days doing the voluntary workouts, which hasn’t happened the previous two years. He came to the charity golf tournament Monday and, even though he doesn’t really golf, at least hung out a while and took a cart out on the course to see and be seen. I still think the Cardinals will give him the money he has earned. It may not come quite on the timetable he wanted, but I think it will eventually happen. I heard Dockett on XTRA 910 last week say (despite all his rhetoric on the subject) he’d like to stay in Arizona, be a career Cardinal, be with this coaching staff and leave a legacy.

Who knows? Maybe, the longer he stays here, he’ll eventually gain a golf game.

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Inside some contract numbers

Posted by Darren Urban on March 31, 2010 – 4:32 pm

When the Cardinals signed their current crop of free agents — linebacker Joey Porter, quarterback Derek Anderson, linebacker Paris Lenon and guard Rex Hadnot — much was made about the size of their contracts. But, especially for Porter and Anderson, both are clearly set up to give the Cardinals some leeway after one season if the team goes in a different direction.

According to the NFL Players Association, Porter’s three-year contract — worth a reported $17.5 million — provides Porter with a $1.25 million salary in 2010 and $5.75 million salaries in 2011 and 2012. Assuming the $17.5 million is correct, that gave Porter $4.75 million in bonuses or other non-salary money. Even if all that money is up front, that’s $6 million for 2010, not an out-of-whack up-front commitment. (UPDATE: Hat tip to Mike Sando, who saw the post and let me know Porter’s signing bonus was $4 million with workout bonuses of $250,000 each season. Seeing Porter work out the first couple days, I am guessing he’ll collect that money, but it also means “just” $5.5 million in 2010.)

Anderson’s deal was worth a reported $7.25 million for two seasons. His salary for 2010 is just $650,000 (with approximately $2.7 million in bonus money) before jumping to $3.9 million in 2011. Again, a fair split for a quarterback, and also workable if the Cards decide to quickly go elsewhere at the position. Much has been made about how much Matt Leinart will make in 2011 if he stays under his current deal (north of $12 million for sure, and more if he plays really well) but the Cards are clearly trying to stay flexible at the position.

Lenon is schedule to make $900,000 in salary this season before $1.4 million salaries in 2011 and 2012, while Hadnot’s salaries on a three-year deal break down to $1 million this year and $1.5 million in 2011 and 2012.

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