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Blogs

An inside linebacker visits

Posted by Darren Urban on May 8, 2015 – 8:58 am

Multiple reports point out that the Cardinals brought in veteran inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton for a visit. Sharpton, 6-feet and 230 pounds, played with the Bears last season in five games, and in five NFL seasons (drafted by the Texans) he’s only played double-digit games twice. But if he were to sign he’d give the Cardinals another body as they try to fortify a position that needs a boost.

The Cards just signed four inside linebackers in their undrafted rookie class. And they are still awaiting word on the status of the suspended Daryl Washington, whose status even if he is reinstated by the NFL remains very much up in the air. If Washington indeed applied for reinstatement when he said he would, you’d expect to hear by the end of the month or so whether the NFL has cleared him — at least in this circumstance. As always, there has to be the reminder Washington faces further punishment from the league because of his assault conviction.

Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) is tackled by Chicago Bears cornerback Demontre Hurst (30) and linebacker Darryl Sharpton (53) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Campbell debuts on top 100 list

Posted by Darren Urban on May 6, 2015 – 8:53 pm

The NFL Network’s annual top 100 players list began to be revealed tonight, and the first 10 players included a Cardinal: Defensive end Calais Campbell.

It’s the first time Campbell has made the list (last year, Daryl Washington was named, as was Larry Fitzgerald and finally, Patrick Peterson.) There is little question the last year or two Campbell had a serious argument that he should have been in when he wasn’t. As for this year, Campbell clearly has mixed feelings.

“It’s a cool list to be on but I don’t feel they really get enough people to vote on it so I don’t know how accutrate it is,” Campbell said. “But it is cool interacting with the fans and putting it on NFL Network and everyone likes to watch it. I just wish they did a better job getting more votes. Still it’s cool to be on the list and even if you are not it’s cool to watch it and see the other guys and see what people think of other players.”

It’s hard to argue the point about accuracy — as good as Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is, can he really be considered better than Campbell? (Campbell was 99th on the list, Vinatieri is 98th.)


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Roster math heading into the draft

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2015 – 10:25 am

Crunching the numbers heading into the draft, the Cardinals currently have 72 players on their roster. With eight draft picks (for now), that leaves room for 10 undrafted rookies to be signed to reach the roster limit of 90 going into offseason work. (Phase 2, which is the first step of on-field stuff during the offseason, begins next week.) This does not include suspended linebacker Daryl Washington; if Washington were to be reinstated by the NFL, the Cardinals would have to find a roster spot for him if they did not release him. I still think it’s hard to believe they would release him after just paying him a $5 million bonus installment he was owed, but we’ll see.

There is a lot of room to maneuver with the roster, however. If they Cardinals trade for more draft picks — or trade away some of them — then the number of undrafted guys could shrink or grow. There is also a possibility the Cardinals could cut players already on the roster to make room for more undrafted rookies if the Cards feel they have a chance to improve the bottom section of the roster. That happened last year when a few guys were cut right after the draft.

The roster churn never ends with GM Steve Keim. He’s proven that. But we’re almost to the point where we will know the vast majority of the Cardinals’ roster for 2015. That’s when the football actually starts.

 


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Washington to apply for reinstatement

Posted by Darren Urban on April 10, 2015 – 4:12 pm

There have been a lot of questions about the status of suspended linebacker Daryl Washington, and nothing can happen until he is reinstated. His agent told Kent Somers that request to the NFL is coming “in the next week or so,” which will start the clock on the NFL considering Washington’s future. That’s a small part of Kent’s comprehensive breakdown of what is facing Washington and the Cardinals next. It’s a good read.

Whenever Washington is reinstated, his contract picks up where it was essentially frozen last May when he was suspended — meaning in terms of his salary, he will play 2015 like it was 2014, and so on along this contract. Washington did just get paid the $5 million he was owed on his deferred bonus money from pre-suspension. And again, when and if Washington is reinstated, he still doesn’t know if there will be NFL punishment handed down for his assault conviction last year.

Daryl Washington


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Bucannon as safety, not (as much) linebacker

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2015 – 9:31 am

Deone Bucannon was drafted as a safety, and then basically played linebacker all season. It was necessary because the Cardinals lost Daryl Washington and never quite found a linebacker replacement — so then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dropped the rookie into the mix in the nickel package as the new Washington.

Bucannon did pretty well in the role. But he sees himself as a safety and so do the Cardinals, and Bucannon will be a safety in 2015 — unless he isn’t.

“He’s going to play safety,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We know he can play dime linebacker. He’ll play safety until we find out we don’t have the other guy.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, newcomer Sean Weatherspoon, if healthy, is a three-down linebacker. And there is still a chance the Cardinals will bring back Washington. If Washington does not return — or even if he does — the Cardinals could still draft another (speedy) inside linebacker. I don’t know if there is anyone out there left on the free agent market the Cardinals could sign for that role but it wouldn’t be unheard of for the position later in the offseason (Karlos Dansby, Larry Foote). Another factor: The Cards are flush at safety, with Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson along with Bucannon.

“We know we have the flexibility because we have so many good, quality safeties,” Arians said. “He’ll still play (some linebacker) because we will still have that package. We like to have that much speed on the field.”

BucAsSafetyuse


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Arians: Suspended players need structure

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2015 – 9:48 am

When Bruce Arians was asked about suspended linebacker Daryl Washington earlier this week, he declined again. Arians has been pretty straightforward with handling questions about Washington that way. “He’s not even a part of our team so there’s no sense in talking about him,” Arians said.

Washington recently spoke about his excitement about returning to the NFL. It’s still no guarantee. The NFL still has to reinstate him, and in terms of the Cardinals, he’s still going to have to rebuild the trust he shredded on his way to his year-long punishment. (And that doesn’t include any other possible NFL punishment for his assault conviction.)

In general terms, though, Arians was willing to talk about how suspended players are treated. Washington, like other players with long-term suspensions, has not been allowed to be around the facility.

“I would definitely not isolate them from the only structure in their life,” Arians said. “You have to make sure they have structure on their life. Hopefully, that structure will help them overcome the problem — not turn them loose on themselves because obviously when they’re by themselves they can’t handle it. … Not just the team, but structured rehab with the team.”

WashBAbloguse


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Optimistic Washington awaits reinstatement

Posted by Darren Urban on March 22, 2015 – 11:56 am

The future of Daryl Washington as a Cardinal remains vague, since Daryl Washington the football player remains suspended by the NFL for violation of the substance abuse policy. That suspension was supposed to last for at least a year — late May — although the CBA does allow for Washington to begin the reinstatement process right around this time. The Cardinals aren’t talking about Washington or his status on the team until he is finally reinstated. Even when that happens, Washington must find out if there is any league punishment on last year’s assault conviction (which, assuming he went through the proper post-plea steps, should have been moved to a misdemeanor by now.)

But Mike Jurecki scored a coup when he recently talked to Washington. Washington told Jurecki he had completed anger management courses and said he hasn’t failed or missed any of the random drug tests he has needed to take. If true, both are positive steps towards reinstatement, I’d think. Of course, even if reinstated, there are other issues with which to deal — not the least of which is being able to regain the trust of the organization and teammates. Washington did say he’s had support from a number of teammates.

“I’m looking forward to a fresh start, and excited about playing football again,” Washington told Jurecki. “I’ve even thought about changing my number.”

DWashBlog


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The case for more speed and Daryl Washington

Posted by Darren Urban on February 26, 2015 – 9:39 am

It’s been repeated many times over the past few weeks, by both GM Steve Keim and especially coach Bruce Arians: The Cardinals are seeking more speed on defense. That was the first thing Arians mentioned at the recent Scouting combine, when he was asked what the team needed to do in rebuilding.

“We need speed at all our linebacker positions,” Arians said. “And continue to develop Kevin Minter into a better player. That’s important. But overall speed at all our linebacker positions.”

Minter is a key because he was a former second-round pick, but he was never drafted to be a speed guy. That was supposed to be Daryl Washington, whose game is predicated on speed. Washington’s future continues to be murky. According to the CBA, he can’t even begin the reinstatement process until sometime in early March, or 60 days before the end of what will be a year suspension. (The suspension was for at least a year; It was announced May 30 but the official notice might have come before that.) Then the NFL has to rule. Until then, the Cardinals say they aren’t even thinking about Washington and I would suppose they move forward in their defensive rebuild without him in mind. If he returns — remember, he still could face NFL punishment for his assault plea from last year — then it’s a bonus.

But in 2013, Arians saw first-hand what Washington’s speed could do. There is no denying Karlos Dansby had a fantastic season in 2013, but his play jumped another level when Washington returned from a four-game suspension that season. When you have guys that can cover ground sideline to sideline, when you have guys who can watch and keep up with someone like Russell Wilson if Wilson decides to scramble, then your defense has a different look.

That would seem to be a natural place for the Cardinals to start in free agency. How much speed might be available on the inside linebacker FA market is a different story. But when the first word out of the coach’s mouth each time he’s asked the question is “speed,” it’s obviously a priority.

Speed


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Foote, as player, or as coach

Posted by Darren Urban on February 9, 2015 – 10:13 am

When the news first trickled out last week that the Cardinals could be interested in Larry Foote as Bruce Arians’ “ex-player-to-add-to-the-coaching-staff” candidate, I immediately thought of something Foote said back in October. It struck me a bit odd at the time, but in the current context, maybe Foote’s coaching possibility has been long in the queue.

Foote was talking about what the Cardinals wanted him as initially, because that was before Daryl Washington was going to be lost for the season by suspension — but the Cards were assuming Washington would be sitting a few games as a suspension because of his assault guilty plea.

“Daryl was supposed to be suspended four to six games and I was, ‘OK, I can come play and coach’ and he ended up gone for the year,” Foote said.

Again, Foote brought it up in the context that he was drastically underpaid given what role he ended up having. But the line about coaching seems relevant now. Foote said after the season he hadn’t decided if he still wanted to play in 2015. I’d be stunned if the Cardinals wouldn’t want him back as a player if that’s what he decided to do, as a leader and mentor. You wouldn’t want him playing as much as he did in 2014 — Foote wore down as the season went on, understandably — but he could still be a valuable piece and certainly a guy you want influencing players like Kevin Minter and Washington.

(A quick side note: I found it interesting O’Brien Schofield admitted he was following the wrong guys in the locker room when he was with the Cards. The team doesn’t have to worry about that if Foote is around.)

If Foote decides playing isn’t what he wants, he can still be that leader as a coach. The players know he’s done it before. Foote can help with that bridge between the departed Todd Bowles and new defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Either way, Foote “gets it” and is someone you want around. As he intimated a few months ago, coaching might have always been part of the plan.

FooteBlog1

 


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Cards will take Washington absence into account

Posted by Darren Urban on January 29, 2015 – 3:19 pm

One of the many things the Cardinals must sort through this offseason is what to do with suspended linebacker Daryl Washington if and when he returns — and how to plan for the season with his status in limbo for the next few months. Washington’s suspension, which is for a year before he can request NFL reinstatement, lasts until late May. That’s after free agency, and it’s after the draft. Until this suspension ends, it seems unlikely the NFL will hand down whatever suspension Washington might get for his assault conviction from last year.

That’s a lot of uncertainty, and why team president Michael Bidwill said Thursday the Cardinals are going to go through the offseason ready to not have Washington available — and if he is around, the Cards will be that much better off.

“He’ll be facing the issue with the domestic violence and there has been no determination of what happens there,” Bidwill said. “He was only suspended for the drug issue, so we want to make sure we understand what that (other punishment) is. Last year, we learned about his suspension after free agency. This year we are going to plan to make sure we address all the issues not knowing whether Daryl will be back for part of next season or all of next season. ‘Next man up’ is real but we have to make sure we’ve gone into free agency and addressed that situation.”

— Bidwill reiterated once again he is optimistic the Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald will come to an agreement on a new contract.

“Larry and I have met about it, just he and I talking about it, and I know he’s interested in getting something resolved,” Bidwill said. “After the playoff game, he got away, left the country. He’s back now, it’s a busy week this week and we’ll start working on this next week. I think we’ll get this all worked out.

“He’s such a great person and a great player, he’s got many years left and I want to see him retire as an Arizona Cardinal. I want to see us move past getting this contract resolved and move forward.”

— The other Cardinal facing legal issues, running back Jonathan Dwyer, had his case play out Thursday. The running back, who had been arrested in September, pled guilty to a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced him to 18 months probation and community service. Dwyer is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

— Bidwill said again he plans on giving General Manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians contract extensions soon.

BidwillWashBlogUSE


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