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Washington waits for NFL decision

Posted by Darren Urban on May 20, 2014 – 1:28 pm

Daryl Washington was on the field in his usual starting inside linebacker spot for Tuesday’s opening of the Cardinals’ organized team activities. Afterward, he said he was like everyone else, waiting to hear what the NFL will decide for his fate following his plea agreement last month on an assault charge.

“I can’t really worry about it because it’s something that’s going to happen,” Washington said of a possible suspension. “I can’t say I hope nothing happens. Something is going to happen and I am a little worried. But I am just ready for a decision to know where I stand. It’s a waiting process right now.”

Washington has been through this before, after finding out last year that he would serve a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. In that case, though, Washington knew exactly what was coming in terms of length. The unknown in this instance makes the waiting more difficult.

“You know about being prepared, but you still get nervous about the situation, whether it’s going to be one game, two games, five games,” Washington said. “All I can do is focus on what I can do, which is go out and try and get better every day.”

“I’m ready to have the situation over with,” Washington added. “I’m focusing on football and it’s good to be out here with my teammates.”

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Washington again makes top 100 list

Posted by Darren Urban on May 11, 2014 – 10:59 am

The draft is over, so it’s time to hit some other subjects. The NFL Network is once again doing their list of the top 100 players in the league. The Cardinals got their first mention with linebacker Daryl Washington, who comes in at No. 96 (down two spots from where he was ranked last year.) Interestingly, the theme of the video is that not many know who D-Wash is. Obviously, that’s not a problem around the Cardinals.

In fact, all this video does is underscore how important Washington is to the Cards even with his off-field issues. It’s been a year since he got into trouble, first with the announcement of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and then an arrest for assault. But the aftermath lingers, after Washington recently (and finally) had his court case play out. He received probation, but everyone now waits to see when and if the NFL decides to give Washington another suspension. Because the suspension wouldn’t take place until the regular-season, there is time before it would be an issue, but I’m sure everyone involved would like to have resolution. That includes the fan base.

With the departure of Karlos Dansby, Washington becomes even more important to this defense. If the Cards keep winning, it seems inevitable Washington will rise higher in the top 100 list over the next couple of years.

– One quick post-draft note: Teams have started to agree to terms with undrafted rookies, but the Cardinals won’t officially put their list out of players until Monday.


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Cards add LB Foote

Posted by Darren Urban on May 6, 2014 – 10:20 pm

The draft is coming Thursday, but the Cardinals decided not to wait until then to add to the roster. The news came out Tuesday night that veteran linebacker Larry Foote is signing a one-year contract with the Cards. Foote confirmed the move to the Associated Press and later tweeted about coming to the Cards. (The team has yet to officially announce the move. Now it has.) With the uncertainty of what will happen with Daryl Washington and any possible suspension along with depth needs in general, a Foote signing makes a lot of sense. It shouldn’t impact the draft and it’s not even a lock the 34-year-old Foote will make the final roster depending on who else ends up on the team. This is a depth move. Nothing has been handed to Kevin Minter, but I don’t think this has anything to do with dissatisfaction with him either.

Foote considered coming here as a free agent back in 2010, He spent most of his career with the Steelers, including last year, although Foote played in only one game before rupturing his right biceps. He coincidentally was cut by the Steelers in March on the same day Pittsburgh released former Cards tackle Levi Brown.


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Only the truth(?): Highlights from a draft presser

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2014 – 12:20 pm

You have to hand it to GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians, who managed to make a 30-minute pre-draft press conference entertaining considering that no real news can come out of it. As willing as both are to interact with the media, no secrets are coming out. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have some fun with it.

“Everything you hear this time of year is the furthest thing from the truth. Except from us two,” Keim deadpanned.

And as far as mock drafts go, Arians — who smiled and said he read ‘em all — was blunt: “They make for banter and chatter and good bar talk, but there isn’t much reality to it.”

As far as the other quick-hit highlights (I’ll post a story later today on the homepage):

– Keim wouldn’t rule out trading up but made it clear trading down made much more sense. Keim wants to have more than the six draft picks the Cards already have. It’ll be wait-and-see if that can happen.

– Keim said coaches and scouts have already reached out to some players who may not get drafted, to try and sell them on the idea of the Cardinals as a good fit and signing in Arizona as an undrafted free agent. That’s interesting, since the draft itself will alter the roster landscape.

– Neither would rule out drafting a quarterback, although Arians acknowledged it’s tough to have a first-round pick sit. There are quarterbacks they like. No, they wouldn’t say who. (At one point, Arians was asked how many QBs they would take in the first round. “Ten,” Arians said with a grin.) But taking a guy later? That sounded less promising as Arians talked about how many holes are in the games of QBs that last that long. “To think you’re going to draft (a QB) in the third round and he’s going to beat out (third-stringer) Ryan Lindley, that’s tough to do.”

– Arians said the potential suspension of Daryl Washington would not change how the Cards make their picks.

– The Cardinals finished their “120” board this morning, the list on which the Cards will make their draft selections. The powers-that-be will run through a bunch of mock draft scenarios Tuesday in order to try and get a sense of the many ways the first round can go.

– Keim said Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier can play inside or outside, and in regard to Shazier’s smaller size, noted that he was similar to the 49ers’ Patrick Willis and bigger than Navarro Bowman.

– He said ASU’s Will Sutton is more of a 4-3 under tackle.

– Keim said there are “four to five” safeties at the top of the list. After that there is a dropoff to guys who may or may not be able to start in the NFL at some point.

– Arians was impressed with Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas’ arm strength. He hesitated slightly when asked if Thomas’ future position is QB. “He thinks so,” Arians said.

– Keim on Johnny Manziel: “He’s one of the few guys this year when you are evaluating players where you want to get a big Coke and a popcorn box, put your feet up and it’s fun to watch. … There are not many guys who have come out with his skill-set. He’s a polarizing figure.”

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Voluntary workouts can be rewarding

Posted by Darren Urban on April 25, 2014 – 12:49 pm

The Cardinals have had good turnout at their voluntary work thus far, which is always good to see. I’ve seen almost everyone on the current roster at some point (I keep getting questions about players that aren’t in photos — Patrick Peterson, Ted Ginn and Carson Palmer in particular. I have seen all three. Workouts run at 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. after meetings. I’m not taking pictures at 6 and usually I’ve moved on in my day at 12:30, so just because they aren’t in a photo doesn’t mean anything.) It’s important to have guys around, as Darnell Dockett noted yesterday.

“This is voluntary, so when you have guys here, voluntary, and we grade out at 94 percent every day of people coming in, that shows the right direction we’re trying to go in,” he said. “Not showing up with 20 guys, missing 15 here and 30 here, 20 guys late, people missing in the classroom. That’s a bad sign. So right now every day we’re getting out this work, and we’re appreciating it and enjoying it. We’re getting better. Chemistry is not all about coming in talking about football and weights. We’re getting to know each other.”

Kent Somers does a nice job chronicling how Dockett’s mindset has changed after multiple offseasons when he wasn’t here. Part of the change for the Cards — and around the NFL for that matter — has been a proliferation of workout bonuses in contracts. Players get paid for their weekly attendance, but it’s not much really, $175 a day as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement. If you make the workouts a fruitful part of the paycheck, you tend to motivate. Overthecap.com writes about this. Seven teams in the league have invested at least $2 million of cap space into offseason workout bonuses, including the Cardinals at $2.085 million. The most is the Packers, at $4.325M, and that’s not a surprise knowing that many players probably wouldn’t want to stick around Green Bay in the offseason if they could avoid it.

Nine Cardinals collect six figures just for showing up for whatever the prescribed amount of offseason workouts would be (it’s usually a high percentage of the total days available.) Dockett, DE Calais Campbell, WR Larry Fitzgerald and QB Drew Stanton get $250,000. C Lyle Sendlein and S Rashad Johnson get $150,000. Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy gets $125,000. Linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Daryl Washington get $100,000. And there are eight other players who get money.

Cash doesn’t explain everything. There are a ton of guys on the roster — big-name guys — who have been here and get no extra monetary reward for doing so, including new players like Jared Veldheer, Antonio Cromartie and Ted Ginn. There is a push from those on the roster to make sure teammates are hear for the reason of just making sure the team will be as good as possible. But as always, money plays a role.

WorkoutCash

 


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Washington sentenced to probation

Posted by Darren Urban on April 23, 2014 – 9:26 am

The court case for linebacker Daryl Washington has finally come to a conclusion, almost a year after his initial arrest. Washington, who entered a plea last month after being charged with assault on the mother of his child, was sentenced Wednesday morning to one year of supervised probation for one aggravated assault charge. That means no jail time, although that is not a surprise given his plea deal. But now comes the second part of this equation. The NFL has been monitoring the case, of course, but it waits until it is fully played out before handing out any of its own punishment. That time has arrived.

How long it takes the NFL to make a decision on whether or not to suspend Washington — who served an unrelated four-game suspension to begin last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — is up in the air. Anything that would happen would come in the form of a regular-season ban, so there is time. Given the way commissioner Roger Goodell has handled things in the personal conduct area, a suspension would not be a surprise. Washington is officially charged with a felony, but if he performs well during the probation — essentially does everything the court asks — it will be reduced to a misdemeanor. What that means for the NFL is in question; a felony isn’t a good thing, obviously, but does the possible reduction play into the decision?

The Cardinals weathered the Washington-is-missing storm last year (going 2-2 in his absence.) We’ll see later today when the schedule comes out — 5 p.m. Arizona time, be sure to check azcardinals.com then! — what the Cards face in September. Last year, of course, the Cards had Karlos Dansby upon which to fall back without Washington. Dansby is gone. There is Kevin Minter, and Lorenzo Alexander, Kenny Demens and JoJo Dickson, and maybe a draft pick. Washington was already a key to this defense. Any absence will have an impact.

UPDATE: Coach Bruce Arians briefly addressed Washington this morning at the Cardinals’ charity golf tournament. “We’ve known this was coming for a long time,” Arians said. “Daryl’s known it. Whatever the judge decides is right, in this case. And we’ll live with it. We’ll wait and see how it goes.”

Dwashsentenceuse

 

 


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Kurt, LoZo inside and a fluid roster

Posted by Darren Urban on April 3, 2014 – 10:25 am

A little of this, a little of that …

– Kurt Warner captured by TMZ talking about Arizona vs. St. Louis. “I probably feel more allegiance to Arizona than St. Louis, just because of the fact there are a number of people that are still there, teammates or in the upper levels (of the organization), being the last place I played, I still live there, there is probably a little more allegiance there,” Warner said. “But still a huge fan of St. Louis and I thank them for everything they gave me.”

I’ve been asked before whether Warner, if and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, would go in as a Cardinal or a Ram. Moot point. Players don’t pick a team for their bust, like you do in the baseball Hall. I just like the fact Warner showed up on TMZ.

– As far back as when Lorenzo Alexander signed with the Cards Bruce Arians was talking about how he had “inside and outside capabilities” at linebacker. Last year, the Cards needed him outside. Now, they need him inside, so it’s no surprise to hear that’s where they are going to play him. It’s highly likely the Cards look at outside linebacker/pass rusher again in the draft (you keep taking those guys when you are building a 3-4 and you don’t have a dynamic, young pass rusher) and depth is needed inside. You don’t know if/how long Daryl Washington might be suspended, you don’t know if Kevin Minter will be the answer. Alexander, who has played inside earlier in his career in Washington, provides depth and a guy who can spot start.

– I’ve been asked a couple of times whether the signings of LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley means the Cards would be less likely to draft a cornerback. No. I thought that when they signed and that’s just underscored with the news yesterday that both two-year deals the players signed did not include a signing bonus. In other words, they can be released without any cap penalty, and in the offseason and a fluid roster, there are often a player or two signed that don’t even get to training camp. I’m not saying that’s Lewis or Whitley, but the bottom line, they are no locks either.

– Virginia Tech tweeted out photos of Arians working out QB Logan Thomas yesterday. What does it mean? It means the Cards are doing due diligence. Beyond that, please don’t get too riled up. I’d want to see what the kid could do too, especially since he’s about as raw as they come even with his considerable physical tools. The annual workout/pre-draft visit caveat: Just because the team meets/works out a guy, it doesn’t mean they are interested. I know of past connections done specifically when they knew they didn’t like the guy just as a smokescreen. And you never know how the meeting/workout went anyway — the Cards may find out they don’t like the kid for one reason or another.


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“Throw gas” on a potentially dominant defense

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2014 – 12:09 pm

The Cardinals’ initial foray into free agency was offense-heavy. Not a big shock, since that side of the ball need the most work. As the draft approaches, however, the focus may just shift. Because even though Bruce Arians is an offensive guy, GM Steve Keim has a belief that the good teams in this salary cap work have a dominant side of the ball. And the Cardinals — with the No. 1 rush defense and the sixth-ranked defense overall — aren’t in that realm on the offensive side of the ball.

“Seattle was a dominant defense with a solid offense,” Keim said. “Denver was a dominant offense with an OK defense. In our situation, we are closer to having a dominant defense. So I think you have to continue to throw gas on the fire. Continue to build the strength.”

That’s why cornerback Antonio Cromartie shot to the top of the to-do list after he was cut by the Jets. The move surprised the Cards — they did not think New York would let him go — but rallied to understand the situation and aggressively court him. It was only a one-year contract, but the team proved last year with linebacker Karlos Dansby that could be a golden type of situation. There are still spots defensively that need shoring up (like the need for a safety or inside linebacker depth), and there is also Keim’s quest to get longer and more athletic with his 3-4 defensive ends and the pass rushers outside. The draft could very well provide those things. But when you start looking at the top end talent on the roster, it is the defense that claims many of the spots, whether it is Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell or Daryl Washington. (Or even, as Ron Wolfley points out, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who fortunately for the Cards did not get a head coaching job.)

The offense isn’t going to be ignored — “We know we have areas we need to fix and it certainly needs to catch up with the defense,” Keim said — but a defensive juggernaut is the first goal. It’s what has put the Seahawks and 49ers into the stratosphere they are in, and why the Cards returned to relevance last season.

DefenseGasBLOG

 


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Washington court case coming to close

Posted by Darren Urban on March 24, 2014 – 12:23 pm

The Cardinals are counting on linebacker Daryl Washington as an anchor to the defense, a point underscored when the team not surprisingly recently decided to pay the large bonus he was owed. But he still needs to find out the consequences, if any, from the NFL after his ongoing assault case is adjudicated. That took a big step Monday, when Washington pled guilty to a lesser aggravated assault charge. It is a Class 6 felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 23, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court.

Once he is sentenced, then the NFL will take a look at the situation and decide what should happen to Washington, if anything. He already was suspended four games last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Whether that would factor in to this situation is unknown, but Washington has stayed on the straight and narrow since all this happened in a short offseason window last year, and he has insisted his issues are behind him. He has always said he’d like to be one of the main leaders of this franchise. The Cards would like that as well.

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In the wake of the free agency week

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2014 – 4:00 pm

A quiet day, finally, around the Cardinals. I know many were hoping for Antonio Cromartie free agent news but there isn’t any. Until he signs somewhere though, I wouldn’t rule out the Cardinals. Again, if he comes, it’ll be on the Cards’ terms. Beyond that, I think the Cards will keep looking at options but the market is going to be a buyer’s market now. That’s right up Steve Keim’s alley.

– The Cardinals have about $11 million in cap space. I don’t know if that yet includes Ted Ginn’s deal. It’s definitely not going to count the new contract for LB Matt Shaughnessy, since Shaughnessy hasn’t actually signed yet, and there might be a couple other lesser deals yet to be counted. That will come soon. Still, it’s plenty of room to work. It doesn’t hurt the space that Jared Veldheer’s cap number in the first season is just $2.5M and Ginn will be a mere $1.75M.

Overthecap.com, which broke down the Ginn deal, notes that $2 million of Ginn’s $3.25M salary for 2015 is guaranteed if he is on the roster on the third day of the league year next year. In other words, if the Cards decide to release him it will be right around the time free agency begins.

– The Cardinals exercised the option bonus they needed to pay linebacker Daryl Washington this week. Washington’s assault case is still ongoing — his next court date is scheduled for April 23 — but he’s a cornerstone of this defense and isn’t going anywhere. There is still a chance he is suspended depending on the outcome of the court case, but the Cards will deal with it.

– It was a fruitful and smart start to free agency for the Cardinals. Get a left tackle, get a speed receiver/return man, get some interior OL depth, get running back depth. Re-sign a key linebacker like Shaughnessy, and as much as they wanted Karlos Dansby back, let him walk when the money got crazy. I also think, the way Keim operates, that from this point forward is even more important for the Cards. They have an excellent sales pitch right now and two guys in Keim and Bruce Arians who know how to sell it. There will be another Dansby-Abraham-Winston or two this offseason.

– As I pointed out on Twitter last night (@cardschatter, if you want more immediate updates from yours truly), we will have a video on azcardinals.com soon about Fitzgerald’s trip up in an F-16. Until there, here’s a taste of Fitz in the cockpit.


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