This is one way you can maneuver through the salary cap as long as you are patient and have a little flexibility. The news came out March 8 that the Cardinals would be releasing Daryn Colledge a couple of days from then and designating him a June 1 release. Teams are allowed a couple of the pre-June 1 “June 1″ cuts every year if they so choose. What it means is that the team can release a player immediately but still spread the “dead money” cap hit over the next two years. The catch is that the team has to carry the player’s entire 2014 salary cap charge — or at least, what it was going to be — until actually June 1, before the benefit kicks in.
In Colledge’s case, the Cardinals were carrying his 2014 cap charge of $7.275 million all the way through June. (Since June 1 was Sunday, the “June 1″ cut didn’t become official until today.) With the arrival of June, Colledge now costs the Cardinals only $2.275 million on the cap this year, and will cost another $2.275M of dead money in 2015. That means just by time passage the Cardinals pick up another $5 million of cap space today (which Jason at overthecap.com covers nicely here.)
The NFLPA website listed the Cards at around $4.5 million of salary cap room going into the weekend, so the Cardinals should be around $9.5 million of cap space now. They still have to sign No. 1 draft pick Deone Bucannon, but there is a decent amount of wiggle room to make whatever moves necessary — including, you’d figure, the addition of a veteran inside linebacker in light of the Daryl Washington suspension.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Deone Bucannon, salary cap
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The Cardinals got themselves a left tackle. That was the main goal of free agency, and it was accomplished with the Jared Veldheer signing last week. Questions remain about what the offensive line will look like for the Cards in 2014, with veteran Eric Winston still a free agency and Daryn Colledge released. In reality, three of the positions are set, barring something crazy:
LT — Veldheer
LG — Jonathan Cooper
C — Lyle Sendlein
There are questions about the other two spots. At right guard, the Cardinals are hoping 2013 fourth-round pick Earl Watford can step into the starting role after watching all last season. Watford looks the part, a big, athletic, not-sloppy-at-all 295 pounds. On the roster right now, the main competition should come from either Paul Fanaika, who started at the spot all last season after Cooper’s injury, or free-agent signee Ted Larsen. I don’t see them adding another guard in free agency, but we’ll see. The draft is a different animal, but again, I don’t see another guard in the offing.
Right tackle is a different story. With Winston unsigned — and who knows if he is coming back here — the options are Bobby Massie (the leader in the clubhouse right now), Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter. I think they see Sowell as a reserve swing tackle who could back up both spots. Potter is in a big offseason; he had a lot of chances last year to step up and he did not. He’ll be fighting for a spot on the roster. I could see them still signing a vet right tackle as a free agent at some point, and it would definitely be an option in the draft.
The Cardinals are not done trying to upgrade the line, one way or the other.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Eric Winston, Jared Veldheer, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Nate Potter, offensive line, Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen
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Free agency arrives soon — 1 p.m. Arizona time Tuesday. So here area few thoughts on Monday night:
— It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with Karlos Dansby. Kent Somers reported there is a two-year deal on the table worth between $10 million and $12 million — which is right around the APY that D’Qwell Jackson got from the Colts. I’m sure Dansby would like a longer deal. I’m sure the Cardinals, looking at a player who will turn 33 this season, aren’t going to go longer. Is there another team willing to pony up more? And is that enough to sway Dansby? No matter what happens, I expect Dansby’s decision to come quickly this week.
UPDATE: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting Dansby likely going to Cleveland. They would money-whip him. It wasn’t going to happen in Arizona.
— There wasn’t much new percolating Monday about tackle Jared Veldheer, whom the Cards are expected to make a pitch to when free agency starts. Whoever the Cards chase at left tackle, that too figures to come together quickly. GM Steve Keim said that even with the early free-agent talks, the Cards want to talk to a potential signee (and check him out medically). So I’d guess this year’s free agency has a good chance to be like last year’s — quickly moving, but still nothing official until Wednesday at the earliest. Will the Cards add five players in the first two days, like last year? Probably not that many. But I’m thinking there will be some additions.
— Kicker Jay Feely re-upped with the Cards Monday (nothing officially announced yet.) There’s a possibility the Cardinals can re-sign a couple of other guys before they hit the market. The move to release Daryn Colledge is coming Tuesday too.
— Aside from a left tackle, linebacker and defensive back are other potential positional free agent targets. Mike Jurecki tweeted Monday night the Cards could look at veteran CB Mike Jenkins. Again, the Cards should move quickly this week. The idea in free agency isn’t to collect a bunch of starters necessarily as much as round out the roster so the Cardinals have a lot of flexibility come draft day.
Tags: Daryn Colledge, free agency, Jared Veldheer, Jay Feely, Karlos Dansby, Mike Jenkins
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With the new league year commencing Tuesday, the Cardinals are expected to make more than a few moves. One of them will be releasing veteran guard Daryn Colledge, a not unexpected decision given the selection of Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford in last year’s draft and Colledge’s $4.8 million salary and $7.3M cap number. Colledge tweeted his goodbye Saturday evening:
Wanna thank you the fans and the Cardinals for an amazing opportunity. A great organization headed in the right direction. Wish ya the best.
— Daryn Colledge (@DarynColledge71) March 9, 2014
Nothing official has been announced yet, of course. Colledge confirmed via text message his release was coming Tuesday. That makes sense, because if a player is let go after the league year starts, he can be designated a June 1 cut. That means the Cardinals can take the $4.55 million of dead money Colledge’s release would create and spread it evenly over this season and next season, although they have to carry the entire $4.55M in dead money on this year’s cap until June 1 actually arrives. This isn’t about Colledge being a cap casualty but instead a decision to move on. Colledge understands that. It’s the business. It’s the same reason he ended up in Arizona in the first place, when Green Bay let him walk away and turned to a younger, cheaper alternative.
The Cards will pick up about $2.75M in cap space immediately with such a move, and gain another $2.25M or so June 1 when the dead money is spread out The Cardinals must carry Colledge’s entire $7.275M cap hit until June 1, and then it will drop to $2.275 million.
The Cardinals want to get more athletic on the line, definitely younger (Colledge is 32) and the reality is if the team is going to chase a high-dollar left tackle in free agency, the budget for the offensive line needs to be trimmed elsewhere. It’s too bad, because Colledge was a solid member of the line and good in the locker room. He was a standup guy with the media no matter what was going on — he was willing to answer questions all the time during the long losing streak of 2012 — and it was always entertaining to see Colledge head into and out of the showers with his wireless speaker booming ’80’s hits that came out before many of his teammates were even born.
This now means Watford and Paul Fanaika will battle for the right guard spot, and the Cardinals would like Watford, a 2012 fourth-round pick, to take control of the position. And in the bigger picture, General Manager Steve Keim continues to overhaul the roster and clear out some of the contracts left over from the previous regime in an effort to get the salary cap under control.
Thanks for all the support guys, it means a ton, I’ve enjoyed my time. Between the Pack and Card fans my next team has a lot to live up to.
— Daryn Colledge (@DarynColledge71) March 9, 2014
For now while I wait for FA and my future. I’m gonna watch Toy Story with my kids and put in an early ballot for Father of the Year. #NoBigs
— Daryn Colledge (@DarynColledge71) March 9, 2014
Tags: Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Jonathan Cooper, salary cap
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This time around, the Cardinals aren’t going to be looking for a coach or general manager, so this early part of the offseason figures to be much more quiet than it was in January of 2013. But there is still plenty for GM Steve Keim and his people to work on, because the combine is in less than two months, free agency is soon after that, and it’s time to focus on what the offseason roster in 2014 will look like.
That starts, of course, with figuring out what they liked and didn’t like with the roster from 2013. It also comes down to budget, and contracts, and how many of these unrestricted free agents-to-be want to come back to Arizona based on the deals Keim wants to/is willing to offer. These are not always simple solutions but it is why Keim, as they say, earns the big bucks. When I talked to Keim as early as the week in Florida prior to the Week 4 game at Tampa, Keim was already acknowledging the work that had to go into this offseason.
“There are going to be some tough decisions to be made after the season based on the numbers, just looking at the three-year view,” Keim said then. “We will obviously have to make some tough decisions like we did this past year after the season. The one thing fans and other people don’t realize (is) there are certain contracts that bind you and you can’t do anything (with) and you have the dead money factor.
“Once we get to 2015 I feel really good where we are going to be from a salary-cap standpoint.”
With that all in mind, here is my annual roster breakdown, with most players by position, when their contracts expires and a quick comment on each. There are a lot of choices to be made, and not just by Keim. If you are Karlos Dansby, for instance, do you like the scheme Todd Bowles has put you in — and like playing next to someone like Daryl Washington enough — to want to stay? Money, as always, talks. Dansby did not get the kind of interest he expected last offseason in the market. He had a better year this season, but will that translate for a player who will be 33? These are the things the Cardinals, and Dansby, must balance.
The Larry Fitzgerald situation, and a looming $18 million salary cap number, is another touchpoint. The Cardinals really need to get it lower. How they can work with Fitzgerald on that impacts a lot of things, including, for instance, any potential Patrick Peterson contract extension. When you start mulling all these numbers, you start seeing why Keim is targeting 2015 for salary cap comfort.
There are other key things the Cards must look at roster-wise, aside from the draft. Other key free agents like Matt Shaughnessy, Rashard Mendenhall or Andre Roberts. Other contracts, like perhaps those of Daryn Colledge or Darnell Dockett. Other issues, like the long-term rehab of Tyrann Mathieu and Alameda Ta’amu, or a possible suspension of Daryl Washington, and whether absences at the beginning of the season could make a difference on who is needed on the roster for depth.
The offseason is just beginning. So too is the job of the Cardinals to get ready for 2014.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Andre Roberts, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Shaughnessy, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Roster, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Daryn Colledge, NFL
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Patrick Peterson was shaking his head, unable to fathom even after Sunday’s game how Andre Johnson had made his two touchdown catches. Both were against Peterson but neither were Peterson’s fault as much as Johnson – the Texans’ star receiver – making unreal plays to get a second foot down on the edge of the end zone.
“I thought I played pretty well today,” Peterson said. “I held him to 37 yards, I believe. Just those two touchdowns. He’s an all-pro. He gets paid the big bucks.”
Ultimately, that was the story of Sunday in a nutshell. The Texans got some good plays from their stars. J.J. Watt had a couple of impressive forced fumbles too. But in the end, the Cardinals got more from more people. Bruce Arians called it a “team” win – and most coaches do, and there were parts from everyone. It looked a lot like the other wins the Cards have had, with a defensive bent, no question, but the offense did enough.
And, of course, the Cardinals are 5-4 and going to play Jacksonville on the road.
— There was no way to start the game better than the John Abraham strip-sack that Matt Shaughnessy returned for a touchdown. It didn’t lead to a blowout or anything, but it did underscore what a good signing Abraham is turning out to be. He now has five sacks (and he was pretty close to a few before he got his first three games ago) and is exactly as advertised as a pass rusher.
— There will be much talk – again – about Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington. But guess what? Arians wasn’t down on Mendenhall at all afterward, so there are going to be no changes. He said he thought Mendenhall was down before he fumbled, so the fumble isn’t going to be a black mark. He said he thought Ellington’s work was just fine, and that was after 13 touches (although two more passes were thrown incomplete to Ellington.) Mendenhall had 14 touches for the game.
— It was interesting for a coach like Arians, who said in training camp he didn’t like the wildcat, to use Ellington in the wildcat. Arians said after the game he doesn’t like the wildcat with the QB on the field, and Carson Palmer wasn’t. Ellington was QB for three straight plays. Ran it for five. Ran it for seven. Handed off to Patrick Peterson for a four-yard loss.
— Karlos, Karlos, Karlos. You might be headed to your first Pro Bowl if you could hang on to those near interceptions. There were two more today. Feels like Dansby should have six interceptions already instead of just one.
— Arians said he expected Michael Floyd back next week after he sprained his shoulder, but I want to see that first. With Andre Roberts available, the Cards may not want to push it. It’s too bad, because Floyd was off to a good start Sunday.
— Fitz had three catches for 23 yards on six targets, and it really didn’t mean anything. Don’t know if that’s a good sign or bad.
— Palmer, on the two big plays by Watt: “There are a handful of players you’re not going to stop,” Palmer said. “They’re going to make their plays. It’s inevitable.”
— The Cards got three false starts in the first half. That’s what happens when Watt and company are ready to come. “Guys like (Antonio) Smith and Watt can come off the ball and you are primed up and ready to go,” guard Daryn Colledge said. “Carson is trying to hold (the snap) to help us as safeties are rolling down but we’re primed to go and he’s late in his cadence. There was a perfect storm. We probably could have had more than that. I think pretty much every offensive linemen at some point is pretty much just holding on to the grass.”
— Justin Bethel should be in the Pro Bowl. And that field-goal block was a life saver.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Andre Johnson, Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Daryn Colledge, JJ Watt, John Abraham, Justin Bethel, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Texans
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There will be no changes to the lineup this week, Bruce Arians said. Yes, he mentioned Bobby Massie possibly playing and looking at young players, but Arians clarified that looking at those players was all he was doing. He wants to make sure they are making progress and “really are the depth we’re looking for,” Arians said.
“It’s just a matter of opportunities in case one arises,” Arians added.
Opportunities, Arians said, come in the form of injuries, mostly. Those included under the microscope, according to the coach: The entire practice squad, along with guard Earl Watford, linebacker Dontay Moch, and tight end D.C. Jefferson. It’s clear the Cards continue to look at tight ends — Arians mentioned practice squad tight end Daniel Fells by name. But unless, for instance, Colledge is down this week because of his back problem (and Watford is currently running as Colledge’s backup), don’t expect an overhaul.
— Colledge (back), WR Brittan Golden (hamstring) and LB Matt Shaughnessy (looked like his leg was wrapped) were sidelined during the open part of Monday’s practice. There is no injury report before Wednesday, but Arians said there were no injury surprises today. He also said the Cards eased off on certain veterans who were hurting.
— The Falcons are expected to get running back Steven Jackson back from practice this week too, although he has missed so much time there is no guarantee he’ll be ready to play Sunday.
— LB Marcus Benard missed practice because he was out of town for the birth of his child. “I congratulate him on that,” Arians said. Arians added Benard played well. Benard started Thursday, although he only played 11 of 67 defensive snaps.
— Wide receiver Michael Floyd reiterated that the entire offense needs to shoulder the blame for its problems, and Arians repeated the same thing when asked about the issues of quarterback Carson Palmer. “I think Carson’s problem is, some are hit and some are the 10 guys around him,” Arians said. “It’s not just the line. It’s the receivers being in the wrong spots and running the wrong routes and not being in their reception areas, and then again the protection.”
— The three biggest injuries announced in the NFL today all impact the Cardinals and their home schedule. The Texans (visit Nov. 10) lost linebacker Brian Cushing for the season, the Colts (visit Nov. 24) lost wide receiver Reggie Wayne for the season, and the Rams (visit Dec. 8) lost quarterback Sam Bradford for the season.
Tags: Brittan Golden, Bruce Arians, D.C. Jefferson, Daniel Fells, Daryn Colledge, Dontay Moch, Earl Watford, Falcons, Marcus Benard, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, Steven Jackson
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Bruce Arians met with the media to talk, post-video-watching, about the Seahawks game. The players are in meetings now but will have the weekend off before going through a full padded practice Monday. Some of the Arians highlights:
— The pressure was too much for QB Carson Palmer and the pass protection must improve, Arians said. “Looking back, neither interception was (Palmer’s) fault whatsoever,” Arians said. “He protected the football like he needed to.”
Someone said to Arians if he felt that even Peyton Manning would have the same problems behind the protection right now.
“Tom Brady or Peyton Manning,” Arians said.
— Arians said he’d like to get Bobby Massie — who was active for the game Thursday — some game action soon. That will be interesting to see. Guard Earl Watford is a little further off at this point.
— The coach remained disappointed with his offensive production. He said it was the first time in 20 years he didn’t have a team get an explosive play.
— Arians said he had no plans to change the running back personnel.
— The only injury of note was G Daryn Colledge, who hurt his back. Arians said he was hopeful Colledge would return for practice Wednesday. Arians said Patrick Peterson had some issues with jammed fingers, but was fine. Wide receiver Brittan Golden (hamstring) also could return next week.
— Arians did say safety Yeremiah Bell made a bad play on the long touchdown pass, but generally he was happy with Bell’s play this season.
— Leftover from the San Francisco game: Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was fined $7,875 for his late hit on running back Frank Gore. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was fined $7,875 for for grabbing running back Kendall Hunter after Hunter scored a touchdown and unnecessarily throwing him to the ground. Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu was fined $10,000 for kicking Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone, although Boone was fined $7,875 for unnecessarily striking Ta’amu.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell
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The Cardinals have a three-year outlook for their roster, the prism in which the front office and General Manager Steve Keim views the team. That’s how they look at the salary cap, and how they evaluate contracts.
Not surprisingly, the sorting of big contracts that occurred this past offseason, contracts that were put in place before he became GM, will happen again after this season. And Keim thinks the Cards are still an offseason away from being able to get where the Cards want to be.
“There are going to be some tough decisions to be made after the season based on the numbers, just looking at the three-year view,” Keim said on a special edition of the Cardinals Underground podcast. “We will obviously have to make some tough decisions like we did this past year after the season. The one thing fans and other people don’t realize (is) there are certain contracts that bind you and you can’t do anything (with) and you have the dead money factor.
“Once we get to 2015 I feel really good where we are going to be from a salary-cap standpoint.”
Keim made tough decisions this past offseason, jettisoning Adrian Wilson, among many others. He didn’t name names. But the contracts that will likely be under the microscope aren’t hard to narrow down. Big money is owed to offensive linemen Daryn Colledge (with Earl Watford, Nate Potter and Paul Fanaika as cheaper options) and Levi Brown. Darnell Dockett is due a lot of money, although he just had a big three-sack game and dominated. Patrick Peterson is in line for an expensive extension. Larry Fitzgerald and his $18 million salary cap number might have to be reworked. None of this means the Cards have to cut people, but guys might be asked to take pay cuts. There are minefields to maneuver for Keim, and he acknowledged, the Cards are “handicapped to a degree.”
Philosophy-wise, it dovetails with Keim’s thoughts anyway. “I’ve always felt it was more important to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late, because when players get to a certain point in his career and he starts to decline it can have a negative effect on your football team.”
(There’s Keim below, talking to Tyrann Mathieu’s parents before the Saints game. I feel confident Mathieu will not be going anywhere next year.)
The full Cardinals Underground podcast is posted right here.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, salary cap, Steve Keim
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