The questions are constant, as soon as a veteran player with any kind of reputation is released or becomes available: Would the Cardinals be interested? Well, for one, those questions are asked within seconds of the news happening, so usually, it’s a little soon for a feeling (GM Steve Keim admitted when CB Antonio Cromartie was first released, for instance, the Cards hadn’t anticipated it and had to do some extra legwork to figure out whether to chase him or not.)
It isn’t hard to get a sense of where the Cards land on many such players, however. Keim wants his team to get younger. And at this point, he certainly isn’t paying a lot. That should always be the prism from which any player should be viewed when it comes to this team. There are always exceptions. John Abraham, it was determined by the front office, still could play the game even at his age. Now, the Cards had to wait him out last year until his price was worth it (and never underestimate a veteran willing to wait out the offseason so he can wait to go back to work until training camp), but they got their bargain. Same with Karlos Dansby. Eric Winston was even cheaper, and that should probably provide guidance of where his market was — and where it might be this offseason.
The key element to all this is not just about whether a vet is available and is willing to work for cheap. It’s mostly about if he can still play — or more importantly, play to the level that the Cardinals, in this case, need him to play. Just because a guy is on the market isn’t enough. There is a reason veteran players remain unsigned, especially after the draft. Yes, once in a while it’s about the asking price and circumstances can change if it drops. But there are guys out there who are willing to play for little just to get a job, and it’s been determined they aren’t good enough anymore, whether because of age or cumulative injuries or both.
The Cards likely will sign another veteran or two at some point. It’ll be after the draft, because there is no reason to make any more moves right now until you know what you’ve filled with your picks. But whoever Keim signs, it’ll be for someone that makes sense on a football-level in 2014. Remember, past results don’t necessarily indicate future performance. It’s the slogan by which every GM should live.
– I’ve never been to a Pro Bowl. I’m going to get to one now, although I was really hoping to get a trip to Hawaii when I finally attended. I’ll be curious to know where the teams practice; those workouts have always been fan-friendly events.
– Not a surprise that there is a “Sunday Night Football” telecast in the preseason against the Bengals at University of Phoenix Stadium. NBC is also televising the Super Bowl. Not a bad time to get a lay of the land. What I am curious about is whether “SNF” will pick a Cardinals’ game in the regular season.
Tags: Bengals, Eric Winston, free agency, John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, preseason, Pro Bowl
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A few things as the owners meetings continue in Florida and things around the Cardinals’ Tempe complex have slowed down considerably:
– The Cardinals, as expected, did not receive a compensatory draft pick, meaning they still have six selections in May’s draft (the seventh round pick went to Oakland in the Carson Palmer trade.) The first three picks are No. 20, No. 52 and No. 84 overall. It is not surprising the Cards didn’t get any comp picks.
A quick review: Teams get comp picks based on a formula that starts with the free agents signed and free agents lost from the previous offseason. Included in the NFL’s secret formula are the size of the contracts signed by those players and various honors they earn that season. So the comp picks for the 2014 draft are based on the 2013 offseason, and so forth. If you come out “negatively” in the formula and seem to have lost more than you gained in free agency, you get as many as four extra comp picks. Those picks can come at the end of the third round at the earliest and cannot be traded.
Looking ahead, there will be a chance the Cards could come up with a comp pick next year. It’ll depend on the rest of the offseason and what all these players do. Something to keep in mind: Only true free agents — those whose contracts expired — count in the formula. That means the Cards’ signings of tight end John Carlson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie will not hurt them because those players were free because they were released, not because their contracts ran out. On the flip side, if Daryn Colledge signs somewhere, he won’t help the cause.
So for those scoring at home, the Cards (in comp pick math) have added Jared Veldheer, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen and Jonathan Dwyer. They have lost Karlos Dansby, Andre Roberts, Javier Arenas, Antoine Cason and Jim Dray. Veldheer signed a pricey contract, but so did Dansby and Roberts. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
– The NFL will be tweaking a few rules. The biggest one is outlawing the dunk of the football on the goalpost. There’s been a lot of blowback on this, but truthfully, as soon as Jimmy Graham bent the crossbar last season and delayed a game while it was fixed, you knew it was a matter of time before the NFL said no more.
Also coming is the ability for a central replay booth based in New York to begin video replays before a referee even gets under the hood, hopefully to speed up the process and to let the official know for what exactly to be looking. The referee on-site will still make the final call.
Tags: compensatory picks, draft, free agency, owners meetings, rules
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The Cardinals have filled multiple holes in the process of free agency. And that is exactly the point. Building through the draft is the ultimate priority, but usually you aren’t going to have enough picks in one offseason to do that in the draft alone. So GM Steve Keim found a left tackle, a tight end, an extra running back, depth at center/guard, a speed receiver, a starting cornerback. The point? So that when the Cards are picking at 20 come May 8, they aren’t feeling forced to take a left tackle. Or speed receiver. Or anything else.
“As we get further along in this process over the next couple of years, I would like to minimize how much we do in free agency,” Keim said. “Our whole goal as an organization is to be able to go in, whether the 20th pick, the 52nd pick or the 84th, whatever the pick is, that we can sit and look in the mirror and say we are taking the best player available and the guy who helps the Cardinals the most. I think, through, free agency, we’ve afforded ourselves to do that.”
Keim would like playmakers in the draft — who doesn’t — and after scoring with Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Ellington last season, the Cards have done that of late. It will of course be better if they come at certain positions. For instance, a playmaking safety who can cover tight ends would be nice. An edge rusher who can get to the quarterback. Needs don’t completely disappear, even with an effective free-agent period.
Tags: draft, free agency, Steve Keim
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Antonio Cromartie was asked about moving into the NFC West. “Oh, I love it,” he said. “The competition is here.” Obviously, the division sets a high bar for the Cardinals this offseason. But General Manager Steve Keim isn’t going to get giddy about free agency improvements.
“I don’t want to step out on a limb and say that we’re there yet,” Keim said. “As a perfectionist, I think we all look at things and would like to be a little deeper in certain positions.”
To recap, the Cardinals have added a starting cornerback (Cromartie), a starting left tackle (Jared Veldheer), a probable starting tight end (John Carlson), a speed third receiver and return man (Ted Ginn), a potential replacement for Rashard Mendenhall (Jonathan Dwyer) and an interior offensive lineman who has been a starter (Ted Larsen.)
Cap space is shrinking. After Cromartie’s deal is worked in, the Cards should have only about $4 million of space left. There is more coming after June 1 when the Colledge release is figured in (and I was wrong on how that is considered. I knew the cap hit had to be carried through the actual June 1 date; I didn’t realize Colledge’s entire original cap hit for 2014 stays on the books until then. So that’s more than $7 million, although it means the Cards will clear about $5M in cap space come June — before they’ll sign any rookies.)
But there will be more moves of some sort. Now, roster building will be about bargains now for Keim. There are still spots that he’d like to address, whether there or in the draft:
– depth at defensive end
– depth at outside linebacker
– “length” at both positions
– depth at inside linebacker
Depth at inside linebacker is the call because the Cards are counting on, not surprisingly, 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter. “We’ll find out what Kevin Minter is made of,” Keim said. “Kevin is a guy that we drafted in the second round and is going to replace Karlos Dansby. He is in the audition stage. He’s got to prove that he is the guy that we thought he was coming out of college at LSU.”
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jared Veldheer, John Carlson, Jonathan Dwyer, salary cap, Steve Keim, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen
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Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, free agency, NFL
Posted in Since1898 | 13 Comments »
The Cardinals and cornerback Antonio Cromartie have agreed to a one-year contract, and it’s official. It’s early in the story, but my guess is it will be a deal a lot like the one linebacker Karlos Dansby signed a year ago with the Cards. For not a lot of money, but the chance to excel in a good defense and then go back into the market in a year and make some cash.
It’s a huge get for GM Steve Keim, who again seems to be able to push all the right buttons. Cromartie figures to step into the starting role opposite Patrick Peterson, and the Cards have a very good inside corner combo of Jerraud Powers — who probably is more effective inside — and Tyrann Mathieu when he returns to health. It also would stand to reason that the Cards now target a young safety in the draft that can be the guy who can cover tight ends.
Cromartie isn’t without his risks. He dealt with a hip injury last season (although he played all 16 games) and despite back-to-back Pro Bowls and probably a not-very-big price tag, the Jets didn’t want to bring him back after releasing him and his then-hefty salary. Cromartie reportedly wanted to go back too. No matter. The Cardinals will take it, and take another “win” so far in free agency. Low risk, high reward. Keim’s plan continues to unfurl perfectly.
Clearly, Patrick Peterson is happy.
It’s about to be trouble, trouble, trouble. Dollar Bill voice
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) March 20, 2014
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, free agency, Jared Veldheer, NFL, ProFootball talk
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Running back Alfonso Smith — who had been a restricted free agent to whom the Cards did not tender an offer — tweeted out this morning the Cardinals had told him they would not be bringing him back. It’s the other side of the fluctuating roster of March.
The long anticipated visit of free agent cornerback Mike Jenkins is happening (Kent Somers noted the visit, and Mike Jurecki was the first to report interest in Jenkins before free agency even started). Nothing new has come about with free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and as we all know, GM Steve Keim usually puts an offer out there and if it is rejected, he is prepared to move on to the next option. Cromartie obviously hasn’t been amendable to the deal the Cards offered, so Jenkins is now up. He’s not Cromartie, but he’d provide depth.
Meanwhile, I’d guess Smith isn’t the only ex-Card to be told he’s definitely an ex-Card. Every year at this time there are a handful of players from the previous year’s team that have a chance to return until they don’t. As needs and circumstances change, so do the possibility they could come back. The Jonathan Dwyer signing probably ended any possibility of a Smith return. That’s why some unsigned players remain on the roster, at least for now, and sooner rather than later, that will change.
In the meantime, free agency is an ongoing process. As of this morning, the NFLPA lists the Cardinals with
$5.13 million (UPDATE: NFLPA now has the Cards with $8.1 million and one less contract, so I am guessing they mistakenly added in a non-Cardinal, like the other day) in cap space for their top 51 of the offseason. That should include everyone’s contracts that have signed as of now, including cornerback Bryan McCann yesterday. That’s not a ton of room. But there are some points to make when it comes to that.
– The Cardinals do need space to sign the rookie class. But remember, half the draft class — which for the Cards need about $4.2M total cap space to sign — won’t count on the cap until the regular season, because the players who aren’t in the top two or three rounds won’t have a first-year cap hit big enough to qualify for the top 51. The Cards will likely need about half that.
– And that rookie cap money will come available June 1 anyway when half of the released Daryn Colledge’s cap number comes off the books as a June 1 cut.
– Any player can usually be fit under the cap, for those worried about signing more free agents. It’s all about how you structure the deal. So yes, the shrinking cap doesn’t mean Cromartie isn’t coming here. It doesn’t mean he is, either, but the point is, a team can make a lot of things work if they want to enough.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jonathan Dwyer, Mike Jenkins, Roster
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Everyone is waiting for news on free agent Antonio Cromartie. There is nothing new to report there. But the Cardinals did re-sign cornerback Bryan McCann to a one-year deal Monday, which gives them options both on special teams and with depth in the defensive backfield. McCann came back last year after the Teddy Williams injury to help on special teams, but he nearly made the active roster coming out of camp.
This does not preclude the Cardinals from adding another corner, whether it be Cromartie or someone else. (Mike Jenkins, someone whom the Cards reportedly have interest in, was scheduled to visit the Buccaneers today.) That position definitely remains in play in the draft too, especially high, if no one of import is signed in free agency.
With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signing with the Giants today, the price of Cromartie — the best cornerback remaining in free agency, just went up. Which might have been why Cromartie was waiting in the first place.
– The next episode of “Tenacious,” the occasional video series chronicling the rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu is coming this week.
– We also, with it being the bracket-picking time of year, have our second annual Cardinals Bracketology page looking at the top plays of the past season as they battle for the respect of the fans through votes. The No. 1 seed? Michael Floyd’s TD catch in Seattle. Last year, the 16th-seeded play, guard Senio Kelemete’s freak catch in the season finale, upset everyone en route to a title. Let’s see how it plays out this year. Click here to watch the plays and vote every day.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bryan McCann, DRC, free agency, Teddy Williams
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Nothing has happened on the free agency front for the Cardinals since Thursday, when they signed Ted Ginn. There will be other signings at some point. The Cards, as I have mentioned, want a cornerback, and everyone is waiting for the puff of white smoke announcing that perhaps Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie is that guy. We’ll see if that happens. Again, it might even just be on a one-year deal, if Cromartie can’t get the kind of money he’d like. But there was an interesting trade of tweets today between incumbent Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson and Cromartie Saturday evening.
First came Peterson:
@CRO31 let’s make this thing happen.
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) March 16, 2014
@RealPeterson21 We going to make it happen.
— ANTONIO CROMARTIE (@CRO31) March 16, 2014
To which Peterson replied:
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) March 16, 2014
Peterson isn’t the one negotating the deal for the Cards of course. But Cromartie certainly sounds open to coming to Arizona.
UPDATE: As you can see above, Cromartie has deleted his tweet (although you can still see above what he wrote.) Maybe his agent let him know putting that thought out there wasn’t good for free-agent business.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Patrick Peterson
Posted in Blog | 43 Comments »