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Veteran cornerback Breeland on Cards’ radar

Posted by Darren Urban on May 16, 2018 – 10:34 am

Veteran cornerback Bashaud Breeland was one of the first free agents signed back in March. He signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Panthers — only to have the deal voided when he came in for his physical and he had a foot infection suffered while on vacation. Since then, Breeland, who played last year in Washington, has been trying to get healthy.

He’s apparently OK now, because he reportedly is making visits again, and the Cardinals are on his list. Rob Demovsky of ESPN said Breeland is supposed to visit the Colts today and the Cards Thursday. The order in which a player makes his visits is always crucial, because the first team has a chance to never let him leave. Then again, it will be interesting to see what the market is monetarily for Breeland. Can he get another three-year deal like he did originally (with about $11 million guaranteed?) This is the time of year when it’s always about expectations: The expectations of the player and what he can earn, and the expectations of what a team thinks it can get a player for, especially when the free agent has made it to mid-May.

Certainly, the Cardinals have been looking at what they can do at their second cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. “We are looking for someone to step up on the other side of Patrick — whether it is Brandon (Williams), whether it is Lou Young, whether it is Bené Benwikere, whether it is (rookie Chris Campbell,” coach Steve Wilks said Tuesday. Maybe that someone comes from the outside.


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Barwin and where things are in free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2018 – 1:50 pm

There was a report Monday morning that the Cardinals would be getting a free-agent visit from veteran pass rusher Connor Barwin, who played for the Rams last season. Whether or not something comes of that, it’s a good reminder of where things are in the NFL when it comes to free agency, especially this close to the draft.

The bigger contracts for free agents have dried up. Players still out there usually have to consider playing for a little bit less than they originally planned in order to get a spot now, or they can wait until after the draft, see what teams fill up the holes at that player’s particular position, and then try and get a little leverage that way. Jordan Matthews, a receiver who visited the Cardinals among others early in free agency, didn’t sign until he got  a one-year, minimum deal with the Patriots recently.

The Cardinals, in the Steve Keim era, rarely sign a free agent in April prior to the draft, in fact. The last time they did it was 2015 — and that was just to allow Adrian Wilson to retire as a Cardinal. The last time they signed players who actually took the field in the offseason was when they signed cornerbacks LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley in 2014, and neither lasted into the regular season.


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Cards could still re-sign own FA or two

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2018 – 7:36 am

The majority of the Cardinals’ own unrestricted free agents have found a home going into the 2018 offseason, but there are still some that have not yet signed anywhere. The door isn’t necessarily closed that one — or a couple — could come back.

“It’s still a possibility,” coach Steve Wilks said at the NFL league meetings in Orlando. “I know some of those guys have gone on and gotten with (other) teams, but in that second wave, third wave, we can circle back and find out from a financial standpoint if it is feasible (for someone to return.)”

Feasible usually means how much the player is willing to take monetarily. He also has to still fit in the depth chart, and we are creeping closer to the time when teams will simply put free agency on hold until after the draft, to see what holes are filled in that regard.

Of the remaining free agents the Cards still have, some could make sense to return: guards Alex Boone and Earl Watford, since the line could still use more depth; safety Tyvon Branch after the release of Tyrann Mathieu (although the significant knee injury Branch suffered last season will be a factor, as will his age); running back Kerwynn Williams; defensive lineman Frostee Rucker; and, given a position shortage, tight end Troy Niklas. (The full Cardinals’ free-agent tracker is here.)

The Cardinals will eventually get to 90 on the offseason roster, but they are at 63 now. (Update: Make that 64.) Usually, between draft picks and undrafted rookies, the Cards add around 25 players. That would leave a couple spots still — and, of course, if they found a better option, they could also eventually release someone already in place.


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Looks like Bradford as QB1

Posted by Darren Urban on March 13, 2018 – 12:01 pm

The dominoes had been falling and then later Tuesday, it looked like the Cardinals put themselves in position for their short-term quarterback answer. While nothing is official yet, multiple reports say the Cards plan to sign veteran quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford, who was the Vikings’ opening day starter in 2017 before a knee injury essentially ended his season, was one of the top QBs available despite his injury history. Once Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum were off the board, it makes sense to chase Bradford as a bridge as the Cardinals continue to look for a young alternative to be the long-term starter.

Nothing can be official before Wednesday afternoon, and given Bradford’s injury history — he’s twice torn his ACL and missed most of last season because of knee problems, among other aliments in his career — he would definitely have to pass a physical before anything is official. When he has played, however, he has played well, with the former No. 1 overall pick completing more than 71 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 17 games played with Minnesota.

But if Bradford arriving does come to pass, the Cards will have taken a first step in the quarterback process. It wouldn’t be a surprise to add another veteran. And the draft remains an important possibility.


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Talking coaches, roster and a podcast

Posted by Darren Urban on January 4, 2018 – 3:18 pm

The Cardinals will be conducting coaching interviews on the road over the next few days as they move toward finding a new football boss. When it comes to the idea that Michael Bidwill pointed out yesterday — that he wanted potential coaches to have a chance to visit Arizona and the team’s Tempe facility and interact with staff — I don’t think we are talking about every single person. My guess is that you’d have to have caught the Cardinals’ eye. If the initial interview doesn’t intrigue Bidwill or GM Steve Keim, I don’t see it going further necessarily. But we will see. It’s always an interesting time of year when a potential coach could end up being busy into February if his team makes it to the Super Bowl, and then having his “new” team having to wait it out. Could that be the Cards?

— My annual roster breakdown can be found right here. It gives the contract status of virtually everyone, so yes, it includes who will be free agents in March.

— Our weekly Cardinals Underground podcast is right here. I believe it’s always a good listen with myself, Kyle Odegard and Paul Calvisi (so if you can, get in the habit of checking us out, assuming you don’t already.) This week’s episode has a special treat at the end: A “Best of Bruce Arians” soundbites montage put together by Jim Omohundro. It was certainly an interesting five years.


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Arians confirms Flowers visit

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2017 – 12:04 pm

Bruce Arians confirmed today that free-agent veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is visiting the team — Arians said he’s getting a physical today — as a potential addition to the roster. Flowers has had concussion issues, so the physical is important. Arians also emphasized adding Flowers doesn’t necessarily mean a reflection on the play of current first-stringer Justin Bethel. The Cardinals want to add pieces, and besides, it’s worth noting the Cards lost a pair of cornerbacks who had been up the depth chart for a couple of weeks — Elie Bouka (ankle) and Jumel Rolle (hamstring).

— Arians again praised the work if Bethel. Bethel made more plays Monday, and Arians even likes the fact Bethel is getting better responding when he makes a bad play. “He’s learning to get amnesia,” Arians said, which is such a great quote.

— DT Ed Stinson hurt his hamstring while LB Alani Fua and S Ironhead Gallon each hurt a knee. No timetable was given for those players. (Tough for both Stinson and Fua, who seemingly are both always battling injury.)


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FA CB Flowers reportedly visiting Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on July 24, 2017 – 12:50 pm

It’s Monday, and Wednesday in NFL time is a long, long way away. But Adam Schefter reported that veteran free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers will be visiting the Cardinals, a potential and not unsurprising roster addition given where the Cards are opposite Patrick Peterson. Flowers is only 5-foot-9, 187 pounds, but he is a veteran (nine seasons, 21 career interceptions). He did only play in six games last season after suffering a concussion.

Justin Bethel is currently atop the depth chart for the Cardinals as the No. 2 cornerback. Brandon Williams is trying to be in the mix. If Flowers — who is also reportedly talking to the Patriots — were to sign, it wouldn’t be a given that he’d be the starter. But his arrival would certainly imply he’s got a good chance.


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It’s good for Cardinals that CJ2K returns

Posted by Darren Urban on July 20, 2017 – 2:36 pm

The door for Chris Johnson to return to the Cardinals was never really closed, and that speaks to the relationship between the veteran running back and the franchise. Both knew where the other side was coming from. The Cards got that Johnson would want to explore his options, especially with a situation here where David Johnson is going to get the vast majority of the work. Johnson understood that coming back to the Cardinals not only would likely mean limited snaps but also a limited salary — especially after Johnson had both his Cardinals’ seasons end early because of injury.

To be honest, I thought the David Johnson roadblock would ultimately keep CJ2K from coming back. Only 463 yards shy of 10,000, you get the strong sense CJ wants to show everyone what he can still do as a runner. That’ll be difficult with DJ atop the depth chart.

But he does like this organization and this locker room. And I think CJ is a large benefit to the Cardinals on multiple levels. He immediately becomes the best running back on the roster in pass protection. (Hopefully DJ is making strides in that area, but then again, you want DJ going out to catch passes.) He is a good vet to have in the running backs room. While Freddie Kitchens will do a good job as the new running backs coach, CJ can help with the transition from Stump Mitchell, who had been DJ’s only position coach. Oh, and CJ can still run a little bit, I’m guessing.

Chris Johnson never was hurt in his career until that broken leg two-thirds of the way through 2015, when he was the among the league leaders in rushing yards. Last year, he got little work before badly hurting his groin, which turned out to end his season — a season that didn’t go the way wanted for many Cards. It makes sense for him to come back and try and wipe out the bad taste in his mouth from 2016. There are a lot of Cardinals who want to do that this season.


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Before #CardsCamp, Keim’s notable camp signings

Posted by Darren Urban on July 19, 2017 – 10:02 am

As mentioned the other day, the Cardinals still have a vacancy on their 90-man roster. Bruce Arians, during an interview on Arizona Sports, indicated that the Cards could still re-sign veteran running back Chris Johnson, which has always been a possibility as long as Johnson remained on the market.

With all that in mind, a quick look at the notable veterans General Manager Steve Keim has signed in the days prior or during training camp while the Cardinals are at University of Phoenix Stadium:

2013 — T Eric Winston (started all season), LB John Abraham (led team in sacks), K Dan Carpenter (signed as competition to Jay Feely, lost battle.)

2014 — T Max Starks (eventually released at end of camp), DT Tommy Kelly (had a solid season as a replacement for the injured Darnell Dockett.)

2015 — TE Jermaine Gresham (has been team’s top tight end since), C Lyle Sendlein (started all season), RB Chris Johnson (played well before late-season injury.)

2016 — LB Donald Butler (released during final cuts), CB Mike Jenkins (was in line to start until tearing ACL).

Odds favor a couple more signings in this camp, necessary either because of play or injury. Whether they make a difference (see: 2016) we will see, but as always, the roster is churning.


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About that roster spot …

Posted by Darren Urban on July 10, 2017 – 1:51 pm

As I come back off vacation, things are still quiet around the Cardinals’ facility. Coaches and players won’t start filtering in until next week (report day for training camp is a week from Friday, with the first practice on July 22, a week from Saturday.) This is the time when the radar gets raised for a potential veteran signing for training camp.

The Cardinals currently have one open spot on the 90-man roster, a vacancy created the last time the Cards made moves more than a month ago. Odds are that it would be more of a fringe guy to fill out a position heading into camp, a name that most won’t recognize. But it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to have someone with a better chance of making the roster. The last we heard from GM Steve Keim, the team was monitoring a bunch of veterans who were possibilities (assuming the price was right.)

There are cornerbacks out there, although if  you are floating around right now, there are questions: Darrelle Revis is price v. age (and since he is already making $6 million this season and has offset language, he may not be motivated to play), Sam Shields has dealt with concussions, Brandon Flowers and Alterraun Verner are smaller. When last we heard from running back Chris Johnson, he said he was still in contact with the team. Maybe there is a guard to compete with Evan Boehm (besides rookie Dorian Johnson.)

One thing that seems certain: Adding whomever it is won’t be the only move of camp. Since Keim took over as GM, the Cardinals have averaged 18 roster moves from camp-opening week through the first cut to 75. (Again, don’t forget that a new rule means there won’t be a cut to 75 this season, only the final cut, which will take teams from 90 to 53.) The roster, through performance and injuries, will be churned soon enough.


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