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Blogs

The gains and losses of free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on May 18, 2015 – 10:44 am

The Cardinals signed linebacker Darryl Sharpton last week and the timing meant something. By signing Sharpton Wednesday, the Cardinals cleared the date for free agents signing counting against them for next year’s compensatory pick equation. Any free agent signed at the point will not count.

(The Cardinals were awarded one comp pick this past draft; they ended up with the final selection of the whole thing, which they used on Lousiville tight end Gerald Christian.)

It’s too early to know exactly how the comp pick equation might play out. Part of how it’s determined is playing time in the upcoming season. It also takes into account how much money for which each player signed. A quick look at who the Cardinals could have counting for and against them in the comp pick equation next draft. As always, a quick reminder that if a player was cut by the Cards or cut by another team, he does not qualify on these lists. For example, losing Darnell Dockett does not factor in because Dockett was released.:

FREE AGENTS GAINED

G Mike Iupati (5 years, $40M)
DT Corey Peters (3 years, $10.5M)
DE Cory Redding (2 years, $6M)
LB Sean Weatherspoon (1 year, $3.6M)

FREE AGENTS LOST

LB Sam Acho (1 year, $825,000)
CB Antonio Cromartie (4 years, $32M)
G Paul Fanaika (3 years, $6.1M)
TE Rob Housler (1 year, $1.76M)
DT Dan Williams (4 years, $25M)

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see GM Steve Keim make another signing (or two) at some point before camp, or even into camp. But the numbers are set for the compensatory math.

FAcompblog


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Seeking the bargain “name”

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2015 – 9:40 am

At some point, it figures, Steve Keim will find a “name” veteran who figures out he isn’t going to get the money he had planned on making in free agency and is willing to come to Arizona on a (likely) one-year deal. In 2013, that was Karlos Dansby and then, right before training camp, Eric Winston and John Abraham (although Abraham ended up signing a two-year contract.) Last year, the guy was Antonio Cromartie and, to a lesser extent, Larry Foote.

This year? We’ll see. If it doesn’t come before the draft — Dansby was post-draft, for instance — so be it.

“The second and third wave comes when guys come to their senses and realize they aren’t going to get the dollars or the type of long-term or guaranteed deals they expected,” Keim said. “We’ll pounce if the numbers are right. Right now if we went into the draft and didn’t address another position, I feel good with where we are at.”

Who could such a player be? The list of available players at this point don’t have any names that significantly stand out. Here’s a look at some potential pickups based merely on who is still out there and possible fit (although this is strictly speculation — at this point, I will be surprised if anything happens before the draft, and then the Cardinals will sort it out from there):

— TE Jermaine Gresham. Coming off a back injury and right now, I don’t see them chasing a guy like this. Troy Niklas is the one they have high hopes about, they like what Darren Fells could be as a blocker and I’ll be surprised at this point if John Carlson doesn’t remain part of the 2015 plan. Bruce Arians said he was looking for an H-back type if anyone. Gresham isn’t that guy.

— TE James Casey. OK, he’s not really a “name” but he is an H-back-type who still hasn’t signed anywhere since talking to the Cards a month ago. Could he be a late add?

— LB Brandon Spikes. The Cardinals already added LaMarr Woodley on the one-year, prove-it deal, so maybe that’s their Dansby/Foote linebacker choice for 2015. Besides, Spikes is the two-down run-stopper, and that’s why you have Kevin Minter.

— C Stefen Wisniewski. Still unsigned, he is reportedly coming off shoulder surgery after the Cards were linked to him pre-free agency. Now, with the addition of A.Q. Shipley, it’s hard to believe the Cardinals would bring Wisniewski in, unless it turned into a real bargain sign.

— Pass rusher Dwight Freeney. Perhaps Freeney makes the most sense, given his status in the league. In some ways, he is like Abraham. His sack totals haven’t been the same (3.5 last season) although he had a team-best 40 quarterback hurries playing for the Chargers. Plus, the 35-year-old was with the Colts when Arians was there.

Again, much of this is wait-and-see, a door open for the Cards to move “if the numbers are right.” Always, if the numbers are right.

Bruce Arians, Dwight Freeney


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Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »

Cardinals add Veterans Combine receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2015 – 11:26 am

The NFL brought in 105 players to Tempe Sunday for their first Veterans Combine. They are leaving one behind. The agent of wide receiver Nathan Slaughter tweeted out his client was signing with the Cardinals. (And a little later, the player himself did the same.) The team has yet to officially announce any move. UPDATE: It’s official now.

Slaughter ran one of the fastest 40 times Sunday (reportedly sub-4.4s), which is noteworthy after a workout with some notoriously slow 40 times. He is 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, a West Texas A&M product who was originally signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent last year. He was cut and then signed by the Jaguars in June, then waived-injured by Jacksonville early in August. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game. For a team looking for a return man, Slaughter averaged 41.7 yards per kickoff return his last year in college.

Nathan Slaughter


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Posted in Blog | 49 Comments »

DL Peters could be another FA addition

Posted by Darren Urban on March 9, 2015 – 9:23 pm

A few hours went by, so of course, another Cardinals/free agent report hits Twitter. Now, multiple people are saying Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters will find his way to Arizona. Peters, 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, is probably more of a defensive end in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment, but as the Cards spend, it’s looking less and less like Dan Williams will be returning to the Cards.

There is also a report that the Cards remain in the hunt for outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, along with the Colts and the Redskins, Orakpo’s current team (at least until 1 p.m. Arizona time Tuesday.)

Like current Falcons teammate Sean Weatherspoon, who missed all of 2014 with a torn Achilles and now looks like he could sign with the Cardinals, Peters hurt his Achilles in 2013 but played well in the back half of 2014 before the Cards came looking for him. Basically could be the guy replacing Darnell Dockett on the roster.

So with Tuesday’s official opening of free agency — at the aforementioned 1 p.m. — the Cards have been linked to Weatherspoon, Peters and (former) 49ers guard Mike Iupati. If that came to fruition, it’d be a nice haul of needs. Interior OL? Check. Inside linebacker? Check. Defensive line? Check. And you might still get the pass rusher in Orakpo, but you could still look draft there. That also might be where the Cardinals turn for a running back.

A quick reminder: Given that 1 p.m. start time, and given that prospective free agent signees still need to get to Arizona, meet the decision makers, take a physical and actually sign a contract, I would not be surprised not to have any official announcements before Wednesday.


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Saving the running backs – or at least, their market

Posted by Darren Urban on March 9, 2015 – 3:25 pm

Long-time running back Steven Jackson was cut by the Falcons and is looking for work, and in this day and age where multi-back-backfields are in vogue and few teams want to spend a lot of money on a running back, I came across this Jackson creation: Savetherunningback.org. The video is something else. It feels like a “Saturday Night Live” digital short. I kept waiting to hear laughter in the background.

Jackson’s point, tongue-in-cheek as it might be, still is made. It’s worth having an every-down back, in his humble opinion. It’s just that most NFL teams disagree, and certainly, even if you use a guy every down, you don’t want a lot of money sunk into that guy because his shelf life isn’t extended.

Bruce Arians said when he walked in the door in Arizona he prefers having one main back. Andre Ellington was mostly that guy last season, before he broke down. The Cardinals, meanwhile, continue to be linked with two of those high-priced, every-down backs that are (or could be) available: DeMarco Murray, who will be a free agent tomorrow, and Adrian Peterson, who for now remains locked up under a contract with the Vikings — although multiple reports suggest he could be available in trade. Peterson reportedly would choose Arizona as his preferred destination; another report suggested he’d like $25 million guaranteed in a new contract. Murray reportedly is hoping for $8 million a season.

It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Marshawn Lynch got more money from the Seahawks for (at least) one more season. The Cowboys supposedly don’t want to have to pay Murray the kind of money he probably can find somewhere else. As for Peterson, his trade value and his contract are gigantic logistical issues if he were to leave Minnesota. Murray and Peterson will get paid, they just might have to go somewhere they didn’t plan on going to get that money. The Cardinals are in the market for a running back and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they considered Peterson, but again, do you sink that much money into the position? In the end, maybe it shouldn’t be about saving the running back as much as saving up for one.

saveRBSblog

 

 


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Posted in Blog | 13 Comments »

Early on, FA names start to float

Posted by Darren Urban on March 7, 2015 – 3:18 pm

It’s the first day that teams can officially speak to the agents of free-agents-to-be, and as always, there’s plenty of early info floating around about certain players and certain teams. It does not mean anyone is locked in to signing anywhere, and certainly, there is the possibility agents are leaking interest publicly to drive their client’s market price up. With those caveats, the Cardinals were mentioned in a couple places thus far:

— Trent Cole, who would be a linebacker/pass rusher and who was cut by the Eagles already (and could sign at any time) has been making multiple visits, but the Cardinals are reportedly among the teams interested.

— Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is “leaning toward” the Cards, according to Rand Getlin. Weatherspoon, who would be a nice addition as an inside linebacker, has had it rough injury-wise of late — he missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and played only seven games in 2013. If healthy, however, it’d upgrade the front seven. The Cards liked Weatherspoon coming out in 2010.

— The same reporter who broke Darnell Dockett’s release is saying the Cards have interest in Ravens UFA Pernell McPhee as a Dockett replacement. Not sure if McPhee would be a linebacker or defensive end for the Cardinals, given his 6-foot-3, 280-pound frame (although the Cardinals already have Alex Okafor and Matt Shaughnessy as linebackers at that size.)

— Perhaps interest in Bears DT Stephen Paea.

Again, free agents can’t even set up visits before Tuesday, and the Cards would have guys take physicals before they’d ever sign them. So there will be speculation like this for a couple of days. In the meantime, we see what is thrown out there as teams and players maneuver for the best deals possible.

— Last thing. I (surprisingly) have gotten multiple questions about Reggie Wayne. Yes, I know he played with Bruce Arians. But why would the Cardinals do that? Makes zero sense. They have their elder statesman receiver in Fitz. Arians said walking in the door he wanted to turn Fitz into what he turned Wayne into in Indy — so why would the Cards need another one of those guys? Plus, you wouldn’t want someone blocking the development of Floyd and the Browns, nor do you want someone else who would be unhappy if he wasn’t getting the ball.


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No Dockett decision yet UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on March 4, 2015 – 4:58 pm

UPDATE: Thursday morning, Dockett signed with the 49ers.

———

It sounded good when it came over Twitter a little after 6 a.m. Arizona time. Adam Schefter reported that Darnell Dockett’s decision on a new team would come at some point today.

It hasn’t happened, at least not yet. #DockettWatch2015 is ongoing. ESPN’s Jim Trotter, who has a good relationship with Dockett, said this afternoon it’s still possible Dockett takes another visit or two. Don’t know if that means the Rams and Seahawks — why wouldn’t he just cover the whole NFC West, right? — or elsewhere. No, I don’t know which way he is leaning, although you’d think if someone had really wowed him with an offer, he’d probably have taken it. It would also seem to me the Cardinals’ offer — reportedly $2.5 million for 2015, plus incentives — would at least be competitive to whatever else he has heard.

Could this stretch into Friday? Saturday? Maybe. You’d think some decision would come down by the start of next week, though, because free agency will start and other players will hit the market. Dockett’s early release leverage will be gone. And usually, teams will start moving on from (most) players if they haven’t gotten an answer. If you need a defensive lineman and are in on Dockett and he hasn’t committed, it’s probably necessary to go to Plan B.

DockwaitUSE


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Posted in Blog | 25 Comments »

Will the Cardinals pursue __________?

Posted by Darren Urban on March 3, 2015 – 5:04 pm

It’s as regular as taxes being due in April — a player is released, especially this time of year, and within minutes (seconds, sometimes) someone on Twitter asks if the Cardinals will be interested in him. It does not seem to matter the circumstances upon which the player was released, or where he might be in his career, or even that he’d probably just be redundant on the Cardinals’ roster with a player they already have. The questions come anyway. There have been times — few, but they have happened — when a guy is reported to be released and when I look into it, my sources hadn’t even heard he was cut yet. (Because sometimes he hasn’t officially been yet and the agent is leaking info.)

Here’s the thing: If a player is released, there usually is a reason. And while it can be for strictly monetary reasons, often, there is usually a parallel that includes some variation that the team doesn’t think the player is worth the current contract anymore — and so he’s cut.

Once in a while, it’s mostly about the money. The Cardinals want to keep Darnell Dockett, but at a price they deem better than what he was going to make, and Dockett wanted to test the market. That makes a ton of sense from Dockett’s perspective. But almost all the other guys released thus far aren’t going back and never were wanted back. That doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to a new team, but no matter how glittery the name, the players at the peak of their careers aren’t just cut. They guys flooding the market now are older, their play is declining, injuries have taken their toll, or all of the above.

Plus, when free agency starts, there will be even more players from which to pick and choose. Some are worth a lot of dough, others are like the guys being cut — they aren’t worth what they might be asking for anymore.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you see that the _____ just released ______ and want to jump to “Will the Cardinals try and get him?”


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Dockett and the chance to return

Posted by Darren Urban on February 27, 2015 – 4:06 pm

Normally, a key veteran like Darnell Dockett is released and I try to sum up his career in Arizona as his tenure comes to an end. Dockett certainly is one of those guys. But that plan is in a holding pattern now because, quite frankly, his tenure might not have come to an end yet. This has happened before; Levi Brown was released because of his big contract numbers, he spent a few days to explore what else might be out there for him, and he decided to return.

Dockett gets that chance. He’ll have more than a week’s jump on the scheduled free agents out there waiting for March 10 (although there are plenty of other veterans who have already been released) to see what is available. No reason to talk about Dockett as if he’s gone when it could turn out that he’s not.

In some ways, Dockett is in the same place Karlos Dansby was last year when Dansby became a free agent. Or Antonio Cromartie figures to be in this year. The Cardinals want such players, but with the way they have organized their roster and salary cap while using analytics, there are contract numbers the team can live with. In Dansby’s case, the money per year was about the same that he was offered from Cleveland, but the Browns offered four years (so naturally, more guaranteed money) and the Cardinals two. So Dansby went with Cleveland. Cromartie is expected to be in the same boat in terms of considering competing offers, and it makes sense that Dockett will too, judging by Steve Keim’s comments today.

Dockett has played a huge role in how this franchise has turned it around in the last decade. Team president Michael Bidwill has said that, like Larry Fitzgerald, he wants to have Dockett retire a Cardinal. I don’t think that thought has changed.

So if Dockett ends up signing elsewhere, then yes, I’ll post a retrospective. We’re not there yet.

DockettBlog


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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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Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »
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