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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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Keim looking at “6 to 8” player possibilities

Posted by Darren Urban on June 8, 2017 – 7:32 am

As minicamp wraps up today with a final practice before the veterans scatter for the summer, Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said in terms of signing a veteran to help the roster, options are still on the table.

“(Team president) Michael (Bidwill) and I talked about six to eight players, who are still on the street, who could potentially come in and help us,” Keim said in an appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7.

Keim didn’t get specific, either in name or position. But he noted the obvious, based on Keim’s past veteran signings in this regard: It’s not just about a scheme fit or need, it’s also about price. The Cardinals see a value in these signings, and even if a player intrigues them, they have weighed the cost-benefit. They are only going to play “x” amount for any particular player, and they won’t blow their salary measurement out of any perceived need.

(To clarify — the Cards won’t sign as many as six or eight. That’s just the number of players that are on the radar. I’d guess some play the same position, so if one signed, the others are out. As usual, I’d anticipate one or two Keim camp specials at most, barring injuries.)

We’ve talked about this before. Maybe a cornerback makes sense (that’s the position I’d look at first). Maybe a guard if Evan Boehm doesn’t keep moving forward. Maybe a running back to fill out the room, depending on what Andre Ellington and/or Elijhaa Penny do. But to think there won’t be a signing or two around/into training camp just doesn’t do the history of Keim any justice.


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Gabbert expected to join Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2017 – 4:49 pm

With rookies reporting tomorrow for the weekend’s rookie minicamp, it is a veteran who is attracting attention. Nothing official yet, but multiple reports have the Cardinals about to sign quarterback Blaine Gabbert to a one-year contract at the minimum salary. Gabbert recently worked out for the team. Cardinals fans know Gabbert well — he was the starter to begin last season for the 49ers as Colin Kaepernick recovered from injuries, and later was sent to the bench in favor of Kaepernick. The 49ers started over with a new GM and coach, and jettisoned all their QBs.

Gabbert would join a team with a bunch of quarterbacks already. There would have to be a corresponding roster move with his signing, but the expectation is that the Cards stick with five quarterbacks. Carson Palmer is the starter, and I don’t see Gabbert displacing Drew Stanton as the backup. This seems more likely a battle as a third QB, with Zac Dysert and undrafted rookie Trevor Knight. Getting a look-see, at least in offseason work, makes some sense. And with the passing of the comp pick deadline, the signing doesn’t impact the Cards’ anticipated comp pick haul.


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Comp picks look good after deadline

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2017 – 4:23 pm

Tuesday was an important day for the Cardinals. In an offseason when the Cards seemed to play for the comp pick game — losing several key free agents, and signing back newcomers strategically — Tuesday marked the final day where the signing of someone on the open market would count against a team in the formula for compensatory draft picks.

Nick Korte over at overthecap.com has been following the comp pick situation. While the actual formula is a secret, some, including Korte, have seemingly gotten at least a little bit of a handle on it. As of now, the estimation is that for the 2018 draft the Cardinals will get an extra third-round pick (because of losing Calais Campbell), an extra fourth-round pick (for losing Tony Jefferson) and two extra sixth-round picks (for losing Marcus Cooper and D.J. Swearinger.)

The picks can shift based on playing time and other factors. If one of these players flames out and is cut by midseason, that will impact things. But for now, this is what it looks like. The hefty contracts received by Campbell and Jefferson likely lock in those picks — Campbell’s deal, actually, was the richest handed out in free agency. By far.

As a recap, the Cardinals currently have five of their own picks remaining for the 2018 draft: First, second, third, fifth and sixth rounds. They traded away their fourth-rounder in order to trade up for Budda Baker, and dealt the seventh-rounder last year when they acquired Cooper. So that would give them nine picks total if they get all four comp picks (the maximum number of comp picks a team can receive.)

Again, the most important part of the news now is that no more free agents (not players cut, which is why signing Antoine Bethea never counted against the Cardinals’ formula) the Cards sign will count against the equation. So if there are any Steve Keim specials from here on out, no comp pick impact.


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From here, the question of adding vets

Posted by Darren Urban on May 3, 2017 – 4:53 pm

The Cardinals got through the draft and made their picks. No QB. No cornerback drafted early, but the defense got some potential impact playmakers. They collected 17 undrafted rookies, adding an Ironhead and a Gump and QB was served by a Knight, although we’ll see what that truly means. The Cardinals are in the middle of Phase 2 work — that goes on exclusively for another week — and then OTAs will start May 16 and the meat of the offseason work will commence.

There will be moves here and there. There will be tryout players at the rookie minicamp next week and a couple will inevitably be signed, at the cost of a couple of other players on the roster. That’s happened every year in the Bruce Arians era. There will have to be a decision made about what to do with Daryl Washington (no, that has not yet happened.) And then there is the idea of a Keim Time Sign, a pickup of a veteran by GM Steve Keim anytime between now and into training camp that could end up making the roster by the beginning of September. A quick handicapping of the positions he could look at:

Offensive line: The Cards signed Tony Bergstrom Wednesday. He’s likely a depth guy rather than someone who figures to have a chance to start should he make the team. He’s played center of late, and with Evan Boehm working as the first-string right guard, the Cards needed someone to back up A.Q. Shipley, if not compete with him.

Quarterback: The news was out that the Cards at least worked out Blaine Gabbert. We’ll see if that turns into anything. It’d give them an extra arm with experience, and with as much as they have talked about managing Carson Palmer’s practice load, maybe adding another QB right now makes sense.

Running back: I don’t know if the draft closed the door on Chris Johnson, but it seems like it might have. T.J. Logan is young, fresh legs, and they like what they have seen out of Elijhaa Penny. Kerwynn Williams has shown he can run the ball, and after all, David Johnson is David Johnson.

Cornerback: This is the big position. Justin Bethel figures to run with the first unit, at least to begin with. It’ll be hard to see where Budda Baker fits in early because the Washington spring quarter doesn’t end until early June (the final minicamp day is June 8) and he’ll miss most offseason work. The Cards have some mix-and-match possibilities, but right now, it’s Bethel or Brandon Williams in line to start opposite Patrick Peterson. Could the Cards pick up a veteran cornerback? I wouldn’t rule it out, although they may want to see how the offseason plays out a bit.


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Wait and see with Cardinals and FA CB

Posted by Darren Urban on March 16, 2017 – 3:22 pm

Brandon Carr went to the Ravens Thursday and Morris Claiborne to the Jets and the free-agent cornerback pool got a little smaller. But at this point, I’m not sure it makes a big difference to the Cardinals. Yes, with the defection of Marcus Cooper to the Bears, the Cardinals are going to have to find a new starter opposite Patrick Peterson. But it looks like that will be a slowly developing situation rather than an immediate fix.

There remain in-house candidates like Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams. Bethel did just take a paycut as he tries to rehab his cornerback stock (he did play well at the nickel late in the season and Bruce Arians noted that Bethel’s best spot was probably in the slot), while Williams struggled a lot as the raw, young cornerback that he is and he is far from a sure thing as a starter in this league.

But in a draft deep in cornerback talent, choosing one in the early rounds looks like the initial play. There are a few “name” cornerbacks still out there in free agency — Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, and yes, Darrelle Revis, for example — but there is a reason they are still on the market. (No, I don’t see any chance Revis would be a pickup, regardless.)

This seems headed for the same place it was last season, where Bethel and now Williams and a draft pick will get a chance to show what they have, and a veteran will be picked up at some point to be in the mix. Remember, the Cardinals added Mike Jenkins and Alan Ball in camp last year before injuries took them out (Jenkins was your starter before he hurt his knee) and the team traded for Cooper.


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