The news of the Cardinals and free agent running back Chris Johnson talking came out in the beginning of the week. Now, at the end of the week, comes news that Johnson could still be a Card. Jay Glazer provided the first of multiple reports that Johnson will come to Arizona Sunday — after the Cards’ game against the Chiefs — to take a physical and go through a workout. Both make sense, especially the physical after Johnson was shot in the shoulder in March.
Certainly nothing is set in stone for Johnson to become a Cardinal. But you figure that if the workout and physical go well, there would be a good chance Johnson signs with the Cardinals — because it makes little sense for Johnson to make the trip out to Arizona if the money end of negotations weren’t at least close, and that Johnson believes he could fit. We will see how it plays out.
Johnson had his first sub-1,000-yard season with the Jets last season, his first not playing for the Titans. But he still averaged 4.3 yards a carry. He figures to slide in behind Andre Ellington on the depth chart, especially with rookie David Johnson still sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson, David Johnson, free agency
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Monday, Bruce Arians said the Cardinals would look to add a running back. Tuesday morning, ESPN reported that the Cardinals had offered a one-year contract to veteran Chris Johnson and that Johnson is mulling the opportunity. The Cardinals aren’t the only team out there openly looking for a running back; the Texans would like to add one after Arian Foster’s sports hernia surgery. One hitch, reportedly, is that Johnson isn’t sure he would make the team with the Cardinals. To me, it’s a fair concern. If Andre Ellington is healthy, he’s your top guy, and as frustrating as it is not to have third-round draft pick David Johnson at this point — he remains out with a hamstring injury and Arians said he could miss another week – when those guys are healthy, it would get awfully crowded in that backfield.
But this is about putting the best team together (as Arians talked about last week about the business of Lyle Sendlein) and a chance to add a vet who could help makes sense for the Cards right now. Ellington is just now getting back to practice. Johnson provides speed in the backfield, and while he didn’t reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career last season with the Jets, he still averaged a healthy 4.3 yards a carry. It’s a waiting game now. The Cards make their free agent play. Many times it works, but other times, a player will pass (remember Brett Keisel this time last year? The Cards still ended up with Tommy Kelly.)
Tags: Andre Ellington, Brett Keisel, Bruce Arians, Chris Johnson, David Johnson, free agency, Lyle Sendlein, Tommy Kelly, training camp
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General Manager Steve Keim has spent the offseason building up the roster to a place where the Cardinals have some quality players on the current 90-man roster that won’t be able to stick around by the time the team needs to get to 53 in September. Keim said on the “Doug and Wolf” show this morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 it was a concern, although it was a good concern. What it means is that the Cards might pull off a trade or two, likely in an effort to fetch some future draft picks if possible.
“For the first time we have a certain amount of depth here where we will either have the ability to trade a player or two or four or five at certain positions that not only can make other NFL rosters but could potentially start for some teams,” Keim said. “I have to be active and make sure I address that situation so we are not just releasing players and allowing teams to pick them up. Hopefully we can be active and get some solid value for guys who can help other teams.”
Keim has never been shy about churning the roster, and this is just another potential instance. He also said he is “watching two or three players” at the moment who are free agents that the team could sign. Keim wouldn’t name names or even positions, but he did note that often times, these late veteran signees are guys who are coming off injuries and need until near training camp to get right, and then the Cardinals would talk to them (and likely execute one of Keim’s famous one-year “prove it” contracts.) Tight end anyone?
Tags: free agency, Roster, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals made a roster move on the back of the depth chart Friday ahead of next week’s minicamp, releasing tackle Tavon Rooks and signing guard Jon Halapio. Halapio was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2014 before being released in the final roster cuts. He spent time on the Broncos’ practice squad late last season and was with Denver until he was cut in May.
The Cards have 15 total offensive linemen on the 90-man roster. Minicamp begins Tuesday.
Tags: free agency, Jon Halapio, Roster
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As the final days of on-field summer work play out — the Cardinals have one more OTA Thursday, and then three days of mandatory minicamp next week before players scatter for the remainder of the offseason — the roster has settled. The last move came back on May 13 when linebacker Darryl Sharpton was signed, and with the front office members headed for some much needed down time of their own, transactions figure to be in limited supply until the pre-training camp rollup in late July.
(Official camp dates have yet to be announced but with Labor Day and the later-than-usual opening weekend of the regular season on Sept. 13, the Cards won’t even report to camp until July 30 or 31.)
There are moves than can be made if the Cards want, however. As of Wednesday, the Cardinals have $12.16 million in salary cap room, according to the NFLPA. So if Steve Keim is looking for that pre-training camp veteran add (which wouldn’t cost that much anyway), the Cards can do it. It also allows some freedom to work out contract extensions if the team is so inclined. I’d expect Pro Bowl special teamer Justin Bethel, set to become an unrestricted free agent, near or at the front of that line. Among the other players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after this season: defensive backs Jerraud Powers, Rashad Johnson and Alfonzo Dennard, tackle Bobby Massie, linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Lorenzo Alexander, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and quarterback Drew Stanton.
Tags: Darryl Sharpton, free agency, Justin Bethel, salary cap, Steve Keim
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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.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, compensatory picks, Corey Peters, Cory Redding, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, free agency, Mike Iupati, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Sean Weatherspoon, Steve Keim
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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.
Tags: Brandon Spikes, Bruce Arians, Dwight Freeney, free agency, James Casey, Jermaine Gresham, Stefen Wisniewski
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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.
Tags: free agency, Jaguars, Nathan Slaughter, Roster, Texans, Veterans combine
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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.
Tags: Brian Orakpo, Corey Peters, Dan Williams, free agency, Mike Iupati, Sean Weatherspoon
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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.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, DeMarco Murray, free agency, Steven Jackson
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