The Cardinals not only let Kevin Kolb go today, but they added a couple of defensive pieces needed: Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, who provides depth behind Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, and Antoine Cason, who will join Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers as the Cards’ top three cornerbacks in all probability.
Both men are coming in on one-year deals. As did Rashard Mendenhall and Yeremiah Bell earlier in the week. Bell isn’t a shock, because as an older veteran, he’s probably in a year-to-year status in his career. The rest just speaks to where we are in the NFL marketplace. Look around the league. There are a ton of one- and two-year deals being signed. The big money just isn’t there and it’s a buyer’s market. So Mendenhall, Shaughnessy and Cason will come in, hope to play well and then test out free agency again next offseason. The Cardinals get decent parts at the right price, with no hiccups to future salary caps if the players don’t work out.
Obviously, the downside is that if they play well, trying to re-sign them could get harder. But it’s a price the Cardinals will pay for flexibility.
I do think it’s going to get a little more quiet out there for the Cards. Owners’ meetings are at the beginning of next week. Are the Cards done? Maybe not. But it will be slow. Then again, there are still a lot of players out there looking for work and I think the money is drying up.
And no, I haven’t heard anything more on Josh Cribbs.
– On a separate note, Adrian Wilson signed with the Patriots on a three-year contract Friday, a not unexpected turn of events. Happy for Wilson, who will get his chance to chase a ring. Mike Jurecki, who broke the news, also said Wilson heard from 10 teams once he was released. Good luck to A-Dub. I’ll try not to call him Rodney (Harrison) the next time I see him.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Antoine Cason, free agency, Josh Cribbs, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashard Mendenhall, Yeremiah Bell
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A few kibbles and bits while we all wait for the Kevin Kolb decision to come down (and if you want to have a chuckle and are on Twitter, check out the hashtag #whilewaiting4jake, which Rams fans have come up with some pretty funny quips as they wonder why they haven’t heard about Jake Long signing there yet.)
– Some kind of Kolb decision will have to come by 1 p.m. Friday, which is 4 p.m. at the league office in New York and close of business until Monday. Kolb’s $2 million bonus is due over the weekend, which is why it has to happen now. As I’ve mentioned before, the arrival of Drew Stanton pointed to the release of Kolb. The roster numbers — figuring Hoyer, Stanton and a draft pick, not to mention either Lindley or Skelton, if not both — don’t work as much as Kolb’s $9 million salary. With so much salary cap space that can be saved (at least $7.5 million and as much as $11.5 million if Kolb is designated a “June 1″ cut) that’s the reality.
– The addition of inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley seems to fit perfectly with the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme. He played well in Minnesota but the Cards should be able to drop him right next Daryl Washington. The book on Brinkley is that he is a two-down linebacker, but with Washington out there and assuming the Cards collect more defensive backs, Brinkley won’t be needed on passing downs anyway.
– Adrian Wilson is making his first free agent visit to the Patriots. I won’t be surprised if that’s where he lands. The Patriots have done a similar move in the past, in 2003 with Rodney Harrison. That worked out pretty good for New England. If anyone would know how to get the best out of Wilson 12 years in, it’d be Bill Belichick.
– Didn’t hear one thing about Josh Cribbs today. Because I know someone will want to ask.
– Kerry Rhodes, released Wednesday, released a statement Thursday saying goodbye. “Playing with the Cardinals has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I want to thank my coaches, teammates and Arizona fans everywhere for making the last three years truly remarkable. Change is always exciting and I’m optimistic about what the future holds. Wherever I go or whatever I do, I look forward to working hard and giving 110%, as always.”
– The Cardinals hosted free agent cornerback Antoine Cason Thursday and reportedly will host defensive end Matt Shaughnessy of the Raiders tomorrow. I don’t think the Cards are done in free agency yet. Shaughnessy is in demand.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Antoine Cason, free agency, Jasper Brinkley, Josh Cribbs, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Matt Shaughnessy
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In February, general manager Steve Keim was talking about what he wanted to accomplish in his new job. One of them had to do with a big picture view of free agency and the draft in tandem.
“I wanted to spend more time forecasting, as in taking a deeper look at the free agency market and the depth at each position as opposed to the draft at each position and have a little more calculated plan as far as how we approach those from an evaluation standpoint,” Keim said. “We’d weigh that against the financial part of it.”
It sounds reasonable and sound, and it also could give some insight into how this free agent period is playing out for the Cardinals.
Two of the positions considered the deepest in this draft? Offensive line and safety. Those are positions that might not be fully addressed until draft time. So the lack of free agent chase for a lineman, or the decision to release both Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes and sign only Yeremiah Bell could very well just be playing into Keim’s big-picture view. Again, I could see Bell being this year’s starter, and I can see him being this year’s James Sanders. (Heck, for the $840,000 he is reportedly getting, and a $65,000 signing bonus, he could eventually be this year’s Keith Lewis, a veteran safety signed in 2009 who ended up being cut at the end of camp when it was all said and done.)
I do expect more free agent signings. At what position, we will see, but there are reasons to think the Cards will wait at certain positions.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, free agency, Keith Lewis, Kerry Rhodes, offensive line, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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The first day was quiet. Today, not so much.
In come a host of free agents (many necessary after the recent purge of veterans): a quarterback in Drew Stanton, a running back in Rashard Mendenhall, a linebacker/special teamer in Lorenzo Alexander, a cornerback in Jerraud Powers and a safety in Yeremiah Bell. The Bell thing came out of left field a bit, but so too did the release of safety Kerry Rhodes. Dropping both starting safeties in less than a week’s time.
A quick note on Rhodes. The team saves $6 million in both cap space and cash outlay by letting him go in 2013. There was no way that was ever going to stand. The plan late in the season last year was to extend Rhodes’ deal and lower that 2013 number. I don’t know what happened exactly, but I still think there was talk in that regard even after the regime change. Rhodes hits an open market with a secondary glut, and he’ll be fighting Charles Woodson, Ed Reed and Adrian Wilson, among others, for a job. I do not think Bell is to be Rhodes’ long-term solution. For 2013? Maybe. Let’s see how the rest of free agency goes and how the draft plays out. The draft is deep in safeties, and remember, GM Steve Keim said one of the things he wanted to do this year was take a big picture view of how the draft and free agency fit together based on available players in both areas.
As for the players the Cardinals signed, we will see how it plays out. I’m not going to sit here and say they are saviors. But we don’t know how they will fit. I found it interesting, when Stanton was talking about the offensive line, that he mentioned that a change in scheme could change the way a unit or player played. We usually look at the downside of that, but there can be upside too. I don’t know how they will fit.
If Powers stays healthy, I think that can be a good signing, and if the Cardinals manage to nab Antoine Cason too — he will visit soon — to go with Patrick Peterson, all the better. There are still young players like Jamell Fleming and Justin Bethel to add in the mix, and that factors in too. Bell in the end could just be this year’s James Sanders. Mendenhall said he is healthy and has been since about the middle of last season, which is good for a player who could end up being the main back — depending how Ryan Williams responds.
There are more moves to come. Stanton’s arrival, as I keep repeating, doesn’t bode well for the future of Kevin Kolb and that decision has to be made probably by Friday anyway, since his roster bonus is due over the weekend. Linebacker Rey Maualuga left Wednesday without a deal, but reportedly Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley is coming in for a visit. Then there is the Josh Cribbs watch, with multiple reports still have him in conversations with the Cards.
There’s a whole offseason to analyze the moves. And I’m sure we all will.
Tags: Drew Stanton, free agency, Jamell Fleming, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Josh Cribbs, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Lorenzo Alexander, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Rey Maualuga, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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The Cardinals had two players among the top six in the NFL in terms of earning extra money last season through the NFL’s performance pay plan, which essentially gives bonus checks to players who aren’t making a ton in salary but play a lot. One was tackle Bobby Massie, no surprise as a fourth-round pick who started all season. Massie got an extra $283,776, not bad when his salary was $390,000. The other was linebacker Sam Acho, who received an extra $273,715 on top of his salary of $465,000.
Every team distributes an extra $3.46 million to their players. Every guy who played a snap gets a check, with the money proportional to snaps and salary. The lower your salary and the more snaps you play, the more money you’ll get.
Other odds and ends on this Wednesday morning:
– Linebacker Quentin Groves agreed to a two-year contract with Cleveland, re-joining Ray Horton with the Browns. The Cardinals already needed help at inside linebacker, but now they are thin at outside linebacker too.
– The inside linebacker issue could be helped if they sign ex-Bengal Rey Maualuga, who tweeted yesterday he was coming here for a visit. Other visits expected are quarterback Drew Stanton, running back Rashard Mendenhall and cornerback Jerraud Powers.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Drew Stanton, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Quentin Groves, Rashard Mendenhall, Rey Maualuga, Sam Acho
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The first afternoon of free agency is winding down. Twitter and the constant flow of information around the league is pushed everyone to the edge, it seems. To this I’m just making the point — it’s just March, and it’s just the first few hours.
(Here’s a post that’s sure to get everyone riled up at the end of the day.)
“Winning” March doesn’t mean you will win later. Can it help? Sure. But there’s no way to know now and certainly no reason to grade it out, good or bad, right now. Other than a couple of spots — like say, quarterback — what players will be the main ones talked about at the outset of camp? The ones who will have the heaviest influence on the season? Patrick Peterson. Larry Fitzgerald. Calais Campbell. Daryl Washington. The team’s best players, and the ones who are already here.
Every single player on the market has flaws. That’s why they are on the market. That too often seems to get lost in this discussion. I’m happy for Greg Toler if the reports are true he got $15 million for three years. He went to tiny Saint Paul’s, he worked a JC Penney’s for a while, for goodness sake. Today’s payday is the American dream on HGH. But with all due respect to Greg, a good person and a hard worker, did I see him as a $5M a year cornerback? No. And when Peterson’s deal has to be extended in a year or so, if Toler is making $5M, what would Peterson need to get?
The ebb and flow of emotions about this player and that player seem to happen in a vacuum too often. These are intricate puzzles being put together with talent, personalities, money and age all factored in. Every team must do it. They have to do it in the way they think is best. I have no idea how the team of Steve Keim and Bruce Arians will fare putting together this team. I’m not saying the Cards — like every team — haven’t made mistakes. But goodness, we are, as of this writing, less than five hours into free agency, weeks before the draft, and some insist Keim is a terrible GM. After, what, 63 days on the job? Not sure how you make that leap.
Heck, I’m writing this at 5:30 and by 7, there could be all kinds of news breaking about the Cards agreeing to deals. Who knows. If the Cards win in the fall, no one will remember or care about March. If they lose, no one will talk about March either. There will be other pressing business.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, free agency, Greg Toler, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals wanted to keep cornerback Greg Toler, but that didn’t happen. Toler agreed to a deal with the Colts Tuesday within 90 minutes of free agency, taking away a possible starter for the Cards and leaving them low at the position after cutting William Gay and with the team not expected to bring Michael Adams back. Only 2012 rookies Jamell Fleming and Justin Bethel joing Patrick Peterson on the roster for now.
The Cards are bringing in former Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers for a visit, according to multiple reports. Powers has started everyone of the 42 games in which he has played in the NFL, but that was over four seasons. He has never played 16 games in a season and finished the last three seasons on IR, although his experience trumps what Toler was bringing to the table.
Multiple other names have been linked to the Cards in these early hours of free agency, with varying reports of interest. Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who played for head coach Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh, has reportedly already scheduled a visit to come to Arizona while Denver also has interest. The Cards are talking to Pro Bowl special teamer/linebacker Lorenzo Alexander of the Redskins and receiver/special teamer Josh Cribbs of the Browns, too. One report had both “leaning” toward coming to Arizona but another report said the Patriots were ahead on the Cribbs front, so again, nothing is done until it’s done.
There is still talk about quarterback Drew Stanton too. I believe that, if Stanton lands in Arizona, that probably signals the end for Kevin Kolb in Arizona. If the team is keeping Brian Hoyer and drafting a quarterback — which they will at some point — signing Stanton and keeping Kolb doesn’t fit.
Finally, Kent Somers said that free agent linebacker Quentin Groves will visit Cleveland (and DC Ray Horton) but that the Cards are still trying to bring Groves back.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Drew Stanton, free agency, Greg Toler, Jeraud Powers, Josh Cribbs, Kevin Kolb, Lorenzo Alexander, Quentin Groves, Rashard Mendenhall
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It doesn’t matter when free agency starts, whether it is a “soft” opening like the NFL has tried this year or the normal start of free agency (deals can be consummated starting at 1 p.m. Tuesday) — there will be rumors and speculation. It’s always tough to know exactly where it’s coming from. Is the agent just trying to drum up a market for the player? Is it serious interest? Sometimes, it feels like the recruiting process in high school for an athlete — a player could have “interest” from Alabama and Michigan and LSU and Oklahoma, but was it a form letter sent out to dozens of players or was it a phone call from Les Miles?
(And yes, obviously an NFL player isn’t getting a direct phone call from a team right now, because of the rules.)
So it’s within this context that the news must be viewed of the Cardinals looking at cornerback Sean Smith, or interest in Reggie Bush, or return man Josh Cribbs. Obviously, the Cardinals are going to have to be active in free agency to a point, because they will need to fill out a roster that has shrunk through recent cuts. This is the new NFL by the way — Rick Gosselin notes 11 players who started 16 games this season have been cut already, along with three others who started 15 games (including Adrian Wilson.) It will be very interesting to see what kind of contracts are reached with many of these players on the market. The Ravens are looking for Anquan Boldin to take a pay cut, which he doesn’t want to do. It’s a tough time to be an older veteran, regardless of performance.
As for what might happen with the Cards, well, they’d like to re-sign cornerback Greg Toler and safety Rashad Johnson. There hasn’t been much talk about free agent LaRod Stephens-Howling and the Bush news — if accurate — would not bode well for the Hyphen’s return. Neither would someone like Cribbs. (It does seem like interest in Bush contradicts Bruce Arians’ concept of a three-down back, but reports are Bush has become better all-around in Miami compared to his Saints years.)
This week will be fun to watch play out.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, free agency, Greg Toler, Josh Cribbs, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Bush, Sean Smith
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Free agency — the time when contracts have expired and players are able to visit other teams and sign actual deals — doesn’t begin until Tuesday
at 2 p.m. 1 p.m. (I forgot the country changes time this weekend and we do not) Arizona time. But at 10 p.m. tonight, for the first time (at least, within the rules), agents for free agents-to-be and teams other than the free agent’s own can discuss contracts.
The rules are this: A player has to have an agent to make this work. If the player is self-represented, he’s stuck waiting until Tuesday. No travel for the player can happen or even be planned. But a contract can be discussed and, in theory, reached.
“I think it’s fair to say that everybody will be interested to see how it works out, what the results of it are,” said former general manager Bill Polian, who now works for ESPN but was on the competition committee when the new rule was first discussed. “I wouldn’t say everybody was enthusiastic about it. We all had some reservation.
“But, on balance, I think it’s fair to say that we felt that it was something that would at least bring some organization to what had been a very chaotic process. Agents can talk to clubs, they can go back to the old club with what one would assume would be a bona fide offer or some parameters. They can gauge who is interested and who is not interested. All of those things may bring a little more organization to it than had previously existed. But I’m going to be as anxious as you to see if we come out of the box with deals at 4:01 p.m., or if it serves as a way to sort of set the market before people begin to do deals.”
Polian noted the NBA’s way of doing business. There is a significant lag-time in pro basketball from the time free agency gets underway and the time actual contracts or trades can be executed. In the NBA, it has to do with how long it takes to set the salary cap. But often in that league, many deals are agreed upon and reach the world news before they can actually be executed.
“My study of it is they pretty much get all these deals done during the so called talking period, which is longer than ours, as I understand it. Then after the first flurry, then the market settles down.” Polian said. “Even if that were the case with our league, my personal opinion would be that that would be a good thing.”
So free agency will start, even if nothing can be officially done. I have no doubt some players will “switch” teams this weekend without officially switching teams. Here we go.
Tags: free agency
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That sounds obvious, of course, younger is better. But as Pete Prisco formulates his annual top 50 available free agent list, it’s the law. No restricted free agents allowed, no tagged players (neither one of those types of guys are available in reality, although it may be interesting to see what happens with Saints running back Chris Ivory) and no one who is 30 or will be turning 30 this year. Prisco’s idea is that no one that old deserves big money, and I tend to agree. The road of free agency is littered with overpaid older players who switched teams and couldn’t live up to the contract.
(Now, I differ when you are extending one of your own guys, because it’s a different scenario and you know exactly what you are getting. Those on the market are on the market for a reason — because their former team didn’t see them worth the same big money they are about to get.)
I suppose, if you are a team on the verge, an older player can be helpful because he can put you over the top. But you’ll notice that most of the teams at the top don’t do that. They are at the top because they build via the draft and keep the best players from those drafts. Peyton Manning does not count. Unique situation.
The Cardinals have one free-agent-to-be on Prisco’s list. Cornerback Greg Toler is No. 24. “A year removed from a torn ACL, he played well in limited time last season,” Prisco writes. “He is a tough corner who will tackle.”
I believe the Cards still want Toler back, but the market will likely dictate that. What will Toler be worth, and is it in line with what the Cards think he is worth?
Interestingly, there are a pair of former Cardinals slightly higher than Toler on the list. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is 19th, and defensive tackle Alan Branch is 21st. I don’t want to start another round of “Will DRC come back?” I don’t think so. Prisco’s analysis is a reason why. “He wasn’t great last season, but he has a ton of athletic ability. It’s almost as if people are waiting for it to show.” DRC has been in the league four years. Consistency should have shown up by now.
I don’t know how active the Cards will actually be in free agency, so I’m not sure how much this would even apply. But as I mentioned yesterday, younger is probably going to be better around this team now.
Tags: Alan Branch, DRC, free agency, Greg Toler
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