At the owner’s meetings earlier this week, general manager Steve Keim said after a hectic 10 days of free agency, it was time for the Cardinals to turn toward the draft and begin prep there. Keim and coach Bruce Arians, in fact, were going to hit a couple of pro days, starting with a trip to the South today as they witnessed the University of Georgia’s work (where Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree performed.)
It doesn’t mean free agency was completely kicked to the curb, of course. The Cardinals will still be looking to add here and there if they feel it makes sense, as Bruce Arians noted yesterday (and Mike Jurecki is reporting the Cards have signed veteran DE Frostee Rucker, I’m sure for not a lot of money). The prices for many of these players continue to drop, and that too could change equations. At this point, the Cardinals are in pretty good shape. After their cuts and signings binge of the past few weeks (before the Rucker move), the Cards have somewhere north of $13 million of salary cap room.
Of the nine free agent signings the team has made (including Rashad Johnson’s re-signing), only three account for more than $1.5 million of cap space: Rashard Mendenhall’s $2.5M cap hit, Drew Stanton’s $3M cap hit, and Jerraud Powers’ $2M cap hit. Those nine together only add up to less than a $15M cap hit. The Cards cleared $13.5M of cap space along by releasing Kevin Kolb and Kerry Rhodes.
There has been a lot of talk about needing money for the draft class/rookie pool, but because of the offseason top 51 rule — only the top 51 salary cap numbers on the roster count toward the salary cap in the offseason — not every rookie finds his way on to the “real” cap. Given where the Cardinals are drafting, the team will need around $3.5M of cap space toward the draft class (because some draftees won’t be in the top 51.)
Tags: Drew Stanton, free agency, Frostee Rucker, Jerraud Powers, Rashard Mendenhall, salary cap
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When the notion first came up of the Cardinals possibly signing free agent Josh Cribbs, it also created the question, just exactly how did he fit? Ostensibly he would be a receiver; Cribbs’ desire to play more offense in Cleveland was not a secret.
But Cribbs’ market isn’t large. His knee surgery has delayed a deal in Arizona. But at least the possibility is out there enough for Bruce Arians to talk a little about it. It was clear that Arians still sees Cribbs as a special teamer first. There are other possibilities though – if he signs – as Arians sees it.
“Having tried to tackle him all these years on returns, that’s the first thing,” Arians said. “He could take it to the house at any point and time. To put him and Patrick (Peterson) back there together would be fun. The ability he brings as an offensive player is unique. It’d be a nice addition if it worked out.”
Cribbs (or Peterson, for that matter) won’t be used at QB in the wildcat formation — “I’m not a wildcat dude,” Arians said — but Cribbs reminds Arians of the offensive versatility of a player he had in Pittsburgh, Antwaan Randle-El.
“I like having those types of guys,” Arians said.
Cribbs had just four catches last season as he fell out of favor with Browns coach Pat Shurmur.
“I’d be anxious to look at his skill set as a receiver,” Arians said. “What could he do to get into our receiver mix?”
Peterson would still be a return man, Arians emphasized. And first Cribbs has to heal, pass a physical and the Cards still have to have interest by then.
But, Arians said, “it would be fun having them both back there. Patrick is dynamic and maybe put them back together and say, ‘Where are you going to kick it?’ “
Tags: free agency, Josh Cribbs, Patrick Peterson
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Well, apparently the Josh Cribbs physical didn’t go as well as it could have, which probably isn’t a surprise by now since there was still no news about the Cardinals making a contract offer. This morning, there was a Will Burge report that he failed his physical.(Another report said he didn’t “fail” the physical, but we may be talking semantics here.)
Then Mike Garafalo got in touch with Cribbs’ agent, who said the free agent wide receiver/special teamer had just had an arthroscopic procedure to repair the meniscus in his knee and it wasn’t yet healed. More interestingly was Garafalo’s tweet of the agent saying that the Cardinals are expected to give Cribbs another physical “in a few weeks” and if he is healthy then, Cribbs should sign with the team.
A few weeks in the NFL is a long time. That will be after offseason work has started. Is it after the draft? Could the Cardinals make a move in the meantime to fill that role, making Cribbs the odd man out? Would that open the door wider for LaRod Stephens-Howling to return? (And for the record, I’m not saying Cribbs and the Hyphen are absolutely tied together. I’m trying to connect dots with skill sets.)
For the short term, though, the Cribbs questions can stop.
Tags: free agency, Josh Cribbs, LaRod Stephens-Howling
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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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