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Blogs

To take a quarterback

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2013 – 11:38 am

It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.

“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”

So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?

Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.

(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)

The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.

Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.

PalmerdraftUSE


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Signing a punter and other kibbles and bits

Posted by Darren Urban on April 8, 2013 – 11:33 am

A few odds and ends on a Monday morning during the second week of voluntary workouts:

– The Cardinals signed punter Will Batson Monday. Batson also can kick field goals and kick off, so he’ll fill the role of Ricky Schmitt for this offseason and preseason, I’d think — which means he’s a major long shot. Ultimately, Dave Zastudil (who was very good last year) will be the punter and Jay Feely the kicker. This just gives the Cards an extra helper with a 90-man roster. Batson was with the Titans in preseason last year.

– There will be a special edition of the Big Red Rage this Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the regular spot, Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. Exact details are still being firmed up, but it will be live on Arizona Sports 620 and one of the guests will be General Manager Steve Keim.

– The 2013 Cardinals Cheerleaders will be announced on the site Friday. We will have a series of videos posted this week (1 p.m. so don’t miss them) detailing the audition process.

– I find it interesting that Kevin Kolb signs with the Bills after it could be argued that, had he not gotten hurt against the Bills last season, he might still be a Cardinal. (Then again, following that logic, there might not have been a coaching change at all. But I digress.) He’s got big plans for Buffalo.

– It’s like Harvard winning the NCAA tournament.

– Presented without comment: Former Cardinals QB Max Hall has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.


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Still some cap space and adding players

Posted by Darren Urban on April 3, 2013 – 6:50 pm

The NFL Players Association tweeted out a document this afternoon listing every NFL team’s cap space, and, with everything fluid this time of year (cap space changes as soon as players are added or subtracted) the Cardinals have about $8.2 million in salary cap space for their top 51. That’s not a bad situation to be in after trading for Carson Palmer. (UPDATE: There seems to be some question if that is before the Palmer deal factored in. Obviously if it hasn’t been, that will make a big difference It included Palmer already.)

The Cards did add a small piece today in former 49ers safety Curtis Taylor (the team has yet to officially announce it). I’d expect a few more similar signings over the next couple of weeks as the Cards prep for their first (voluntary) minicamp beginning April 23.

The Cards still only have 57 players after adding Palmer (and before Taylor) and they need to grow that number. There will be seven draft picks and a bunch of undrafted rookies, but again, the Cards eventually want to get to 90 players

– The Bengals claimed quarterback John Skelton, cut by the Cards Monday, off waivers Wednesday. Here’s hoping Skelton catches on as a backup. I still believe he’d already have a win in Cincinnati if Early Doucet hadn’t fallen down.

– I never wrote anything because of when it happened (and in case you were living under a rock) ex-Cards QB Kevin Kolb agreed to a deal with the Bills a few days ago. He has a chance to start there, at least as of right now.


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Skelton cut by Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on April 1, 2013 – 3:14 pm

There is nothing new on the burgeoning Carson Palmer trade front at the moment, but it seems a lock to be completed at some point after the Cardinals officially released quarterback John Skelton Monday. So ends Skelton’s wild ride since arriving as a fifth-round rookie in 2010, getting a couple of starts in that year and then having an amazing way of playing poorly yet rallying the Cards to wins in 2011. Then he beat out Kevin Kolb to start the 2012 season before spraining an ankle in the opener, struggling mightily as the starter after Kolb got hurt. Clearly the relationship between he and former coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t good at the end, but even a coaching change couldn’t save Skelton’s roster spot.

Skelton tweeted out his goodbye:

The release wasn’t a big surprise after the team signed Drew Stanton, brought Brian Hoyer back and now are close to getting Palmer. All along it looked unlikely that Skelton would survive into May on the roster if this didn’t come sooner. Now it has. Not that it would’ve helped him, but recalling how Bruce Arians lamented the inability to talk to Kolb while watching video — to ask why and why not of certain plays — maybe Skelton lost out too. Then again, Skelton’s troubles were seen first-hand by general manager Steve Keim. Keim had a good sense of what he had in both Kolb and Skelton, and Skelton ended up — even with an 8-9 starting record — with 12 touchdown passes, 22 interceptions and a 61.9 passer rating in 17 starts.

– The Cardinals also announced that tendered free agents William Powell, Hoyer and Ronald Talley officially signed their contracts. The Hoyer and Talley news had already been out there.

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The curious case of Carson Palmer

Posted by Darren Urban on March 25, 2013 – 2:19 pm

As the draft approaches and people speculate on (or fret about) what the Cardinals will do at quarterback, one of the storylines that could play out is the availability of Carson Palmer. Palmer is currently with the Raiders, due $13 million for 2013 which — like the situation with Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals — he probably was never going to see. If he were cut, it makes a lot of sense that the Cardinals would consider him, and the Adam Schefter report now is that is “unlikely” Palmer is willing to take a cut.

Yes, Bruce Arians says he is “comfortable” with Drew Stanton. Yes, he could start. But here was the key phrase last week when Arians was asked directly if he was going to name Stanton his starter.

“Once we get the roster set, if that (QB meeting) room hasn’t changed, he’s our starter,” Arians said.

That is one heck of a lot of wiggle room.

It brings us back to Palmer. Palmer isn’t in his salad days anymore, not the quarterback who was starring for the Bengals once upon a time. But he still did throw for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season for the Raiders, pretty decent numbers for a team that wasn’t very good. Depending on the cost, he might make a lot of sense to at least compete with Stanton, or maybe even just slide in ahead of him. Would he be a long-term solution? No. But the long-term solution might not be there this year. There has been a ton of talk about the Cardinals and a draft pick, and as has been stated — and after Arians talked about not forcing a QB pick high — a quarterback might not be the No. 1 pick.

The best part for the Cardinals is that they have a ton of flexibility at the position right now. Stanton is going to be here. He’s the one lock, but if he ended up as the backup, I think Arians would be happy with that (I’m not sure Stanton would be thrilled, but that’s a different blog post.) Brian Hoyer is under a $2M deal but he could be traded or cut with no salary cap implications — tough for Hoyer, but flexible for the team. Plus there is the probable draft pick somewhere and John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to plug in the equation if needed.

Palmer needs to be careful, of course. I have no idea what kind of restructure/pay cut the Raiders would be offering, but the market is thin. Kolb I think was hoping to have popped up somewhere already but that hasn’t happened. Then again, Palmer may figure — and he could be right — that hitting the market when the Cards, Bills, Jaguars, Browns or even the Jets could still be considering a different QB could make him in demand. (UPDATE: Palmer doesn’t have any bonuses due soon and the Raiders are under the cap, so this could very well go up until the draft so the Raiders can see if/when they draft a QB. This might hinge on that.)

We’ll see how the Palmer situation plays out in Oakland first and then go from there. We’ll see if the Cardinals’ “room” has a chance to change.

CarsonUse


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Arians talks QBs, Cribbs and other stuff over breakfast

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2013 – 9:05 am

The NFC coaches breakfast was this morning — bright and early at 7:15 a.m. — here at the NFL coaches meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. That meant an hour hanging out with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. There will be plenty more in-depth of what was said, but for now a few of the main highlights — the biggest being that the reality of Drew Stanton being the 2013 starting quarterback feels very close right now.

– Asked if this was a tough year to be going into the draft needing a quarterback, Arians didn’t blink. “I don’t feel we need one.”

– Along those lines (and again, I will have an article up later today on the subject) Arians said he wasn’t worried about the quarterback situation. He doesn’t know enough about Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley or John Skelton yet, because he hasn’t had a chance to go over video and ask “why” on various plays. He obviously has done that with Stanton. But he said he thinks he can win with Stanton, and he said he won’t have a problem if things stay status quo starting Stanton this season.

– Yes, such QB talk is possiblely a smokescreen. Or just hard driving optimism so players (and fans) don’t want to write off 2013. But Arians sure sounded genuine.

– He wants to name a starting QB before training camp. That’s best for the team, he said, making sure the locker room knows who “The Man” will be.

– It hurt Kevin Kolb that Arians couldn’t sit down with him and talk about his play last season and again, figuring out the whys and why nots of decision-making. Without that information, moving on (given the contract) was the best decision, Arians said.

– He talked a little bit about the possibility of adding free agent Josh Cribbs, assuming at some point Cribbs is healthy and the Cards still have interest by that point. He wouldn’t mind having both Cribbs and Patrick Peterson back for a kick or two. “It’d be a nice addition if it works out.” One thing Cribbs won’t do is be QB in a wildcat formation. “I’m not a wildcat dude,” Arians said.

– Not only will Lorenzo Alexander play outside linebacker, new defensive end Matt Shaughnessy can also stand up and play OLB. That could make for an interesting pass rush situation.

– Asked about the tight ends, he was blunt: “I’m not a fullback guy, never have been.” Not great news for Anthony Sherman, at least on the surface. Arians wants two tight ends when one can maneuver into the backfield, making it much harder for the defense to know what’s coming. Having a fullback restricts that flexibility, he said.

– He said the speed at receiver with Fitz, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd is “plenty fast enough.” He added with a chuckle, wide receiver “is not the position I’ve worried about.”

– Rehab has gone well for center Lyle Sendlein, tackle Levi Brown and running back Ryan Williams, but Arians isn’t sure how much they will do in the early on-field work.

– It’ll be wait-and-see where second-year offensive linemen Nate Potter and Bobby Massie play, either guard or tackle. But Arians is confident they each can do both.

– Levi Brown could play right tackle. But Arians right now sure sounds like a guy expecting to have Brown at left tackle.

– The coaching staff are still trying to figure out what position Justin Bethel will play, cornerback or safety. They will pick one and let him learn it well.

– The Cardinals color Kangol was on display again Wednesday morning. Could we see something similar on Sundays? Arians is talking with with New Era and the NFL on that subject. “I’m not getting fined,” Arians joked. “There’s got to be more than baseball caps, know what I mean?”

AriansBreak3USE


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The Kolb experience

Posted by Darren Urban on March 15, 2013 – 10:50 am

I was standing on the sideline next to the end zone last season when Kevin Kolb rifled a laser to the pylon and Andre Roberts made the improbable fourth-down catch to rescue overtime from what looked like a loss against Miami. The Cardinals later won that game, were 4-0, and life was very very good, for both the Cardinals and Kolb.

That was both Kolb’s apex with the team and the beginning of the end. The next week, the Cards couldn’t block the Rams and Kolb was sacked what seemed like a million times in the team’s first loss, and the following week, Kolb hurt his ribs in what ended up being an overtime loss to the Bills. Kolb didn’t play for the team again.

There’s no way to paint Kolb’s two-year tenure with the Cards as good. Everyone knows that. Not with the money paid, the price surrendered, the natural expectations. The offensive line issues were a problem, but Kolb had issues with the offense in 2011 and still wasn’t going to be a prolific passer last year even when things went right. Let me say this though: I do think Kolb, if he could have stayed healthy, could have won games. He did so at the beginning of last year. I didn’t ever see him being one of the top 10 passers in the league, but the Cards could have made it work. He couldn’t stay healthy, though, and as the cliche goes, availability is as important as ability (I keep thinking about that in the Patriots move to dump Wes Welker for the oft-injured Danny Amendola. But I digress.)

With the new regime, moving on makes sense. We’ve all known for a long, long time Kolb wasn’t going to be back at $11 million this season. I have no idea what kind of paycut the Cards were asking for, but it sounds like the Cards made an effort to do something. Maybe he ends up in New York with the Jets, or Buffalo. There might be other better options, especially considering Drew Stanton has a history with Bruce Arians and his ability to throw deep fits better in what Arians wants to do. The door is reportedly still open, but I will be surprised if Kolb returns.

(A quick aside: I know the Cardinals ended up paying $20.5 million to Kolb. It turned out to be too much. But I don’t understand the people that get so mad at that aspect of this. It’s not your money. They spent because they had to spend. It didn’t work out. Move on.)

The Cardinals needed a quarterback in 2011. Really bad. They felt Kolb was the best choice. It didn’t work but they made the effort.

Kolb too was a stand-up guy. He answered the questions, he understood the criticism. It didn’t work out. And the Cardinals move on.

KolbseeattleUSE

 


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Odds and ends as Cards maneuver free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2013 – 9:05 pm

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.


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Toler headed to Indy and FA chatter

Posted by Darren Urban on March 12, 2013 – 2:48 pm

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.


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Who could work with Arians and (gasp!) QB talk

Posted by Darren Urban on March 6, 2013 – 4:54 pm

At some point, the constant offseason debate about who will be the Cardinals’ quarterback will end. In a perfect world, it’d be determined this offseason long-term somehow, but until then, I suppose a third of the posts here lean in that direction. So here’s a midweek base-touching on some quarterback-and-the-Cardinals topics:

– Former Colts general manager Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, was on a conference call the other day and gave his thoughts on what QB out there might be the best fit to work with new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. Polian sounded somewhat optimistic Arians provided a little flexibility in that regard.

“I worked with Bruce for five years, and my feeling is that he can adapt his offensive scheme to pretty much any skill level at quarterback as long as the guy is a good decision maker, as long as he has the ability to see the receiver deliver the ball on time and do it accurately,” Polian said. “Those three things are a must for quarterback play.  I think whomever he has can do that, and he’ll adapt the rest of it.

“For him, that’s not hard at all.  He’s very adaptive and creative.  He’ll figure out a way to make virtually any system work, as long as the quarterback has those (three things) … well, actually it’s four things.  Process information, see the receiver, anticipate his coming open get it out quickly, and be accurate.”

Is that Kevin Kolb? Is that Brian Hoyer? Is that John Skelton or Chase Daniel or Drew Stanton? Is that/could it be Smith/Barkley/Glennon/someone else in the draft? That’s the mystery building up to these next seven weeks or so.

– Speaking of Hoyer, Peter Schrager writes that, given the QB market, Hoyer could be considered by multiple teams in free agency even as a restricted free agent. I went over this before that the Cards probably will tender Hoyer and thus would have a chance to match any contract offer he signs from other team. The soft QB market, both in free agency and the draft, obviously plays into Hoyer’s attractiveness but that doesn’t make him any less of a legit option. One nugget Schrager notes — Ken Whisenhunt was telling teams he would like to bring Hoyer with him in some role when Whiz was interview for head coaching jobs.

– As far as Kolb goes, the fact his roster bonus is reportedly due March 17 could make a big difference. It buys the Cards time if they want, or if Kolb doesn’t want to take as much of a cut as the Cards want him to take. Teams can talk to free agents starting Saturday. In that extra week, the Cards could know for sure if they have another veteran option in place instead of Kolb and let him go if they want. Or, after wading into the free agent pool, they decide Kolb is the guy they want, they can make moves then. I’m speculating on this right now — both sides have been tight-lipped over how this is going — but then again, it’s the season of speculation.

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