There is really no way to know how long the Cardinals have been thinking about Carson Palmer, but it’s clear it’s been a little while even if the official trade talks with the Raiders didn’t start until last Friday. The Cards were in a good spot, since it seemed obvious Palmer wasn’t going to go back to Oakland. The price wasn’t steep, not even if it had been straight up for a sixth-round pick, and the Cards got a seventh-rounder back. (The conditional pick next year is reportedly another seventh rounder, and since the conventional wisdom that a pick a year later is worth less than the current year, does that mean the Cards might have given up an undrafted free agent?)
The price for Palmer — about $8 million in salary, according to reports — is fair for a veteran QB with a decent resume. More importantly, the Cardinals were good with it.
“Not only with the draft compensation but with the restructuring of the contract, we had an area we felt comfortable with as an organization,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “We stuck to it and we were patient and it worked out.”
Keim said he and Team President Michael Bidwill had a long talk about the direction of the organization when Palmer’s availability came to light. Keim stressed the opportunity to get a franchise quarterback at this stage (which sounds even better given the prospects in the draft, which are clearly not exciting too many QB-needy teams league-wide given all the QB moves.) The Cards had gone for a franchise QB trade recently, and that didn’t work out all that well.
“I think there were many lessons we learned from that trade and from other trades that we brought collectively to the table,” Bidwill said of the Kolb deal.
The changes have come fast and furious over the past month or so. “All along we talked about being proactive and being aggressive,” Keim said. The Cardinals have. And now they have a new quarterback to run out there.
– It does feel like this is a perfect fit for what Bruce Arians does. I do think Palmer can still play well, and I do think he was the best option for the Cards. Is he the long-term solution? Of course not. Even if he has a Kurt Warner-like renaissance, the Cardinals are going to keep looking for long-term answers. They already were caught short once when Warner retired and they don’t want it to happen again.
– There was also cautious optimism from players today. “Any time you add a weapon, it helps your team,” running back Rashard Mendenhall said. “But we are all waiting to see how it shakes out.” As Fitz said, “I’m coming off the most disappointing season of my career and I’m in ‘Prove it’ mode.” Everyone on the Cards, especially on offense, probably needs to view it that way.
– It can’t hurt on the timing, which got Palmer to Arizona right when voluntary work started. He lost out on most of Tuesday as the deal was completed, but emphasized he is now in Arizona ready to work. I assume that means starting full bore Wednesday. (He did get a post-contract mini-workout in with John Lott, and talked a little with new teammate Dan Williams as you can see below.)
– Speaking of Warner, Palmer knows the parallel of coming to the Cards at this late stage of his career (Palmer is 33, Warner was 34 when the Cards got him.) “It’s hard to make those comparisons. Kurt was a phenomenal player. He came here and just lit people up. I’d love to be compared to some of the things that he did here when it’s my time to leave here.”
– In his opening statement, Palmer addressed the many stories about his leaving the Raiders, including the one out there that he declined to renegotiate his contract down from $13 million in 2013 even though the Raiders were reportedly still offering $10 million this season.
“There’s been a lot of rumors and stories and inaccuracies about my departure from Oakland,” Palmer said. “I want to clear the air on that. I was presented with a contract there and I was advised not to sign that contract, with no security, no guarantees. My agent told me he would never have me sign that contract. That opportunity led me here.”
Palmer said the Raiders were moving toward youth and he had no problem with that. He also called Head Coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie McKenzie “stars” at their jobs.
– Arians was increasingly optimistic about his team. It lead to the funniest exchange of the day as Arians praised the players he saw for the first time Tuesday morning.
“Having walked into that room today, that’s as good a looking football team as I’ve seen in my 20 years of coaching, stepping in the first day,” Arians said. “There’s not a bad body in the room. It’s a great looking bunch of athletes, and we will never use talent as an excuse.”
Palmer didn’t hesitate. “You saying you’ve got a good body?”
“Yeah buddy. Yes indeed,” Arians fired back. “Sixty and sexy.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Raiders, Rashard Mendenhall, Steve Keim, trade
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Back in 2006, when Matt Leinart was just drafted and Denny Green was in charge, the hype around the Cardinals’ freshly-minted quarterback-of-the-future was off the charts. Back then, Kurt Warner was just a guy, a placeholder for Leinart much like Warner had been for Eli Manning and the Giants back in 2004. But Green was having none of the hype. He made it plain — in a perfect scenario for 2006, Warner would play all season, and Leinart would sit and learn the whole year and not even play a single snap.
(Of course, that didn’t happen because Warner fumbled the ball all over the place and Leinart came in and it got me one of my all-time favorite quotes from Denny. I asked him, with the Cards 1-8 and Leinart struggling, what it would have meant for Leinart to have sat the entire season as the original plan, and Denny’s first reaction was, “That’s an awfully philosophical question for a Wednesday.” As opposed to saving the philosophical questions for Friday. But I digress.)
Flash forward to 2013, when the Cardinals could spend their highest pick on a QB since that season. Will it be the first round? If I am guessing, I say no. Never say never I suppose. The second round seems more likely. But unlike Green, both GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians would rather drop a first-round rookie in the fire. No reason to wait.
“My philosophy is, if you are taking a player that high, particularly at the quarterback position, I think that guy needs to be on the field and play for you,” Keim said. “To me, a player grows by being on the field and taking snaps, and I don’t think you can replicate that, whether it is the speed of the game, the timing of routes … in practice. He needs to be on the field.”
Said Arians, “I’ve never been one to sit them on the bench. You never learn on the bench. He’s not going to get any reps in practice because that’s for the starter. If you want him to develop, you give him every rep in practice and you throw him out there. Hopefully you can put enough talent around him that he can handle the downside.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart, quarterbacks, Steve Keim
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Who will be the first Arizona Cardinal to make it into the Hall of Fame? That could be an interesting race.
Former cornerback Aeneas Williams is among the 17 finalists for induction this year, just as he was last year. Williams, drafted by the Cardinals in 1991, is the first homegrown Arizona Cardinal to have a chance at the Hall. He deserves to get there at some point. He made eight Pro Bowls in his career (a decade with the Cards, and then four seasons with the St. Louis Rams), seven as a cornerback. He made one after moving to safety with the Rams. He had 55 interceptions, nine that he returned for touchdowns. Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin has often talked about how hard Williams made his life. He was one of the game’s all-time best, although his career was underplayed because the Cardinals were often bad during his playing days.
Williams may be in a waiting game. If he doesn’t get in this year — and it will be tough with the names there — when would it happen?
In the meantime, quarterback Kurt Warner waits for his chance for eligibility. Warner isn’t homegrown, not after successfully breaking in with the Rams. But there is little question that the only reason Warner’s career elevated to possible Hall of Fame status was because he had a rebirth with the Cardinals. Without those years from 2005-2009 — particularly his renaissance with Ken Whisenhunt from 2007-2009 — this wouldn’t even be a topic. Warner’s first year of eligibility comes after the 2014 season, when, in a nice twist of coincidence, the Hall vote will take place at the Super Bowl in Arizona. (Team president Michael Bidwill also said on Radio Row the other day the team’s plans to eventually honor Warner themselves — perhaps the Ring of Honor? — would likely wait until Warner’s Hall status is possible.)
Many believe Warner is a surefire get-in-right-away Hall of Famer, but we will see. There are some significant players that have come up for the Hall of late and will be reaching eligibility over the next few years. There will be a logjam of worthy candidates. If Williams doesn’t get in this year, it’s because of the guys who he is up against. Finalists include Cris Carter, Warren Sapp, Tim Brown, Will Shields, Michael Strahan and Jonathan Ogden, among others. Hopefully, Williams gets in sooner rather than later. Who knows? Maybe they could both get in the same year, in Arizona.
This year’s class is announced at 3:30 p.m. Arizona time Saturday.
UPDATE: Williams did not make it, although he did get to the final 10.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner
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The Cardinals have asked for and have been granted permission to talk to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley for the vacant head coaching job. That’s not a surprise. Michael Bidwill has always liked Haley, and was intrigued last year when Haley was interested — after being let go by the Chiefs as head coach — in coming back to be part of Whisenhunt’s staff. And Haley, even when he was Chiefs’ head coach, had expressed his fondness for Arizona and the Cards. He still has a home here.
His stint as K.C. head coach after leaving the Cards as OC after the Super Bowl season started well and devolved quickly until he was fired during the 2011 season. His time in Pittsburgh this past year was filled with some drama as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made some critical comments of Haley’s choices.
Of course, Haley was part of a dynamic offense while in Arizona, developing a close relationship with Kurt Warner and coaxing the next level out of Larry Fitzgerald. He can be confrontational. But you always know where you stand with Haley.
So to recap, here’s where things stand with the Cards’ known candidates as of Thursday morning a little before 10 a.m. Arizona time:
– DC Ray Horton had a good interview, but also felt like he had good interviews with the Browns and Bills.
– Andy Reid is, as of now, still supposed to interview with the Cards at some point, but had an extended interview with the Chiefs Wednesday and many reports have Reid closing in on a deal with the Chiefs. Howard Eskin says Reid won’t make it to Arizona. Then again, many reports had him closing in on a deal with the Cards a couple days ago, and that turned out to be a fallacy.
– The Cards are still scheduled to meet with Broncos OC Mike McCoy this weekend.
– Now Haley figures to be in the mix whenever they can line up an interview.
– For the general manager spot, in-house candidate Steve Keim was having his interview this week, and the Cards will also interview Redskins director of pro personnel Morocco Brown. Keim feels like the favorite there to me, but who knows. Keim is still reportedly going to interview with the Chargers and Jaguars for their GM posts.
Got all that?
– Also, Ken Whisenhunt interviewed not only with the Bills but also the Browns for their vacant jobs.
Tags: Andy Reid, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Morocco Brown, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
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The 49ers were trying hard to get quarterback Alex Smith the NFL record for completion percentage in a game after his performance against the Cardinals — and coincidentally, the record holder is none other than former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. To officially own the record in the NFL’s eyes, a QB has to have 20 attempts in a game. Smith went 18-for-19, so the 49ers were trying to find a way to get one more completion. The hope was that a throw at the line of scrimmage to receiver Michael Crabtree — immediately ruled a lateral/run on the field — would be reversed, but it was not and replays showed such. There was another close play to Mario Manningham that was called a pass interference on the field, so the play didn’t matter.
Regardless, Smith remains 18-for-19. A great day, but not great enough to usurp Warner.
Warner’s great day was odd in itself. Warner went 24-for-26 (92.3 percent) in a game the Cards needed to have early in the season and a week after Warner and the offense struggled against the 49ers at home in a loss. More strange was that, during the performance with which Warner eventually set NFL history, Larry Fitzgerald’s brother Marcus infamously went on Twitter criticizing Warner and complaining Larry wasn’t getting the ball enough. Steve Breaston had eight catches that day, almost as many as Fitz and Anquan Boldin had combined (9). It’s one of those record that will be tough to top — even if Smith got close.
Tags: 49ers, Alex Smith, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald
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A fan pointed out to me today a stat ESPN ran during the “Monday Night Football” telecast, saying at that point during the game the Cards had gone 46 games without 300 yards passing. That raised my eyebrow, because the Cards have had games where they have thrown the ball a lot and been successful. It didn’t sound right. But the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says “300 yards passing” is what the quarterback did, not what the team’s net passing yards were. And there’s the rub.
Last year alone, Kevin Kolb opened the season with a 309-yard game against the Panthers, and John Skelton got the Eagles (315) and the Browns (313) for 300-plus. But in the NFL, yards lost on sacks is part of the net yards equation. And that’s when it changes things. I started looking back, climbing back into the Kurt Warner era even, before the 300 yards net passing popped up, against the Seahawks on Nov. 15, 2009 — halfway through Warner’s final season. The Cards had 340 net yards passing that day, but Warner went through the rest of the schedule, seven more games, without guiding the Cards to that mark (although he did pass for 313 yards in the next-to-last game against the Rams).
The one caveat to this streak: Warner’s epic performance against the Packers in the Wild Card playoff game technically does not count, since such streaks, like all records, are measured in the regular-season only. But Warner’s awesome 29-for-33 day, for 379 yards and five touchdowns (it’s still crazy to think he had more TDs than incompletions) provided 375 net yards passing.
Tags: John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Kurt Warner
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Ken Whisenhunt has been through this before, back in 2008, when Matt Leinart was coming off a broken collarbone and Kurt Warner was coming off 27 surprising touchdown passes and training camp was about figuring out which guy was going to be the starter that season. (It was Kurt, and while hindsight made it look kind of obvious, it wasn’t as much at the time.)
Some of that experience will translate to this year’s Kevin Kolb/John Skelton competition, although Whisenhunt noted it isn’t the same thing, because Kolb is not Warner is not Skelton is not Leinart.
“I think we have at least knowledge as far as breaking the reps up,” Whisenhunt said. “Handling players, it’s always different because every player has to be handled differently.”
“As for having a blueprint, I hope it works out the same way it did the last time because we had a guy who distinguished himself and he played well and that’s ultimately what you want. But there is no blueprint for success with this. We are just trying to find the guy who give us the best chance to win. We’re doing this because both guys have the opportunity to compete for that spot. That’s it.”
These are different situations, so drawing a straight parallel isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense. This is only the first of what I am sure will be many, many, many times I write on this subject. But you know that this, barring injury, isn’t going to be decided after two weeks of Flagstaff. This is going to be about at least the first four preseason games if not all five. Back in 2008, one of the turning points was Leinart’s three-interception disaster in Oakland in the third of four preseason games. Often these things work themselves out. (This time doesn’t correlate with 2010 either, really, since Leinart was the clear No. 1 going into camp before things got so sideways in camp and Derek Anderson eventually surpassed him on the depth chart.)
This won’t happen in a vacuum. It’s impossible to ignore what happened last year — Kolb has admitted it’s not as if he’s trying to pretend his struggles didn’t happen — but at the same time, there does need to be a fresh-start aspect to this. In the end, neither player played well enough to say they have already earned the job. So we go from here.
Tags: Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart
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With everything going on today with the death of former NFL star Junior Seau, talking about football-related matters seems trivial (especially when I saw the story about a shooting tragedy locally here near where I used to live.) Indeed, before the Seau news broke, even the Saints bounty player suspension news wasn’t exactly uplifting. Interesting in that case that the league said part of the evidence against linebacker Jonathan Vilma was that he offered a $10,000 bounty to knock Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of their playoff game in January of 2010. Not that we have to rehash all of that again.
– Great and heartfelt anecdote from Saints offensive lineman Eric Olsen about going up against Seau at a football camp when Olsen was a kid. A must-read.
– It was painful to see Seau’s mother trying to deal with this. If you ever think it might be time to give up, always remember there are people close to you that don’t want you to give up.
– I thought Chargers.com did a great job handling the situation.
– Congrats to Steve Keim for his front-office promotion. I’d guess this would help in the future when teams sniff around him for GM work (although it won’t stop it). And it’s a big deal getting Jason Licht back. They liked his work during his first tenure. It never hurts to have someone coming in who already knows how everything operates.
– For those wondering, the Cards had about $2.5 million of salary cap space as of Monday. With the news they have about $4.5 million to use in the rookie pool, they
will still need to find more room they should be OK for now. (As Adamjt13 points out in the comments, the Cards actually should already have enough room with the offseason top 51 rule. My bad. He explains it well here, even if I may have been the media guy getting it wrong he was forced to update the article.)
– Finally, this is a great story written by former NFL defensive lineman Trevor Pryce. The next time you wonder why a player wants to “hang on” — or even why they’d subject themselves to an often brutal lifestyle, this is the answer.
Tags: Jason Licht, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner, Saints, Steve Keim
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The punishments for the New Orleans Saints — at least most of them, since the player punishments are still TBD — came down Wednesday and they provided the expected doozy: A year-long suspension without pay for Saints coach Sean Payton, an indefinite suspension for former DC Gregg Williams of at least a year, and an eight-game ban for general manager Mickey Loomis.
Obviously this isn’t about the Cardinals, although there are parts of this that do impact the Cards:
– To begin with, the Cardinals will be the first team to play the Saints, since the teams will match up Aug. 5 in the Hall of Fame game to kick off the preseason. Wonder what the talking points will be during that broadcast? You wonder if the Cards are just going to be in the background, because it’s hard to see the Saints’ storylines not dominating.
– The Saints lose second-round picks this year and next. That’ll move up the Cards’ third-round pick a slot sooner. We’ll see what it means in 2013.
– Once the regular season begins, the Cards know that Williams, who had since been hired as the Rams’ defensive coordinator, won’t be around. Williams may never be around in St. Louis; commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t assuring anyone that Williams will be reinstated. Not that new head coach Jeff Fisher can’t work around it — former Cards head coach Dave McGinnis, on staff with the Rams now as an assistant head coach, could drop into the DC role like he once did for the Cards. UPDATE: Fisher said the duties won’t go to a permanent DC. He, McGinnis and Chuck Cecil will split the work.
– Then there is the Kurt Warner tie-in. The original investigation sprouted from the way the Saints treated Warner, then the Cards’ QB, and Brett Favre, then with the Vikings, during the playoffs after the 2009 season. The Cards’ playoff game, in fact, was mentioned a couple of times in the NFL’s official release about the punishments, including Warner himself. “The investigation showed bounties being placed on four quarterbacks of opposing teams – Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner.”
Warner, appearing on NFL Network Wednesday, had this to say about the punishment: “I’m shocked, like a lot of people, but not fully surprised. … But this is what Commissioner Goodell has done from Day One. And I love he is trying to make statements trying to protect our game for the long-term.”
Added Warner, “To a degree, this has gone on through the history of our game, where guys have gone out to hit guys really hard to knock them out of the game or at least knock them off their game so it affects (the hitting team) in a positive manner. Of course, not to the extent to where you are paying guys to hurt other guys, and I think that’s where this takes a different turn.”
– The NFL also made clear that they won’t let this happen again, sending a memo to all teams directing the owner of every team to meet with the head coach to confirm bounty systems aren’t in place in any other organization. Said the NFL release, “Each principal owner and head coach must certify this in writing to the commissioner by March 30.”
Tags: Dave McGinnis, Gregg Williams, Hall of Fame game, Jeff Fisher, Kurt Warner, Rams, Roger Goodell, Saints, Sean Payton
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The NFL dropped a bombshell Friday, releasing the results of an investigation that players and at least one coach on the New Orleans Saints were funding and using a “bounty” program for many defensive players, including extra money for anyone who knocked a player from a game.
One of the reasons the investigation started was the complaints that the Saints had targeted Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner in the teams’ playoff game in New Orleans in January, 2010. That was a game that the Cards lost, 45-14, and ended up being Warner’s final game of his career. He was beaten up during the game and then was crushed by Saints lineman Bobby McCray trying to make a tackle after an interception. Warner retired a few weeks later.
Warner said it at the time, but reiterated it again Friday on the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 620: That hit — and that game — did not make up his mind on retirement. Warner had pretty much decided by midseason his career would be over once the 2009 season was.
“(The McCray hit) put a nice exclamation point on it, but I had known well into that season there was a strong likelihood of me retiring,” Warner said. “It had nothing to do with one hit or one incident. Having made 99 percent of the decision anyway and then you take that hit and are sore for two-and-a-half weeks, it makes you go, ‘Uh, yeah, that’s the right decision.’ But by no means did it come down to one play whether I retired.”
There were other times in that game though when it did look like the Saints were going after Warner and specifically, his head (Warner had suffered through a concussion earlier that season.) Warner got hit a few times up high (like the picture to the right, where he is being clocked by linebacker Jonathan Vilma) but the Saints were only flagged for one personal foul, a roughing-the-passer by linebacker Scott Shanle. Warner at the time wasn’t thrilled about the hits either (the photo below is him complaining to referee Ron Winter.) Warner said the McCray hit was clean, even if it didn’t feel that good.
Warner said he’s heard of plenty of “bounty” speculation in the past, not necessarily with the Saints. There is no question bounties have been around for awhile. The Cards’ own senior director of community relations Luis Zendejas was a infamous target himself from Buddy Ryan and the Eagles back in the 1980s. But Warner also thinks the league, bounties or not, had been morphing into a more violent version anyway, which is why it is good the NFL has put some better rules in place.
“I believe players were going out trying to knock people out,” Warner said. “They were trying to get the big hit. That’s where the league had gone. Whether it was because of a quote-unquote “bounty” or teammates were paying those kinds of incentives, I still believe there are a number of players who were going to hit somebody and try to knock them out. That was the culture.”
The penalties the Saints will receive will be determined later, but they are expected to be severe. This went well beyond the Cards’ game or even the Vikings’ NFC Championship game the following week. Saints were getting $1,500 for knocking a player out of a game and $1,000 if a player was carted off and those payments went up double or triple in the playoffs. Warner said he really doesn’t remember the Saints coming after him or hitting him that day much differently than any team would each week.
But, “I don’t think there is a place in our game for trying to hurt someone,” Warner said.
Tags: Kurt Warner, Saints
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