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Blogs

Adding players, keeping players

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2011 – 10:36 am

Slowly, information has come out on a handful of Cards’ early moves here in this tiny 2011 offseason. Again, because contracts can’t be signed until Friday afternoon, no official announcements are being made on free agents. But through multiple reports, it came out that the Cards had agreed to a deal with former Carolina tight end Jeff King, a good blocker who fits well the mold of what coach Ken Whisenhunt wants in a tight end. Stephen Spach is also expected to return, so with draft pick Rob Housler and holdover Jim Dray, we know what the position is going to look like in camp (and it doesn’t include Todd Heap or Zach Miller).

Kicker Jay Feely also reported on Twitter that punter Ben Graham has agreed to re-sign, although I expect the Cards to bring in another punter to compete with Graham in camp.

As for the QB situation, news is still on hold. Reports have Denver’s Kyle Orton possibly to going to Miami. With Matt Hasselbeck going to Tennessee, it seems it will be an upset if Kevin Kolb doesn’t end up in Arizona. For what price, it is uncertain. The song for QB musical chairs is about to stop however.

P.S. A quick training camp note: The Walkup Skydome is in the middle of renovations in Flagstaff, and while the Cardinals will still be able to practice inside if there is rain, fans will not be able to go in to watch practice. Something to keep in mind.


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For now, QB move a waiting game

Posted by Darren Urban on July 26, 2011 – 11:57 am

So many assumed the Cardinals would have a quarterback in place by today, the day trades could first happen (starting at 7 a.m. Arizona time) and the day players started to trickle back to the facility. Not gonna happen.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he does not expect any news today, and that the Cardinals are working on a number of different fronts in terms of a quarterback. That can’t be a surprise; you can’t put all the eggs in one basket in case it doesn’t happen. Various reports today link the Cards not only considering Kevin Kolb but Kyle Orton and Matt Hasselbeck. Granted, at this point agents are going to leak all kinds of things like that to puff up interest (and contracts) for their players.

Whisenhunt even commented on the various lockout reports that went on, each indirectly or directly putting quarterbacks like Marc Bulger, Kolb and Orton in a Cards’ uniform once the lockout ended. “At 7 a.m., all those deals vanished,” Whisenhunt said. (Whisenhunt, by the way, was careful never to name any quarterback in particular throughout his entire press conference.) Someone like Kolb would need a contract extension, and the prices for Kolb and Orton in a trade would obviously be different. Bulger and Hasselbeck, on the other hand, are free agents.

“We are looking at a number of different options,” Whisenhunt said. “I don’t know when we will get any kind of news on anything. … It’s not, you call up, ‘Hey we got a deal’ and it’s done. You have to negotiate and talk about different scenarios, then you have to go back and discuss it and then call you back. And other teams are in the mix. It’s a process.”

In the meantime, the quarterbacks still on the roster were throwing today — John Skelton, Rich Bartel and Max Hall (Derek Anderson, who is expected to be released once players can Thursday, was not here).


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Creating Larry Fitzgerald

Posted by Darren Urban on June 16, 2011 – 4:55 pm

Apropos of nothing, I noticed Larry Fitzgerald re-tweeting this video the other day, and it’s fascinating. It’s a TV piece run when Fitz was a Pitt sophomore (right before he came out of school) gunning for the Heisman Trophy in 2003 (he finished second behind Oklahoma QB Jason White). More importantly, it traces Fitz’s life at the end of high school and for his year in a military prep school because he didn’t have the grades to go to college. There’s also good stuff of Fitz talking about his mother’s (ultimately losing) battle with breast cancer.

Oh, and there are lots of good pictures of Fitz with very short hair, long before the dreads.

Speaking of Fitz with dreads, he is back in Minnesota as usual this time of year working out with various fellow NFLers. Why, just this morning he put out the picture below of this morning’s workout partners — including, standing next to Fitz,  Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton … wait, what?!? I mean, if Donovan McNabb was coming to the Cardinals just because he happened to work out with Fitz and the Cards at Arizona State, then Orton flying to Minnesota just to be with Fitz must mean …

OK, I can’t do it. Orton apparently has known Fitz for a long time and besides, this happens all the time (Greg Jennings has long been a regular with Fitz in Minny; why doesn’t anyone peg Jennings as a future Card?). It’s probably not a coincidence that Orton’s Broncos teammate and one-time University of Minnesota Gopher, receiver Eric Decker, is also in the picture having worked out. Maybe that’s the real Orton connection?

Orton’s dad is the fourth guy to make it into Fitz’s shot, leading to the Tweet of the day by @ScottHoward42: “Based on that Larry Fitzgerald twitpic I now think there’s a strong chance Kyle Orton’s Dad will be the Cards QB. Thoughts?”


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Feeling familiar

Posted by Darren Urban on May 19, 2011 – 3:26 pm

While everyone waits for the league year to start — and, at its root, waits for the Cardinals to have a chance to figure out its quarterback situation — the possibilities remain open speculation. Suddenly, it begins to feel very familiar.

In fact, as I read about how NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi felt about Kevin Kolb during a Sports 620 KTAR interview this morning, and how Kolb has generated a range of believers and non-believers when it comes to his abilities and what it could mean to the Cardinals if there indeed was a trade here, it felt very deja vu. Is Kolb the right guy? What’s he worth in a trade? Is what the Eagles want and what the Cards (assuming they’d want Kolb) are willing to give up at least in the same ballpark? Hard to know, given Kolb’s relatively short career and seven NFL starts.

This is about more than Kolb, though. So many questions are flying around about Marc Bulger too, and he’s got a much longer resume. And Donovan McNabb and Kyle Orton and even Carson Palmer. I realized it reminded me so much of the ramp-up before a draft when it comes to quarterbacks. Obviously, the veterans have played in the league, but this feels a lot like how Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett, etc., were deconstructed over and over. Such as Sam Bradford last year.

It’s the position, of course. It’s the position and the importance it carries and, this offseason, its the days of dead time that allows for possible paralysis by analysis. The trade market for a player like Kolb doesn’t hurt either; unlike the draft, there is someone on the other side of the equation (the Eagles, in this case) hoping Kolb’s value is driven up during all these discussions.

Like the draft, however, it’ll be impossible to know what any of these quarterbacks could really do in a different situation until they get to a new place. Until someone gets here to Arizona. The naysayers could be right about Kolb, for instance. But like the draft, that’s why a team has scouts. They scout veteran players too. You have to assume, whichever player the Cards chase, they believe he will be successful. Why else get him?



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Again with the quarterbacks

Posted by Darren Urban on March 21, 2011 – 10:10 am

We can say there is nothing going on NFL-wise right now as the labor issues remain unsolved, but the speculation hasn’t stopped, especially when it comes to the most important position on the field. And since the Cards are searching for a quarterback, it’s not a surprise that when SI’s Peter King weighs in on the various possible veteran quarterback moves around the league, the Cards are part of the discussion.

King notes that a team is already willing to pony up a first-round pick for Kevin Kolb but that the Eagles are hoping to get a higher first-rounder. As my cohorts Matt Maiocco and Kent Somers have already tweeted this morning, it means it can’t be the 49ers or Cards making that offer. No way Andy Reid thinks he is getting better than seventh or fifth in the draft. Besides, I don’t think there is any way either of those teams parts with that high of a pick for Kolb. Does that rule out the Cards? No. Maybe the right package of picks would be of more interest to Philly. And who knows? The team that is offering that first-rounder is unknown for now — maybe it’s just Philly saying such things to spark a market.

(A market, of course, that is only talk until there is a new CBA since no player trades can be made.)

King also talks about Marc Bulger in Arizona, a notion that is anything but new. Kurt Warner did an interview with Chuck and Vince on KDUS (1060 AM) late last week and said he thinks his former teammate still has something left to give despite not playing very well since 2006. “The thing I look at, putting guys in certain systems and how does it fit their skill set,” Warner said. “If the Cardinals want to do what we did when I was there, I think Marc fits the bill extremely well.” Warner also said the Bengals QB Carson Palmer fits.

(By the way, it was asked of me this morning about King mentioning Max Hall today in his Bulger note. King wrote “coach Ken Whisenhunt … has not totally given up hope on Max Hall.” King doesn’t mention Skelton.While I think it’s fair to say Whisenhunt “has not totally given up hope” in regards to Hall, I do think it gives the impression Hall remains ahead of Skelton in the pecking order. I do not think that is the case.)

I don’t know what it will take for Palmer to be acquired, if the Bengals even are willing to trade him and not force him to make a retirement decision. And the idea of Kyle Orton isn’t absent either, although again, until we have a better idea of when this can all happen, we won’t get a true idea of if any of these things can happen.


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Some combine tidbits

Posted by Darren Urban on February 24, 2011 – 11:23 am

It’s been a slow start today (which is usual for the first day in Indy). Few players have come by yet, but there have been a bunch of coaches and GMs. So there have been a few things to chew on:

– New Broncos coach John Fox was going over his quarterback list and said Kyle Orton is his starter right now. There had been reports Orton would be on the trade block (but there have also been reports the new staff isn’t thrilled with Tim Tebow). Obviously, if Orton was available, he’s been a name many would consider for the Cards. So Fox was asked about the idea Orton’s name had been reportedly on the trade block, in light of the fact Fox had just said he was the starter. “It’d be pretty hard to be both,” Fox said.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Orton couldn’t be traded. But today, I didn’t get the sense he was available.

– Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said he didn’t think new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should be classified as a “passing guy” and that RB Steven Jackson will still get plenty of work.

– New 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about his quarterback situation (San Francisco has the seventh overall pick and lately, reports have Harbaugh talking up the idea of keeping free agent Alex Smith in the mix, if Smith is willing to return). “I’m not going to tip my hand with what we’re going to do,” said Harbaugh (pictured below). “But I’ve been thinking about it a lot.”

– Interesting to see that Harbaugh and Ravens coach John Harbaugh — who spoke an hour apart at the podium — still made sure each was around and listening when the other got up in front of the media.

That’s it for now. Don’t forget the Graves/Keim chat in a bit right here.


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To QB and not QB

Posted by Darren Urban on January 12, 2011 – 9:42 am

I made it all the way to January 12.

Obviously, quarterback is going to be a hot topic, probably all offseason. This isn’t the last time I am going to address it on the blog. But it will be the entry I link back to – over and over – whenever someone asks me about one of the popular names floating out there, whether it is a current NFL player or a potential draftee.

So expect to see the URL often in the blog comment section.

I don’t know who is going to play quarterback for the Cardinals in 2011. I don’t know who is going to be on the roster. I don’t think they know right now, and they can’t. The draft isn’t until late-April, and the nitty-gritty talks about who will be available and where they rank on the draft board have yet to occur. Free agency is a little less than two months off, and that’s only if there is no work stoppage. If there is a work stoppage, no free agents can sign anywhere until it is resolved. The same will go for trades involving players.

Those are some of the many reasons I have tried to hold out on talking about potential QBs. I didn’t last very long. So here goes, with the understanding of my limited knowledge of the college guys relegated to watching them on TV here and there:

Kevin Kolb: Might as well start here. If Kolb doesn’t get to start in Philly, he wants to start somewhere else. Ears all over Arizona perked up. But then Andy Reid talked about keeping both Kolb and Michael Vick, and reality sets in. Let’s say the Cards want Kolb (and I don’t know if they do). Forget about working out a trade for a moment. Why would the Eagles deal Kolb? He is under contract for relative peanuts in 2011 ($1.4M) and for now, Michael Vick isn’t under contract at all. Vick might be franchised, or there might not be any tag. Plus Vick got beat up by the end of the season. The Eagles need a backup. Lot of hoops to be jumped before you could ever see Kolb out West (or anywhere besides Philly).

Donovan McNabb: Ahh, my favorite subject. First, he has to be released. If it happens before the lockout, I believe he can be signed. But will that happen? Regardless, I don’t see it here. McNabb will have been let loose by two different teams. His play was less than consistent this year (and yes, I know some people don’t think he had enough weapons). There are questions about his fitness (the Washington stuff earlier this season wasn’t out of the blue), his accuracy and his age. Plus, he’s spent almost his entire career in a West Coast offense that doesn’t exactly mirror the Cards’ offense. I just don’t see it.

Marc Bulger (pictured below): He was a candidate this last offseason and is expected to be one again. He followed Kurt Warner once before. He’ll be available and he’s experienced. These are the plusses. He also hasn’t had a good season since 2006, struggling with less talent in St. Louis and declining skills.

Matt Hasselbeck: Why would the Seahawks let him go now? Or might he have made himself that valuable where they can’t keep him?

Kyle Orton: Has probably proven himself better than many expected. But the reports are the Broncos want a second-round pick for him. I don’t see the Cards doing that, unless they see Orton as a long-term solution (with, for example, Skelton as a backup for now). Would the Cards negotiate a lower pick? I could see that. Again, however, it’s a trade, so until there is a new CBA, Orton is a Bronco and in limbo.

Vince Young: Has skills and has been a winner. Also has reputation for not working hard enough at his craft and has proven he doesn’t handle adversity well. Not a good combination. I don’t see him as a realistic option.

Cam Newton: Was great this past college season – with the operative word being “college.” He was just OK in the national championship game. He’s not Vick, so you can wipe out most of the running part of his game as it translates to the next level. He’s got a ways to go if he is ever going to be a top-flight NFL QB, and I don’t see – right now – how you spend the No. 5 overall pick on him.

Ryan Mallett/Blaine Gabbert: Again, I need to see how these guys sort themselves out during workouts/combine, etc. But right now, hard to tell. Gabbert seems more highly regarded than Mallett, but things can always change as the draft approaches. There are also teams ahead of the Cards who will be looking at QB. I’ll say this: No one left in the draft is Andrew Luck. And the Cards can’t afford to whiff on the No. 5 overall pick.


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A predictor of Leinart’s success

Posted by Darren Urban on July 8, 2010 – 1:57 pm

We’ve analyzed and dissected what it means for the Cards to have Matt Leinart starting at quarterback this season a bunch of times already, and training camp hasn’t even arrived yet.

But hey, it’s the summer. The players are gone. So here’s another thought.

SI.com has a story posted today about the “Rule of 26-27-60″ as a guide (although not a guarantee) of NFL quarterbacking success. And, according to the rule, Leinart should work out. The idea? If a guy scored at least a 26 on the infamous Wonderlic exam at the combine, had at least 27 college starts and completed at least 60 percent of his collegiate passes, usually, it means the guy can succeed on the NFL level.

Leinart scored a 35 on the Wonderlic. He started 39 games in college. And he completed 64.8 percent of his passes. Check. Check. Check.

Among current names that also accomplished all three parts of the “rule?” Both Mannings, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees. Among the names that fell short in at least one category? Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, David Carr, Joey Harrington, JaMarcus Russell.

Now, there are always exceptions. Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre have all done pretty well. And you may not be printing Super Bowl tickets if Ryan Fitzpatrick or Kyle Orton (both of whom reached all three benchmarks in college) is your QB.

But it’s a talking point, and one to consider. Until gets a chance to wed significant playing time with his acknowledged more mature preparation methods, we won’t know for sure either way. UPDATE FOR THOSE WONDERING: Here are the numbers for the other QBs on the roster, again with the caveat that this “rule” isn’t the end-all-be-all. Derek Anderson 19-38-50.7, John Skelton 24-41-58.8, Max Hall 38-39-65.3.


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