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Considering cornerback depth

Posted by Darren Urban on April 4, 2016 – 2:21 pm

With free agent Jerraud Powers visiting the Giants last week (and the increasing reality that he is likely to move on), it underscores the shift at cornerback the Cardinals are going through this offseason. Drafting a cornerback at some point seems inevitable, although you never know how the draft will fall. As it stands, Justin Bethel — he of the 2015 contract extension — is in line to start across from all-pro Patrick Peterson. Tyrann Mathieu, once he returns to health, is a candidate to play the slot if needed too, especially since the Cardinals have Tyvon Branch and Tony Jefferson — assuming he signs his tender — at safety.

(Powers tweeted he isn’t in a rush while looking for the right situation.)

Beyond Peterson and Bethel, the cornerbacks on the roster include a couple with some experience (Asa Jackson, Shawn Prater), a couple who were on the practice squad last season (Cariel Brooks, Kevin White and Carrington Byndom), and one giant unknown in Aussie Joel Wilkinson. Not exactly the depth the Cards would like, which is why they visited with veteran free agent Leon Hall — who remains unsigned —  earlier this month.

There could be a good cornerback sitting there at 29th overall and that will be tempting as a draft pick. And even if the roster stays status quo through the draft, finding another vet at some point before training camp wouldn’t be a surprise. We’ll see how the market plays out.

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On CJ and other free agency odds and ends

Posted by Darren Urban on March 16, 2016 – 7:49 pm

On a day when the Cardinals nabbed Evan Mathis for the offensive line — the team’s second outside free agent acquired, exactly one week into free agency — GM Steve Keim wasn’t sure how much more the team will do in signing players. “I think we’re at a point where you let it come to you,” Keim said. The price has to be right in every spot. And there are still some moving parts.

— Running back Chris Johnson was in Miami to visit the Dolphins Wednesday. The Cardinals could still bring Johnson back, but with David Johnson in place, both the money and opportunities for CJ2K in Arizona would be limited. From afar, it looks like the Dolphins — who lost Lamar Miller to free agency — could offer more of both. UPDATE: Johnson is coming back.

— Karlos Dansby was cut by the Browns Wednesday — interestingly, two years after going to Cleveland, after the Cards offered a two-year contract themselves back in 2014. (Although Dansby got more guaranteed money from the Browns, so financially, it made more sense). The Cardinals will look at Dansby, but a third term as a Card seems unlikely. At 34, he’s likely not the same physically he was two or three years ago. Plus, would Los go for a minimum salary-type of deal?

— The visit of guard Geoff Schwartz doesn’t figure to happen now that Mathis was signed. Haven’t heard anything else about tackle Andre Smith. UPDATE: Smith signed with the Vikings.

— Cornerback Leon Hall visited Dallas after Arizona, but Hall still isn’t signed (which likely says something about how Hall has overpriced himself at this point.) It still stands to reason the Cards want to sign a veteran cornerback. Maybe it could still be Hall. It could still be Jerraud Powers.


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T Andre Smith says he’ll visit Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2016 – 4:56 pm

Free-agent tackle Andre Smith, a former No. 1 pick of the Bengals who has started 73 of the 82 NFL games in which he has appeared, visited the Vikings Monday. And he told St. Paul Pioneer-Press writer Chris Tomasson that he was supposed to visit the Cardinals as well.

“It’s between (the Vikings) and Arizona. It’s even,” Smith told Tomasson.

It’s an interesting possibility. Smith, who has been the starting right tackle for the Bengals since 2011 (he was drafted in 2009), would seemingly be looking for a starting job and not just to be depth. The Cardinals, of course, have 2015 No. 1 pick D.J. Humphries sitting there after not being active for any games in 2015. And they have Jared Veldheer as a starting left tackle. If Smith were to sign with the Cards, does that mean a competition between the three (Humphries is a natural left tackle, after all). Would someone be asked to play guard? Intriguing to say the least.

Then again, maybe the Cardinals just want Smith for depth and Smith is trying to use what leverage he can in getting a better deal from Minnesota.

It was quiet around the Cardinals’ facility Monday. No word on how things have progressed, if at all, with free agent cornerback Leon Hall or free agent guard Amini Silatolu.

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Veteran cornerback Hall scheduled to visit

Posted by Darren Urban on March 11, 2016 – 3:00 pm

The initial wave of free agency is over, and the big money — for the most part — is gone. Now it’s a game of musical chairs, as the free agents left try to get in with teams that still have spots to fill. What money they can get, regardless of what is still a lot of cap space around the league, is to be debated. This is the area in which Cardinals GM Steve Keim thrives.

So comes the report that veteran Bengals cornerback Leon Hall is scheduled to visit Arizona Monday. Hall is 31, having played nine seasons, and has been solid in his career with 26 interceptions (including one of Carson Palmer last year). He’s had injury issues with a pair of torn Achilles, but he has played in 29 of 32 possible games the past two seasons. He would be a nice if short-term addition to a room with Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel and 50 percent of the time, Tyrann Mathieu. If Hall were to sign, it would also seem to signal the end of Jerraud Powers’ time in Arizona. Again, free-agent musical chairs is real.

Of course, things can change over a weekend too. We’ll see where things stand by Monday.

By the way, the Cardinals, according to the NFL Players Association website, have about $16.8 million in salary cap space (I am guessing that is before the Tyvon Branch deal.) The NFLPA site had the wrong numbers earlier in the week, after accidentally putting Mario Williams and Leodis McKelvin on the Cardinals’ roster following their free-agent deals.

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