There was a report Monday morning that the Cardinals would be getting a free-agent visit from veteran pass rusher Connor Barwin, who played for the Rams last season. Whether or not something comes of that, it’s a good reminder of where things are in the NFL when it comes to free agency, especially this close to the draft.
The bigger contracts for free agents have dried up. Players still out there usually have to consider playing for a little bit less than they originally planned in order to get a spot now, or they can wait until after the draft, see what teams fill up the holes at that player’s particular position, and then try and get a little leverage that way. Jordan Matthews, a receiver who visited the Cardinals among others early in free agency, didn’t sign until he got a one-year, minimum deal with the Patriots recently.
The Cardinals, in the Steve Keim era, rarely sign a free agent in April prior to the draft, in fact. The last time they did it was 2015 — and that was just to allow Adrian Wilson to retire as a Cardinal. The last time they signed players who actually took the field in the offseason was when they signed cornerbacks LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley in 2014, and neither lasted into the regular season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Connor Barwin, Eddie Whitley, free agency, Jordan Matthews, LeQuan Lewis, Rams, Steve Keim
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LeQuan Lewis was in the weight room lifting with teammates, wearing his trademark glasses, when one of the front office men came to get him following Tuesday’s OTA. The Cardinals were signing four players who had been in on a tryout basis from rookie minicamp. Lewis was one of the four who were going to be let go in order to make that happen, since the Cardinals already had maxed out their 90-man roster.
This is the reality.
Lewis was on my radar because my cohort Kyle Odegard had chronicled his nomadic NFL story for an upcoming azcardinals.com piece. That plan obviously has now changed. We probably should have seen it coming, since the reason Lewis’ story was so intriguing is precisely because he continues to be the guy who can’t quite stick. When you have a team willing to churn the roster like the Cardinals, long-term story plans about guys lower on the roster is probably a red flag.
Lewis, in fact, has been with eight teams since 2011 and officially released more times than that, with jumps on and off practice squads. “After the first three times (being released), it’s like, ‘Aww, that contract ain’t sh–,” Lewis told Kyle recently. “I know what the deal is. I know where this is going and what to expect.”
Does that make today any easier?
“Everyone’s like, ‘What team are you with now?’” Lewis told Kyle. “People are in my ear like, ‘What are you going to do now? Are you going to (get a regular job)?’ It’s like, ‘No. I’m going to keep working out and get back to where I want to go.’ I have that mindset. No one knows what this business is like until they’re in it, and I think I’ve been in every scenario there is.”
I’m guessing LeQuan Lewis surfaces again in the NFL. Heck, he might end up coming back here at some point, although he was cut for an undrafted rookie in Jimmy Legree who stands 6-foot-1 and fits the body type for what Todd Bowles wants on defense. The roster is back to 90 players. This is how it works for so many of these guys in the offseason. Another reality is that of the 53-man roster, it’s probably pretty easy to get a good handle on, say, 40-45 of those spots already. The other guys are just hoping to reach training camp and get a chance, however slim it might be.
Tags: Kyle Odegard, LeQuan Lewis, Roster
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A little of this, a little of that …
— Kurt Warner captured by TMZ talking about Arizona vs. St. Louis. “I probably feel more allegiance to Arizona than St. Louis, just because of the fact there are a number of people that are still there, teammates or in the upper levels (of the organization), being the last place I played, I still live there, there is probably a little more allegiance there,” Warner said. “But still a huge fan of St. Louis and I thank them for everything they gave me.”
I’ve been asked before whether Warner, if and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, would go in as a Cardinal or a Ram. Moot point. Players don’t pick a team for their bust, like you do in the baseball Hall. I just like the fact Warner showed up on TMZ.
— As far back as when Lorenzo Alexander signed with the Cards Bruce Arians was talking about how he had “inside and outside capabilities” at linebacker. Last year, the Cards needed him outside. Now, they need him inside, so it’s no surprise to hear that’s where they are going to play him. It’s highly likely the Cards look at outside linebacker/pass rusher again in the draft (you keep taking those guys when you are building a 3-4 and you don’t have a dynamic, young pass rusher) and depth is needed inside. You don’t know if/how long Daryl Washington might be suspended, you don’t know if Kevin Minter will be the answer. Alexander, who has played inside earlier in his career in Washington, provides depth and a guy who can spot start.
— I’ve been asked a couple of times whether the signings of LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley means the Cards would be less likely to draft a cornerback. No. I thought that when they signed and that’s just underscored with the news yesterday that both two-year deals the players signed did not include a signing bonus. In other words, they can be released without any cap penalty, and in the offseason and a fluid roster, there are often a player or two signed that don’t even get to training camp. I’m not saying that’s Lewis or Whitley, but the bottom line, they are no locks either.
— Virginia Tech tweeted out photos of Arians working out QB Logan Thomas yesterday. What does it mean? It means the Cards are doing due diligence. Beyond that, please don’t get too riled up. I’d want to see what the kid could do too, especially since he’s about as raw as they come even with his considerable physical tools. The annual workout/pre-draft visit caveat: Just because the team meets/works out a guy, it doesn’t mean they are interested. I know of past connections done specifically when they knew they didn’t like the guy just as a smokescreen. And you never know how the meeting/workout went anyway — the Cards may find out they don’t like the kid for one reason or another.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, draft, Eddie Whitley, Kevin Minter, Kurt Warner, LeQuan Lewis, Logan Thomas, Lorenzo Alexander, Roster
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