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Bidwill favors expanded playoffs

Posted by Darren Urban on January 30, 2014 – 8:37 pm

Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said Thursday he is one of those who is in favor of the NFL expanding the playoffs, although he isn’t willing to give 100 percent backing yet.

“I am in favor conceptually of expanding the playoffs,” Bidwill said during an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7. “The question of how and where and all that stuff, I don’t want to get ahead of seeing the analysis. I want to make sure we look at the data and listen to the debate. I want to see and hear what is best for the game. But I think we should have an expanded playoffs, and not just because it was us that didn’t get in this year. Because it is the right thing for the game.”

The Cardinals, who went 10-6, would have been the seventh NFC team in the postseason (six make it to the playoffs now). If the postseason is grown, adding one team per conference is the most likely change.

— Bidwill, talking about the Super Bowl coming back to Arizona in a year and the plan to bring future Super Bowls to the Valley:

“We are all, the Cardinals included, are giving to make sure we get this. From the corporate world, the government side, the public sector side, so we can continue to work hard and compete to be in these (Super Bowl) rotations. It’s a $500 million economic impact. It is invaluable from a tourism standpoint and everything else. We will continue to go after big games. We are a finalist for the Final Four, we’ve got the (college football) championship game for 2016. We as a community and a state will continue to do that.”

— Bidwill, addressing the many free agents of the Cardinals and other offseason issues, like Larry Fitzgerald’s bulky contract:

“It’s a lot of planning and working things out and there might be a person or two that we don’t see eye to eye on the number and there are negotiations,” Bidwill said. “But this is like this every year and people get fired up about it … but I think everything will work itself out. I really feel confident about that. We will build a better team and have a lot of those (free agents) back, restructure some deals and do what is in the best interests of the team.”

(Bidwill told Kent Somers early talks with Fitzgerald’s agents have already begun.)

As for the free agent process for other team’s players, “I’ll let Steve (Keim) and Bruce (Arians) get into the particulars,” Bidwill said. “There are going to be some great free agents out there and we plan to be aggressive in a few areas and then plan to do what we do best, which is draft.”

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Bidwill, Keim talk about losing Licht to Bucs

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2014 – 12:03 pm

There will be change for the Cardinals this offseason in the front office. It turns out Jason Licht, vice president of player personnel and right-hand man to General Manager Steve Keim, will be named to the vacant GM job in Tampa Bay, according to Jay Glazer (and now, many national other reporters as well.) It’s a blow to the Cards because Keim and Licht are close. Keim worked hard to bring Licht back from the Patriots after Licht’s first stint in Arizona for the 2008 season. But Licht’s ambition was always to be a GM — he was a finalist for the Bears job in 2012 — and Keim wanted that for Licht as well.

UPDATE: The Cardinals have addressed the move.

“Jason did a tremendous job in two different stints with the Cardinals and we knew it was only a matter of time before he would become a GM,” team president Michael Bidwill said. “We know that he will do a great job in Tampa. At the same time Steve (Keim) has developed a very deep bench in our personnel department to prepare for this event and will continue to make that area a strength of the organization.”

Said Keim, “Anyone that knows Jason recognizes not only what an outstanding evaluator he is but also a high-quality person. His reputation is well-deserved and speaks for itself. There’s no doubt his talent and experience will be a tremendous asset for the Buccaneers and all of us here wish him nothing but the best.”

The Buccaneers have already hired a new coach in Lovie Smith, and there was a lot of talk about the new GM having little true power because it would be wielded by Smith. But Glazer was the latest to report the new GM will indeed control the draft and other personnel decisions. For an up-and-comer like Licht, there would have been no reason to settle for a toothless GM job. Adam Schefter reported Licht will sign a four-year contract.

What does this mean for Keim (below left, with Licht in the middle and scout Terry McDonough)? The Cardinals will have to fill that void. I’m sure, since Licht was also interviewing for the Dolphins GM job, that Keim is prepared for a Licht departure. I don’t know if they would go outside the organization or promote from within. But these are the things you deal with when you hire good people.


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Bruce Arians, one year later

Posted by Darren Urban on January 17, 2014 – 9:32 am

A year ago today, Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians sat at a press conference with the Arizona media, like Bengals OC Jay Gruden and Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell had done in the days before, talking about his interview with the Cardinals, how it went well, and how he thought he was ready to become a head coach. Later that evening, Arians — unlike Gruden, Bevell and a handful of other candidates to replace Ken Whisenhunt — signed up to be the Cards’ next head coach.

It’s been quite the year. “It’s going to be a great team,” Arians said a short time after taking the job. “Team is what it takes.” Arians never wavered in that belief, pushing it on the players. “Coach ‘em hard and hug ‘em later” was the motto taught to Arians by legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant (for whom Arians coached the last two years of Bryant’s career) and that remains his philosophy. Arians could shred a player on the field during practice and laugh with that same player moments later when practice was over. He was intense, admittedly emotional, yet had fun not only with his team but talking about his team. Most importantly, he said from the start his team would compete with NFC West powers Seattle and San Francisco, and he was right.

“There is no question Bruce has a unique skill,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “I haven’t been around many coaches during my time in this business that have the ability to drive players to almost a breaking point and yet at the end of the day these guys love him and want to play for him. I think these players respect him, respect the coaches that he has hired, and know that he is just trying to put them in position to succeed.”

Arians had 10 wins in his first year as Cardinals coach. Only Norm Barry, who had 11 back in 1925 when the NFL wasn’t quite the NFL yet, had more in his rookie season coaching the Cards. The day of Arians’ official he’s-now-the-Cards-coach press conference, Keim said he and team president Michael Bidwill liked Arians’ personality and energy. It permeated the building from the moment Arians arrived. A year in, it was exactly what the Cardinals needed.

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University of Phoenix Stadium to host college title

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2013 – 2:22 pm

The news came out today that University of Phoenix Stadium has been picked to host the 2016 national championship game for college football in our post-BCS world. That will be the game following the 2015 season, and will be the second year in a row such an event will be held at the Cardinals’ home. The Super Bowl will be at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2015, following the 2014 NFL season.

Arizona beat out Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tampa for the 2016 game. Tampa was awarded the 2017 game. The game in Arizona will be played January 11, 2016.

“The competition for attracting events with this type of economic impact and prestige is intense,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “For Arizona to be awarded college football’s National Championship game is a huge victory for our community, especially a year after University of Phoenix Stadium will host the Super Bowl.  We were excited to work with the Fiesta Bowl on the bid and are anxious to continue that partnership moving forward.”

Said Bill Hancock, executive director of the new College Football Playoff, “Arizona has proven itself to be one of the greatest settings for premiere college football events, and has become a favored destination for fans from around the country. The folks in Arizona put together an exceptional bid that really won the day with the management committee.”


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Keim: “Larry Fitzgerald … will remain a Cardinal”

Posted by Darren Urban on October 28, 2013 – 8:07 am

We covered the Larry Fitzgerald trade rumors yesterday. Here was General Manager Steve Keim this morning on his weekly “Doug and Wolf” appearance:

“I can tell you two things, and I want to make this clear and simple: I have not had one conversation with another NFL team regarding a trade with Larry Fitzgerald,” Keim said. “Number two, starting with Michael Bidwill on down, it is our intent for Larry Fitzgerald to retire a Cardinal. Period.

“If there is any grey area there, let me know, and we can get that out.”

Keim did talk about the potential restructuring or contract issue with Fitz going forward, noting — and this is important given Fitz’s $18 million cap hit for 2014 — that the current pact has been factored into roster planning.

“We did Larry’s deal last time, and I have talked about our future looking at it with the three-year view regarding the cap and contracts, etc., (but) regardless of the situation, we have accounted for Larry’s deal moving forward,” Keim said. “Anything else that’s done is something we will have to look at and continue to talk through, but Larry Fitzgerald is a Cardinal and will remain a Cardinal.”

Keim said he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least listen to whatever might come down the road (Wolf asked if he would pull the trigger if he were offered four No. 1 picks — which of course would never happen), but under the circumstances, the team is happy with Fitzgerald. “I’d probably have to burn 15 jerseys in my house if we did (trade him),” Keim deadpanned.

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Campbell back for meetings and Palmer’s place

Posted by Darren Urban on October 14, 2013 – 8:24 am

First, and most importantly, defensive end Calais Campbell was released from Stanford hospital last night about 11 p.m. on the plane of Michael Bidwill, accompanied by Campbell’s sister Keyonne, who had attended the game, and Cardinals athletic trainer Chad Cook. They got back to Arizona about 1 a.m. and Campbell took part in team meetings at 8 a.m.

Campbell had a CT scan and MRI yesterday and thus far, has checked out OK but the Cardinals will continue to evaluate him. A lot of people have asked for Campbell’s exact injury. Basically, Campbell was feeling numbness and tingling in his extremities and the Cards decided to be very careful. Campbell was moving after the play. A lot of this was precautionary. But it’s great news.

General Manager Steve Keim, on his weekly “Doug and Wolf” appearance on Arizona Sports 620, said it was too early to know if Campbell might have a chance to play against the Seahawks Thursday. Obviously the Cards could use him, but the fact — after that scary scene on the Candlestick turf Sunday afternoon — Campbell is doing better is the best news of all.

UPDATE: Campbell said Monday he was hopeful he would be cleared to play Thursday.

On a totally different topic, Keim was asked about quarterback Carson Palmer and whether what Palmer gives the Cards outweigh the negatives — like interceptions.

“Well, number one, (Carson) is certainly our best option right now,” Keim said. “Number two, the thing I like about him is the way he has handled adversity. The other games he struggled, to me they were more middle-to-late third-quarter issues. This game started rough early. The way he handled adversity and the way he came back and made nice throws and put us in a position to have at least a chance of winning I think was exciting to me. Again, each week we talk about whose fault and I really don’t want to get into finger-pointing, but there is a throw he tries to make to Larry (Fitzgerald) down the seam which he forces. That is obviously a bad throw and a mistake. On the other intercetpion, JIm Dray was supposed to hook that route and insted he drifted. Carson put the ball in the spot where Jim was supposed to be. Again, that one is on the receiving tight end.

“(Carson) has to play more consistent. He knows it. When you make cirtical mistakes at certain points in the game, it deflates you. That’s no different than our Pro Bowl star receiver, has a 75-yard touchdown, fights through an injury and plays for us which we were happy with, and then on the 24-yard line going in to take the lead, we have a critical fumble. I think that is something you can play about every position. But when you are the quarterback, the bulls-eye is certainly on your chest.”

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Public camp practices at UoP — but more to be settled

Posted by Darren Urban on June 11, 2013 – 5:37 pm

Michael Bidwill confirmed today the Cardinals will hold their public training camp practices at University of Phoenix Stadium. Beyond that, the Cardinals are still working on the details.

“Everything in regard to the stadium is set,” Bidwill said. “Everything else in regard to Glendale is not set.”

Bidwill said he is hopeful it will come together. He reiterated camp is closer to the largest part of the fan base in the Valley, and noted 20 of the 32 NFL teams practice at their facility and/or stadium. The plan is that the Cards will have places on the concourse for fan activities, Bidwill said. There is a Real Madrid- L.A. Galaxy soccer game in the stadium in Aug. 1, but Bidwill said the Cards have the ability to practice at ASU’s facility that day. The Cards also think they have a good plan to work with the turf in the stadium, which obviously would take a pounding with daily practices.

As far as moving the entire football operations out to Glendale, Bidwill said that wouldn’t necessarily happen. “Those are some of the things we haven’t decided on,” he said.

“We tried to make the best decision for the team,” Bidwill said. “The facilities NAU had moved us into the last couple of years were completely substandard for a professional football team and we were paying big rent up there. They just didn’t want to cooperate with us anymore. … I was not going to let this team be at a competitive disadvantage.

“I think it will make us a better team and give fans better access.”

There is no timetable on having camp at the stadium either.

“We don’t want to necessarily look at this as a short-term situation, but we’ll see how it goes,” Bidwill said.

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Another successful Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 20, 2013 – 10:49 am

It was a great evening and morning for Pat’s Run. First was the Peter King Tweetup at Tom’s Tavern Friday night, which went well and raised $10,000 to fund a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Pat’s widow Marie was on hand, King did a Q and A session with Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim and Bruce Arians, and some players mingled around to cap the evening. (Here’s a photo gallery of the event, and a hat tip to media relations VP Mark Dalton, who helped get it off the ground. There was a lot of work by many that went into such a smooth operation.)

Then this morning was the always great Pat’s Run. It’s a lot more crowded than it once was, but it’s for such a good cause and more importantly, everybody there is so happy to be there and taking part. If you have never done it, you should. It doesn’t matter if you can run or want to run. No one is disappointed when they cross the finish line in Sun Devil Stadium. It’s a rush whether you push yourself hard or merely “wog” (walking and jogging) your way there. Hey, if Fitz can do it after working out all week — there he is finishing below, along with fellow receiver Kerry Taylor in the red shirt behind him — you can too.


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Breaking down a trade, and other Palmer aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 2, 2013 – 6:22 pm

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.”


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Kolb contract an issue, ribs aren’t

Posted by Darren Urban on February 12, 2013 – 8:40 pm

When Michael Bidwill said yesterday on the radio Kevin Kolb’s contract is “probably something we’re going to need to address,” it wasn’t a surprise. Everyone covering this team has been saying the same thing, that the $11 million Kolb is owed in 2013 (a $2 million roster bonus in March and a $9 million salary) was never going to make it through March.

There was always going to be an element of a game of chicken between the sides. The Cardinals need a quarterback, and Kolb knows that. He also knows there are other teams out there that need a quarterback. But even if the Cards are going to slice that salary, he still might make more in Arizona than elsewhere. Given Kolb’s unfortunate injury history, no one is going to hand him a starting job, whether it is the Cardinals or elsewhere.

I have had some questions today about Kolb’s health. When I last spoke to Kolb the day Arians was hired (via text) he said his ribs were doing well. I don’t expect those to hinder him in the offseason, for those worried his 2013 could be in jeopardy. Obviously he has to stay healthy once the games begin, but there shouldn’t be 2012 aftereffects.

I believe Kolb likes the Cardinals and wants to stay, but not at the expense of a better contract. The rules are such that this coaching staff will not get a chance to see Kolb live before contract decisions must be made (although QB coach Freddie Kitchens and GM Steve Keim have both seen Kolb enough to give a proper assessment.)

Kolb hitting the open market wouldn’t be a shock, even if he returns, a la Levi Brown. Kolb’s will-he-or-won’t-he status will be the story of the pre-free agent period.

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