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.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Pat's Run
Posted in Blog | 12 Comments »
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
Posted in Blog | 67 Comments »
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.
Tags: Freddie Kitchens, Kevin Kolb, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 52 Comments »
For a long time the concept of a indoor practice bubble being installed at the Cards’ Tempe facility has been floating out there. It was something that first got traction when Ken Whisenhunt was first hired, although it hasn’t happened yet.
Yet may be the key phrase there. Team president Michael Bidwill said today, during an interview on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 620, that the hope is that the Cardinals will finally get a bubble sometime this year.
“We’re going through a process now of getting a bubble in Tempe,” Bidwill said. “We had a political problem there, the former Mayor was opposed to it, but (new) Mayor (Mark) Mitchell, who is a great guy, is all for being supportive of this and hopefully we’ll get that done at the Tempe training facility this year. It’s an exciting time for us and it will really bring us back up to speed as far as being state of the art.”
Obviously, given the extreme heat early in the season, the chance to have an air conditioned practice facility would be a big benefit for the Cardinals — and make sure they don’t have to travel to ASU anymore (like last season, pictured below) to use a bubble if the weather called for it. Usually it stays pretty toasty during practice times all the way until late October, nearly halfway through the schedule.
Along those lines, Bidwill reiterated nothing has been decided on the spot of 2013 training camp, although discussions are ongoing with both NAU in Flagstaff and Glendale, location of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tags: Michael Bidwill, practice bubble, training camp
Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »
Team president Michael Bidwill is in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, and during a visit to Radio Row, touched on a subject a lot of people are wondering about: Where training camp will be held in 2013. It’s no secret the team’s contract with Flagstaff ran out after next year, and the team is currently exploring options.
Bidwill talked about some of the issues the Cardinals have had with NAU, with construction and being displaced and issues of various accommodations, and he said NAU plans to address those things. “That’s real good for them,” Bidwill told “Bickley and MJ” on XTRA 910, “because there are other competitors out there we are speaking with.”
One of those competitors is Glendale, where University of Phoenix Stadium resides. That could end up being the place the Cards go for camp, using the stadium and other possible new facilities to be built.
“They are (a viable option),” Bidwill said. “We are considering both (Flagstaff and Glendale), that’s for sure.”
As for what that might mean to the fans, Bidwill said fan access will still be important, regardless of where the Cards end up.
“The whole idea behind training camp is both a football activity where we are getting players ready for the season, but it is also a fan activity where we want to bring fans in,” Bidwill said. “There are many elements where it is great about doing it in Flagstaff, but there are also great possibilities of doing it at University of Phoenix Stadium. It could be a really a fantastic site. There are a little bit of tradeoffs, but there is no doubt (the camp experience) gets better and better each year and that is something we want to continue to focus on.”
– Bidwill had an interesting quote when talking about drafting a quarterback. He reiterated that the team needed to address the quarterback situation, but was going to leave those specifics up to GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians. But he talked about the things he had witnessed in the draft room over the years. “Every time we have reached, we have made a mistake. I don’t want to reach. You start reaching for a guy rather than going for best player available, you make mistakes.”
– As for free agency, he also is leaving that to Keim, but as for being tight against the salary cap, “I know we have some flexibility and there are things we can do around the cap to make room to get better,” Bidwill said.
Tags: draft, Michael Bidwill, salary cap, training camp, University of Phoenix stadium
Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »
The dinner was at Tarbell’s on Camelback Road on Wednesday night, a prelude to a formal Thursday interview with potential head coach Bruce Arians. But Michael Bidwill felt that night — as the conversation turned, as much as they tried not to, to hardcore football.
“He’s a great teacher,” Bidwill said, “and he didn’t need a chalkboard to communicate what he wanted to do.”
That was the night Bidwill was convinced Arians was going to be the right pick to be the Cardinals’ next head coach. General manager Steve Keim wouldn’t go that far, but the vibe was good, he said, and that carried over to the next day’s talk — a long day that eventually ended up with Arians accepting the job in the early evening.
“It was very similar to when I decided what college I went to,” said Keim, the former offensive lineman from North Carolina State. “I remember having just the right feel.”
Bidwill said the Cardinals interviewed a total of “close to 10 candidates.” Not all were known publicly and at least one was on the college level, Bidwill added. Arians was a target from the start, Keim said. Why did it take so long to talk to him? Keim said there were others the Cards wanted to get to first — Andy Reid and Mike McCoy were named the day the Cards fired Ken Whisenhunt — and Arians was also in the playoffs with the Colts. Then Arians came down with the serious ear infection that not only kept him from the Indianapolis playoff game but for a couple of days after, and then Arians also committed to interviewing with the Bears (a job for which Arians was the runner-up to Marc Trestman.)
But Keim said he had been talking with Arians’ agent, Mike Brown, from the time Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties. “We knew at some point we’d have a chance to get in front of Bruce,” Keim said.
The exact details of how the coaching decision was made was, obviously, kept close to the vest by the power structure (Bidwill said director of player personnel Jason Licht and brother Tim Bidwill joined Keim and himself on the coaching interviews.)
“One thing through this process I have learned is the amount of misinformation,” Keim said. “You guys (in the media) have a tough job, because a lot of times, you’re chasing ghosts.
“We stayed the course. We had several guys we wanted to talk to, but once we talked to Bruce, we knew he was our guy.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 41 Comments »
Bruce Arians had coached with Ray Horton in Pittsburgh. He called Horton a “dear friend” during his press conference Friday. But by then, it was also clear that the mass of reports leading up to the press conference that Horton would indeed be moving on from being Cardinals defensive coordinator. Arians deftly and succinctly handled the question of why he would want to do that — because the question everyone had was why move on from a coordinator who had had so much success?
It was, in the end, simple for Arians. It was about one direction in the locker room.
“I had talked with Michael (Bidwill) when I got here about that (Horton) situation and I didn’t feel like, at this point and time, that’s where I wanted to go,” Arians said. “We talked about it at length, and like I said, I’ve got all the respect in the world for Ray. We worked together in Pittsburgh. We were together with a Super Bowl team. He’s done a great job here. For my first time (as a head coach), this is the direction that I feel very strongly about.
“I wish him the best. Like I said, he’s going to be a head coach. It needed to be a football team that was directed by me. Anytime there’s carryover, we don’t want guys being able to go somewhere else to voice their opinion. I didn’t want to put Ray in that situation. That’s not fair to him. If a guy’s has got a gripe or a concern, come to me, and that’s just the way we’re going to do business.”
Horton didn’t last long on the market; Within an hour of the end of Arians’ press conference, the Browns — who interviewed Horton for their head coaching job but went with Rob Chudzinski instead — hired Horton as DC with a reportedly hefty four-year, $8 million contract. Arians’ new bosses, general manager Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill, made clear they wanted to support their new coach.
“We talked it through and when you look at it, we have great confidence in what (Arians) has done, last year and through out his career,” Bidwill said. “Ray made some tremendous contributions to the Cardinals and we wish him well. We have tremendous talent on our defense and we expect our defense to continue to be very good.”
Said Keim, “Any time you hire a new head coach, you want to give him a chance to succeed. If he thinks his best opportunity is by making changes on his coaching staff, I think you have to support him.”
Arians didn’t name his new DC yet, but all signs point to Todd Bowles, who as of right now technically remains with the Eagles. Bowles played for Arians at Temple in the 1980s and later coached with Arians in Cleveland. Arians wouldn’t talk about Bowles as a potential Cardinals’ coach — yet — but it was clear Bowles makes sense as a candidate.
“He’s very dear to me, one of my captains at Temple, has a bunch of Super Bowl rings as a player, and is a good football coach,” Arians said.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Michael Bidwill, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles
Posted in Blog | 83 Comments »
The Cardinals, it seemed, wanted to get a second chance to talk to Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy about their open head coaching job. It certainly doesn’t look like they will get it, not after the news early Tuesday that McCoy is finalizing a deal to become the Chargers head coach and has told the Broncos he is leaving. (In an interesting twist, former Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt reportedly would be a candidate to replace McCoy as Broncos offensive coordinator, which if it comes to pass would mean Whiz got to team up with Peyton Manning after all.)
UPDATE: McCoy to Chargers is done.
With McCoy going elsewhere, that leaves defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. (I know I don’t have Todd Haley in here. Maybe I should but I just don’t see it. Could be totally wrong.) I am going on gut here only, but I’d think Horton would have a strong chance at this point. I have no idea who his assistants would be on the offensive side of the ball — I’m not sure anyone does, outside of Cards’ ownership and the front office — but I don’t think anyone would be hired without confidence in those choices. Again, president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim know how poorly the offense played and how it must be fixed. Bidwill insisted he wouldn’t make a choice based on offense/defense, but Gruden is an offensive guy.
Does this mean a decision will be made today? We will see. Anymore, it’s tough to forecast anything in a world of coaching searches that seem to change every few hours.
Tags: Broncos, Chargers, Jay Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Peyton Manning, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
Posted in Blog | 97 Comments »
With Steve Keim in place as general manager, the Cardinals now need to find a head coach. That is ongoing, and there was some spark thrown into Wednesday morning with conflicting reports about the Cardinals and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Some reported there was an interview happening, others said no. (Or absolutely no.) What we know is that the Cards have talked to Ray Horton and Mike McCoy and are going to talk to Jay Gruden Thursday. President Michael Bidwill said all those things Tuesday. The team has been pretty transparent with all their interviews once they are lined up. Then again, Haley might want this kept quiet (which doesn’t necessarily prevent leaks, not when it is fellow coaches apparently saying what is going on.)
The Cards, in the Haley case, are not commenting.
(UPDATE: Steelers president Art Rooney said Haley is interviewing. Feels like a solid source.)
Regardless, nothing has changed with the hiring time frame, which was that there was no time frame. Bidwill reiterated that notion. “The timetable is the timetable that gets us the right coach and the right decision for the team to move us forward,” team president Michael Bidwill said during Steve Keim’s introductory press conference Tuesday.
One final interesting note, which comes via Geoff Mosher from CSN Philadelphia, via tweets that make me think he too has been hit with many questions from concerned fans about no head coach yet hired, in his case with the Eagles.
“KC was first NFL team last year to hire HC, on Jan. 9. Chiefs went 2-14, fired Crennel. Colts hired Chuck Pagano on Jan. 25. Made playoffs”
Mosher makes the point of various successful coaches over the years and their hire dates: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin Jan. 22 (’07); Baltimore’s John Harbaugh Jan. 19 (’08); Denver’s John Fox Jan. 13 (’11); Atlanta’s Mike Smith Jan. 24 (’08); and Seattle’s Pete Carroll Jan. 11 (’10). Again, I’m not trying to say every coach hired is the right one, or that waiting always is a benefit. But clearly, it’s not like taking time crushes chances for success. Of the seven teams that need new coaches, only two have hired new coaches, and that doesn’t include the possibility Jacksonville could change coaches now that they have a new GM.
– One final outlier here: After the Cowboys fired DC Rob Ryan Tuesday it became popular — driven by media speculation — that Horton could be a candidate to replace him. Horton was wooed by Jason Garrett to be on staff two years ago as Horton was coming to Arizona as DC. Here’s the problem: If the Cards don’t hire Horton has head coach, I’m pretty sure they want him to stay as defensive coordinator. Now, that can always change depending on who the head coach is, but with Horton still under contract for another season, he can’t go anywhere (except as a head coach) if the Cards don’t want him to. And I just don’t see the Cards allowing a lateral move, even if Horton did (of which I’m not sure either).
Tags: Art Rooney, Chiefs, Chuck Pagano, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, John Fox, John Harbaugh, Michael Bidwill, Mike Smith, Mike Tomlin, Pete Carroll, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
Posted in Blog | 73 Comments »
When Steve Keim was 9 years old, he was already fascinated by watching games and figuring out which players were better — so much so that he told his mom he wanted to be an NFL general manager one day. She “sort of snickered,” Keim said Tuesday — the day he was named the Cardinals’ general manager.
“If you only worked on your math and science as hard as you did knowing these players, you may end up being successful,” his mother told him.
“I heeded my mother’s advice,” Keim said.
Now, I can’t speak to Keim’s ability in either, but the math would have come in handy all those years on the road as a scout (lot of expense reports to tally as well as numbers to crunch on potential draftees). As for science, well, there’s always a thought that finding and developing a quarterback is a science. Wait, that’s as much art as science, right? And some luck.
Anyway, many are asking what exactly has changed with Keim at the helm, since he was already here and already had a hand in decisions that were being made. Obviously there is a belief by Michael Bidwill that Keim can get the job done. And before, there were two people above Keim swaying choices — Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves. Like anyone, the freedom given once someone ascends to the top job can change — at least somewhat — how he makes a choice. I’m not saying it will change Keim, and I don’t know exactly how much power he had before. Bidwill made it clear Keim and the head coach will “have a collaborative relationship.” With a strong GM and a strong coach, “what they tend to do is they improve each other.”
— When it came to the draft, Keim was the one absorbing all the input from the scouts and coaches to give a player a final grade. But the decisions on who to pick was a group effort. Bidwill said that will stay the same. It doesn’t look like director of player personnel Jason Licht is going anywhere else. I’d expect him to remain Keim’s right-hand man, perhaps with a promotion at some point. I do expect the Cards to consider adding more bodies to the player personnel department too.
– It was interesting to hear that Keim believes in the Ron Wolf line of thinking in terms of gathering QBs. Once upon a time, Wolf, with the Packers, had Brett Favre and still collected Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks and Ty Detmer. All were used as backups and/or trade bait. The Cards will take one solid prospect right now, but maybe they can get there, QB-wise.
– I do expect, with a new GM and new O-line coach — no matter who it is — to have a new approach to building that group, although Keim did say he thought some pieces were in place.
Tags: Jason Licht, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 34 Comments »