The left tackle market and Veldheer

Posted by Darren Urban on March 9, 2014 – 6:51 pm

The “soft” opening of free agency this weekend has provided plenty in the way of speculation and prediction, especially when it comes to the hot left tackle market. While much was discussed over the last few weeks with the Cards possibly looking at Chiefs free-agent-to-be Branden Albert. But late Saturday night/Sunday morning the idea the Cardinals might instead look at Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer picked up steam. By Sunday afternoon, a report out of Baltimore — where the Ravens are trying to bring back their own left tackle Eugene Monroe — handicapped the landing spots for all the premium left tackles about to be available. Multiple sources (which usually is a euphemism for “agents”) pegged Veldheer as a Cardinal once free agency began this week. Albert is apparently headed for Miami.

Again, during this “pre” period of free agency — which takes teams up until the official opening Tuesday at 1 p.m. Arizona time — teams can speak to agents of players but not the players themselves. And while parameters of contracts can be discussed, no contract can be executed until Tuesday. So we’re still a couple days away from knowing for sure on any of this (and physicals still have to be passed for all these players on all these teams.)

As for Veldheer specifically, he does make sense on multiple fronts. He’s young — just 27, younger than Albert — and he’s protected Carson Palmer previously. That means he could get info about the Cards from Palmer, and it means Palmer will have a comfort level with an otherwise new tackle. He did miss 11 games last season with a tricep injury, but he’s otherwise been durable. And it sounds like he’ll come just a tad cheaper than a couple other of those tackles. (Here is an article from from late last season estimating Veldheer’s next deal.)

Many were surprised the Raiders didn’t use a franchise tag on Veldheer, and it is interesting they’d let go someone they know and presumably saw play well like this, especially now that the Rams’ Rodger Saffold is definitely leaving St. Louis and the assumption is he will be going to Oakland. But most reports had the Raiders trying hard to re-sign Veldheer but he wanted to see his worth. We’ll see if it is the Cardinals that end up finding him worthy.

Carson Palmer; Jared Veldheer

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Left tackle market should be robust

Posted by Darren Urban on March 3, 2014 – 2:49 pm

Today was the deadline for teams to use the franchise tag. There is still a week before free agency officially begins — although teams and free-agents-to-be can start talking Saturday — and there is still time for any of these players who are set to become free to still sign extensions and avoid hitting the market. That said, the tag was a possibility for a handful of prospective left tackle free agents, and all of them ended up dodging that tag Monday.

That means the left tackle market, barring a late extension, will include Kansas City’s Branden Albert, Baltimore’s Eugene Monroe, St. Louis’ Rodger Saffold, Oakland’s Jared Veldheer and Cincinnati’s Anthony Collins. (There are reports out of Oakland that think Veldheer’s non-tagging means he’s close to a deal, but if that is true, why not tag him just in case?) ranked the tackles on the market in this order: Monroe, Albert, Veldheer, Collins, Saffold. The money to sign these guys will not be insignificant, and the need remains high for such players across the league. But if the Cardinals are looking to grab a vet to plug in, there not only will be options but the ability to have a solid backup choice. That can’t be a bad thing.


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Free agent whispers could be just that

Posted by Darren Urban on February 25, 2014 – 9:54 am

It’s been circulating in the media for a few weeks now that if the Chiefs let left tackle Branden Albert reach free agency, the Cardinals are expected to be one of the teams that would pursue him. And there have been other names floating out there in connection to the Cards, like offensive lineman Rodger Saffold or defensive lineman Mike Neal. As free agency approaches March 11 (and even before that, when teams can “officially” start talking to FAs-to-be a couple of days before that) there will be more names that float out there, no doubt.

Some teams might leak interest in guys. Many agents have no problem leaking what teams might have interest. After all, the more interest for a player, his price goes up. Even if the interest isn’t that big of interest at all. That’s the key to this whole thing. Take the Cardinals. They have a free-agent board ranking their targets. But things can and often will change on a daily basis according to who is signing where, whom might re-sign, and how much these players might want. I’m sure that whatever team is interested in Albert understands he won’t come cheap.

Yet that board the Cardinals build includes the metrics of a player, where they are in age and their worth. Would the Cards go above and beyond? For the right player, they just might. But Steve Keim and company aren’t going to toss aside their game plan/philosophy for one player. They won’t cripple the salary cap out of need or panic. It’s the same sort of thought process they will have with a guy like Karlos Dansby, whom they want back but won’t foil the big picture in that quest.

So every time a name is floated, sure, there might be interest. But that would merely the first step in a process. Like last year, I expect the Cards to push hard for a guy to sign a contract if they get him to Tempe for a visit — no need to let other teams woo a guy away — but there are a lot of variables before a guy actually inks a deal.

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Massie a right tackle and O-line improvement

Posted by Darren Urban on February 21, 2014 – 3:10 pm

Bobby Massie finished his 2012 rookie season playing pretty well at right tackle after a horrendous start to his career. He seemed like a natural piece of the 2013 offensive line, until the Cards signed veteran Eric Winston as training camp began. Over the season, Massie eventually got a few snaps at right tackle, but he never displaced Winston, who is an unrestricted free agent. If Winston comes back, Massie will be his competition. Massie isn’t playing guard or on the left side, as the Cardinals try to improve the offensive line.

“(Bobby) is a right tackle,” Arians said. “He’s not a left tackle. We experimented with that and he struggled with it. He’s a right tackle and he’s talented. The biggest thing right now is to be more consistent every day in his work habits.”

Does Massie fit in to the 2014 starting line? He very well could. But so much is up in the air, and it goes well beyond Massie and Winston. It’s assumed, and probably not incorrectly, that the Cardinals will seek an offensive lineman or two in free agency. It’s likely they will look into Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert if he reaches free agency (Kansas City GM John Dorsey said Friday the Chiefs have talked to Albert’s agent at the combine about an extension) and reports surfaced Friday that the Cards might also look into Rams tackle.guard Rodger Saffold (Rams GM Les Snead said Friday re-signing Saffold was a priority.)

It is realistic to think the Cards could have new starters at four of five positions on the line by the time games count in 2014 (center Lyle Sendlein is likely safe.). It’s also possible the line doesn’t change. Friday, Arians wouldn’t commit to the Cards having a new player in the lineup (other than the return of injured guard Jonathan Cooper), saying only the line needed to get bigger and stronger.

“Whether it is adding pieces to the puzzle or improving the players we have, we have Coop back, Earl (Watford) to the development, you add those two young guards will make us more athletic and create good competition with the veterans,” Arians said. “We are looking at adding pieces, one tackle, two, whatever we find is best to fit our locker room.”

The Cardinals also probably want to get cheaper at parts of the line, especially if they pay a premium for a free agent. That too can impact the equation — and make a guy like Massie more attractive.


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