It didn’t take long before Bruce Arians made it known he was going to be comfortable playing young players after doing it last season in Indianapolis. Then, as March played out, the Cardinals either didn’t bring back older players who were free agents and released others who were on the wrong side of 30. Now, with the offseason roster nearly set, the numbers emphasize just how much younger General Manager Steve Keim has made his team.
The team’s 53-man roster by the end of last season — and that means younger players were on it in place of IR’d vets like Levi Brown, Kevin Kolb and Lyle Sendlein — had an average age of 29.7 years. The Cardinals’ current extended offseason roster (subtracting the 16 long-shot undrafted rookies who would obviously bring down the average age by their sheer numbers) features an average age of 25.8 years.
The Cards had 12 players 30 and older on their final 53. As of today, they have eight: Carson Palmer (33), Yeremiah Bell (35, pictured below), Daryn Colledge (31), Darnell Dockett (31), Jeff King (30), Jay Feely (36), Mike Leach (36) and Dave Zastudil (34). Take out those three specialists and the Cardinals’ current average age is 25.4.
The age could rise depending on how the roster is shaped going into the season, because of those 30-year-olds, I don’t right now see any of them being let go. But while Keim’s overhaul was in part about clearing salary cap room this offseason, it was also about an infusion of youth after a Ken Whisenhunt era that relied heavily on veterans.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Roster, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
So Anthony Sherman is gone, a victim of a regime change more than anything else, with his trade to K.C. today in exchange for cornerback Javier Arenas. This is what happens when new coaches come in (and obviously, both the Chiefs and Cards have new coaches) and existing players are deemed expendable. In Sherman’s case, he plays a position that isn’t used in Bruce Arians’ offense. In Arenas’ case, the Chiefs had brought on a bunch of cornerbacks and he was looking to be moved, although he comes to a team with a ton of potential cornerbacks as well — in addition to a safety (Tyrann Mathieu) who could end up playing slot receivers like Arenas is best suited for. Arenas came into the league in the 2010 draft.
ESPN scout Matt Williamson tweeted this about Arenas: “Pure slot CB-Size hurts him, but fiesty & big time asset on special teams.” It’s a crowded secondary now. Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Justin Bethel, Jamell Fleming and Bryan McCann all have experience in the league and now Arenas comes aboard. Someone isn’t making it to September (unless the Cards end up sliding Bethel back to safety to ease the logjam.)
More importantly, it’s yet another move as General Manager Steve Keim continues to overhaul the roster with Arians’ vision of what he needs. The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster and 45 of them are new. Now, 25 of them are rookies so they were going to be new regardless. But the number of veterans — veterans that played large roles on the team last year — that have been cut or traded continues to move up. The transactions list has a ton of action, and May just started. I count 31 moves where the Cards either made a trade, signed a veteran from outside the team or released a player.
(And to think, when Arenas lined up against Larry Fitzgerald during the Cards-Chiefs joint practice last August, you think either one contemplated being teammates?)
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Roster, Steve Keim, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 34 Comments »
The NFL Players Association tweeted out a document this afternoon listing every NFL team’s cap space, and, with everything fluid this time of year (cap space changes as soon as players are added or subtracted) the Cardinals have about $8.2 million in salary cap space for their top 51. That’s not a bad situation to be in after trading for Carson Palmer. (UPDATE: There seems to be some question if that is before the Palmer deal factored in.
Obviously if it hasn’t been, that will make a big difference It included Palmer already.)
The Cards did add a small piece today in former 49ers safety Curtis Taylor (the team has yet to officially announce it). I’d expect a few more similar signings over the next couple of weeks as the Cards prep for their first (voluntary) minicamp beginning April 23.
The Cards still only have 57 players after adding Palmer (and before Taylor) and they need to grow that number. There will be seven draft picks and a bunch of undrafted rookies, but again, the Cards eventually want to get to 90 players
– The Bengals claimed quarterback John Skelton, cut by the Cards Monday, off waivers Wednesday. Here’s hoping Skelton catches on as a backup. I still believe he’d already have a win in Cincinnati if Early Doucet hadn’t fallen down.
– I never wrote anything because of when it happened (and in case you were living under a rock) ex-Cards QB Kevin Kolb agreed to a deal with the Bills a few days ago. He has a chance to start there, at least as of right now.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, NFLPA, Roster, salary cap
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »
Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.
Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.
But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.
QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)
RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.
FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”
WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.
TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.
OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.
DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.
LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.
DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.
ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Adam Snyder, Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Beanie Wells, Bobby Massie, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, D'Anthony Batiste, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, David Carter, DeMarco Sampson, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, James Sanders, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, Jim Dray, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Nick Eason, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Rich Ohrnberger, Rob Housler, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, Sam Acho, Senio Kelemete, Stewart Bradley, Todd Heap, Vonnie Holliday, William Gay, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 35 Comments »
Rookie Jamell Fleming isn’t going to go into a bunch of detail about his work at cornerback.
“I want to keep working hard I take pride in what I do,” Fleming said. “I want to be the best.”
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton had said he thought Fleming had hit a bit of a wall in camp. Fleming had looked good in OTAs and minicamp, so maybe a bit of a plateau was going to come. Fleming shrugged it off – “All rookies get a little wall in the way” he said. “You’ve got to push through it.” – and he certainly wasn’t bothered by the two questionable calls against him last game, one for hitting a defenseless receiver and the other for pass interference. Both calls certainly could have gone the other other way.
“Stuff is going to happen like that in the NFL, especially at corner,” Fleming said.
There is little question the third-round pick will be counted upon this season. The battle at defensive back has turned into the interesting story as expected, although I think the Cards would have liked more dynamic plays at this point to help separate people. I think right now, barring something odd, William Gay will stay as the other cornerback starter alongside Patrick Peterson. Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are your safeties.
At safety, veterans James Sanders and Rashad Johnson have been running as backups and special teamers, but now the Justin Bethel factor comes in. Bethel is getting some work at cornerback now as well as safety, but he will be on the roster because of special teams. Do they keep five safeties because of that? Could the Cards keep 10 instead of nine defensive backs? If so, that leaves five cornerbacks, or three to join Peterson and Gay. Fleming is on this team. So that leaves Greg Toler, Michael Adams, A.J. Jefferson and Crezdon Butler vying for two spots.
Fleming isn’t ready to step in across from Peterson, but he could end up as the nickel back.
“I think he is learning and growing, especially playing the nickel inside and playing this level of competition,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’ll ramp up quite a bit in the regular season. He has done a nice job from when he first came in as far as what was expected of him. He has been told he needs to get better at some things but I’ve been pleased with how he has progressed.”
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Crezdon Butler, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, James Sanders, Justin Bethel, Michael Adams, Rashad Johnson, Roster
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »
The Cardinals brought in 16 players for tryouts this past rookie minicamp weekend. They decided to keep around four of them, including running back Javarris James. The other three were kicker/punter Ricky Schmitt, safety Eddie Elder and cornerback Larry Parker.
James, of course, is the cousin of former Cardinals running back Edgerrin James. Javarris played in 10 games for the Colts as a rookie in 2010, scoring six touchdowns, but was out of the league last year. With top running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams on the mend from surgeries, the Cards needed another running back for offseason work. It will be interesting if James can perform well enough to make it to training camp.
Schmitt was actually with the Cards as an undrafted rookie back in 2007 before getting cut in training camp. He has since spent time with five other teams, including a pair of stints with the 49ers. Elder, from Arizona State, and Parker, from San Diego State, are both rookies.
The signings bring the Cards’ roster to a total of 89 now, with one spot left to get to 90. Certainly, the roster is not set in stone, and further player possibilities could mean that any of these players — or others already on the roster — could get released before the Cards even get to camp. For players on the fringe of the roster, this is always a fluid situation.
Tags: Eddie Elder, Javarris James, Larry Parker, Ricky Schmitt, Roster, undrafted rookie free agents
Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »
The NFL announced that teams will now be allowed to have 90 players on the roster in the offseason/preseason, following the precedent set last year. Of course, that last year was because of the lack of offseason and the need for bodies in a boom-here-it-is training camp, but teams decided it worked. You know coaches like having more players in the preseason. It makes sense.
The rules are slightly different. Now, every single player under contract, one way or another, counts against the 90. It used to be there were roster exemptions for guys on the physically-unable-to-perform list, or if a rookie was unsigned. For example, tagged defensive end Calais Campbell would not have counted against the roster if he didn’t sign his tender, but now, he will.
It does impact the preseason, because in the past, rookies would have signed, trimming down available players as they did, and now the rookies will sign and the low-end roster guys will be able to stick around regardless. There won’t be a difference in OTAs and minicamp, because in the past the rookies would participate (signing injury waivers but not having a contract) and their roster spots were used. There were always more than 80 in the summer.
– Cardinals Hall of Fame cornerback Roger Wehrli will be in New York to announce the team’s third-round pick. The NFL started having former players announce second-round picks last year — another cornerback, Aeneas Williams, announced the Cards’ pick in 2011 (running back Ryan Williams — but with the Cards without a second-round pick, Wehrli will be used a round later. (No, I don’t know what happens if the Cards end up trading into a second-round pick.)
– If anyone cares, the Cards have had everyone show up to voluntary workouts by now save for Campbell.
Tags: Calais Campbell, draft, offseason, Roger Wehrli, Roster
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »
Here was a key line from coach Ken Whisenhunt’s season-ending press conference after the 2010 season: “As far as personnel change, there’s going to be change. When you go 5-11, there are going to be changes that are made. It has to be that way.”
Monday, Whisenhunt’s team still hadn’t made the playoffs, but it was three games better. Thus: “You don’t anticipate a lot of changes.”
There will be some of course. That’s inevitable. Some players will be determined replaceable. Some will be wanted back, but at the right price, which always leaves the door open for them eventually leaving. And there is always the chance an unexpectedly good player will come available that simply has to be had, even if there isn’t necessarily a place for him to immediately play.
If there is one thing Whisenhunt has repeated over and over and over in his five seasons, it’s that every offseason “we are always looking to improve.”
Free agency and the draft comes later (free agency is first, March 13, a Tuesday, at 2 p.m. Arizona time). First, the Cardinals coaches – after undergoing an evaluation process themselves – have to sort through the Cardinals’ roster. Not that they need it, but for your viewing pleasure, here is my annual breakdown of the Cards’ roster and what each individual’s contract status is as of today.
The top priority is re-signing DE Calais Campbell. I have no idea if anything is close. I know they’ve been talking, I haven’t heard anyone be pessimistic and Whisenhunt himself said he didn’t want to talk about it Monday because he didn’t want to jinx anything – and could that be a hint, since you don’t worry about jinxing something that won’t happen, right? Either way, Campbell will be back because they will franchise him if they must.
Other keys players to watch, in my opinion: DB Richard Marshall, of course, but the price will have to work both ways. The Cards have a load of DBs. Not sure exactly how they feel about A.J. Jefferson right now, but defensive coordinator Ray Horton sure likes Marshall. I’d think they’d want him to return. What about good locker room guys and defensive veterans like LB Clark Haggans and DE Vonnie Holliday? Or WR Early Doucet? The Cards also have all three specialists – K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil and long snapper Mike Leach – who have expired contracts.
This is what was missing last offseason. Oh, we had the questions in January, we just didn’t have the answers until late July. I love those who still ask what I do in the offseason – really, given the interest, there is no offseason. It’s already time to talk the 2012 season.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, Early Doucet, Richard Marshall, Roster, Vonnie Holliday
Posted in Blog | 63 Comments »
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Friday the roster was “written in pencil.” Two days later, three new names were coming in, and two known names were moving out (because running back Chester Taylor hadn’t officially signed yet, the Cards could wait until today to clear a roster spot for him — and no, I don’t know who it is yet).
Everyone knows the top, say 47 or 48 guys who make the team are going to be around, assuming they don’t get hurt. For the most part, teams don’t want to churn too much. The guys they have are the ones they have taught all offseason. They know the system. If you have one guy who knows what he is doing and another street free agent who might just be a tad more talented, you generally will stick with the guy who knows the system.
But injuries play a factor. So too do guys who come available whom the team has had an eye on. You know when you are the guys constantly on the bubble. Going into the final preseason game, there was a lot of talk about position battles and either/or spots. Stephen Spach and Jim Dray. Quan Sturdivant and Reggie Walker. So when moves had to be made when the Cards claimed a couple of cornerbacks off waivers, it wasn’t a shock to hear Spach and Sturdivant were the ones released. Soon, we will hear who was released for Taylor, and that won’t be a shocking name either.
It’s a difficult existence. Last year, guys like Max Komar and Cyril Obiozor were the ones bouncing around (and on to the practice squad). It’s the ongoing reality for a few guys, however, that keeps the stress level up beyond just the “final” cuts.
Tags: Ken Whisenhunt, Quan Sturdivant, Reggie Walker, Roster
Posted in Blog | 4 Comments »
As long speculated, the Cards have acquired veteran running back Chester Taylor, at least according to multiple outlets (including his agent’s Twitter). That comes as no surprise. The Cards needed a veteran running back to join Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Taylor, even though he is older (will be 32 at the end of the month) and his numbers have been dwindling, seems a perfect fit. He can give you a few carries, he can catch the ball, he can block, he has long played a backup role (to Adrian Peterson and then Matt Forte) and most importantly, he was available. He was expendable in Chicago after the Bears signed Marion Barber.
I remember Taylor lighting up the Cards in November of 2006 for 136 yards in Minnesota when he was a starter for the Vikings (before Peterson came in the next year). He signed a big contract with the Bears before 2010, but only averaged 2.4 yards a carry.
The Cards have also apparently nabbed a couple of cornerbacks off waivers: Crezdon Butler of the Steelers and Korey Lindsey of the Bengals. The Cards need depth there and it can’t be a shock these were two names targeted: defensive coordinator Ray Horton coached Butler last year as DBs coach with the Steelers, and Cards defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi was in Cincinnati and still probably has knowledge of the Bengals situation (although Lindsey is a rookie).
Picking up three means the Cards will have to release three from the current roster — again, why coach Ken Whisenhunt mentioned the roster was “in pencil” Friday.
The practice squad won’t be announced until tomorrow. Wide receiver Isaiah Williams’ agent tweeted Williams would be coming back to the practice squad.
UPDATE: Some afternoon details that emerged on Twitter and elsewhere. An NFL source said the Cards had agreed on a practice squad deal for DT Ricky Lumpkin. St. Louis-based reporter Howard Balzer reported the Cards had released TE Stephen Spach, and Kent Somers reported the Cards also cut LB Quan Sturdivant. I’d expect Sturdivant to come back to the practice squad assuming no one claims him off waivers.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Chester Taylor, Crezdon Butler, free agency, Isaiah Williams, Korey Lindsey, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Quan Sturdivant, Roster, Stephen Spach
Posted in Blog | 69 Comments »