Eric Winston, a player who when he was first released was expected to command a healthy contract for multiple years, signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. It was another impressive step for GM Steve Keim, who has managed to corral quite a few players in one-year deals, providing flexibility going forward and incentive to those players to try and earn an extension.
It also has created quite a lengthy list of players that, as of now, are set to become unrestricted free agents after the season:
– S Jonathan Amaya
– CB Javier Arenas
– S Yeremiah Bell
– CB Antoine Cason
– LB Karlos Dansby
– TE Jim Dray
– K Jay Feely
– TE Jeff King
– RB Rashard Mendenhall
– G Chilo Rachal
– WR Andre Roberts
– DE Frostee Rucker
– DE/LB Matt Shaughnessy
– TE Kory Sperry
– S Curtis Taylor
– LB Reggie Walker
– T Eric Winston
– P Dave Zastudil
Obviously, not every name on that list is someone that the Cards are going to want to keep around long-term. Others will have to earn that right. It also doesn’t include other situations, like the inevitable Patrick Peterson extension that is assumed to be coming at some point after the season. The Cardinals definitely have a plan, however. Flexibility is key for Keim, who is trying to rebuild the roster.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Antoine Cason, Chilo Rachal, contracts, Curtis Taylor, Dave Zastudil, Eric Winston, Frostee Rucker, Javier Arenas, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Jonathan Amaya, Karlos Dansby, Kory Sperry, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashard Mendenhall, Reggie Walker, salary cap, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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When Larry Fitzgerald agreed to his last contract, he had been out eating at a local restaurant and had to be summoned to a press conference. Fitz loves getting his contracts but truth be told, he’d rather not have to talk about them. That part is something he’d rather keep behind the scenes. But this is professional sports, where the public knows what you are making and also, when what you are making becomes an issue that must be accounted for when it comes to building a team.
The recent new deal for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford highlights the reality of the NFL: Sometimes, a player’s salary cap number becomes (or will become) so unwieldy it must be addressed. There’s no way to know how the Cardinals see Fitzgerald’s current deal in that light, but there are decisions that have to be made over the next year or two — decisions Fitz and his agents certainly understood when they signed this pact in 2011.
This season, Fitzgerald has a salary cap figure of “only” $10.25 million. It’s not insignificant, yet it is much smaller than what is to come. In 2014, that cap figure jumps to $18M. In 2015, it jumps again to $21.25M. That’s a pretty big chunk of cap to eat up when most believe there will be no significant leap in the cap space in the next couple of years. (There are various opinions on that, given the new TV contract that will eventually kick in, but my understanding is that the cap will go up slow and steady rather than in one fell swoop.) Both cap hits are scheduled to be the largest in the league in that year for any wide receiver, even more than Calvin Johnson, who signed a mega-deal after Fitz’s.
The Cardinals worked hard to clear cap space this year for the future and have more non-Fitz choices to make again next season. Given how many free-agents-to-be they will have after this season, they can deal with Fitz’s hefty 2014 number. Will they want to? Can they again in 2015? Right now, the only large extension coming down the road is one for Patrick Peterson, who is eligible for a new deal as soon as this season ends. I’ve heard from fans wondering/concerned if they might trade Fitzgerald, but that doesn’t seem practical for a couple of reasons. One, dealing Fitz in 2014 would saddle the Cards with $13M in dead cap space (and doing it for 2015 would be $8M in dead space.) Besides, barring a massive dropoff in play, he just means so much to the franchise both on and off the field. They certainly won’t just release him.
That leaves a couple of options. One is to play it out. It will hamstring some of the flexibility of GM Steve Keim, but it’s tough to know exactly where this team is going to be year-to-year and you don’t have to make any decisions now. There is also the possibility of reworking Fitzgerald’s deal — again — to make it more team-friendly. What does that mean? It would mean Fitz would get another hefty upfront payday, something he wouldn’t turn down. That, of course, would push the Fitz cap issue further into the future. But that’s how it works. The last time Fitz talked about his contract, he and Michael Bidwill talked about Larry eventually retiring as a Cardinal. I’m sure that’s still the plan.
Tags: contract, Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap
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Over the weekend, the Cardinals will not make any roster moves. And they will pick up $3 million in salary cap room.
That’s because they had designated the release of guard Adam Snyder back in April as a “June 1″ cut, meaning that they could take the normal pro-rated hit on the salary cap this season from his remaining signing bonus and push the rest into 2014 instead of absorbing it all this season. Snyder still had $4 million left of dead money. Now, the Cardinals will deal with $1 million of it this season and the other $3 million against their 2014 salary cap.
Because the Cardinals wanted to cut Snyder before the actual June 1 date, they were forced to carry Snyder’s entire hit on the cap until actually June 1. (It didn’t really affect the Cards much, but any team tight against the cap doesn’t have the same kind of leeway.) That’s why the Cards this weekend will see their cap room grow even though they aren’t making any transactions. Teams can use the June 1 designation on up to two players a season. Only 11 cut players were named as such this offseason across the league and only one team, the Dolphins, used up their two-man limit. One of those players was linebacker Karlos Dansby, who of course ended up here. The Dolphins gain $6M of cap space this weekend just on Dansby’s situation alone.
As for the Cardinals, who have $7.8M of cap space today according to the NFLPA, that stands to grow to $10.8M when Snyder’s slot kicks in. The $3M dead money for next year is nothing to sneeze at, but the Cardinals took most of their dead money medicine this year and have a bunch of guys who will be free agents after this season, so there is still a lot of room to maneuver with the 2014 cap. Not sure what the salary cap landscape is going to look like yet, but it isn’t expected to jump much again and that will likely mean a similar offseason market as this year.
– Apropos of nothing, other than I think it’s an awesome anecdote, check out this story by Sam Farmer about Vince Lombardi and the first Super Bowl. Priceless.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Karlos Dansby, salary cap
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Some things to consider on Tuesday, as the Cardinals are set to unveil their complete team in on-field work for the first time as organized team activities begin later this morning:
– The one-year contract of Karlos Dansby calls for a salary of $1.25 million this season, according to the NFLPA. Kent Somers reports Dansby also got a $1 million signing bonus. That’s $2.25M (yes, I am sharp at math), which is obviously well below the $6M-plus Dansby had been originally scheduled to receive from the Dolphins before he was released. The Cardinals had approximately
$8.5 $10.5 (forgot about the money cleared in the Hoyer release) million in cap space before Dansby (A $2.25M cap hit, obviously) and second-round pick Kevin Minter (who should count about $800,000 against the cap, and I’d figure he’ll slide into the top 51).
– One roster move already this morning. The Cardinals decided to sign tryout tight end Kyle Auffray out of New Hampshire, releasing undrafted rookie cornerback Prentiss Waggner. Again, with 90 on the roster (because all the unsigned draftees figure to sign sooner rather than later) the Cards will continue to cut for every player they sign.
– Could there be another potential veteran signee? Josina Anderson is reporting that tackle Max Starks is visiting the Cardinals today, including a physical. Don’t read too much into that — any vet is going to need a physical first, especially at the point in the career Starks is at. Starks has been available for a while and in the past, there was always a question of whether Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm would bring him in after working with him in Pittsburgh. Obviously, Bruce Arians also has worked with him given Arians’ Steelers ties and offensive coordinator (and offensive line coach) Harold Goodwin also worked with Starks in Pittsburgh. We’ll see if that develops. Starks has also talked to the O-line-needy Chargers.
Tags: Harold Goodwin, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Kyle Auffray, Max Starks, Prentiss Waggner, salary cap, Steelers
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The Cardinals finally added an offensive lineman in free agency Wednesday, signing veteran guard Chilo Rachal. What does that mean for the line going forward? Something. And nothing.
Adding parts that can help in some way, shape or form — starter or depth — has been one of the mantras for General Manager Steve Keim. Rachal could end up as either. So obviously, his arrival carries that significance. But it isn’t going to impact the draft. If the Cardinals decide, for instance, Chance Warmack is their guy at No. 7, they’ll take him and figure it out from there. If they want to take a tackle like Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson and move Bobby Massie to guard, they will do that too. If their top pick is a pass rusher, maybe we see a line of LT Brown, LG Colledge, C Sendlein, RT Massie and a battle between Snyder and Rachal. Or there could be an offensive lineman chosen in the second round or third round — or maybe even later — who could be part of the mix.
At this point, there are dozens of ways this can go, and the Cardinals have set it up just so they have that flexibility. I could see them letting a veteran go in a June 1 move if they felt they had enough other pieces for their puzzle. Certainly Keim has shown he isn’t afraid to make such moves. I’m not certain there couldn’t be a veteran offensive lineman added later in the offseason either.
(The Cardinals, prior to the Rachal signing I would guess, had $9.496 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday according to the NFLPA.)
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Cardinals and the draft. The braintrust has reiterated a few times how deep in offensive line talent this class is, beyond just the top 10. Will it shock me to see them pick a player that isn’t an offensive lineman? Absolutely not. Stop me if you’ve heard this before — Keim believes in a difference-maker at the top. That doesn’t mean a difference-maker can’t be an offensive lineman if his grades are the right ones, but I truly believe the idea of reaching there for need over a guy graded much better makes Keim’s stomach turn.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Chance Warmack, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, draft, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, salary cap, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals have signed a pair of defensive backs: safety Curtis Taylor (who we mentioned was coming last night) and cornerback Bryan McCann. Taylor has played in 12 NFL games since he was a seventh-round pick of the 49ers back in 2009. He hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2010. He was on the 49ers’ practice squad throughout the 2012 postseason after the Raiders cut him following the 2012 preseason.
McCann played eight games for the Dolphins last season (10 tackles and a sack) after the Raiders cut him following the preseason. He was an undrafted rookie with the Cowboys in 2010, and even scored a pair of touchdowns as a rookie (on a 101-yard interception return and a 97-yard punt return). In 2011, he played in 12 games with the Cowboys, Ravens and Raiders. He can return both punts and kickoffs.
The Cards also announced running back Alfonso Smith signed his one-year exclusive rights free agent tender.
Oh, and here’s a grainy iPhone shot of Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer talking shop this morning during the Cardinals’ workouts. I assume they are talking shop. Maybe Palmer is asking Fitz where to live. Or about the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.” But you get the picture.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Bryan McCann, Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, free agency, Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap
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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
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By the time the Cardinals actually play a game that counts, six months-plus from now, today’s revelation that linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended the first four games of the 2013 regular season will be old news. Even how coach Bruce Arians deals with it will be old news. There is a whole offseason to prep a replacement. The other players know. There’s no sugar-coating that losing arguably your best defensive player (and I said arguably, Patrick, Calais and Darnell) doesn’t help on the field. But on the field is probably the easiest place to work with this absence. By September, by the time games start, this is no different on the field than a guy who suffers a badly sprained ankle and misses a month. It happens.
(A quick aside: I don’t know who the Cards will get to fill the role. Early guess is the team makes due with what they have as opposed to getting a “name” fill-in. Karlos Dansby’s name has been mentioned often, and I suppose you can’t rule it out, but what to do with him when Washington comes back? Is Dansby ready to be a backup? I’d guess no right now and that’s assuming he’d be willing to come in for cheap.)
But Washington won’t be allowed at the facility for that month (or five weeks if the Cards are unlucky enough to have an early bye) and misses out on that time with his team and coaches. He’ll lose $564,705 in salary based on the $2.4 million he is supposed to earn this season. Based on the NFL’s policy, the only way Washington could get suspended is if he had violated the policy previously, so Washington also has to show he can get straight in that regard. To be suspended a player is in Stage Two of the league’s Substance Abuse policy and stays there for two full seasons. Another longer suspension comes if he violates the policy again.
UPDATE: This was not a violation for performance-enhancing drugs. People seem to be missing that point.
Washington, who signed a huge new contract last season, was due a $10 million option bonus at the end of the season but Mike Sando reports that bonus was moved last month to the end of the 2014 season (Apparently for salary cap purposes). Either way, the Cardinals still have a very talented player who they want on the field, and they are paying him to be there. Washington promised, both in a statement through the team and via his Twitter account he was sorry.
I apologize to all my fans, teammates and to the Cardinals Organization. I promise to work even harder and to not let you guys down anymore.—
Daryl Washington (@DWashington58) April 03, 2013
The Cards need Washington to be true to his word.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, salary cap
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At the owner’s meetings earlier this week, general manager Steve Keim said after a hectic 10 days of free agency, it was time for the Cardinals to turn toward the draft and begin prep there. Keim and coach Bruce Arians, in fact, were going to hit a couple of pro days, starting with a trip to the South today as they witnessed the University of Georgia’s work (where Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree performed.)
It doesn’t mean free agency was completely kicked to the curb, of course. The Cardinals will still be looking to add here and there if they feel it makes sense, as Bruce Arians noted yesterday (and Mike Jurecki is reporting the Cards have signed veteran DE Frostee Rucker, I’m sure for not a lot of money). The prices for many of these players continue to drop, and that too could change equations. At this point, the Cardinals are in pretty good shape. After their cuts and signings binge of the past few weeks (before the Rucker move), the Cards have somewhere north of $13 million of salary cap room.
Of the nine free agent signings the team has made (including Rashad Johnson’s re-signing), only three account for more than $1.5 million of cap space: Rashard Mendenhall’s $2.5M cap hit, Drew Stanton’s $3M cap hit, and Jerraud Powers’ $2M cap hit. Those nine together only add up to less than a $15M cap hit. The Cards cleared $13.5M of cap space along by releasing Kevin Kolb and Kerry Rhodes.
There has been a lot of talk about needing money for the draft class/rookie pool, but because of the offseason top 51 rule — only the top 51 salary cap numbers on the roster count toward the salary cap in the offseason — not every rookie finds his way on to the “real” cap. Given where the Cardinals are drafting, the team will need around $3.5M of cap space toward the draft class (because some draftees won’t be in the top 51.)
Tags: Drew Stanton, free agency, Frostee Rucker, Jerraud Powers, Rashard Mendenhall, salary cap
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The moves today to release cornerback William Gay and linebacker Stewart Bradley aren’t really shocking. This is what happens when salary exceeds production, as general manager Steve Keim was talking about just a couple of weeks ago. Bradley’s story is well known, and after he didn’t do much last season and with his salary back to $5 million, his future was all but written. Gay’s 2012 playing time escalated his salary from $1.475 million to $3.225 million, and that too probably cost Gay any chance of returning. With around $7 million of cap savings, the Cards are under the cap now.
There is still work to do, of course, the most glaring the contract of quarterback Kevin Kolb. There has been no word yet of any talks or movement in that area. The Cards have fit his giant $13.5M cap number in for now, but nothing has changed from the fact something has to happen. Kolb is due a $2M roster bonus soon (do not know the date, but anticipate it being the start of the league year on March 12 or right around there) and I can’t see it being paid unless a new deal is in place.
The Cards were about $1.2M over the cap prior to the cuts today according to Adam Schefter, so the savings should put them a little more than $5M under — decent breathing room in the short term, although a tender offer to QB Brian Hoyer would eat up some of that space if one were made. Are further moves, aside from Kolb, coming in the form of a cut or a restructure? Perhaps. Don’t forget, a restructure basically means giving the player more money now for the privilege of pushing cap space on to a future year’s cap. Eventually, it has to be paid. And if there is anything we have learned about the new collective bargaining agreement and the salary cap is that it was set up to no longer have giant spikes from year to year — making cap management for every team a little more challenging year-to-year. Bradley and Gay were not the only NFL veterans cut today, that’s for sure.
It also underscores another NFL reality — for all the gnashing of teeth that goes on when free agency starts about why the Cards (or any team) didn’t sign this guy or that guy — that the draft is the way to build a roster. Ultimately, teams don’t let players get away that they think they can’t afford to lose.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Kevin Kolb, salary cap, Steve Keim, Stewart Bradley, William Gay
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