There is a really good article posted on SI’s MMQB, written by former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, about how offensive linemen are graded in the NFL and the inexact science that it is. I recommend it. Cardinals tackle Eric Winston is quoted in the story a few times, noting “It’s very hard to do it independently. Last season was my eighth year and I still can’t always tell who messed up when watching film of other teams.” There is no question that evaluating the offensive line has been the hardest thing to do in my years of writing about an NFL team, for all the reasons contained in the article (although such analysis isn’t going away. I know coaches and players get frustrated sometimes, but in the end, they don’t want to say exactly what is going on either, so they don’t throw anyone under the bus. Totally understandable, but it’s why it’s so hard to get the real picture.)
Noted in the article is the work of profootballfocus.com, how their grades have their own flaws, and even how agents are using those grades in contract talks. Again, interesting stuff and worth the time.
– Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu was an exclusive rights free agent, and even though he has to rehab a torn ACL, it was inevitable the Cards would keep him around. He turned out to be a fantastic waiver acquisition this season. Assuming he comes back OK, I could see him as a long-term component of that defensive line.
– Free agent talks with players from other teams can start Saturday morning, at least with their agents. The Cards will make their position known with a few players, but as GM Steve Keim said, the Cards are going to want a guy in for a visit before pulling the trigger. You want to be able to know the guy a little bit before cutting him a check.
– Free agent tight end John Carlson, cut by the Vikings this week, is reportedly visiting the Cardinals. Not a surprise, at least in terms of the position. The Cards have to stock up on tight ends, both in an attempt to upgrade and to make sure they have enough in the first place with so many with expiring contracts.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Eric Winston, John Carlson, offensive line, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | No Comments »
Karlos Dansby will be 33 this year. He is coming off a tremendous season. He is a free agent. And these are the treacherous waters Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim must now maneuver through in his efforts to bring the linebacker back to the Cardinals.
Former Bills and Colts GM Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, said today the tough part with a Dansby deal is the dead money it will almost certainly create at some point. Dansby believes he still has a few good years left, but there is always the possibility — again, because of his age — he could be released with years left on whatever deal he would sign.
“People make a big deal out of dead money when they count it up at the end of the year,” Polian said. “Free agency equals dead money. That’s part of the overpayment (in free agency) and it comes with the territory. You are going to have some, always. As a general rule, you want to avoid as much of it as you can, knowing you will have it.
“The issue becomes how do you structure a contract that pays the player commensurately that is cap-friendly and at the same time, avoids dead money. That’s a very, very difficult equation to try and solve. And I feel sorry for Steve trying to get that done. It’s difficult.”
It also makes Dansby’s re-signing before testing the market tough to envision. Dansby won’t truly know what’s out there for him — even with talks allowed as soon as March 8 — until he can really go on a visit or two. Then again, deadlines tend to spur action, and the real deadline here won’t come until next Monday night and Tuesday morning. It’s a fascinating situation moving forward.
Tags: Bill Polian, Karlos Dansby, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »
The Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs but they did win 10 games, which gave Arizona the lowest draft pick of any of the non-playoff teams at No. 20. But that couldn’t have come at a better time, since NFL people have been raving about how deep the draft is.
It certainly helps that a record 98 underclassmen declared for the draft, which automatically would make it better. Still, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and this is the deepest draft that I’ve ever seen,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. “I wouldn’t say the deepest draft before the underclassmen came in, but even during the fall our scouts were talking that the senior class was a pretty good class.”
It’s been suggested that a top 20 pick in this draft is just as good as a top 10 pick in last year’s draft the pool is so deep (and last year’s, not so much.) With Cardinals general manager Steve Keim continuing to stress he wants to build the bulk of the roster through the draft — and with the Cardinals still trying to find some roster bargains because of tighter cap issues — another Andre-Ellington-in-the-sixth-round find would be nice.
The Cardinals don’t have a seventh-round pick this year. With the depth available, and the way Keim operated last year, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see the Cards trade down at some point (not necessarily in the first round) to try and pick up at least one more extra choice.
Tags: draft, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 38 Comments »
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admits he could move up in the draft. But he certainly doesn’t sound like someone who plans on it.
“It all depends on whether you are in striking distance of a player you covet,” Keim said. “Anytime you are moving up you have to sacrifice what you give up for them. Sometimes if you are talking about moving up four or five spots, you are talking about a fourth or fifth round pick, (and) we covet all our picks.”
“If you had to ask me what my philosophy is, last year is a perfect example,” Keim added, referencing last year’s second-round trade down. “I’m in the business of trying to acquire picks rather than give them up.”
– Missouri defensive end (or possible 3-4 linebacker) Michael Sam — who came out publicly as gay a couple of weeks ago — came through the media room Saturday and had most heavily attended media session that I can ever remember, and there have been big ones over the years with Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Manti Te’o. There was a big crowd for Johnny Manziel, but not like the one for Sam.
– Arizona State defensive lineman Will Sutton said his stamina was not as good as a senior as it had been as a junior, despite winning a second straight Pac-12 defensive player of the year award. Sutton played at 280 in 2012 and was more than 300 last year. Teams wanted to know why.
“They just ask me what led into the weight gain, and I just say I was just listening to too many outside sources,” Sutton said. “I was playing at a high level at 280. I shouldn’t have changed what I did, what I was good at. But everything happens for a reason. So I’m just getting back down to it (weight) now, really learning the ropes of nutrition, a little dieting, eating real healthy.”
Interestingly, Sutton said the ASU coaches weren’t the ones who wanted him to gain wait. Sutton said those “outside sources” were the media, from which he heard that he’d need to be heavier to make it in the NFL.
Tags: draft, Michael Sam, Steve Keim, Will Sutton
Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »
In much different ways, the immediate football future of both running back Ryan Williams and linebacker Daryl Washington remains in a bit of limbo. Williams, the 2011 second-round pick whose first two seasons were all but a wash because of injuries, barely made the roster this season but ended up inactive for all 16 games. Washington, who was suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy, came back to play well and help anchor the league’s sixth-ranked defense. But Washington was arrested for assault of an ex-girlfriend last offseason, and the case is still winding its way through the court system. Washington’s next court date is scheduled for April and he could face a league suspension again depending on the result — but he also has a big bonus due him next month.
With each of those situations in context, General Manager Steve Keim talked about each with azcardinals.com:
– On Ryan Williams: “Ryan is a tremendous talent,” Keim said. “He’s a guy who still, on the practice field, shows us the movement skills, the run ability, the change of direction is fantastic. Obviously he has had to battle injuries, which has probably been his biggest issue. And last year, bringing in Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington and the impact both of those players made instantly put Ryan on the backburner.
“He’s a guy we still have hopes for. He’s still got the ability and I think Bruce (Arians) just wants him to put it all together.”
Williams is due a salary just north of $1 million this season, with a cap hit of $1.5M. Releasing him would save $1 million. Keim talked up Taylor Thursday, and it seems at this point an Ellington/Taylor duo is more probable than Ellington/Williams, but Keim made it sound like Williams isn’t going anywhere for now.
– As for Washington, “Nothing new,” Keim said. “We monitor everything when it comes to his off-field stuff. Rick Knight, our (vice president) of security, handles a lot of that. Daryl was a guy who made mistakes in the past and he’s (owned) up to those. He’s done a fantastic job in terms of his work ethic and being accountable. We hope to get everything resolved shortly and look forward to a huge year out of Daryl in 2014.”
That the Cardinals would have no doubt of keeping around one of their best players is not a surprise. Washington said after the season he was hoping it would get cleared up soon, but he always talked like he planned on being a long-term Cardinal and that shouldn’t change.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 25 Comments »
Around the draft, it’s not unusual for a team or its decision makers to put out smokescreens ahead of time. No reason not to try and throw people off, right?
But General Manager Steve Keim said Thursday, when asked about if he had a certain plan to dole out misinformation, said he wasn’t that guy.
“I may be the wrong one to ask because clarity may be one of my issues,” Keim said. “I have a tendency to say what’s on my mind. My philosophy moving forward with players is that as well, I try to be honest with them. It’s not always what they want to hear but I think it’s necessary to build that kind of trust. Trust with your media, trust with your coaching staff and trust with your players is try to be as clear as you can.”
So, that being the case, will I be surprised if the Cardinals go ahead at take an offensive or defensive linemen — the positions Keim has tended to mention first when asked about what the Cards need — with the first-round pick? No.
Then again, maybe Keim’s claim of clarity is a smokescreen. Hey, you never know.
Tags: draft, Scouting combine, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 9 Comments »
It was inevitable, probably, that Steve Keim was asked about the future of running back Andre Ellington and whether he would be the “featured” running back. This has been covered many times, and Keim answered it no different today.
“When you say featured back, I don’t know that there are many featured backs in the NFL,” Keim said. “Adrian Peterson, those types of guys. Most teams use a platoon of backs and that would probably be no different than us. Andre, the way he’s built, is body type, is more in line with Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles. His speed and acceleration, his movement skills, that’s his strength.
“To say you’re going to play him 25 to 35 snaps, pounding the ball between the tackles, you’re probably leaving yourself open to injuries. So any time, we can take a young man like him, add some weight without losing his speed and movement skills, I think you’re doing yourself a favor.”
I do think Keim (below talking to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio) misspoke. I would think Ellington will definitely get 25-to-35 snaps. He will probably get the majority of the offensive snaps at running back. He won’t get 25 to 35 carries, however. He’s going to split time with someone, though. It’ll probably be Stepfan Taylor. It still in theory could be Ryan Williams (more on that later.) Maybe Rashad Mendenhall comes back. But Ellington, even if he as expected builds on his 199-pound frame and gets stronger, is going to share time. That’s Keim’s philosophy and it’s Bruce Arians’ philosophy.
– Keim, who long ago dismissed the Larry Fitzgerald-to-the-Patriots trade rumors, seemed to have a one-liner ready when asked about it today:
“I was trying to find someone to fire,” Keim said. “Because they never called me.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) February 18, 2014
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Bruce Arians, NFL, NFL Combine, Steve Keim
Posted in Since1898 | 2 Comments »
It’s that time of year again — the Scouting combine begins this week, the unofficial beginning of the 2014 season. I and a few of my azcardinals.com cohorts leave for Indianapolis tomorrow, with media access beginning Thursday. Cardinals GM Steve Keim will be at the podium Thursday morning (11:30 Indy time) and coach Bruce Arians will go Friday morning (10:15 Indy time.)
As we did last year, I will host a pair of short video chats with each man while in Indy, asking questions from the fans. If you’d like to submit a question, you can do so in the comments below, you can submit it via Twitter using the hashtag #CardsCombine or you can email me at email@example.com. Make sure you specify for whom the question is intended.
Speaking of questions, I will host a pre-combine chat today at 1 p.m. The link is available by clicking here. Feel free to stop by and ask whatever as we are about to head hip-deep into free agency in early March.
As for Indy, it’ll be 57 degrees (allegedly) on Thursday, a somewhat surprising turn of events considering how it usually is this time of year. The interview portion starts Thursday while the on-field (and on NFL Network stuff) starts full bore on Saturday. The draft becomes the focus for a week or so, before backing off for the free agency portion of the offseason. Remember, the draft is later this year — May 8-10 — so there will be plenty of time to think about and dissect the draft. For those wondering, the players officially can return to the voluntary offseason program April 21. It’ll be interesting to see what the roster looks like by then.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, Scouting combine, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »
The twitter question was straightforward, not unlike many I get: What are the chances Karlos Dansby re-signs with the Cardinals? The answer is, right now, you can’t answer. (It’s kind of like the question about what position the Cardinals will draft with their first pick. You can’t say. Not even the Cards can.)
Free agency comes down to, really, two things: Leverage and money. The money a player can get is directly proportional to the amount of leverage he has. Sometimes, that’s easy to figure out. Usually, it’s a little more complicated than that, because both the team and player like to play a little poker so they can get the best deal they can. (Agent Jack Bechta wrote a fascinating piece on how free agency works.)
Sometimes, teams really don’t want a player to reach unrestricted free agency because you never know who is going to swoop in and wow a player with a unreal deal. And the reality is, if a player does reach unrestricted status it usually means one of three things (or some combination of the three): Either the team doesn’t want the player anymore, the team’s cap situation won’t allow the team to make a competitive offer, or the player has overestimated his worth in the market/team has underestimated it.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim has said the team has already made offers to some of the team’s pending free-agents-to-be. At this point, only punter Dave Zastudil has re-upped. What does that mean for a guy like Dansby? No way to know for sure. I think Dansby wants to return and the Cardinals definitely want him back. But it really isn’t that surprising that Dansby could hit the open market. He was admittedly disappointed at being cut by Miami last year and then the interest he got from other teams. He is hoping his big season translates into a bigger offer but it’s not like he was coming off a poor season in Miami in 2012.
So he will try and figure out if he can get a substantially better deal elsewhere. All things being equal, I think Dansby sticks around. But with him and all these free agents, if you think you can improve on your contract offer by getting to March 11 and the start of free agency, you’d do it, right? I mean, you can’t get injured anymore, so there is really nothing stopping you. Then again, there is an element of a game of chicken here. If a team has a backup plan in place and you drag your feet too long, whatever interest there might be could dry up.
The Cardinals and Keim worked this dance expertly last offseason. That’s how they got Dansby and Eric Winston and John Abraham and others. And it will make for a fascinating journey as the Scouting combine comes this week and free agency arrives around the corner.
Tags: free agency, Karlos Dansby, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 36 Comments »