The Cardinals are moving on from quarterback Brian Hoyer —
it’s not official yet, but it’s coming it’s official now — and that isn’t a big surprise. With a salary due of more than $2 million after getting a RFA tender, Hoyer didn’t make sense as a third-string QB and it didn’t look like he’d jump Drew Stanton, a Bruce Arians favorite, as a backup. It’s obviously good news for Ryan Lindley, who struggled mightily last season when he played as a rookie but still showed some flashes. It doesn’t mean Lindley is a lock to stay — you never know what young QB might fall into the market the Cards would want to jump on — but it’s Lindley for now. The Cardinals will have four QBs on the roster at some point. They did just have a tryout QB in this past weekend in Purdue’s Caleb TerBush.
– Karlos Dansby picked a jersey number and with it, the reality of being a rookie comes into focus. Dansby will wear No. 55, since Daryl Washington has Dansby’s old No. 58. Now, 55 had been issued to fourth-round pick Alex Okafor. Dansby gets what he wants though. So Okafor got No. 57 instead. That was taken, you say? Yes it was, by undrafted rookie linebacker Kenny Demens. Now Demens will wear No. 45, and the pecking order is established in exactly the way you’d think.
– The Cards restructured their front office with some promotions and new scouts. One of the big things to take from it is that the team continues to grow in numbers its scouting staff like it has with the coaches. Another step forward for General Manager Steve Keim as he reshapes the football side of the building.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton, Karlos Dansby, Kenny Demens, Ryan Lindley, scouts, Steve Keim
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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
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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
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Good information (and not altogether surprising) info from Peter King this morning about third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu. There has been much said about the risk the Cards have taken to draft him after his drug problems. Even GM Steve Keim acknowledged to King “It’s uncharacteristic of our organization to take chances on guys with troubled pasts.” But King makes a great point, and one that should be repeated: In the NFC West, teams like the Rams and the Seahawks seem to not care as much about character concerns when it comes to stockpiling talent. Maybe that’s the price of doing business in what can honestly be called the NFL’s toughest division.
King also reports that Mathieu will receive random drug tests, as many as one a week (which is exactly what Mathieu said would probably happen, which he understood) and that the Cards will include no guaranteed money in his contract. Instead, his money will be delivered with a series of bonuses for sticking around and staying clean, which is the right way to go with a player who has had as many issues as Mathieu has had. If he washes out, it won’t save the loss of a draft pick. But it won’t hamstring the team either on the salary cap or with actual wasted dollars either.
UPDATE: Ian Rapoport reports that Mathieu’s agent — who happens to be Patrick Peterson’s agent — expects the Cards to try and protect themselves in the contract but that he won’t do a deal with no guaranteed money.
UPDATE II: On a Sirius interview Tuesday, Steve Keim said the Cardinals and Mathieu’s agent “are on the same page” with how the contract needs to be done.
Tags: Rams, Seahawks, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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Some quick wrap-up notes after the draft, before I take my neglected sons to dinner:
– The Cardinals, obviously, did not take a quarterback. Keim admitted he had talked long about about subscribing to the theory he wanted to draft a QB every year. “I really still believe in that,” Keim said. So what happened?
“The difference is that our two draft choices came through free agency with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton,” Keim said. “So we didn’t feel like that was a necessary move that we needed to make. Quite frankly, the way the board shook out, the quarterback at no point was the top player on our board. So it made the decision quite easy.”
That means Brian Hoyer and his potential $2 million salary is safe for now. I’d think a trade might still be possible for the Cards, but post-draft, it’d be tough. Of course, if the Cards were to sign an interesting undrafted rookie QB, that could change.
– Speaking of the undrafted rookies, that list will grow into the evening and names will leak. (I won’t be keeping constant watch; the official list will likely be released Monday.) Already, Oklahoma safeties Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson have tweeted out they are coming to the Cardinals. San Jose State cornerback Ronnie Yell tweeted the same as did Florida A&M defensive lineman Padric Scott. Tony Pauline reports the Cards also got Arizona receiver Dan Buckner. Keim said he expected to sign 15 undrafted rookies.
– The Cardinals want to get another nose tackle/defensive tackle. That didn’t present itself in the draft, so Keim said the Cards will not only look at it among the undrafted rookies but also with veteran free agents and possible cap casualties as we head toward training camp.
– The weekend gave the Cards some options at return men. They have Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Andre Ellington and maybe Stepfan Taylor.
– As for the overall haul Saturday? It’s always wait-and-see for me. I can’t get very emotional because it’s impossible to know. On the surface, I like getting the speed receiver Ryan Swope assuming he can stay healthy. I like adding fresh bodies to the running back room. I definitely like the possibilities of interviewing tight end D.C. Jefferson, assuming he can prove he can play. I hope Okafor can do some things as a pass rusher because that’s still a segment of the Cards’ defense that leaves some question marks. But that’s enough for now. We have a whole offseason to analyze.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, D.C. Jefferson, Dan Buckner, draft, Javon Harris, Padric Scott, quarterbacks, Ronnie Yell, Ryan Swope, Steve Keim, Tony Jefferson
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Well OK then.
So I was thinking it would have been interesting — very — had the Cardinals taken Manti Te’o in the second round. Instead, they traded out of the pick because they were looking at another inside linebacker in Kevin Minter, could get him later and get an extra pick, and it turned out they weren’t as close to seeking Te’o as I might’ve thought. But hey, the Cardinals made up for it by going with the NFL Draft’s other co-winner of the “huge story leading into the draft” player — Tyrann Mathieu.
There is little question Mathieu is a risk. And that’s probably an understatement. But the Cardinals know that. They have Mathieu’s mentor, Patrick Peterson, in the same locker room (and I would bet their lockers will be adjoining when all is said and done). Certainly, Mathieu can help. Bruce Arians talked about the ability for Mathieu to essentially be a secondary swingman, a free safety/nickel corner/cornerback that could stay on the field in all situations. It just feels like an all-or-nothing choice: He’s either going to be a dynamic star, or he’ll wash out because of his personal problems.
– It was fitting, I suppose, on the day LaRod Stephens-Howling officially found a new home with the Steelers, that his famous emotional conference call after he was drafted was surpassed by the tears flowing in Mathieu’s call. I mean, the Hyphen only got choked up for an answer or two. Mathieu was so emotional I wasn’t sure at first we were going to be able to understand him. I can’t blame him.
– The addition of Mathieu, with his skill set, may seal the end of the Josh Cribbs possibility. Arians at the owners meetings even talked about adding Cribbs and how great it would be to put him and Peterson back together on punt returns to mess with the opposition. Friday, Arians talked about Mathieu and Peterson doing it. I asked GM Steve Keim if Cribbs was now off the radar. “That’s something we have already explored,” Keim said. “At this point, I really can’t get any further into it, so I will leave it at that.” Watching Keim say it, it sure didn’t sound like Cribbs was coming.
– Kind of feel bad for Minter. His arrival got overshadowed quickly.
– Oh, we still have another day of the draft? Yes we do. And the Cards still have five players to take. Those first two picks in the fourth round are interesting. Now with two choices, I could see the Cards taking a flyer on one of the quarterbacks. Could they pull the trigger on Matt Barkley? I could see it. That extra pick is gravy; They were going to take Minter in the second anyway. So maybe Barkley or Ryan Nassib or Tyler Bray are in play. People loved matching Barkley and the Cardinals at No. 7 way back at the Scouting combine (which was foolish) but a fourth-round pick — one of two — could be palatable.
– The Cards likely will take a running back at some point. Johnathan Franklin is available. I know people bring up Marcus Lattimore and it is a great and inspirational story. But I know I wouldn’t touch a guy who already has blown out two ACLs, especially a running back.
– I still expect the Cards to at least think about adding a pass rusher project tomorrow, and a pure speed deep threat receiver.
Tags: draft, Josh Cribbs, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Manti Te'o, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 64 Comments »
The Cardinals may have been high on Jonathan Cooper the whole time but his name really didn’t get linked to the Cardinals in a strong sense until the last few days. His name popped up in the mocks more often, and even Cooper admitted he had noticed. Even if he didn’t really want to.
“I really tried not to look at the mock drafts and things of that nature,” Cooper said after the Cards took the guard seventh overall. “When people would say that, I’d be like, ‘It doesn’t mean anything, that’s just the media.’ So I was shocked when they called me.”
Avoiding mocks in this day and age? Not so much. “For the most part I did, but my dad was kind of big on it, so he’d send me the links every now and then.”
It’s probably a good idea, to be honest. Skip the noise and wait to see what happens on draft day.
– Cooper is going to start. Who does he replace? On the left side is Daryn Colledge, who could make the case he was the Cards’ best offensive lineman last year (although in context that may not mean as much given the line’s struggles as a whole.) On the right side is Adam Snyder, who played with injuries last season but had his issues. If I had to guess, Cooper will replace Snyder. And there is a chance someone can still be released, with the cap hit designated as a “June 1″ cut and spread over two seasons. We’ll see how it plays out.
– Cooper is familiar with the area, at least. He spent the last three months training at Athletes Performance Institute in Phoenix.
– GM Steve Keim must’ve really loved Cooper. Keim is, after all, an North Carolina State alum and Cooper went to North Carolina. “The hardest part of the selection was taking a Tar Heel,” Keim said. Said Cooper, “He made sure he let me know that on the phone call when he was telling me I was drafted.”
– Where to next? The Cardinals have the seventh pick of the second round, and with their two picks Friday they obviously could go in a lot of different directions. When we look at need, safety and pass rusher remain at the top of the list. Inside linebacker? Yes, I could see that too. The Cards did sign free agents like Alexander and Brinkley, but again, the idea was to avoid being forced into a pick.
– That said, going on Mike Mayock’s positional rankings, here’s what could be there for the Cards in the second round: Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien (wow, two Jonathans in two picks?), LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter and Texas A&M DE-who-could-be-OLB Demontre Moore. There are others too, and frankly, most years, it seems like the Cards’ second-round pick comes as a surprise. I have no idea how the grades go, and like Thursday, it’s all going to come down to who goes in those top
six five picks.
– Yes, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley remain on the board. Well, since E.J. Manuel is the only QB gone the Cards could have a lot of QB options. I do not see the Cards going QB in the second round. The third? Maybe. They won’t waste a pick just to take a QB. If you don’t see some sliver of special in a QB, I don’t know why you’d burn a pick. Especially with Carson Palmer in place.
– I don’t know if Eddie Lacy will be there in seven picks. Would I take the running back? Yes, but with a caveat. If I have guys graded high at those other positions (safety, pass rusher) I am passing on the running back. If Lacy is standing out on the board, OK. But I’d rather not spend on a back that, by many accounts, isn’t necessarily special. It’s possible you could have run for 700 yards behind that Alabama offensive line. I’m not saying Lacy won’t be good. I’m just saying I would have other priorities.
– Before anyone asks again about Tyrann Mathieu, is he a third-round possibility? I could see it. His relationship with Patrick Peterson helps. The Cards could use a playmaker in the secondary like that. But I don’t know if I’d say it’s likely. Especially with an early third-rounder.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Jonathan Cooper, Kevin Minter, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 54 Comments »
Had a chance to talk to General Manager Steve Keim the day before the draft one last time. Here are the highlights and you can take it for what it’s worth, especially knowing Keim is ultra-aware of the smokescreens. But a couple of things really rang true, especially since – without knowing how the Cardinals graded prospects — it doesn’t give away anything:
– The most important thing is Keim’s philosophy on picking through the Top 120 board. Keim has always been a proponent of going with elite over all else (how often is that possible, right?) and while sometimes that dovetails with biggest need, sometimes it doesn’t. For example, if Luke Joeckel was there at No. 7, I think that would match both elite and need. Joeckel isn’t going to be there at 7. Who is? We don’t know. But Keim knows through which prism the Cards will make the pick.
“Everyone is putting us with an offensive lineman,” Keim said. “One of my stongest philosophy goes back to we are not going to leave an elite player on the board if it’s that elite player versus an offensive lineman we think is (just) a good player.
“We have seven players we are extremely comfortable with and not all are offensive linemen. The decision has been made because we have already talked about it. If it’s a safety or a pass rusher or linebacker, that is a decision we have already talked about and we’re not going to force the pick just because everyone thinks our offensive line has to improve. In the long run, in two years when needs change, you’ve made a huge mistake.”
I know that will bother some out there. But just because they could pass on an offensive lineman in the first round doesn’t mean they will pass on one in the second. Or third.
– Every draft, a team picking not first (and in the Cards’ case, seventh) has to wait to see how it plays out. Most years, however, you can guesstimate pretty well who those top five or six players will be. This year, it feels like there are 10 or 12 guys who could end up in those top six picks, making things a little more difficult to anticipate.
“There is an element of the unknown that is different from years past,” Keim said. “There have been times when you have been able to map out the first six, seven maybe even top 10 picks. This year it is all over the place. This is really the first day I have been able to come up for air, and I have had my television on in the background. It’s probably the worst thing I could have done. The amount of misinformation, in particular when people talk about our pick, it’s amazing.”
– A big reason for the unknown? Keim said he’s never seen a first round with so many projected picks that are projections — guys who just started playing the game or just started playing their position — yet could go in the top 15. Tackle Lane Johnson falls into that category, for instance. Or defensive end Ziggy Ansah. The pass rushers in particular at the top of the board are hard to get a full read on.
“Look at the pass rushers, other than Jarvis Jones, which one of those guys have elite stats?” Keim said.
– Every team has taken and has made preliminary trade calls by now, and the Cardinals are no different. Anything that would happen to trade down would happen when the Cards are on the clock. Trading up (as I’ve mentioned before) is highly doubtful. Not only would a player have to be there the Cards really wanted — and I believe Keim when he says they are comfortable with their top seven — but the compensation to move up would “have to be minimal.” I don’t see a second-rounder as minimal, which would be what it would take to move up much at all.
“We’re not in a position to give away picks,” Keim said.
– So that’s that. The Cards and everyone else will make their picks tomorrow night and we’ll see how much this all matches up with what happens. Certainly it feels pretty wide open. I still think it will be an offensive lineman, but I don’t know which one. If there isn’t a consensus on who the top pick is going to be, what chance is there to guess at 7?
Tags: draft, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 56 Comments »
So, let’s say the top three offensive tackles are off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. If the team were to go offensive line still, it would have to be a guard, someone like Chance Warmack (below) or Jonathan Cooper. Some say that can’t happen, it shouldn’t happen. A guard in the top 10? Nonsense. Guard is one of those positions you can fill later. Guard is one of those positions where you can get a Pro Bowler in the fourth round, or turn a tackle who couldn’t pan out into a top-notch guard.
Or, is it something where if you think he’s going to be a Pro Bowler for many years, you grab him when you can. That’s the philosophy of Cards GM Steve Keim, at least when he has talked about taking a guard high. Now all you have to do is figure out if that is indeed how Keim and his braintrust in the draft room see a Warmack or a Cooper.
Watching the ESPN blogger mock play out this morning, Mike Sando — with the tackles off the board, as well as pass rusher Dion Jordan — took Warmack for the Cardinals (page 89 in the blog). ESPN in-house scout Matt Williamson loved the pick, noting that he thinks the Cards need a guard more than a tackle. Williamson called Cooper and Warmack the best two players, period, in this draft, so maybe the “no-guard-early” talk shouldn’t matter as much this year. And maybe it underscores the overall talent level at the top part of the draft. There’s no question you could probably plug Warmack in right away, likely taking Adam Snyder’s spot (and letting Snyder be a backup for all five positions).
I understand both sides of the argument. I get why people would say don’t take a guard that early, especially when someone at a position of greater impact can be had. But I also understand why you would grab one if he can be a Steve Hutchinson-type. It again comes down to the draft board, the grades and who is still available. This is certainly a scenario the Cards could be faced with Thursday. Personally, I don’t see why, if you believe in a player, you’d let the position make you hesitate to take him.
(And all that said, I could see the Cards trying to trade down if possible faced with this scenario.)
Tags: Chance Warmack, draft, Jonathan Cooper, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 51 Comments »
There are plenty of realistic scenarios where none of the top three rated offensive tackles are left on the draft board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. It’s been suggested by some that the Cards could think about trading up in that situation. I just don’t see it. I didn’t before, and I don’t now after GM Steve Keim said “I’m not in the business of giving away picks.”
Smartly, Keim isn’t going to rule anything out. But moving up from 7 is going to be too expensive, even if it was just a spot or two. And frankly, the Cards can’t afford to give up a second or a third right now when those guys have a chance to turn into starters on a team that needs to fill holes. (Mike Jurecki reported the Cards have discussed the possibility of trading for disgruntled franchised Chiefs tackle Branden Albert, but I don’t see that either. If the money he wants on a long-term deal is scaring the Dolphins away, I don’t see how it makes more sense here.)
So maybe the Cards don’t trade up, or trade for Albert. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t trade. One thing I can definitely see is Keim willing to trade down, especially in this draft. He may not want to give away picks, but stockpiling them I’m sure is of interest, especially for a draft guy like him. Of course, there has to be someone on the board at 7 someone feels the need to come up and get, which could be a long shot. And who, exactly are the Cards going to seek? Offensive line and pass rusher remain the most obvious choices, and there are a handful that have been discussed not only top 10 but into the 11-15 range that make sense.
I do see Keim being aggressive in such draft moves, willing to move up and back if necessary. That second round pick, in fact, could be interesting in that regard. In the first round, though, I’m thinking back and not forward — if the Cards move at all.
Tags: Branden Albert, Chiefs, Dolphins, draft, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »