The three quarterbacks of the Cardinals were at the facility today, doing a workout, hanging out and prepping for when the team can officially get started with new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris next week. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, a cohesive group all last season, looked like it again and made me think of something Bruce Arians told me a couple of months ago. “You have a (quarterbacks) room, (and) if you have a starter and you know who the backup is and you have a third guy who fits in the room, you don’t fool with it,” Arians said. “It’s too delicate of a learning place to fool with it.”
In the context of what the Cardinals might do in the draft, it’s a notable belief. Palmer said today he would understand if the Cardinals picked a quarterback in the draft. He’s not getting any younger, and the Cards would like to have a long-term answer at the position. What team wouldn’t? Arians is a major part of the draft meetings and he of course will have input on the top 120 board. But GM Steve Keim will have the final call, and like any GM viewing the big picture — which Keim most certainly does — settling on a young quarterback would be nice, to say the least.
Is there a guy in this draft worth it? Keim might think so, but he won’t be saying, wisely. Draft meetings are going on about 25 feet from me but there’s no way to know what this group of QBs will be graded by this scouting staff and front office. One thing that is interesting in this situation: Palmer is going to be due an extension after this season, and there is a large difference between paying a starting quarterback what Palmer would command (he’s getting $9 million this season) and what a guy under a rookie contract would cost. I don’t think that’s a determining factor (I don’t think the Cardinals would have a problem with Palmer as 2015 starting QB, assuming his level of play remains solid) but it is something to consider.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, draft, Drew Stanton, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley, Steve Keim
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The draft, in a “normal” year, would have begun April 24. It instead has been pushed back two weeks, to May 8. But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t have some significant draft discussion the night of April 24 — and the fans will have a chance to be part of it.
That Thursday night, which has usually wed the draft party with the opening of the Big Red Rib & Music Festival on the Great Lawn outside University of Phoenix Stadium, there will be a live TV special shot during the Cards’ “Spring Tailgate” event. Admission is free. Gates open at 5 p.m., and at 7 p.m., a draft preview shown on Fox Sports Arizona will take place with fans as the studio audience. The show, hosted by Paul Calvisi and Ron Wolfley, will feature team president Michael Bidwill, GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians, along with safety Tyrann Mathieu and new left tackle Jared Veldheer.
Part of the show will be questions from the fans, including some sought through social media. So, using hashtag #CardsTailgate, you can send questions over social (via Twitter, for instance) and some of those will be used in the broadcast. It’ll be two weeks before the draft, so I’m not sure anyone is going to be giving away any trade secrets, but it will be entertaining and a chance to get up close and fairly personal with key Cardinals’ personnel.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jared Veldheer, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cards have made a couple of trades in the past year that included draft picks and possible draft picks, but as of right now, the team’s selections are pretty straightforward: The 20th pick in each of the first six rounds, with no seventh round choice after it was dealt to Oakland in the Carson Palmer trade.
– First round (20th overall)
– Second round (52nd)
– Third round (84th)
– Fourth (120th)
– Fifth (160th)
– Sixth (196th)
As GM Steve Keim has proven, he will make trades. Given the six choices, any Cardinals trade is probably going to be to move down instead of up, in order to gain an extra choice or two. Last year, wheeling and dealing gained the Cardinals eight total picks, dealing down (and still picking up LB Kevin Minter in the second round) and ending up with bonus fourth- and sixth-round picks. Those netted them Earl Watford and Andre Ellington, and if Watford ends up starting this year, that could be some very sound trading. (Ellington alone might make this true.)
Tags: Andre Ellington, draft, Earl Watford, Steve Keim
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, NFL, Pro Football Talk, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals’ initial foray into free agency was offense-heavy. Not a big shock, since that side of the ball need the most work. As the draft approaches, however, the focus may just shift. Because even though Bruce Arians is an offensive guy, GM Steve Keim has a belief that the good teams in this salary cap work have a dominant side of the ball. And the Cardinals — with the No. 1 rush defense and the sixth-ranked defense overall — aren’t in that realm on the offensive side of the ball.
“Seattle was a dominant defense with a solid offense,” Keim said. “Denver was a dominant offense with an OK defense. In our situation, we are closer to having a dominant defense. So I think you have to continue to throw gas on the fire. Continue to build the strength.”
That’s why cornerback Antonio Cromartie shot to the top of the to-do list after he was cut by the Jets. The move surprised the Cards — they did not think New York would let him go — but rallied to understand the situation and aggressively court him. It was only a one-year contract, but the team proved last year with linebacker Karlos Dansby that could be a golden type of situation. There are still spots defensively that need shoring up (like the need for a safety or inside linebacker depth), and there is also Keim’s quest to get longer and more athletic with his 3-4 defensive ends and the pass rushers outside. The draft could very well provide those things. But when you start looking at the top end talent on the roster, it is the defense that claims many of the spots, whether it is Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell or Daryl Washington. (Or even, as Ron Wolfley points out, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who fortunately for the Cards did not get a head coaching job.)
The offense isn’t going to be ignored — “We know we have areas we need to fix and it certainly needs to catch up with the defense,” Keim said — but a defensive juggernaut is the first goal. It’s what has put the Seahawks and 49ers into the stratosphere they are in, and why the Cards returned to relevance last season.
Tags: 49ers, Antonio Cromartie, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, defense, draft, Patrick Peterson, Seahawks, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles
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The Cardinals have filled multiple holes in the process of free agency. And that is exactly the point. Building through the draft is the ultimate priority, but usually you aren’t going to have enough picks in one offseason to do that in the draft alone. So GM Steve Keim found a left tackle, a tight end, an extra running back, depth at center/guard, a speed receiver, a starting cornerback. The point? So that when the Cards are picking at 20 come May 8, they aren’t feeling forced to take a left tackle. Or speed receiver. Or anything else.
“As we get further along in this process over the next couple of years, I would like to minimize how much we do in free agency,” Keim said. “Our whole goal as an organization is to be able to go in, whether the 20th pick, the 52nd pick or the 84th, whatever the pick is, that we can sit and look in the mirror and say we are taking the best player available and the guy who helps the Cardinals the most. I think, through, free agency, we’ve afforded ourselves to do that.”
Keim would like playmakers in the draft — who doesn’t — and after scoring with Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Ellington last season, the Cards have done that of late. It will of course be better if they come at certain positions. For instance, a playmaking safety who can cover tight ends would be nice. An edge rusher who can get to the quarterback. Needs don’t completely disappear, even with an effective free-agent period.
Tags: draft, free agency, Steve Keim
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Antonio Cromartie was asked about moving into the NFC West. “Oh, I love it,” he said. “The competition is here.” Obviously, the division sets a high bar for the Cardinals this offseason. But General Manager Steve Keim isn’t going to get giddy about free agency improvements.
“I don’t want to step out on a limb and say that we’re there yet,” Keim said. “As a perfectionist, I think we all look at things and would like to be a little deeper in certain positions.”
To recap, the Cardinals have added a starting cornerback (Cromartie), a starting left tackle (Jared Veldheer), a probable starting tight end (John Carlson), a speed third receiver and return man (Ted Ginn), a potential replacement for Rashard Mendenhall (Jonathan Dwyer) and an interior offensive lineman who has been a starter (Ted Larsen.)
Cap space is shrinking. After Cromartie’s deal is worked in, the Cards should have only about $4 million of space left. There is more coming after June 1 when the Colledge release is figured in (and I was wrong on how that is considered. I knew the cap hit had to be carried through the actual June 1 date; I didn’t realize Colledge’s entire original cap hit for 2014 stays on the books until then. So that’s more than $7 million, although it means the Cards will clear about $5M in cap space come June — before they’ll sign any rookies.)
But there will be more moves of some sort. Now, roster building will be about bargains now for Keim. There are still spots that he’d like to address, whether there or in the draft:
– depth at defensive end
– depth at outside linebacker
– “length” at both positions
– depth at inside linebacker
Depth at inside linebacker is the call because the Cards are counting on, not surprisingly, 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter. “We’ll find out what Kevin Minter is made of,” Keim said. “Kevin is a guy that we drafted in the second round and is going to replace Karlos Dansby. He is in the audition stage. He’s got to prove that he is the guy that we thought he was coming out of college at LSU.”
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jared Veldheer, John Carlson, Jonathan Dwyer, salary cap, Steve Keim, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen
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It’s been well reported by now former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is visiting the Cardinals. Kent Somers reported Cromartie will stay until Friday, which was the original plan. Negotiations are ongoing. Will he sign? I don’t know. I’m guessing there is a chance the Cards have at last set parameters about what they want to offer, and Cromartie has to decide if that is good enough. GM Steve Keim and his group spend a lot of time breaking down their free agent targets and what they are worth. They go into every negotiation with a player with a number in mind. I don’t see why Cromartie is any different.
The Cardinals need and want to add a cornerback. Cromartie might be at or near the top of the list, but I’m sure he’s not the only one on the list. As Keim has said a few times, they will extend offers they think make sense. If the player decides it doesn’t work, the Cards move on. Sometimes it can be revisited — I think Karlos Dansby was in that boat last offseason — but the Cards and Keim won’t be rash and they won’t panic into spending more than they should or want to.
If he did sign, you’d think he’d drop right into the other starting spot with Patrick Peterson. Reserves would be Tyrann Mathieu, Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers, and there is still the draft and guys you could look at later in free agency. If he doesn’t sign, there are others on Keim’s board. (No, other than the much speculated upon Mike Jenkins, I have not heard any names.) Cromartie would be a nice addition, but it’ll be on the Cards’ terms if it happens.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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Free agency churns on today with the news — confirmed by General Manager Steve Keim on Sirius XM NFL radio — that wide receiver Ted Ginn is visiting the Cardinals today. Ginn makes a ton of sense for the Cards, assuming Keim gets his price. He is fast, he can stretch the field and he is an expert kickoff return man. You aren’t adding Calvin Johnson or even Mike Wallace, but Ginn would serve a need and seems to have improved on the drops that have plagued him from time to time.
(Free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who still is playing pretty well, is also visiting the Cards. The Cards need a cornerback with Antoine Cason and Javier Arenas both free agents. Cromartie would be an interesting upgrade at the position and could really make this FA period impressive for Keim. Again.)
Ginn’s visit got me thinking about asking Bruce Arians at the Scouting combine about what he is looking for in that much-discussed speed receiver. The coach has never made any bones about his desire to have a pass catcher that can take the top off a defense.
“A 40 time is a good measuring stick but sometimes a guy runs a 4.3 in shorts and then plays like a 4.6,” Arians said. “I want a guy who plays the game fast. A guy who runs 4.3 and plays the game 4.3, then you have something special.”
Ginn, when I have seen him, plays 4.3. His hands just haven’t always cooperated. But again, he’d fit a role in two key areas, and that’s important. This could be a big day in Tempe. UPDATE: The Cards signed Ginn to a three-year deal.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bruce Arians, free agency, Steve Keim, Ted Ginn
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Quarterback Carson Palmer was in the building working out Wednesday as Veldheer was arriving and signing. The former and again teammates got a chance to briefly talk in the weight room (pictured below). Palmer gave his own scouting report of Veldheer later on.
“He plays big,” Palmer said. “He’s very difficult to bull rush. He can anchor it down, but he’s quick. For being what looks like 8-feet tall, he moves really well. He moves like a shorter tackle. And he’s a monster in the run game. He mauls people. He’s a big person and he uses all that weight. Lot of power underneath.”
Both Palmer and Veldheer downplayed their previous relationship as a huge factor in Veldheer coming to Arizona, but GM Steve Keim said Palmer did tell him to go after Veldheer when it was clear Veldheer was going to hit free agency. Not that Keim needed encouragement.
– Guess we don’t have to worry about Veldheer staying in the weight room. He is co-owner of a gym in his home state of Michigan called Power Strength. Veldheer said his co-owner Mark Ehnis was praising the knowledge of new Cardinals strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. Sounds like Veldheer will have a willing pupil there.
– Veldheer did miss 11 games last year with a triceps injury, but he said he was back to full strength and Keim quickly shot down a question about concern toward the injury. That was not a factor in the process.
– Funny moment during the Jared Veldheer press conference. Veldheer admitted “a press conference like this is not really my gig” and that’s his reputation — he’s a nice guy but he’s not looking for the spotlight. So when Keim and Bruce Arians sat down immediately after, Keim opened by saying “Bruce and I both agree that press conferences aren’t our gig either.” To which BA quickly quipped, “I love it.” And, for anyone paying attention, he clearly does.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Steve Keim
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