A lot happened over six years since Levi Brown first showed up, not the least of which being the Cardinals actually released Brown — which felt like the end of Brown’s time in Arizona — only to have the two sides decide to continue their marriage. That made some sense at the time, because then-offensive line coach Russ Grimm was a Levi fan and the Cards still needed a left tackle. But Grimm is gone now and a new staff, a new regime, finally decided to cut ties with Brown.
Yet it’s hard to escape the fact that Brown was always going to be linked to Adrian Peterson, the running back who is headed to the Hall of Fame and who was a consideration for the Cards. Brown was picked fifth, Peterson seventh. That part of the Brown narrative, while noteworthy, seems ancient and irrelevant to me at this point — the man was released once already, so I think the point was already made — but obviously, he will always be that guy for this fan base.
(Looking back at the newspaper/internet clips from that draft, Peterson was mentioned, but there was no outrage, locally or nationally, that the Cards picked Brown over Peterson. The Cards also had Edgerrin James at the time. In hindsight, the choice looks terrible. But in the moment, not so much.)
“When you look back at some of these high-round draft picks, they are under the microscope and the bulls-eye is on their chest from Day One,” Cards GM Steve Keim said. “When you don’t live up to expectations from Day One, that’s tough pill to carry. Not only Adrian Peterson, (but linebacker) Patrick Willis was No. 11 that year.”
Those are the examples Keim gives to young scouts these days, mistakes to learn from and grow from. But it was never going to help Brown, whose situation always felt like a more intense version of Calvin Pace. Pace was the pass rusher the Cards settled for instead of taking Terrell Suggs, and that too became an albatross for Pace. Brown tired early on with the Peterson talk, and that was understandable. Of bigger concern was his play, which was shoved further into the spotlight when he moved to the left side.
Brown struggled often. Brown’s play late in 2011 spurred reason for hope, enough so, apparently, that the Cards made sure to bring him back despite releasing him because of his exorbitant rookie contract salary due in 2012. Then he missed all of 2012 with his triceps injury, and the pressure was put back on him as soon as coach Bruce Arians called Brown “elite” at the owners’ meetings.
Arians was basing that on video he had watched. The coach addressed the “elite” comment Wednesday: “The player I saw on that tape was why I made the comment,” Arians said. “Once we started working together with all the offensive line coaches we had, it just wasn’t working out.” It’s hard not to feel that the three sacks Brown gave up in the season opener to the Rams’ Robert Quinn wasn’t ultimately the tipping point.
I have no doubt that had one of the top three tackles in the 2013 draft fallen to No. 7, instead of all being gobbled up by the fourth overall pick, the Cardinals would have taken one. Who knows? The Levi Brown era might have been over much sooner than now. Instead, Brown is traded and the Cards move Bradley Sowell to left tackle. He’ll get his chance, but if a left tackle is staring at the Cards in round one next May, I’m sure they will consider it. The hope is, if they take one, they won’t have a similar roller-coaster ride.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Calvin Pace, Levi Brown, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals have a three-year outlook for their roster, the prism in which the front office and General Manager Steve Keim views the team. That’s how they look at the salary cap, and how they evaluate contracts.
Not surprisingly, the sorting of big contracts that occurred this past offseason, contracts that were put in place before he became GM, will happen again after this season. And Keim thinks the Cards are still an offseason away from being able to get where the Cards want to be.
“There are going to be some tough decisions to be made after the season based on the numbers, just looking at the three-year view,” Keim said on a special edition of the Cardinals Underground podcast. “We will obviously have to make some tough decisions like we did this past year after the season. The one thing fans and other people don’t realize (is) there are certain contracts that bind you and you can’t do anything (with) and you have the dead money factor.
“Once we get to 2015 I feel really good where we are going to be from a salary-cap standpoint.”
Keim made tough decisions this past offseason, jettisoning Adrian Wilson, among many others. He didn’t name names. But the contracts that will likely be under the microscope aren’t hard to narrow down. Big money is owed to offensive linemen Daryn Colledge (with Earl Watford, Nate Potter and Paul Fanaika as cheaper options) and Levi Brown. Darnell Dockett is due a lot of money, although he just had a big three-sack game and dominated. Patrick Peterson is in line for an expensive extension. Larry Fitzgerald and his $18 million salary cap number might have to be reworked. None of this means the Cards have to cut people, but guys might be asked to take pay cuts. There are minefields to maneuver for Keim, and he acknowledged, the Cards are “handicapped to a degree.”
Philosophy-wise, it dovetails with Keim’s thoughts anyway. “I’ve always felt it was more important to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late, because when players get to a certain point in his career and he starts to decline it can have a negative effect on your football team.”
(There’s Keim below, talking to Tyrann Mathieu’s parents before the Saints game. I feel confident Mathieu will not be going anywhere next year.)
The full Cardinals Underground podcast is posted right here.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, salary cap, Steve Keim
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Tags: AZ Cardinals, Instagram, NFL, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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General Manager Steve Keim was on Arizona Sports 620 this morning recapping the game yesterday. Among the things he was asked about, not surprisingly, was the play/situation of left tackle Levi Brown.
“I take it personal because it wasn’t good enough,” Keim said. “It starts with me. It comes down to making sure (offensive coordinator/line coach) Harold Goodwin and (assistant line coach) Larry Zierlein continue to work with him. Technically, there were a lot of issues, whether it was use of hands, playing straight-legged, not moving his feet and I think if you talk to Levi, he’d be the first to tell you it wasn’t good enough.
“That’s an area we obviously need to improve. But I take it personal. I’ve got to do a better job. It starts with me and like I said, there’s no way to sugarcoat it. But there are only so many options. We will continue to look at those moving forward.”
Keim, a former college offensive lineman, said he was generally pleased with the rest of the offensive line play.
Keim was admittedly down because of the loss and said he was “disappointed and frustrated.” He was happy with the play of Carson Palmer — “It was nice to see a real NFL quarterback out there spinning the rock,” he said — and the receiving corps, and thinks the running game was getting better as the game went on. He praised Bruce Arians for his playcalling. On defense, Keim said he was hoping for better tackling and more of a pass rush, although he noted the Rams used a lot of three-step drops and got big gains because of missed tackles. He saw blown coverages too, especially on tight end Jared Cook.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Levi Brown, Steve Keim
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There was no not-playing-tonight list from the Cardinals, probably because it would have been so lengthy. Most starters aren’t playing by design, including QB Carson Palmer. One notable absence: TE Jeff King. Bruce Arians said this was going to be a big game for King and he is not in uniform. I assume it is knee-related. It does not bode well for King’s future, I wouldn’t think.
Only offensive starters were WR Andre Roberts, WR Michael Floyd and TE Jim Dray. Only defensive starters to play were LBs Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley.
General Manager Steve Keim went on the pregame show with Jody Jackson. It’ll be a busy time for him, obviously. He said the Cardinals should be able to pare the roster down to 53 by noon Friday. That will include moving Jonathan Cooper to one of the injured reserve lists.
“The next 24 hours to 48 hours we are going to have a lot of meetings,” Keim said.
Big game for Ryan Williams, although Keim didn’t seem like someone who is ready to cut the running back loose. “We need more consistency,” Keim said. “He’s frustrated, we’re frustrated. … We still think the guy has some ability.”
Keim also said the team has already fielded some calls from other teams about trading for surplus defensive backs. A deal like that would not be a surprise.
Tags: Broncos, Roster, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim
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On the sideline during Wednesday’s practice, while his teammates practiced and Ryan Williams was sitting out yet another session, he had an extended discussion with General Manager Steve Keim. At that point, the running back had missed every practice since July 28. The next day — today — Williams was back on the field.
Williams, noting that the discussion was after the decision was made to have Williams return to practice Thursday, said it was “kind of a pep talk.”
“Me and Steve, we have a really, really good relationship,” Williams said. “You know the business side of things and the political side of things and all that, but I can honestly say, anything that comes out of Steve’s mouth, I believe.
“He was the one, when I came here on my (pre-draft) visit in April a couple years back, I remember vividly, he was like, ‘Hey, we really think you might be picked in the first round but if not, we have a pick at 38, and if you don’t go before then, you’ll be the pick at 38,’ ” Williams added. “People talk, but I was picked 38th, Ever since then, me and Steve have had a close relationship. So it was kind of a pep talk.
“He really wanted to see me out there, as well as the coaches and people in the upstairs offices. I’m ready to show what I’ve got. I’ve got a short amount of time to do it. That’s what I’m going to accomplish.”
Keim found Williams again Thursday as practice was getting started, to give him a handshake (pictured below) and some more encouraging words. Williams looked pretty decent during Thursday workout, although he wasn’t pushed much. He could get up to speed running but there was no hitting, and Williams knew that. How he will run knowing guys can start taking shots at his knee — which is what would happen if the plays against the Chargers Saturday.
But Williams had just said Monday he was feeling a “sharp pain” in his knee often — even getting out of a chair, for instance — and anyone feeling that discomfort wouldn’t have looked as comfortable as he did Thursday. Williams said he hadn’t been worried about practice because he had worked out enough Wednesday to know how it would feel. It’s a start. I’m sure Keim would like to keep around a former second-rounder who, even with all his injury problems, still has promise — if he can stay on the field.
– The injury list, as coach Bruce Arians promised, was short Thursday: WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion), T Joe Caprioglio (foot) and QB Caleb TerBush (undisclosed). LB Dan Giordano (toe) remains on the PUP list.
Tags: Ryan Williams, Steve Keim
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Bruce Arians sees a lot of positives about playing Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. They play a version of the Tampa Two thanks to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a zone that forces different decision-making than the quarterbacks have been making thus far. They feature a four-man defensive front, which the Cards do not see in practice. These are all things the Cards need to work on in preseason game No. 2.
But it’s also a game against Cowboys, which, preseason or not, tends to bring with it a different vibe than other games. When you hear guys like Jonathan Cooper talking about nerves, it seems to me playing against Dallas doesn’t do much to help – especially knowing it’s a nationally televised game on NFL Network (which will be blacked out locally I believe, because ABC-15 has the game here.)
This, however, is where I’d think one of the biggest benefits of holding training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium comes into play. Usually, the team hasn’t even been to the stadium yet, or maybe had a brief walkthrough the night before. But all these new players – rookies and otherwise – know UoP like the back of their hand now. They are there almost every day, dressing in the locker room and playing football on the field. There will be no newness to it whatsoever. As a player, they aren’t going to be any more comfortable than they already are.
– Arians said he plans to play his starters about 20 plays but also doesn’t want to have them play the entire first half. My guess is that their performance will dictate some of that, at least offensively. Arians was not happy with the number of points the Cards scored last week and that will be something to watch.
– General Manager Steve Keim, on Thursday night’s Big Red Rage, said Arians “has a few tricks up his sleeve for the fans on Saturday.” Hmm. Any chance the Patrick Peterson-at-receiver gets unveiled? Regardless, something to look forward to in the home opener.
– With Tyrann Mathieu starting at free safety, he may just be limited to those 20 plays. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they extend Mathieu a little with the second unit. With Jonathon Amaya already nursing a knee injury, the Cards are thinner at safety with Rashad Johnson down and it’s not like Mathieu doesn’t need the reps. Keim said Mathieu didn’t want to come out of the game last week in Green Bay.
– Here’s the reality of camp and fighting for jobs, too. Keim said the powers-that-be “probably have 10 tough discussions” coming on who was going to make the roster. “The rest are set in stone.” Do the math, and a lot of guys are already out of it before a second preseason game is even played.
– There are a lot of guys who need to make some inroads after injuries. CB Jamell Fleming and WR Robert Gill are two that come to mind. Arians hasn’t really made a secret out of the fact guys fall behind when they are hurt. When you are fighting to make the team, you can’t afford hiccups.
– Speaking of injuries, Keim was noting how guard Daryn Colledge came back “on a fractured leg” to fend off Paul Fanaika. Colledge was put right back with the first unit when he returned to practice this week.
– One player to watch is kicker Jay Feely. Feely had a good season last year and he is very dependable. But he did miss a long field goal last week and his leg doesn’t always boom kickoffs. Like most positions, Arians isn’t going to just give a guy the job. Finding an upgrade may be tough, but that doesn’t mean the Cards wouldn’t look.
– Do not forget the new bag policy is in place. Go here to read about all the details.
– Paid final respects to former Arizona Republic writer Jim Gintonio this morning. He was a good man and I hope he rests in peace. Go here or here or here to read those more eloquent about Gintonio the man than I.
– Reports from Dallas are that quarterback Tony Romo will get about 15 plays himself.
A day game in the preseason. Something different.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Cowboys, Daryn Colledge, Jamell Fleming, Jay Feely, Jonathan Cooper, Paul Fanaika, Robert Gill, Roster, Steve Keim, Tony Romo, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Big Red Rage, Calais Campbell, Cardinals, Steve Keim
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Bo Jackson, Cardinals, Deion Sanders, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim
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General Manager Steve Keim talked about the organization’s ability to stay patient with certain offseason moves, and that has never been made more clear than the recent signings of tackle Eric Winston and John Abraham. The contract details are now leaking out, and they affirm what had basically been a given — both moves were financially smart for the Cards.
Overthecap.com has all the details here, but here are the basic facts: Winston not only has a $840,000 salary but only a $160,000 signing bonus. He also has a $250,000 roster bonus and a bunch of incentives (likely tied to playing time, which are going to be hit if Winston stays in the starting lineup. That could add another $750,000. Still, $2 million for Winston is a good deal if he is starting. Abraham gets a $1 million salary, a $1 million signing bonus and a $100,000 roster bonus — again, $2.1 million for a solid pass rusher. A good deal. (Abraham is scheduled to make $2.5M in salary next season plus possible escalators and none of it is guaranteed.)
Again, the Cards end up with good players at the right price and the flexibility to move on in 2014 if need be. Keim will stay proactive with their players on short-term deals. “We have a lot of guys who are on one-year deals who we’ll need to actively approach,” Keim said, “and try and get long-term deals done with them and reward them like we have talked about.”
According to the latest salary cap report, the Cards still have $7.8M in salary cap space. I’m not sure that yet includes Jonathan Cooper’s estimated $2.6M cap number.
Tags: Eric Winston, free agency, John Abraham, salary cap, Steve Keim
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