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Keim: Trade talks, but “no reason to panic”

Posted by Darren Urban on November 2, 2015 – 8:16 am

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday. Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said there are always talks going on, but there is “nothing imminent.”

“It’s always tough to pull off a deal,” Keim said Monday during his appearance on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 98.7. Teams often want more than other teams are willing to give up. “We’re in a position where we feel pretty good about our roster,” Keim said. “There is no reason to panic.”

He was asked specifically about finding a pass rusher. Keim noted teams aren’t trading pass rushers (they’re not) unless a) they make too much money for what they are or b) there is another issue off-the-field. That’s what happens. Teams need pass rushers too much to ever want to trade a decent one.

Keim was also asked about possible contract extensions. It was reported Sunday Keim has been talking extension with running back Chris Johnson, which isn’t a surprise (and I’d guess CJ isn’t the only one that the team has talked with about a deal.) But talks don’t mean a deal is close. Sometimes, it just means the team and the agent trade ideas of what they are looking for. There are a lot of variables that go into this.

“To get a deal done, it needs to be beneficial to both team and player,” Keim said. “Sometimes that’s difficult to do.”

When a player is eight games away (plus playoffs?) from unrestricted free agency and the open market, there are reasons to want to wait. And the Cardinals want to make sure their deals fit the budget and the future plan and all the puzzle pieces that come together for the 2016 roster, and the 2017 roster, etc.

As for the rest of Keim’s thoughts …

— Keim said he is not satisfied with the season given what the Cardinals still have to work on, but “but I feel good about the record. We’re in a pretty good position.” The Cardinals are 6-2, after all.

— Keim praised the “attitude and toughness” of tight end Jermaine Gresham, noting that Gresham is coming into his own. Gresham did make a couple of nice third-down catches Sunday.

— Michael Floyd also had his best game of the year. “With Mike, we were never down on him,” Keim said. Floyd just had to wait for his opportunities with all the weapons the Cardinals have. A quick aside: Floyd was big Sunday with John Brown not playing. We’ll see how they mesh when Brown gets back on the field.

— Keim was happy with the play of rookie wideout J.J. Nelson. The speed is obvious. Keim liked his stop-and-start ability and his precise route-running.

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Barkley and the “QB of the future”

Posted by Darren Urban on September 4, 2015 – 3:05 pm

The odds are that Matt Barkley — who the Cards agreed to trade for Friday — will not develop into a starter. That’s the reality of taking a flier on a guy who never meshed with what Chip Kelly was doing in Philadelphia. But this is a flier with almost no risk, costing a seventh-round pick and only then if Barkley makes the roster for six games. So Barkley is on a six-week tryout and if it doesn’t work, the Cards move on and keep the pick. The Eagles potentially get something for a guy they were going to cut. And Barkley gets a fresh start with a coach who is pretty good with quarterbacks.

But bigger picture, it’s another chance at a QB. It’s kind of funny, fans are always asking when the Cardinals are at least going to make an effort to find a future QB, a guy for post-Palmer. Then a trade like this happens and so many say why? Because if you don’t have a top 10 (or even top five) pick, this is how you find a future QB — you buy a QB lottery ticket. You go after a Logan Thomas in the fourth round or trade a seventh-rounder for a Barkley, and you hope. Sure, when the numbers are called on the TV Wednesday night, they probably aren’t going to match. You go buy another ticket. Sometimes, the numbers will match enough, and you get that $500 (or in this case, a backup QB.)

The chances of hitting the jackpot is slim. But the Cardinals have plunked their two bucks down, and we’ll see what that means for Barkley when his numbers come up.

Matt Barkley

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Friday draft aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2015 – 9:26 pm

Day Two is in the books. Some quick notes and thoughts before I call it a night:

— After the trade Friday with the Ravens, the Cardinals have six picks on Saturday. There is a chance they won’t still have six by the time they draft Mr. Irrelevant to end the whole thing. GM Steve Keim said the trades might not be done. He mentioned a trade up possibility twice, so it’s on his mind.

“There are still a lot of guys (left) that Coach and I like,” Keim said. “We’ve had some conversations about going up (in a trade.) We will be active and aggressive. If there is someone we think that can help us, we will certainly make a jump at them.”

— As I noted in my story, Keim had Markus Golden on the brain Friday morning, long before the Cards were on the clock. That doesn’t mean they would’ve taken him no matter what, but they definitely feel good about the pick. Can he turn into James Harrison, as Bruce Arians suggested in who Golden reminded him of, well, we will see.

— The addition of RB David Johnson from Northern Iowa will help, but he’s got a long way to go to battle for the title of best Cardinal to come from Northern Iowa. That happens to be a quarterback who directed the team to the Super Bowl.

— Johnson will be in the mix for kickoff returns. “Yes indeed,” Arians said. “He and anybody else who can catch it,”

— Keim acknowledged the Cards were headed toward taking another offensive lineman Friday because of how their board fell. He made the point that another pass rusher or offensive lineman could end up another pick on Saturday.

— Nice job by Adrian Wilson making the announcement of the Golden pick. “Go Birdgang.” He’s a natural.

Adrian Wilson

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After trade, Cards get OLB Golden in second round

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2015 – 6:09 pm

The Cards got who they wanted plus an extra pick, selecting Missouri outside linebacker Markus Golden in the second round after a deal with the Ravens. Golden had 16.5 sacks the past two seasons with the Tigers, and will be put into the pass rushing mix quickly. The Cards obviously didn’t think as much of Eli Harold, the pass rusher still on the board who many thought would be a Cardinals’ target, but Golden was a guy who GM Steve Keim was talking about in the building first thing Friday morning, so he was clearly a target.

The Cardinals traded down to get an extra pick, sending pick No. 55 to Baltimore for the Ravens’ No. 58 pick plus a fifth-rounder. The Cards now have back-to-back picks in the fifth round and nine total picks in the draft. They still have their third-round pick later tonight.

Markus Golden

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Lacking sacks, Cards blitz for “distruptions”

Posted by Darren Urban on October 29, 2014 – 10:17 am

The Cardinals looked hard for a pass rusher prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline. Nothing materialized. That’s really not surprising. In this league — especially when a team can flip into a playoff contender in one offseason — you just don’t trade decent pass rushers. You need them too much. And if you are willing to trade, you’re probably asking for more than they are worth, because they are at a premium, and a team like the Cardinals can’t just shred their draft options for that.

(Now, if Justin Houston was being offered for a first-round pick, yes, I make that move. I’d think GM Steve Keim would too. But the Justin Houstons of the world aren’t being offered.)

That leaves the Cardinals wanting on the pass rush. Yes, I’d think that will be the top target of the offseason, whether it is through free agency or the draft (or even both.) But the offseason is the offseason. That doesn’t help now.

The Cardinals have only seven sacks in seven games, and two of those are from defensive backs and one is from an inside linebacker. It’s no secret the Cards are blitz-happy out of necessity. It’s the only way they can generate consistent pressure, and it’s been a Todd Bowles staple, with the Cards blitzing about half the time. Would more sacks be welcome? Of course. But Bruce Arians sounds OK with the results so far. The last play Sunday is a great example. The Cardinals brought the blitz. They couldn’t sack Nick Foles — they couldn’t sack him all day, through 62 pass attempts — but it was the heavy pressure up the middle that forced Foles to backpedal and throw off his back foot. Jordan Matthews had been open in the back of the end zone, but the bad throw under pressure gave safety Rashad Johnson just enough time to recover and make sure the pass wasn’t completed.

“The thing we want to do defensively is be disruptive,” Arians said. “I thought we were disruptive (against Philadelphia). We created turnovers. Yardage doesn’t really matter. We want to lead the league in points (allowed) and we want to lead the league in sacks and turnovers. Sacks are the one thing that are obviously down, but there are disruptions there.”

At this time last year, the Cardinals had 19 sacks, en route to 47 on the season. A big part of that was John Abraham’s 11.5, and obviously losing Abraham — when the team had been counting on him to create some of those sacks — has left a mark. It was interesting to see that Marcus Benard is part of the outside linebacker rotation to create pressure, when Benard was one of the guys originally cut to add outside linebacker Thomas Keiser, who has mostly been inactive. Getting Calais Campbell back on the field will help, but it is, as Keim has said, beating a dead horse when talking about the Cardinals and creating/finding more of a pass rush.

The snap breakdown for the defensive line/outside linebackers against the Eagles, on 92 defensive snaps (92 – yikes!): Okafor 69, Acho 65, Campbell 62, Kelly 62, Stinson 51, Rucker 31, Dan Williams 18, Benard 16, Martin 10.



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Larsen a top lineman, and trade calls

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2014 – 9:16 am

Ted Larsen at left guard? It wouldn’t be a total surprise. Larsen was working at guard a lot before starting center Lyle Sendlein got hurt and General Manager Steve Keim said today during his weekly appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 that Larsen “has been one of our five best offensive linemen” during training camp. The veteran free agent who had played for Tampa Bay has been solid at center for Sendlein and at this point, there are still questions about when Jonathan Cooper will come back and how he will do when he does come back.

Keim said Cooper’s turf toe was “significant” and he isn’t sure if Cooper will be back this week or next. It would make sense when Sendlein returns from his calf injury — Keim said that could be Wednesday — that Larsen could be in the left guard mix. (That also likely means Earl Watford has not left as good of an impression playing left guard as the Cardinals would have liked.)

— The Cardinals have not received any phone calls about someone possibly interested in a Ryan Lindley trade, Keim said. The reality is that barring injury, Lindley will be the odd man out at QB. Keim said such calls wouldn’t hear up until next week anyway. Keim said the Cardinals have had a few calls about their wide receivers. In what really isn’t a surprise, Keim said it is “more realistic” the Cardinals will keep six wide receivers. I’ve thought that for a while, given the play of Jaron Brown and rookie Walt Powell behind Fitz, Floyd, Ginn and John Brown.

— Stuff Keim liked from the Vikings game: linebacker Larry Foote’s play, quarterback Carson Palmer, Jaron Brown and how all the wide receivers did blocking on the perimeter.

— Stuff Keim didn’t like: The inability to create pressure on the quarterback, blown coverages and the lack of explosive runs (although he admitted not playing Andre Ellington much didn’t help the latter.)

— New linebacker Desmond Bishop, who dressed for practice Thursday but didn’t practice much at all, looked good in his 12 snaps, Keim said. I think Bishop, assuming he progresses, has a chance to stick. It’ll be interesting to see who that might cost in terms of a roster spot.

— Speaking of inside linebackers, Kevin Minter may still sit because of his pectoral injury. Keim said the Cards will be careful with Minter. No reason to risk anything right now.

— Linebacker John Abraham could return to individual drills either today or Wednesday.


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The chances of trading down

Posted by Darren Urban on May 4, 2014 – 10:56 am

General Manager Steve Keim made it pretty clear last week when it came to his thoughts on potential draft-day trades, especially with the Cardinals sitting with only six draft choices as of right now: “I think our philosophy would be to acquire more picks and move back.”

(Yes, it could be a smokescreen but I do not think so. Keim is about the draft picks.)

“We do think it’s deep enough where I really do think that you are going to get third-round players in the fourth and fifth round, guys who can come in and be immediate impact players for you,” Keim added. “I think, when it’s all said and done, you want to acquire more picks.”

Whether that can happen will be seen. Sure, the Cards would like to pick up an extra pick or two. They pulled off a couple trades last year that could end up paying off. The second-round trade down — essentially giving up the chance to take linebacker Manti Te’o and instead picking up linebacker Kevin Minter — provided the extra fourth-round pick to take guard Earl Watford. Watford could very well end up being a starter this season. And trading down in the fourth round so the Giants could take QB Ryan Nassib (the Cards took pass rusher Alex Okafor six picks later) netted an extra sixth-round choice that turned out to be running back Andre Ellington — and we all know how that turned out.

“Acquiring more picks, it gives you a better chance to hit on players,” Keim said. “It’s just simple mathematics.”

But another team would have to want to trade up, obviously, to make something happen. The Cardinals aren’t the only ones who a) like to gather draft picks and b) understand the depth of the draft. It also depends on what is going on in the draft at the time the Cardinals are on the clock. Who is sitting there the Cards might take, and who could be there by the time the Cards — if they trade down — would be able to pick again. Those are the factors a team must weigh.

“If we’re trading back, in particular, what clump of players are we looking at in our own (top) 120 that are still going to be there?” Keim said. “Dropping back six or seven picks, then you know you have to have six or seven guys left on your board that you like or have a similar value to the player you’re possibly missing out on. That’s the one thing you have to really drive home with the room is, ‘Guys, we may miss out on this player, but here are the five or six guys that could be in contention.’ As long as you’re OK with those players and they fit what you do, I think trading back makes sense.”

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Levi already done in Pittsburgh

Posted by Darren Urban on October 15, 2013 – 8:30 am

That didn’t take long.

Levi Brown, set to start Sunday in Pittsburgh in the Steelers’ first game since trading for the Cardinals’ left tackle, hurt his triceps in warmups (after, as it turned out, the team had put in the game’s inactives, leading them to be short for the day.) Today, the Steelers put Brown on injured reserve, ending his season before he ever took a snap for Pittsburgh. Given Levi’s contract, I’d expect at the very least for the Steelers to release him after the season. Could they bring him back? Maybe, but not under this deal. He is due $6 million in 2014.

What does this mean for the Cardinals? Well, we know there was a conditional pick involved coming from the Steelers. That usually means based on some sort of playing time — which I feel confident in saying Brown didn’t reach, since he never even played a down. The Cards also sent a pick back. Essentially, it means (and this is total speculation on what is involved, just trying to give an example) the Cards got, for instance, a sixth-round pick and gave the Steelers a seventh, and maybe the sixth could have become a fifth. Now, there will be no change, whatever the deal might have been. UPDATE: Kent Somers reports Brown had to be on Steelers’ active roster for five weeks to force draft pick compensation in the first place. Now that Brown won’t be, there will not be any swap of picks. In the end, the Cards basically cut Brown but saved about $600,000 that the Steelers ended up paying.

The Cards, based on what GM Steve Keim said at the time of the trade, sounded close to releasing Brown anyway. More importantly for the Cardinals, they moved on from the Levi Brown era, which was probably necessary.

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A close battle among the corners

Posted by Darren Urban on August 13, 2013 – 5:09 pm

Coach Bruce Arians said he thought cornerback was among the closest battles on the roster and that’s not surprising. The depth of experience there is better than the Cardinals have had in a few seasons. Assuming everyone stays healthy — and Javier Arenas left practice early Tuesday with some sort of injury — it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.

Jamell Fleming finally got back on the field after dealing with a hamstring problem. Justin Bethel is too valuable of a special teamer to let go, but he’s still learning the cornerback position. Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers are locks. I’d think vet Antoine Cason is too, especially with Cason running as cornerback in nickel when Powers slides inside. One interesting name this week was Bryan McCann, who was singled out by Arians as having a good camp. If McCann really is in the mix, there are a ton of decisions that have to be made.

— And again, I’d expect a possible trade at the end of the preseason for guys they don’t want to keep here, a la A.J. Jefferson last season. At least get an extra 6th- or 7th-round pick.

— Because the Cards are off tomorrow, I don’t expect an Arenas injury update until Thursday.

— Among Tuesday’s highlights: WR Robby Toma made a beautiful one-handed catch on the sideline to beat Tyrann Mathieu. Cason, covering “wide receiver” Peterson, made an interception as Peterson went down and Cason basically had to climb over Peterson’s prone body to grab the ball. (Those two are both in the highlight package below.) And Peterson finished the session by slicing in front of WR Kerry Taylor during the final two-minute drill against the second-unit offense, sticking out his hand and having the ball stick there like it was flypaper for the drive-killing interception.

— Sitting out Tuesday was S Jonathon Amaya (knee), S Rashad Johnson (knee/ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), TE Jeff King (knee), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), DE Frostee Rucker (undisclosed), LB Karlos Dansby (hamstring), DT Ricky Lumpkin (ankle), DT Dan Williams (ankle) and LB Dan Giordano (PUP – toe.). RB Andre Ellington returned to practice limited.

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For now, you can’t have too many corners

Posted by Darren Urban on May 3, 2013 – 11:20 am

The trade earlier this week for cornerback Javier Arenas provided the Cardinals their 10th cornerback on the roster. That isn’t a surprise, but when seven of them have NFL experience already, the numbers alone will make for a very interesting battle heading into training camp. It doesn’t matter who the coaches have been that I have covered over the years, every single one — when asked about a situation like this — likes to say, “You can never have too many cornerbacks.” True, but you can’t keep too many cornerbacks either.

The quick lineup, aside from Arenas: Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann and three UDFAs in Josh Hill, Prentiss Waggner and Ronnie Yell.

(And as a quick aside: I think the Cards didn’t mind adding another corner, but realize that they were going to get rid of fullback Anthony Sherman regardless, and if the only option coming back was a corner like Arenas, it’s better than just cutting Sherman loose.)

Here are the facts thus far when it comes to this cornerback situation:

— In minicamp, Powers was with the first unit opposite Peterson. Now, Cason seemed to be nursing some kind of leg injury that may have limited him, but again, it was Powers who signed the three-year contract. He might be getting the first shot there.

— Bethel was told he’d be playing corner rather than safety when the coaches first got a chance to talk to him. But who knows, given the cornerback/safety situation (the Cards have seven safeties and much less experience there) maybe Bethel ends up a swing guy again.

— This math of course counts Tyrann Mathieu as a safety because that’s what Bruce Arians said he’d be at first, but Mathieu also could be a nickel corner.

— Arenas’ size (5-9) seems to dictate he’d be a slot cover guy only.

— The numbers and influx of guys will make the second offseason for Fleming very, very interesting and very important. Third-round picks usually are locks to stay a second season. But with a new staff, you never know.

— Usually, teams keep nine or 10 defensive backs. With nine, you could see four cornerbacks and five safeties or, given this roster, probably five and four.

— It does open up trade possibilities, like when the Cards dealt A.J. Jefferson at the end of the preseason last year given their glut at the position.


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