Free agency before free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on February 29, 2012 – 10:42 am

Free agents can’t sign anywhere but with their own teams until March 13, but that doesn’t mean free agency — from a certain perspective — isn’t already underway. With the final day teams can apply franchise tags coming Monday, we are now counting down the last handful of days that a deal can get done with possible tagged players. Of course, all a tag means in the short-term is that teams can buy time to negotiate with those players for a longer contract extension. If, for instance, defensive end Calais Campbell is tagged by the Cards, that’s the expectation. So too, as another example, with Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

But those things — along with deals/potential deals with guys who might not have had the tag, like 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks — will make an impact on “real” free agency. If the Saints have to tag Brees, for instance, Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks cannot be tagged and will be free to shop himself. And every non-tag guy who signs between now and March 13 obviously removes himself from the market and changes the possibilities. In some cases, it won’t mean anything to the Cards, in others, it might.

(And we won’t even get into any possible cuts for monetary reasons that teams will do for cap and other reasons, like speculated moves such as Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, any number of Steelers or some guy whose brother just won a second Super Bowl. All those change the landscape too.)

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42 Responses to “Free agency before free agency”

  1. By D on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Remind me again Darren, what is the cap hit on S. Bradley? I believe too high to cut, right.
    Do you think the Cards are worried another team may sign L. Brown when they let him loose before they can get a deal done?

  2. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Bradley/Brown

    My calculations have it as a $4M cap hit if cut and $6.5M if he stays. As for Brown, I don’t know if they are worried but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a concern, given the dearth of tackles available.

  3. By Mark on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Do have any insight on what players the Cards interviewed at the Combine?

  4. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: Player interviews

    Those are not released for public consumption.

  5. By lg on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    darren i no my friend courtney upshaw is not doing while at the combine but when i asked him would he like to play for the cardinals he said yea he would love to but do you think it would be a good fit

  6. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    lg —

    RE: Upshaw fit

    Perhaps he would. I don’t know enough about him. But I would be shocked if any player at this point wouldn’t say they’d like to play for every team.

  7. By TUCSTEVE on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    just curious but what does everyone think about trading to rams for 2nd pick and picking up luck or rg3 whoever is there. then dropping kolb?

  8. By john m on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Cap Question:
    What is the effect to the cap if a player is traded?

  9. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    John M —

    RE: Trade ramifications

    A traded player has the same effect on the team he is leaving as a released player.

  10. By Bernardo on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren, When does that new cardinals show get posted to the website? Or will this be coming on tv. I believe it was the one about Ryan Williams

  11. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Bernardo —

    RE: “Zoom” debut

    It will be posted later today.

  12. By John the draft guy on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Just wondering

    If we don’t land Manning, (and yes I am for the signing,) are we happy with Kolb and Skelton?

    I know that is who we are going with, but are we satisfied that our future “Franchise” QB is one of those 2 guys?

    If the answer is no, don’t you have to consider drafting a QB? Let’s face it, the saints have the option to franchise Carl Nicks, Drew Brees, or Colston, It’s a no brainer, Brees is the guy. Right? Why? Without a QB, its hard to win in this league.

    So, shouldn’t the cards attention turn towards Ryan Tannehill? Sure Decastro is as good a guard that there is, and I love Whitney Mercilus as a pass rusher, and Mike Adams as a left tackle.
    But isn’t it all useless without a QB?

    I think I have come full circle. I don’t know if we have a superbowl winning QB on our team. Darren pointed out that the days of Dilfer-type superbowl teams are disappearing. Yes, you need defense. Yes you need a OLine. But, do the Giants win the superbowl without Manning and instead with Kolb or Skelton?
    Of course, no way of knowing. But if you said no, Then, with the 13th pick;

    The cards choose QB out of Texas A&M, Ryan Tannehill.

  13. By carlo italy 7000 on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    last season graves said they would be agressive in free agency and they did even if some players we signed were very mediocre but how do u think how they will be in this free agent window?

  14. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Carlo —

    RE: This year’s FA

    I don’t see it being as fast and furious, just because there isn’t as much cap room or roster spots open. But they will make some moves.

  15. By William Nielsen on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Darren.

    Which free agent do you think would fit with the Cardinals? You know, just overall.

  16. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    William —

    RE: Free agent fit

    Hard to tell. Obviously, it’s more about positions. Finding a tackle, a wide receiver, maybe a linebacker. Then it’s about who is available — which we don’t know yet, as I noted above how it can change — and how high the price tag might be for each guy.

  17. By Jay on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    I really think the Cards should bring in 49ers QB Alex Smith for a visit. If the fit is good make him an offer, absolute worst case he declines, but make the 49ers come up with some $$ of their own to keep him.
    I like Skelton as much as the next guy, but he just is not good enough to be the starter for the team yet. The wins late in the season were more about the defense coming together, we have no idea if Kolb could have won those games or not.

  18. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Jay —

    RE: Alex Smith

    So you want to reverse-Kurt Warner them?

  19. By Sergio Leon on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren, may i ask when or around what time will you be posting the video of the new show that’s being released today?

  20. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Sergio —

    RE: Zoom

    The NFL system we use for the site is having some issues with posting video as of 3:15. The hope is still some time this afternoon.

  21. By Bernardo on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Who would you draft ate the 13th pick? O line? or would you go best player available even if its Blackman? I heard today that Pro football talk is reporting that The rams have interest in Claiborne. Either way back to my question, If Darren Urban was drafting for the Cards who would it be?

  22. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Bernardo —

    RE: My pick

    Darren Urban would wait until after free agency, because I want to know what positions I have filled first.

  23. By lg on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    eli manning did not want to play for the chargers reminder that he wanted to go to new york

  24. By Bernardo on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    🙂 okay darren how about this one, What position is the first position you address? Regardless of who we resign (ie Levi) weather it is in the draft or free agency

  25. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Bernardo —

    RE: Free agency/draft

    But see, that’s part of the equation. It isn’t regardless of who is signed. If, for instance, a high-profile pass rushing linebacker is signed, I’m not as quick to consider one with the first pick. It all works together.

    As of today, I am looking OL or LB. But it depends who is signed and who is on the board. And if the Cards decide, for instance, a WR (if it is still needed) is higher rated than a LB or OL at that point, I look there.

  26. By joe holst on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    1) Do you think the Cards should trade down in the 1st round and try and recoup the 2nd round pick they gave to Philly last year?

    2) Do you think they signed Stewart Bradley from Philly to even out the Kolb trade, Cromartie and a 2nd for Kolb and Bradley or did they genuinely think Bradley could play..

    Thanks Joe

  27. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Joe Holst —

    RE: Questions

    1) I think they should consider it but it depends on what the options are. Can decide without details.

    2) Um, no. Bradley’s signing was completely separate from the trade, and yes, of course they thought he could play. You’re suggesting they thought he would be poor yet handed him a $5M signing bonus?

  28. By Luke Strauss on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    If you say our needs are at OL, LB and WR, then who do you like coming out of free agency and who do you like coming out of the draft?



  29. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Luke —

    RE: Who I like

    Let’s not get this twisted: I’m not a scout and didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I definitely don’t know much about the draftees, especially at this point. As for free agents, I haven’t looked at the lists real closely, because with two weeks to go, a lot can still change. I am sure I will write something about it after the franchise tags are placed and when more signings are made.

  30. By joe holst on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply


    Hines Ward? yay or nay…

  31. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Joe Holst —

    RE: Hines Ward

    Give me a good reason why. Makes no sense.

  32. By joe holst on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hmmm great chemistry player, can take Andre Roberts under his wing, physical player who would be an asset on third down and red zone, maybe has a bit of a chip on his shoulder from being dumped by the Steelers ,Whisenhunt has a tendency to go after ex Steelers on their last legs, Porter, Faneca, Haggans, only if the price is right tho.

  33. By Bill on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Would love to land a Courtney Upsahw or Melvin Ingram at #13. Would be kind of hard to pass either one of those guys. Address the tackle position in Free Agency, if possible. And go for best available at #13.

  34. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Did you play WR as a kid, Darren? Using yourself in third person sure sounds like it?
    BTW, I don’t think I’ve ever asked. Know you like Bball but did you play football as a yute?

  35. By Darren Urban on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    AndyStands –

    RE: football

    Not much.

  36. By Ehdee on Feb 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hey darren,

    I know this is off topic and all but can you give an update on Toler? I expect big things this year from him this years especially since he will be the number two corner behind Patrick. What do you think? Toler and Peterson together makes for a pretty good corner tandem dont you think?

  37. By Darren Urban on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply

    Ehdee —

    RE: Toler update

    Not much has changed since this:

  38. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply

    @John the Draft Guy,

    I hear what you’re saying, but my thinking on this is a little different. First, I do like Skelton enough to think he could be a franchise QB. Reminds me a lot of Bradshaw at this stage of his career (big arm, can be erratic as hell, but seems to hit the big throw when it’s absolutely needed). But let’s say I’m wrong, and we bring in Tannehill instead of DeCastro. Having watched Tannehill I don’t think he’s ready to step in and start right away. So now we’ve brought in another promising, but raw, QB, and in the process took more playing time away from Skelton/Kolb. While simultaneously bypassing a guy who just about everyone projects to be a significant upgrade at RG for us (and very likely the next Steve Hutchinson).

    Yes, a big-time QB is needed in today’s game, but as very few are early in their careers I don’t see how Tannehill will help us next season – or how well he truly projects throughout the rest of his career. I think taking him at #13 would be a reach (even though I don’t discount the idea that he may not even be available when we pick).

  39. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply


    Luck or Griffin would look great in a Cardinal uniform, but I’d say that has as much chance of happening as a snowstorm in the Valley. The Rams will get a king’s ransom for that pick, and I can’t see them trading it to us even if we offered. You think they want either of those guys on a team they play twice a season? Conversely, do you think we want most of our early round picks over the next few seasons going to them?

  40. By John the draft guy on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply

    I agree that Tannehill needs some seasoning. Interesting we have 5 preseason games this year. 🙂

    If you feel Skelton or Kolb are franchise guys, then yes, don’t pick a QB and get the Olineman.

    But if you don’t feel they are the guys, then let’s not squander a chance at landing a guy who reminds me of Aaron Rodgers. (remember he needed a little seasoning also)..

    Let’s release Kolb, draft Tannehill and have him sit behind the starter for a year or three. Of course, if that starter was Peyton, then it would be the perfect storm.

    My only thought is, every team needs a QB. Without one, it is tough to win. If Skelton or Kolb are the guys, then great. Problem solved. My issue is, aren’t we wondering about the same things we wondered about last year regarding the QB spot? A year later and nothing solved. I just don’t know if I could let one more of those QBs slip by in the draft.

    Besides, would it be terrible if Skelton became the guy and we had Tannehill sitting behind him ? Nice problem to have.

  41. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply


    Looks like it all goes back to how you rate the players available. If you’re right about Tannehill possibly being the next Rodgers he’d be a steal @ #13. To your other point, having him learn behind Manning could potentially give us a situation we never realistically had with Warner (sorry, Leinart fans). I’ll still cast my ballot for hitching the wagon to either Skelton or Kolb, and bringing in some reinforcements on the line but your ideas are thought provoking. I do wonder the message that gets sent to Skelton if we sign Manning and draft Tannehill, however. Relegating him to third string, after the progress he’s made, seems pretty harsh.

    Probably a moot point, though. More and more it’s sounding unlikely that Tannehill will get out of the top 10 – apparently the scouts are more in your corner on that than mine.

  42. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply


    One more thing to consider. Eli wasn’t an overnight success himself, but I think the Giants’ patience with him has paid off pretty well.

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