Waiting game for Cards’ own free agents

Posted by Darren Urban on February 18, 2013 – 3:49 pm

The Scouting combine is usually when the talk of free agency begins to start to pick up. Free agency doesn’t start until March 12, although teams can start negotiating (although not sign) potential UFAs from other teams on March 9. Until then, each team has the exclusive chance to talk with and re-sign their own impending free agents.

The Cardinals have a handful of their own free agents and there are some you’d think the Cards might want to bring back. Given the position and circumstances, I’d peg cornerback Greg Toler and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling would be at the top of the list. Toler began to play better in the second half of last season after missing all of 2011 with a torn ACL and would be a nice piece to keep around. Stephens-Howling has been a steady contributor over the years and the old regime wanted him back. It’s hard to know exactly where Toler, Stephens-Howling or any of the free agents fit in the new scheme of things.

Could the Cardinals get a deal or two done before free agency? Maybe. But general manager Steve Keim didn’t sound like anyone should be holding their breath, either.

“It’s always the plan,” Keim said. “We want to be pro-active and aggressive in our decisions but at the same time, you’ve got to understand a lot of the time, these guys are trying to see what the market is going to bring and their representatives have the mindset of, ‘Let’s see what is out there and then we will come back and talk.’ Not that they want to leave the Cardinals because I know a lot of our player’s agents have made overtures to me or Bruce (Arians) that they want to be here. At the same time they want to get market value as well.”

Other possible returnees among the UFAs would include quarterback Brian Hoyer, linebackers Paris Lenon and Quentin Groves and safety Rashad Johnson. (Although during a conference call Monday NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said this was a deep draft for safeties, so that could change some potential decisions.)

Unless a player is going to get a good chunk of money from his old team, it is understandable they test free agency by now. There is a reason extensions often come down in-season, because by the time we get to the end of the season — and the potential free agents can’t get hurt playing anymore — why wouldn’t you wait for free agency to arrive and shop your talents.

(Then again, if agents start poking around and find out their guys aren’t going to have big deals waiting for them when free agency starts, the player may be motivated to get something done sooner.)

The franchise tag isn’t going to come into play, either. Last year it made a ton of sense to do it for defensive end Calais Campbell. You aren’t going to do it for a Hyphen or a Toler. So when free agency begins in early March, the Cardinals will likely be working on contracts for their own guys as well as anyone else on the market they will try to bring in.


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26 Responses to “Waiting game for Cards’ own free agents”

  1. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    With the salary cap working against the Cards, you have to take the philosophy of paying your leads and playing your greens. It’s always “next man up” and if the FAs can get more dough, good for them.
    Darren, with your comment from Mayock of this being a “deep draft for safeties”, do you portend that could be another reason for not keeping Adrian Wilson next season?

  2. By Darren Urban on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    Andy Stands –

    RE: safeties

    It’ll all depend on how the Cards see it. But given their many questions at safety, I thought it was interesting to note.

  3. By carlo milano on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    why lenon again?..he is 36..time to move on.

  4. By Darren Urban on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    Carlo –

    RE: Lenon

    You are probably right, given the new staff.

  5. By D on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    Toler will get a better deal probably by another team, meaning Cards will have to take a corner in the later rounds. I like the Hyphen, but if they choose to keep Beanie, then I would rather have a 3rd or 4th round pick on a RB. Until we hear about any restructures of current Cards deals and any cuts, this team won’t be able to sign anyone.

  6. By Terry E on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    I like Toler and Rashad Johnson. Hyphen won’t make or break us.

  7. By Scott H on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    I like Toler, but…Or, should I say that I like what Toler CAN be when he is healthy. But, geez….yet ANOTHER Cardinal who appears to have such potential and promise who just can’t seem to realize it because of injuries. My God, man, do we lead the league in the number of these guys on our roster, or does it just seem that way???

  8. By Mark G. on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    I hope the Cards re-sign some of these guys, there are some solid contributors in this group.

  9. By Credit Card on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    Greg Tolar is an athlete. Viewing the Denver Post the Broncos are high for him. Next on the list of keepers should be Quentin Groves, then Rashad Johnson. The Cards will need to look at economic decisions, and whether a player can “fit” inside their schemes. I would guess players like Lennon, Holliday, Eason, Freely, and even Wilson will be economic as well as age will enter the equation.

    I foresee several changes by the new management team.

  10. By Credit Card on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    If the Cards select Matt Barkley from USC as their top choice — I’ll quit watching my Cards and football altogether, and learn to appreciated synocronized swimming.

  11. By Patrick on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    The new kickoff rules will hurt the hyphens market value.

    Also, why does Kevin Kolb always look like he had one too many beers the night before?

    Not saying he drinks or anything, but just has that look.

  12. By georgiebird on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    Keim and Arians have to move on from the 2012 team. The short term goal should be getting to the playoffs in 2015. Except for PP, DWash and , maybe, CC and Acho, the team has to be rebuilt. By the time 2015 rolls around, most of the guys on this team will be beyond their prime.
    This is a great time for Keim and Arians to show an eye for young talent and possibly get something in return for some of our guys over 28.
    Whiz and Graves did a bad job of talent evaluation-it’s is now time to blow things up and start all over. We are getting too involved with marginal talent like LSH and the oft-injured Toler.
    And to expedite the arrival of a “new day” for the Cardinals, Larry should be held out as a jewel to get Arians something he really wants and needs- like a QB. After all, that’s why Arians was hired.

  13. By Matthew on Feb 18, 2013 | Reply

    Darren, If Dannell Ellerbe is released by the ravens do you see the Cards interested?

  14. By Darren Urban on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    Matthew —

    RE: Ellerbe

    I don’t think he’ll hit the market. He will be ultra-expensive though.

  15. By Rich on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    I agree with Terry – hope we keep Rashad J. and Toler………..Hyphen is a nice piece but we wouldn’t miss him.

  16. By Campbells on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    Perfect time to pick-up a new safety. Maybe Wilson will retire.
    Toler stinks. Can’t believe he’s highly regarded. The fact he stays awake makes him a good corner???
    Beanie didn’t materialize. Neither has Williams.
    Perfect time to part with Levi. Start over at tight end. We have several awesome defensemen. Maybe explore trading a guy to free up cap space, and bring in a new guy. Seems like a lot of young defensive talent available in this draft.

  17. By Campbells on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    Didn’t mean to insinuate Toler is the only terrible corner. Most of them are awful. Coaching may have a lot to do with it. We never jam receivers!!! How are you supposed to be effective on third and short, if you don’t jam receivers???

  18. By Campbells on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    Kolb isn’t worth the money. Hate it that our hands are tied. What a huge mistake giving him all that money. Hope those responsible are gone.

  19. By D on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    Underwear Olympics start this week. So, agents complained about John Lott pushing the kids too much. With the slotted contracts, if I were a kid in the draft, I wouldn’ t hire an agent since the deals are mostly done before hand. Just hire an attorney to review the contract and save themselves on these agent commissions.

  20. By iammattyoung on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply


    Have you gotten any sense the the approach being taken to this next season is a “rebuilding” approach?

    It just seems like this team has some huge holes to fill (arguably the whole O-line, QB, pass-rushing OLB, running back, youth infusion at the safety position), and no money to do it. Outside of an INCREDIBLE draft, it seems like this team is at least a couple drafts away from competing for the NFC West.

  21. By Terry E on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    I will be dissapointed if we don’t compete to make the playoffs in 2013. In 2014 we should definitely compete, 2015 is way too far off to think we have to wait that long. I think this team has some good talent and is missing a few key pieces and some good coaching. I think the good coaching is here and with some a food offseason we will be something to be reckoned with. Good young talent on defense with Campbell, Washington and Peterson here for multiple years. We have to have a QB. I think we should keep Kolb but only if he takes a pay cut. I say bring back hoyer and draft the best QB available in round one or two. I also think upgrade at RB and a deep threat at WR is key. Free agent Wallace?? When was the last time we had a true deep threat ? Randall Hill? Martay Jenkins?

  22. By dieselbomb on Feb 19, 2013 | Reply

    Because of those who were in control – and who are now, thankfully, gone – the Cardinals have three major holes to fill and little bargaining room to get it done. The needed corrections won’t occur in one Free Agent market, nor one College Draft. This team had poor talent at the top and so partly wasted three seasons of needed gains. Now, however, Good coaching and good scheming will help return the team to the win column and possibly (as an outside chance) back to playoff contention in 2013. But that’s a tall order. Team Cardinals has pretty good talent on board already. We have to be smart to replenish the older players with capable athletes who, hopefully, are good learners. Guys like Lenon who have years under their belt and know how things work here ought to be able to bring Rookies along. Although I’d love to see a turn-around quite like the Colts in 2012-13, it might not happen. So the 2014 season ought to be a banner year. Hopefully, the Cards can play a home-game in the SB in 2015.

  23. By ored on Feb 20, 2013 | Reply

    a lot hinges on o-line play and subsequently qb and rb play,if good protection and blocking happen,then the offense should have a rapid turn around,defense and special teams are good,so it could be a very interesting year,maybe good fortune will follow arian and staff.we’re a much more complete team than indy was at one point last year,minus the qb position of course,and even there it was an unknown just how good luck would maybe arian will bring some of that luck with him,lol.

  24. By P-rock on Feb 20, 2013 | Reply

    darren, any possibilty of a drc return?

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