Dance of free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on February 17, 2014 – 10:18 am

The twitter question was straightforward, not unlike many I get: What are the chances Karlos Dansby re-signs with the Cardinals? The answer is, right now, you can’t answer. (It’s kind of like the question about what position the Cardinals will draft with their first pick. You can’t say. Not even the Cards can.)

Free agency comes down to, really, two things: Leverage and money. The money a player can get is directly proportional to the amount of leverage he has. Sometimes, that’s easy to figure out. Usually, it’s a little more complicated than that, because both the team and player like to play a little poker so they can get the best deal they can. (Agent Jack Bechta wrote a fascinating piece on how free agency works.)

Sometimes, teams really don’t want a player to reach unrestricted free agency because you never know who is going to swoop in and wow a player with a unreal deal. And the reality is, if a player does reach unrestricted status it usually means one of three things (or some combination of the three): Either the team doesn’t want the player anymore, the team’s cap situation won’t allow the team to make a competitive offer, or the player has overestimated his worth in the market/team has underestimated it.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim has said the team has already made offers to some of the team’s pending free-agents-to-be. At this point, only punter Dave Zastudil has re-upped. What does that mean for a guy like Dansby? No way to know for sure. I think Dansby wants to return and the Cardinals definitely want him back. But it really isn’t that surprising that Dansby could hit the open market. He was admittedly disappointed at being cut by Miami last year and then the interest he got from other teams. He is hoping his big season translates into a bigger offer but it’s not like he was coming off a poor season in Miami in 2012.

So he will try and figure out if he can get a substantially better deal elsewhere. All things being equal, I think Dansby sticks around. But with him and all these free agents, if you think you can improve on your contract offer by getting to March 11 and the start of free agency, you’d do it, right? I mean, you can’t get injured anymore, so there is really nothing stopping you. Then again, there is an element of a game of chicken here. If a team has a backup plan in place and you drag your feet too long, whatever interest there might be could dry up.

The Cardinals and Keim worked this dance expertly last offseason. That’s how they got Dansby and Eric Winston and John Abraham and others. And it will make for a fascinating journey as the Scouting combine comes this week and free agency arrives around the corner.

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36 Responses to “Dance of free agency”

  1. By Darrel on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Darren is fair to say that cardinals are going to be looking for a sencond RB with mendy hitting free agency .

  2. By Darren Urban on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Darrel —

    RE: RB

    Not necessarily. I think there is still a chance Mendenhall comes back. And they have Stepfan Taylor.

  3. By Patrick Eagan on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    the cardinals should let mendenhall walk!

  4. By beardinals on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    I know Minter wants a chance. Do you think if they re-sign Dansby, they start sprinkling in a little Minter to make sure he can take over when need be? He may have to start learning to play safety.

  5. By Darren Urban on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Beardinals –

    RE: Minter

    Minter isn’t going to play safety. As for his role if/when Dansby returns, we will see.

  6. By Big Ken on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    ‘fascinating journey’ indeed it is.So sit back…

  7. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Too early to say right now, but one could argue that the cards did better in FA than the draft last year.

    They scored with HB and Ellington, but Cooper (although he looked good) is unproven, as is Minter and Okefer.

    I think the cards need to hit on both Cooper and Minter to swing to the draft side being more successful. Cooper should be a solid, if not spectacular player. If Dansby heads off into FA, it will be interesting to see if Minter steps up.

    Question, Kyle Long went on to have a probowl season last year as a rookie. Does Cooper need to unseed him at the pro bowl to be considered a successful pick?

  8. By 'Zona Fan on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    The guys in the front office will dominate this offseason just like they did the last. They’ve made it known they’ll be upgrading the offensive line, which seems to be the missing piece to us putting together a playoff run next year.

    It’d be nice to keep Dansby and some of the other FAs, but getting value in free agency is more important. Here’s to looking forward to a 2014 playoff appearance!

  9. By Dr. G. on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    OK.. I have the proverbial “Bee in my Bonnet” when it comes to these players’ searches and contract negotiations. Some quotes we always hear: – –

    It’s a business – gotta do the best I can for myself.

    My agent handles that stuff… I just wanna play ball.

    I gotta take care of my family…do the best for them.

    I really wanna play for this team… hopin’ things can work out.

    These are paraphrased in many fashions, and may be interpreted as gold digging for the most $$$$ possible.

    Here’s the deal – aside from insurance to handle injuries etc., What most of these guys are really thinking is this: “I need to make a lifetimes’ earnings in just 5 to 10 years of playing ball.” or In their secret thoughts: “I skated thru college or left early, so I can’t do anything else; gotta get it now, ‘cuz I got no other skills.”

    How many people plan their lifetime of work to last just 5 to 10 years? These men are catered and spoiled – they can be victims of their own lack of planning for the future while they party down in the meantime with all the unnecessary bling and little future work plan… In business terms, they wear the helmet backwards. Oh yeah, buy a donut franchise and let some investment thief take their money. I am stunned when I hear about the bankruptcies from well-paid athletes.

    There are many successful post pro athletes, but what is said here is commonplace. And the ticket prices are directly affected. The cost of a family of 4 is big time these days to go to any pro game… Be well Cards Fans…


  10. By Cards24fan on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, What do you think is going to happen with Ryan Williams?

  11. By Darren Urban on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Cards24 —

    RE: Ryan Williams

    I would be surprised if he is on the 2014 roster once September comes around, but we will see.

  12. By georgiebird on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Keim seems to understand the game. Hopefully, he will do the right thing with Dansby.
    Here my reasons Dansby should not be re-signed (except as a spare part and on the Cards’ terms)
    1) from the time he was drafted out of Auburn, KD has been an underachiever. With his size, I thought he was going to be the second coming of L. Taylor (not even close). A pretty good LB but never an All-Pro.
    2) Cards are amongst the top five or six teams in the NFL, they are not cracking the top five still depending on guys like KD.
    3) If the Cards were a middle of the pack team (or lower), it would definitely be a plus to keep KD.
    4) A lot of people may feel if KD is this good right now, how good was he in his prime? KD is as good now as he ever was- he is not getting better-and an injury , even a minor one, may be difficult to recover from.
    5) the money can be spent in a better way on other positions-and they all can be upgraded to compete with SF & Sea.
    6) Let’s face it, with the NFC West, the best, Keim has to be nearly perfect with his off-season moves.

  13. By georgiebird on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    The Cardinals last two visits to Seattle provide the Cardinals’ fans with a lot of mixed signals. How did the Cards lose 58-0 in 2012 and then come back to win in 2013 even though we lost the turnover game (intercepts were not all CP’s fault).
    The games defy logic. Were the Cards that much better? was Sea not as good (but still won the SB)?
    The Cards next visit to Seattle should be one of the marquee games of the 2014 season. Hopes and dreams of Cardinals’ fans can be confirmed or destroyed with the next visit to Sea.
    In recent years, we have won against very good teams like the Pats and Saints but there was no coat-tail effect.
    Once again, the Cards are in the rarified air of the NFL, right now. It is so important for the team to make every move a productive one.

  14. By joe holst on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    karlos will get a 5 year, 40 million ,contract-it will be front end loaded and easily voided after the 3rd year.

  15. By Dr. G. on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    joe hoist – Karlos may get the contract as you describe, but it may be the Bengals. The agents have already begun this rumor…from the Cards? Not!

    The Cards have a number of men standing in the wings ready to step up…some all healed up and anxious to prove they are very capable. Los was here to plug the Dwash hole until he returned…turned out just fine, but he is not Superman as he describes himself.

    I am trusting Keim to execute in the best interest of the team…he will be just fine with or w/o Dansby…

  16. By Scott H on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Geez, what a difference a year makes! Last year, this time, it felt like we had nothing ( well…almost ) and needed everything. And how do you go out and get everything in one off-season??? Normally, you don’t. But we came pretty darn close.

    One year later and suddenly, it feels like it did after 2008 and ( especially ) 2009 seasons when we had everything ( well…almost ) and it was like, how do we keep it all here???

    The mass exodus following the 2009 season was catastrophic and the fall-out lasted for the next 3 seasons. A repeat of THAT seems very un-likely, so I’m not bracing for another disaster.

    Seems like playing for the Cardinals brings out the best in Dansby. I don’t expect that to cause him to drop to his knees and vow to play for the Cardinals for the rest of his career for nothing. But….I just hope it makes him want to stay here. Leaving the Cardinals after the 2009 season probably seemed like a good time to leave here. It looked like things were about to drop off ( and, boy, did they ever! ). But right now? Hell, few teams had an arrow pointing as straight up at the end of 2013 as the Cardinals did. And ESPECIALLY on defense! What a story it would be for Dansby to return to the Cardinals just in time to “shock the world” all over again. I like their chances better to do just that if he is here.

    It really would suck to lose Karlos Dansby AGAIN. And I think it would actually hurt far worse NOW than it did 4 seasons ago.

    It’s really a shame that the salary cap seems specifically designed to prevent teams from keeping a team together. Will be interesting to see if the Seahawks can do it going forward.

  17. By Rich on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Did Beardinals say Minter might play safety? Come on. Do you know anything about football? Maybe you should be on a tennis blog.

  18. By Dr. G. on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren, I noticed the scheduled chat for the 18th. Are you bound to Facebook always, or are you able to do it on your blog? Thanks…

  19. By Darren Urban on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Chat

    It isn’t on the blog or Facebook. It will be via the site. Link here:—Pre-Combine/ae9999ad-3b00-43fc-89c4-68160f895860

  20. By steve on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Darren: I’m guessing that the Cardinals would prefer to find their new LT via free agency versus the draft so they can pick the best available player when the draft comes. Do you agree?

  21. By Darren Urban on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: LT

    Not necessarily. Although every hole you can plug in free agency gives you that much more freedom in the draft.

  22. By Don on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply


    I think, to put it mildly, you seriously underestimate the positive impact that Dansby’s season had on the overall team. You say he’s not going to get any better. So what?

    Another silly quote here: “The Cards next visit to Seattle should be one of the marquee games of the 2014 season. Hopes and dreams of Cardinals’ fans can be confirmed or destroyed with the next visit to Sea.”

    Neither of those things is likely true. Everyone loses in Seattle, it means little and less for most teams. Even if we win, it likely won’t confirm much of anything other than we can beat big teams on the road (but we already know that now, don’t we?)

  23. By steve on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Georgiebird: It’s not fair to compare Dansby with Lawrence Taylor simply because LT was the 2nd overall player taken in the 1981 draft while Dansby was not selected until the 2nd round of the 2004 draft.

  24. By Cactus jeff on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Minter is not the answer, doesn’t have the length. Get a safety with size/length and Dansby/Dwash combo will be utilized even more effectively.

  25. By Hammy on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Now that T.Suggs got his deal in Baltimore, Dansby will be the next Linebacker to sign. I dont think he will get his asking price and not to sure we will be the highest bidder for his services. Minter has the ability to take his spot and at least play decent. I would be surprised if Dansby re ups with a loaded 4-5 year deal.

  26. By NJAzCardsFan on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    Dansby should wake up and realize:….
    No one wanted him last year except the Cards….
    He was good because of the coaching staff and most of all, the talennt around him.
    If he goes to another team, I doubt the players will be there and he gets released after one season because he is a Cap casualty.

    Karlos…. here is some advice. Don’t be greedy. take what the Cards offer you and you will get a chance to play in the Super Bowl. If not, you will have a repeat of what happened in Miami…… and no one will sign you because you are 34 years old.

  27. By ChristianR on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    I like Dansby. I hope he resigns with the Cardinals. I have to agree with georgiebird a bit. Dansby played well and had fantastic stats, but I remember the little things this season that could have been different. For instance, I remember a play where Dansby did not have the awareness to put his arm up when a pass sailed right by his shoulder into the hands of Megatron. I feel like Dansby benefited more from the desert D than Arizona did from his presence. Although Fitz seems to want him back on the team, it would definitely be interesting to see what kind of production the Cardinals could get with Minter taking over.

  28. By ChristianR on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    Cards24, the Cardinals might keep R. Williams on the roster if S. Taylor takes Mendenhall’s role. Resign Alfonso Smith or a cheap back, and the Cardinals have four cheap RBs going into the season. That may not be the ideal situation, but it gives the Cardinals more money to spend in other areas. OL should make strides this year and improve the run game regardless of who gets the hand off, so every penny that could go toward a proven LT or a deep threat instead of Mendenhall will count.

  29. By Big Ken on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    Yeah Let Dansby go cripple some other team with an insane contract. Minter is ready to go!

  30. By iammattyoung on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    In my opinion, I think the Cards will look to free-agency to fill the hole at left tackle. Unlike many of the previous years, it’s a buyer’s market for left tackles, with several above average players hitting the open market: Jared Veldheer, Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert, and Anthony Collins. Hopefully, signing one of those guys will allow them to take a pass-rusher, safety, or corner in the first round. Something that’s also in the back of my mind is that they’re gonna need to find a replacement for Dockett one of these years.

  31. By Coach K on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    Dansby is a MUST sign. I see Keim looking for depth in F.A. As for the draft, I have run pre-combine player rankings from 3 different scouting services, and these are the top three rated players at the corresponding pick selection that could be available come draft week:

    Round one, pick #20

    Justin Gilbert, CB, Okla. St.
    Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Bama
    Rashede Hageman, DT, Minn.

    Round two, pick #52

    Antonio Richardson, OT, Tenn
    Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
    Kyle Fuller, CB, Va. Tech

    Round three, pick #84

    Craig Loston, SS, LSU
    Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Ga. Tech.
    Stanley Jean Baptist, CB, Neb.

    Round four, pick #116

    James Hurst, OT, N.C.
    Bruce Ellington, WR, So. Car.
    Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana

    Round five, pick #148

    Deion Belue, CB, Bama
    Bryan Stork, C, Fla. St.
    Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia

    Round six, pick #180

    Tyler Larsen, C, Utah St.
    Joe Don Duncan, TE, Dixie St.
    Chris Boswell, K, Rice

    At least two of the three players listed should be available at these
    draft positions based on pre-combine player rankings.

  32. By ored on Feb 18, 2014 | Reply

    besides the fact,even the elite LTs drafted high have struggled their 1st year,that’s why we need a free agent at the position,that would also make it easier to draft bpa with a clear conscience. has anyone else read that attaochu was being sheltered by not showcasing his strength as a pass rusher in his bowl appearance.i know he has a whole season of film,but not always against the same kind of quality players,and there usually is a big difference between the 1st few games of the season and a bowl game that scouts are analyzing.

    i think we should keep mendenhall if possible,we had a good team,keep as many as possible and upgrade if possible the areas of need…o-line and secondary,we have enough linebackers coming back off injury that we need to grade out that it is’nt as important as covering TEs’ and blocking better for the qb and rbs’,then we can look for a speed reciever,pass rusher,and depth behind 90.and i still think keim has his eye on a qb.

  33. By clssylssy on Feb 19, 2014 | Reply

    So Dansby wants to get paid. Why does that come as a big surprise and what is wrong with that? If a person doesn’t value the job he is doing nobody else will either. Most fans on this site expect to be paid for their hard work so what makes it any different for professional athletes except they have a specialized skill set and the window for their career life is shorter? Nobody questions the millions Michael Bidwill is making for ???, sitting in an office ? If the fans want cheaper ticket prices perhaps there should be a cutback in nonessential personnel and front office staff or the organization should just make the cut and Mr. Bidwill should call it a “charitable contribution” to the fans.
    The Cardinals have long had the reputation for being, not only the bargain basement shoppers for not-so-gently-used players, but downright cheap (kinda embarrassing to fans). We now have some quality players who go out and put themselves in the line of fire for our entertainment and we are gaining some positive attention…it’s coming together! However, our fans expect these professionals to do this out of the love for the game? No, this is their job and they get paid what the league and the market will bear. We are in a position to become a force in our division but we can’t do this by putting an inferior product on the field. If we want to run with the big dogs we have to be ready to spend some money. If we don’t want to pay players like Karlos Dansby, we can be sure another team will and it’s likely to be the 9ers or Seahawks! We had an exciting season in 2013 but in this business you get what you pay for (if you’re lucky) and now is not the time to play a game of chicken with our assets! There are ways to work with contracts without devaluing a players contributions, merits, and valued member of the organization. Hopefully Steve Keim is the creative financial prodigy he’s been promoted to be.

  34. By Dr. G. on Feb 19, 2014 | Reply

    A number of positions need to be addressed thru FA or the Draft… – But, let’s address the TE position for now. We have had 5 or 6 TE’s in 2013 with little offensive production and ongoing complaints about their blocking… I am tired of hearing it. TE”s want to play offense, not defense, but it’s nice if they can block.

    A hypothetical – How about drafting an offensive stallion like Jace Amaro – keep Housler and maybe a 3rd TE… then obtain a beef cake blocking FB to quell the blocking complaints and provide some short yardage runs?? The money for all those TE’s will be less and Arians’ will have the best of both worlds…OFFENSE and DEFENSE and help keep Ellington healthy going thru the line.

    Comments or ideas?

  35. By Dr. G. on Feb 19, 2014 | Reply

    P.S. I know! Arians loves TE’s and thinks he doesn’t need a FB…Be well…

  36. By Tevin Richard on Feb 20, 2014 | Reply

    The Arizona Cardinals need a speedy TE like Vernon Davis

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