Making 2014 a Housler of Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2014 – 12:19 pm

Robby, Bruce Arians said, has had a “fantastic” offseason so far. And that’s at least a start.

Where Rob Housler goes from there, we’ll see. It seems that Housler’s “make-or-break” year, or “year to make a leap” has been every year except his first. The Cardinals are still waiting, and now the reality of the NFL means time grows short. Housler is in the last year of his rookie contract. The Cardinals signed John Carlson (who has looked very good so far), brought Jake Ballard back to health and drafted Troy Niklas. Even, at least in the heat of OTAs, Darren Fells has looked the part. Arians has called his tight ends group “an NFL room right now” and they all certainly look the part. Making this team — and getting playing time — won’t be simple.

Housler, to start, needs to stay on the field. He knows that. He’s battled that since he got into the league, and his ankle injury that derailed him in training camp and then into the regular season last year did not help. Just as things picked up midway through the season he dealt with a missed game with a bad groin. He still had 39 catches and a career-high 454 yards. He still looks like that tight end who could be such a major mismatch/threat down the middle. No, he’s not the blocker that perhaps Arians wants at the position, but he still can bring much to an offense.

With his contract coming up, the motivation will never be greater. Given how the offense runs, Housler’s never going to be a 70-catch guy. Not here. But he can be more than he has been. Arians feels confident with the guys he has at the position now, and seeing how Housler fits into the puzzle — and how that impacts him beyond 2014 — is one of the more intriguing parts of this season.



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53 Responses to “Making 2014 a Housler of Cards”

  1. By iammattyoung on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    I don’t know a whole lot about offensive formations, but with guys who can be more of the blocking tight end, is it possible that they just move Housler to WR? I mean he’s not that much bigger than Brandon Marshall, who’s a matchup nightmare for smaller corners.

  2. By D on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    What’s your projection on how many TE they keep this year? 4 or 5?
    I think Fells would get picked up by another team sometime during the year if they tried to sneak onto the p squad.

  3. By Darren Urban on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Tight ends

    I expect four on the active roster.

  4. By ored on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    probably playing a scheme that entails many wr sets so he could be called a hybrid wr,just need to put him in there when it plays to his strengths whenever and wherever that is.last year was his best by far but still lacks consistency,he needs to make those clutch catches that will instill confidence in both himself and the qb.once he gets there he becomes a weapon other teams have to account for.he has the speed that fits us,just needs to be that player that catches everything in his catch radius.

  5. By Big Ken on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    Housler is not without talent. It looks like he could be dealt to the right team. Patriots? Atlanta? Tennessee?

  6. By Andy kw on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    OLB Quentin Groves was released by the Cleveland Browns. Lets sign him, convert him to an ILB, and let him have a battle with Ernie Sims and Larry Foote for the starting job. This guy is fast and can play up to speed like Daryl Washington. He is a good pass rusher and I think he can produce equal or even better than Washington.

  7. By warnerHOF on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    housler always looks good when there is no contact. he is afraid of taking a hit, that is why he will never be consistent at catching the ball.

  8. By Mike Ellingboe on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply


    I suppose you could, as most of today’s TE’s are just glorified WR’s anyways (see Jimmy Graham’s on-going dispute with salary arbitration). However, with Fitz and Floyd in front of him, and with Ginn and/or Brown as the slot receiver (or however Arians chooses to line those 3 or 4 up) I don’t think that’s where he’ll want to be either.

    What Housler needs to accept, and I’m not saying he hasn’t, is that players who don’t have weaknesses get on the field a lot more than those who do. His best bet is to keep improving as a blocker and to be more consistent with catching what is thrown his way.

  9. By krehbieo14 on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    I think that Housler stays. He adds depth and speed to the TE group. Contractually, he’s motivated to have a great year. Trade-wise, I doubt we could get compensated for what he’s worth.

  10. By Bill Camp on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, given that Daryl Washington had already violated the NFL drug policy twice before, I would think that over the last year Steve Keim was concerned that it might happen a third time. Did he monitor Washington in any way? Are teams allowed under the CBA to conduct their own random drug tests? If they are, did the Cardinals conduct such a program for Washington or others? Assuming Keim and others had concern, did it enter into the Cardinals’ decisions on Dansby and on the 2014 draft? Would think that it would have, but the results don’t seem to support that.

    By the way, how far apart was our contract offer to Dansby from what he actually got? I know we offered 2 years vs the 4 years he got and the total seemed to be about $24M vs $12M or so, but I suspect the guaranteed money was much closer and the salaries in 2014 and 2015 might have been within range of each other too.

    Thanks for all the info and insight you provide Darren.

  11. By Darren Urban on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    Bill Camp —

    RE: Questions

    1) The NFL was monitoring, which is how he got caught. I don’t believe teams can just test on their own.
    2) On Dansby, no way to know for sure. I’m guessing it wasn’t that close. This team was not locking up a player at his age for that long.

  12. By Louisville Card on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply


    Don’t the cards randomly test Mathieu on their own? I thought that was part of his rookie contract?

  13. By Dr. G. on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    Well, I’m thinking this is just more of the “grain of salt” stuff from BA to try to motivate the other TE’s to step it up… Not bad strategy, but I think Housler’s time has come to an end for the Cards if he doesn’t wake up with a big S on his chest soon…. He has just never been what was projected sans the injuries…. Later…

  14. By krehbieo14 on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    I think that Housler stays. He adds depth and speed to our TE corp. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and will be motivated to be productive. I don’t think any trade would provide the Cards with enough compensation to make it worthwhile.

  15. By Skiptim on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    Not your best pun for a title, Darren. But I’ll give you a B for effort.

  16. By CreditCard on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    Trade one of tight ends for Ogletree. We could even toss in one of our three right tackles, just to show our sincere efforts in dealing in good faith

  17. By Smack28 on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    I think Housler’s days with the Cardinals should be numbered. Every year around this time, we get to hear about how this could be his breakout season only to see him drop key receptions at key moments in actual games. If he is not a willing blocker and does not play special teams, it is time to move him and get something rather than potentially cutting him and getting nothing.

  18. By georgiebird on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    We probably should get rid of Novacek, make that Awalt- I mean Housler.

  19. By Mark on Jun 6, 2014 | Reply

    I really have been a big Housler fan. I have been hoping to see him step up and play to his potential, but he just hasn’t. Housler actually seems to play scared sometimes and it confuses me, because he is HUGE. I feel like if he wanted, he could be the guy who scores 10TDs every season, and I really am hoping that he comes through this year. I am very happy we have some solid depth in the TE position now too. If Housler doesn’t work out, one of our TE’s will.

  20. By JohnnyBluenose on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    I don’t know if Housler stays or not. He has had ample opportunities to solidify his position on the team and he hasn’t done it yet. We certainly have other options. As far as Arians saying that Housler has looked fantastic, I just think back to last year when Arians said that Levi Brown was an elite tackle. Arians is sometimes devious and does not always say what he really believes.

  21. By clssylssy on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    We’re already hip deep in WRs (always good to have some skilled depth at this position, while so many team have none) so I don’t see Housler making it there. He showed some flashes of promise last season and I believe got a TD. He wasn’t really a Arians pick so I don’t think he has much investment in trying to develop him.
    I would think that with our new strength and conditioning program and our “speed” coach, Housler would get some additional help there and, of course, he is responsible for much of his own rehabbing of injuries just like Tyrann Mathieu.
    Perhaps fans need to give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a little credit rather than dissing him before anyone has actually hit the field. Can’t wait to see how things shake out…the team will no doubt undergo a number of “looks” before the final cut to 53. A strong TE corp could add a whole new dimension to our offense! GO CARDS!

  22. By clssylssy on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    I was under the impression that the teams did have the ability to monitor their players and that was even part of Tyrann Mathieu’s contract. It’s always nice to have someone to pass the buck onto but, IMO, employers are responsible for what happens in their house and for making sure the rules of the parent company are adhered to. Also, didn’t Dansby get some absurd amount of money like $24M when the Cards were prepared to pay between $10-12M for a 36-year-old who isn’t the elite player Fitz is and who I keep reading the Cards are not prepared to pay either next season even though Keim has said that Fitz wasn’t going anywhere. Will be interesting to see how that goes. I found it rather interesting that while named Fitz the best player in Cardinal history, the official Cardinal site made no mention of this?

  23. By Darren Urban on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    clssy —

    RE: Questions

    1) It would have to be a part of a contract. My guess is Washington, already in the middle of his contract, wasn’t about to do such a thing. Much different situation than Mathieu, who was trying to get in the NFL in the first place.

    2) Dansby was probably well overpaid by the Browns.

    3) One guy was picking the “best players.” I don’t think that’s some sort of overreaching, end-all, be-all choice. It’s clearly debatable.

  24. By George on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    I would like to see Housler stay this season. He will never be a good in-line blocker but the Cards have Ballard, Carlson and Niklas who are very physical blockers. With Housler’s size and speed, he has the ability to create mis-match problems for opposing defenses who would have to cover him with a linebacker or a strong safety. Remember how the Cardinals struggled with covering tight ends last season. Housler could be an effective weapon if he can stay healthy. I am rooting for him.

  25. By Smack28 on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    So far, I’ve been somewhat disappointed in the strategy with certain positions. First, Right Tackle is still a big question mark. If there are three guys competing, that tells me that no one has really solidified the starting position at this point. Darren, if this is a horse race at Right Tackle, who do you think is in the lead right now?

    Second, I am not that sold on the RB position. Although I really like Ellington, what has changed from last year to this year that now makes him an every down back? As for Taylor and Dwyer, neither have proven themselves as a thumper, so what is the actual plan here on third or fourth and short or to close out games in the fourth quarter?

    Finally, ILB is a mess. Regardless of picking up Sims who has not proven do be any more than a situational guy that has not played the inside much, what is the strategy here? On top of that, who is calling plays and running the defense? If its Foote, are we really expecting him to carry the load?

    It will be interesting to see how all of these things work out in the coming months.

  26. By Mike Ellingboe on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply


    While I admire your positive spin on just about everything, at some point a dose of reality does need to set in. Thinking that Groves could not only match Washington’s production, but surpass it is getting dangerous close to the delusional stage.

  27. By br on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    My main concern is the “contract year” issue, seen it so many times in the past, league wide, if somehow Housler has his breakout year (and actually has it, not like all the years before, where it was always talked about but never happened) and blows up the stat sheet, then the Cards break the bank and pay him big money, I fear that next year he reverts back to the coulda, woulda, shoulda, TE he has been to this point, then we are stuck with alot of “potential” and a very expensive 4th TE! I say give him a chance to blow it out of the water in the preseason, then trade him for whatever the best offer may be as far as a late rd pick next yr, or a solid steady veteran ILB that is in the final yr of his contract, and let him prove he is worth an extension, we need ILB’s more than TE, Ballard proved he is #1 TE in the short time he was here last yr, and Nikolas should be a solid contibutor (at least as a blocking TE) I think they should give Fells every opportunity to excel and make this team. Housler had his, as did Massie, (though I think Massie could be given this year to prove he can contribute consistently) but both could be used as trade bait for ILB depth or extra picks in 2015. In Housler’s case he either peels the coaching staffs eyelids off in training camp/preseason or he should be gone,either trade or cut.

  28. By rod on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    I thought the pun was pretty good actually.

    To prove I’m not sucking up, has anybody noticed what a good writer Ron Wolfley is when he writes articles? He’s really good.

  29. By Dr. G. on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    Housler must be a nice guy. It shows with the support he gets with the past performance. I wonder if he gets to work against Dockett or Campbell in full pad action to test his real mettle for blocking. And I wonder if Arians will give him the necessary opportunities on offense to prove or disprove his worth.

    I am concluding after the draft and FA acquisitions, that BA, perhaps with a nudge from Keim, will use the TE position needs to step it up on Offense this season. We simply cannot have other teams roll on us with their TE’s. We need to produce with all our receivers to include the TE’s in order to keep the defenders wary that we have a multitude of weapons….And here we are….Just try to stop us from rolling over on your guys…. I am of the opinion that Veldeer is the very best man we signed. He makes this offense instantly worth another 7-10 points better now that Palmer can be forever upright…. Eagerly I await the demolition of the NFC West. Be well Cards Fans…

  30. By clssylssy on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    Deone Bucannon sidelined with turf toe? Aw man! Seems like the Cards can’t catch a break and whenever I hear “turf toe” I think of Kevin Kolb and the time he missed on the field because of this extremely painful injury. Sounds like he will miss much of camp…any news about this or the possible repercussions?

  31. By Vinny on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    I thought Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield were a pair. What happened to Schofield? Thanks!

  32. By Darren Urban on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    Vinny —

    RE: Schofield

    He is in Seattle.

  33. By br on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    I thought Scholfield signed a pretty big contract with the Giants or some team out here on the East coast. Thought I remember reading that it was surprising that he turned a run to the Superbowl (and win of course) into a pretty sweet UFA deal, once again I could be wrong.

  34. By Darren Urban on Jun 9, 2014 | Reply

    br —

    RE: Schofield

    OB did agree to a 2-year, $4M deal with the Giants but then failed his physical. Subsequently he re-signed with Seattle.

  35. By Louisville Card on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    Andy KW

    You have had some pretty stupid posts that I haven’t commented on. To say that groves could be better than DWash is as idiotic a statement as they come. If he was as good as Washington do you really think Clevand would have cut him or the Cards when he played here before? He’s a rotational guy at best…we’ve lost one of the best ILB in the game no one is going to replace his production this year. Look towards the draft next year not some other teams castoffs….

  36. By br on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    Andykw statement about Groves being more productive will not be as you put it, “stupid” this year, because if Groves signs with a team he will have a more productive year than Mr. Pothead! More productive or not I would much rather have Groves on the Cardinals roster than Dwash, at least he would be a better teamate, and just doing that is much more production than Dwash ever produced on the field! Hopefully Washington will never produce not a single tackle for the Cardinals or any other team ever again, and I would be willing to bet he ends up with a lifetime ban, just sit back and wait, he will do all the work on this,no way he leaves the devils lettuce alone! So YES, if Groves were to sign with the Cardinals he would be far more productive than Dwash next year!

  37. By Coach K on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    Trade him for an inside linebacker. That’s the best possible move this year in light of the Washington loss.

  38. By red bird of death! on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren , What are the chances we pick up James Harrison in FA? One year deal? Anyone else’s thoughts????.??????

  39. By DP on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    I believe Housler is trade bait, and of course Arians would love to talk him up so other teams would feel good about his value. However his value is not worth much being in the last year of his deal. I would like to see him lineup at WR if he makes the roster create some mismatches and leave the TE department to the established pros we now have at that position Carlson, Ballard, and the Rook Niklaus are all heavy hitters corn fed monsters that love contact but can still run routes and make plays when called upon. Housler for me has been the posterboy for inconsistency, more drops than much needed catches in crucial moments. Funny how after road SEA game when he bobbled the sure TD in the back of the end zone which was then picked off, you never saw or heard of him the rest of the year. Bruce wants results and gets them or you don’t play which is why I love the man leading our ship, lets ride this thing full circle and end it in our own backyard. In my best Ron Wolfley voice “RISE UP RED SEA”

  40. By Andy kw on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    You have had some pretty stupid posts that I haven’t commented on. To say that groves could be better than DWash is as idiotic a statement as they come. If he was as good as Washington do you really think Clevand would have cut him or the Cards when he played here before? He’s a rotational guy at best…we’ve lost one of the best ILB in the game no one is going to replace his production this year. Look towards the draft next year not some other teams castoffs…

  41. By Mike Ellingboe on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    Red Bird,

    I’d be surprised if we went that route. He’s an OLB, and we have a bunch of those (Abraham, Shaughnessy, Acho, Okafor, possibly Alexander). Not sure where he’d fit, and who would be let go to make room for him.

  42. By cardsalltheway on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    Cardinals brass should’ve known D Wash was going to fail the drug test and traded him.

  43. By Scott H on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    Sorry, but I just can’t get that excited about ant discussion of the TE position as it relates to this team. I mean, when you look at what has been the involvement of the TE in our offense over the last several years ( and then some )….has it really mattered who has played the position? It really hasn’t. So? Given that Arians seems to think of the TE as a blocker first, a pass catcher second, then Housler wouldn’t seem to be what this offense is looking for. I maintain that I would LOVE to see the TE more involved as a weapon in the offense, but…I’ve been saying that for years and nothing has changed.

    And, honestly, I am more excited about John Carlson than Housler at this point.

  44. By Dr. G. on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

    DP -??? Line Housler up at WR??? I guess that would mean sitting Fitz or Floyd. Floyd is tougher! Keep in mind that BA wants Ellington to play a significant role… and with Brown and Ginn to stretch the field along with the other WR’s on the roster right now. WR is not a position that Housler will EVER be slotted for. He would not make the practice squad as a WR…

    I keep reading from some that he is timid of contact; that was shown last year; he has been injury prone; and his performance has been mediocre. Some posters think BA is praising him in order to get some trade value…. I think all these opinions are valid. Housler will be gone soon…unless as I wrote prior….He awakens with a big S on his chest… Be well….

  45. By Big Ken on Jun 9, 2014 | Reply

    I thought Groves had his own brush with the law after her left the Cards for Cleveland?

  46. By Andy kw on Jun 9, 2014 | Reply

    What is wrong with Quentin Groves returning? He can block on special teams, has the speed to play well at ILB and he has the size. I was really disappointed when I saw him leave the Cardinals in 2012 and I would love to see him return. He is 29 and is around Daryl Washington’s age.
    So LOUSIVILLE CARDS, he could very well play better than Daryl Washington if not match his skill set. He did very well in him limited reps with the Cleveland Browns. His 6-3 265lbs is the perfect frame.
    Thanks BR for the support. LOUSIVILLE CARDS is a hater that’s all.

  47. By Scott H on Jun 9, 2014 | Reply

    Mike Ellingboe –

    You make a good and interesting point – many of the “stud” TE’s in the league right now ( Graham, Gronk ) play for teams that lack true stud WR’s, or at least, more than one of them. With the Saints, they have Colston…they have no one else that comes close to a stud WR AND Colston is kinda borderline. The Pats haven’t had a stud WR in years but their offense is always more geared to spread the ball around to everyone. Now, Vernon Davis DOES have stud WR’s around him. He is still a stud TE but less so in recent years with the emergence of Crabtree and, of course, the arrival of Boldin. There’s Witten, who continues to get his even with very productive WR’s around him. And I seem to be contradicting myself at this point, so…never mind!

    But, whatever, the Cardinals had THE top duo of WR’s in the league for few years with Boldin and Fitz. Breaston gave them a triple threat for a few seasons. Then it fell off when Boldin & Breaston left BUT the QB play was so God-awful for few years, it didn’t even matter. Now, Floyd has arrived and Fitz is still going strong. With Ginn Jr on board, it seems like a triple threat in the making again. Palmer is well-suited to throw deep, so….yet again, the Cards offense seems geared to feed their big-play WR’s and there’s only so many balls to go around. And if that works for this team, then that is more than fine with me. Let the TE block for Palmer so he can get the ball down field!

    All that said….a guy like Carlson can be a VERY productive target in the red zone…

  48. By cardsalltheway on Jun 9, 2014 | Reply

    The truth hurts doesn’t it?

    “Cardinals brass should’ve known D Wash was going to fail the drug test and traded him.”

  49. By Darren Urban on Jun 10, 2014 | Reply

    cardsalltheway —

    RE: Truth

    Did you just quote yourself?


  50. By Mike Ellingboe on Jun 10, 2014 | Reply

    Scott H,

    I hadn’t thought of that angle myself, the point of calling them glorified WR’s is due to where they line up. Previous to the passing revolution that we’re witnessing nowadays, TE’s almost never lined up anywhere other than right next to the tackle, usually the right tackle. Now they line up in slot formations so much even they can’t agree on what position they play, hence the argument by Graham and his agent that he should be considered a WR for arbitration purposes. (And the reason why it’s so hard to find one capable of blocking when they come out of college).

    Do I think Housler would be a better WR than TE? Until he learns to block better, it’s possible, but that’s not a position he’d want to convert to on this team. No disrespect to Carlson, Ballard or Niklas (who I have very high hopes for), but would you rather compete for playing time against them, or against Fitz, Floyd, Brown (projection on my part, but looks pretty strong) and Ginn? Especially when Floyd is already a better blocker than Housler is?

    Not to give them any props, but I do have to mention I don’t classify Davis as a glorified TE, he’s the real deal at that position.

  51. By Mike Ellingboe on Jun 10, 2014 | Reply

    Andy Kw,

    While he didn’t need to resort to insults, the point Louisville was making is comparing a guy, favorably, who has 8.5 sacks in 6 years at a position designed to get you to the QB, and 157 career tackles, to a guy who’s 2012 season totals basically matched Groves’s career numbers, is ludicrous. Like I said, while I admire your positive spin on things, even you can’t possibly believe that Groves is capable of moving to that position effectively, much less exceeding (?) what Washington has done since his arrival here, can you?

  52. By Scott H on Jun 10, 2014 | Reply

    Mike E-bone –

    Yeah, the TE HAS become more like a WR for some teams and with Graham and Gronk, they have become THE primary option in the passing game. Until his injury, it absolutely amazed me that Gronk was scoring TD’s every week, week and week out. I mean, didn’t other teams KNOW where Brady was going with the ball in the red zone??? They had to. Yet, they couldn’t stop it. Pretty much the same with Graham.

    The QB is yet another consideration in this discussion. Because it certainly helps guys like Graham and Gronk to have two of the best QB’s of the modern era running the offenses they play in. They don’t succeed as they have without that.

  53. By Mike Ellingboe on Jun 10, 2014 | Reply

    @Scott H,

    All very true.

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