On Jefferson’s tender and Cooper’s position

Posted by Darren Urban on March 2, 2016 – 4:46 pm

No official announcements coming from the Cardinals today, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a little news — or potential news — floating around. The most concrete were the multiple reports that the Cards tendered restricted free agent safety Tony Jefferson a right-of-first-refusal offer. That’s worth $1.67 million for 2016, and if Jefferson manages to sign an offer sheet for a long-term deal elsewhere, the Cardinals have the right to match.

But it carries ramifications. Jefferson was undrafted as a rookie. This tender offer means if another team signs Jefferson to an offer sheet and the Cardinals choose not to match, the Cards would get no compensation. They could have tendered Jefferson at the second-round pick level ($2.55M) and, if Jefferson signed/left, they would have gotten a second-round pick. This decision is a little surprising, especially given the free-agent status of fellow safety Rashad Johnson and the ACL rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu, but I’m guessing the Cards believe they have a handle on what they think the market will bear.

Teams must officially tender their restricted free agents by March 9. Wideout Jaron Brown and safety D.J. Swearinger are the remaining RFAs; Punter Drew Butler already re-signed.

Then there was the chatter about the Cardinals considering the use of Jonathan Cooper at center. It isn’t that Cooper is definitely moving, and certainly at this point before free agency and the draft, a lot will have to do with who is brought in during those periods. But it could be an option. It isn’t a shocking thought; Cooper was the one taking third-string snaps through much of the 2014 season during warmup periods. I even asked Cooper in training camp last year if he could play center. He acknowledged he had done it a little in college, but also said the Cardinals had never really broached the subject with him. Certainly it would give the Cardinals flexibility in configuring the offensive line going forward.



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47 Responses to “On Jefferson’s tender and Cooper’s position”

  1. By joe holst on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    I hope they sign 49er Free agent guard Alex Boone, it will stabilize the line .

  2. By dynosoar on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve always liked Cooper and would love to see him actually grab that every down roll (or at least most downs). Before his injury he was showing good things (I know, it was pre-season). It was a bad break for him (yes, bad pun intended.)

    Cooper at center, given that Sendlein was released and brought back and then became the cemented starter, can Cooper replace him?

    I’d just like to see him in there a lot, that would mean he’s gotten it and realized his potential and I love to see someone realize potential.

    Play our best and let the season play out.

  3. By texascard on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    Love the idea of cooper at center. Sounds like dj is ready to step in as well. Oline is (at least on paper) very talented. These boys can push forward. And as unpopular as it is to the carson palmer fans, the only way to win next post season is to run the ball. 40 to 15 will never win. Home or away. Control the clock, control field position and impose our will on the opponent. Palmer needs a run game to get him over the hump. Many people are overlooking how poorly he played not only in carolina but at home against packers. This it it for palmer. Make or break. Give him a run game and you give him a chance.

  4. By CreditCard on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    Cooper at center — I suggested that a year ago! Having a quick center getting to the second level on a 4-man front is vital. Cooper’s has the speed, and I think Cooper has the athleticism to be center. Cooper’s size is more of a center than a guard as well.

    Free agency has some good guards, as well as the draft, or a converted tackle into guard (ie. Massie or Humphrey) moved over to guard. Plus the Cards still have Watford waiting in the wings.

  5. By sbrown on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    maybe a bit of a surprise of the low tender as Tony J. is one of the fan favorites, but with only 19 – 20 mil in cap space ( really not that much team has to keep 4 – 5.5 mil for rookie pool ) Cardinals really need to not overpay for anyone to make the most of their cap space.

    I think Tony J. works in the Cardinal system, and if they loose him, Johnson and Powers that takes a lot of depth and experience away from team.

    SK is really going to work some cap magic this season, maybe a couple of contracts need to be re-worked to free up some cap space.

  6. By rod on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    The Drew Butler re-signing is straight up baffling.

  7. By J Rocc on Mar 2, 2016 | Reply

    Any news on rashad Johnson ?

  8. By Darren Urban on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    J Rocc —

    RE: Rashad

    No news, and I don’t expect any before free agency begins.

  9. By Corgon on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    I hope we’ll not lose Tony. He’s a hungry, talented young player. I think he’s a really valuable piece in our D.
    About Cooper, I think this is just smokescreen. We’ll pick a center early in the draft.
    Travis Frederick was a reach in 2013 for Dallas and everybody laughed about them. But then he went to a day one starter, All rookie, and now he’s 2 time pro bowler/2nd team All pro. There are guys who can play center from day one. Could they pick someone else, maybe better? Yeah, sure, but this kind of compensation is quite nice. And it was the 13th pick, not the 30th.
    I’am not say we have to take a C in the first round nor not sure we’ll, but i think BA is just talking, but in the meantime we have someone on the board in the first 50-60.

  10. By cardsbaby on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    I don’t like them low balling Tony or the idea of Cooper at center. It’s not like the cap stayed the same. It is going up considerably. Those 2 first round offensive line picks better pan out or we will be right back where we were not to long ago.

  11. By Darren Urban on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    cardsbaby —

    RE: Jefferson

    There is a big difference between lowballing and giving the low tender. I don’t think they necessarily lowballed him. They did leave the door open for someone to take him, though.

  12. By fastert on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    cooper at center? and there goes my dream of alex mack.

    veldheer, iupati, mack, cooper or larsen, and humphries as starters, sendlein, larsen or cooper, and crisp as backups, that would have been a dream line.

  13. By Darren Urban on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    fastert —

    RE: Mack

    Mack is not coming here. He wasn’t regardless of Cooper. Too expensive.

  14. By clssylssy on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    A little anxiety provoking as it seems Keim is playing fast and loose with our defensive strength, the secondary. With so many teams coming out of the gate strong, I find the Cards a little underehelming as it seems they are hanging an awful lot on a very weak draft class and our track record with that to date being average at best.
    I like that they are at least thinking about the O-line but am skeptical of Cooper’s creds and get the impression they don’t want to use a lot of our resources up front…like it’s not as important as more flash some place else, our ongoing problem forever!

  15. By Michael E on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Maybe I’m not understanding this correctly, but in order to save roughly 900k they’re taking a chance on losing Jefferson and/or a 2nd round pick? Just doesn’t seem right to me, but then again I’m not the one getting paid to make those decisions

  16. By Charles Isaacs on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    The center position in football requires leadership, awareness, and strong connection with the QB. The center has to listen to the quarterback’s say hike, while preparing to block the nose guard and watch the play clock and be ready to snap the ball when a defender jumps offside while trying to beat the snap count. I just don’t think that Cooper is ready for all that responsibility yet, but maybe he could try to be the long snapper on punts and field goals

  17. By John The Draft Guy on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Cooper at center is a last ditch effort to save the number 7 overall pick. Three years of nothing at guard, so why not try center. The cards need one and he needs to find a spot.

    I still would look to draft Ryan Kelly or the kid from ND in round 2 for center. If cooper can play center, they could slide to guard. If cooper can’t, well you have someone who can step in.

    I saw DJ (NFL Network) mock Makenzie Alexander to us at 29. Now that would be amazing. I think he goes much higher, but this CB is in the same mold as Sherman and Norman. If he fell, that would be awesome to pair him with PP. If not, I will say again, Eli Apple would be a great pick. Remember, back in 2011, before that horrible trade, when we thought we would have DRC and PP at CBs? Drafting Apple or Alexander will be like that.

    To come out of the draft with Alexander, and Kelly in round 1 and 2 would be amazing.
    In round 3, there are 3 edge rushers that interest me. James Cowser, Eric Striker, and Charles Tapper. I think Cowser could develop into a double digit sack guy. Striker is a pass rush specialist, and Tapper is just an athlete.

    In round 4, if we could land Kevin Hogan, that would be a quality player and good spot for the risk reward. Hogan has the stats, athletic ability, and toughness. His delivery is like Philip Rivers and his footwork is bad (like Rivers), but he produces. With BA and Moore, I think they could have something there.

    So, a perfect draft, regardless of FA would be;
    1- Alexander or Apple
    2- Ryan Kelly
    3- James Cowser
    4 – Kevin Hogan

  18. By DTL on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Seem to recall discussion on D’Urb’s blog last year about Cooper move to Center, seem to recall BA saying he wasn’t candidate due lack of knowledge of Offense? Dont know, dont mean to demean Coop, sweet guy, no idea of what his capacities are. But wonder if my recollection off or did BA visit this issue last year? Possibly not a candidate midseason and offseason makes the difference?

  19. By georgiebird on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Cooper should be an All-Pro guard at this stage of his career. OK -he’s had an injury but now he can’t even beat out a journeyman guard in Ted Larsen. Cooper can’t even get into a game on most Sundays. The top two draft choices in the past 3 drafts is not a strong suit of SK.
    Any talk of the center position for Cooper is a sad, sad day.

  20. By Daytripper on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Charles Johnson was just cut by Carolina…is he worth pursuing as our high-price?
    FA…or too old?

  21. By Darren Urban on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Daytripper —

    RE: Johnson

    I would think too pricey. I don’t expect big money spent by Cards in FA. Need to save some cap space for their own extensions.

  22. By dkerry5242 on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    The Cards always go for the cheap when they try and re-sign FA’s. You would think they would learn by now.

  23. By Darren Urban on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    dkerry —

    RE: “The Cards always go for the cheap when they try and re-sign FA’s.”

    Um, Dockett, Fitz (multiple times), Campbell, Palmer, PP.

    There is a reason players are allowed to get all the way to free agency. And there are prices the team decides each player is worth.

  24. By dkerry5242 on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Ryan Kelly would be a great pick at center; but I doubt he’ll last til the second round.

  25. By Richard L on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Cooper is a bust. They need to draft the right guy to play center I hope Keim listens to Arians on the next lineman they draft.

  26. By georgiebird on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    There’s a point here that has to be stressed over and over and that is- the Cards are looking for the 2 biggest prizes- NFC Championship & SB.
    1) Moves that will make the Cards competitive are now in the rear view mirror
    2) Cards must now get the best of the best both in FA and in the draft
    3) It’s time for the Cardinals to go 100% for the ultimate prizes
    4) it will be a sad day if the Cards fall back from the gains of 2015

  27. By Scott H on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Cooper to center….hmmmm. I thought about it for awhile before I responded and I gotta say….why am I not feeling good about this?? I’m kinda feeling along the lines of what JTDG said, in that this feels like they are just trying to find a place for Cooper. Now that he basically failed to take over the position he was drafted for. AND after Shipley failed to take over at center, facilitaing the need for the team to go back to a guy they released during the off-season.

    This is a team that, based on what they did in 2015, is right on the doorstep of taking the NFC title. Do we really think the answer at center, along an O-line that we have put so much into, is a conversion project???

    I guess we will see how this goes, but….if we roll with this into / through the pre-season and it just isn’t working….the price to pay could be pretty steep if we have to go into 2016 with a Plan B at center because the Cooper experiment failed.

    Not feeling like a great start to the off-season. Somehow, the re-signing of Drew Butler didn’t do a whole lot for me.

  28. By Darren Urban on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Offseason

    Really? We haven’t even reached the start of the new league year and you are “not feeling like a great start?”

  29. By Big Ken on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    So another team comes along offers Tony Jefferson a reasonable 3-5 year deal and as long as it’s what Keim feels is reasonable, they match it and lock Jefferson up for several years. I don’t think that’s low balling TJ.

  30. By Big Ken on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Okay, just one more idea. Cardinals stay put at the 29th pick. Draft one of these guys: Robert Nkemdiche, Jonathan Bullard, Shilique Calhoun, Emmanuel Ogbah, One of these guys will be there, do your homework.

  31. By Dr. G. on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Darren – – Are you able to provide a progress report for Mathieu? We hope his spirits are high too. He will be walking normally now, but for a world class athlete, he has lots of rebuilding to do. This injury is basically half what trashed his knee the last time, so we have as much hope as he that he will be able to go all out when the season starts. Thx

  32. By Darren Urban on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Mathieu

    There will be plenty of time for updates. It’s March. Let’s see where he is in June. And August.

  33. By NJAzCardsFan on Mar 3, 2016 | Reply

    Darren- Any chance Massie returns…???

    At this point do you see CJ2K coming back…???

    If any of the Cards FA signings happen, I guess they will be before or on 3/9???

  34. By Darren Urban on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    NJAZ —

    RE: Questions

    1. Very doubtful
    2. My guess is no, but I won’t be shocked if he does.
    3. Probably not.

  35. By Scott H on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    No, I am not enthused about the news about Cooper trying to convert to center. Doesn’t sound like I am alone, either. What do ya want me to say?

    Maybe it’s just a hangover effect from the way the season ended.

    Maybe the start of FA will bring something to be psyched about.

    But rest assured, while not thrilled about it right now, I will absolutely hope Cooper DOES become an effective player at center if that is what they are going to do.

  36. By Darren Urban on Mar 5, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Cooper

    You may be 100 percent right. That’s OK with me.

    But again, we are miles from the start of the season. Let’s not make this a roller-coaster.

  37. By jasonuscg on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    I think it is a smart move to see if Cooper can play center. Even though it isn’t 100% guaranteed that he will move everyone is up in arms about it….why? His first three years have been a wash and trying to see if he can excel at a position of need this offseason is a logical move. They tried Watford last offseason trying to find a spot for him and determined that he wasn’t a center. Best case scenario is that he embraces the position change and we have a center who, from an athletic standpoint, is a major upgrade for the line. Worst case scenario he competes for the right guard spot. I for one would love if he can change his fortune and finally start playing well for us.

    I’d be shocked by looking at mock draft and big boards this year if we didn’t draft defensive back or edge rusher this year. The only way we depart for that is if someone big falls.

  38. By John The Draft Guy on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply


    Just an off the cuff question.

    I’m not saying to do this, just to be clear. But what do you think the trade value for Campbell would be?
    I mean, he is a pro bowler and has been pretty consistent every year he has started. But he is 29 and has a huge salary.
    Do you think something like a 2 and 4? Or more like Boldin’s 3 and 4.

  39. By Darren Urban on Mar 5, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Campbell trade

    I would think it’d be more the Boldin comp. Aeneas got the 2/4, but as the years have gone by, it sure seems like teams have gotten more stingy in trade offers as the years have gone by. The problem is the combination of the age, large salary and the fact he’s in the last year of his contract makes a move a lot tougher.

  40. By D on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    Cards won’t and probably should not with limited CAP space go after high priced free agents next week.

    The recent moves by how they tendered the RFA tells you something.

    1- Jefferson right now is not in the long term plans. If no one offers a better deal, he’ll play next year on basically a one year prove it deal. Plus, no talk of re-signing R. Johnson. RJ has been a good player, but not great, as we all saw in the NFC Champ Game. RJ has been in the league for 7 years and has not signed a decent size $ deal. I hope another team for his sake blows him away in free agency and he get’s security, he deserves it. This means either through Free agency or the Draft they will take a Safety.

    2- Powers. Again, no talk on re-signing him. The team has stated they would like to get bigger and faster. Unless JP is BA’s guy, I don’t see him coming back with an increase offer from the Cards. He was better in 2014 than last year. He is getting older and not worth the $ he may get in free agency.

    3-They are paying Bethel starting CB $. They are paying PP huge $. They will be paying Honey Badger huge $ in the near future. The Cards will have a lot of $ in the secondary.

    I think they will add a Free agent, either Safety or CB next week. The bigger names/top FA’s, like S. Smith CB of the Chiefs and G. IIoka S of the Bengals will get better top $ deals in free agency, more than what AZ can offer.
    Because of the $ and future $ that will be invested, I see AZ signing next level $ players. Don’t forget, this is a good team, they don’t need big time $ players.

    4- The recent talk of Cooper moving to Center. This appears a last ditch effort to give him one more chance before he is labeled a bust. Since he does not have extensive experience playing at the Center spot, I don’t expect much.
    This also says they have little confidence in AQ. Since they
    want a young no experience second yr player to hopefully taking over at Right Tackle, that a Free Agent RG will be signed. Assuming Watford will be given a chance to compete at RT, worse case depth at RT. A center will need to be added to the fold, since Lyle will not be back.
    They could add a VET Center in free agency. But, this team has not had a young good Center in many years, I see them drafting one in Rounds 2 or 3.

    The names of free agent players that I think will be added next week will be:

    Alex Boone. He can play both RG and RT. He should not break the bank like the G/C from the Ravens.

    P. Amukamara CB. Local player that has had some injuries with the Giants, but he does have size and is 27. He and Bethel could compete for #2 CB.

    J. Freeman ILB. LB from the Colts to give experience, depth behind Minter.
    Weatherspoon just didn’t work out. The remaining depth ILB’s are young and have little experience.

    I don’t have a name for a Long Snapper. Sorry. I don’t see them signing a big name OLB unless his name is Freeney.

  41. By CreditCard on Mar 4, 2016 | Reply

    My opinions:

    1. Convert Cooper to center for following reasons: A. Last ditch effort to see if he is a legitimate NFL player or bust. B. Cooper does better with shorter players with shorter arms — Nose tackles are typically that build, thus he would be playing across from a player more suited lend him success. C. He has quickness to attack LB’s in running game on 4-man D-lines.

    2. Trade the 1st pick down (if another team is gullible enough to do so). This draft class reminds me of the 2013 class. Only a few 1st rounders, many low 2nd to 4th rounders. The quality of player at 29th is virtually no different than those players around 70-90.

    3. If successful in trading down the 29th pick, in consideration for a high 2nd rounder plus low 3rd rounder.

    4. Don’t laugh … 1st pick s/b Derrick Henry. Convert Henry into an edge rusher. Perfect body size for a speed rusher. He has the size, athleticism, speed, agility, knows how to maneuver through big bodies etc… He also could be used for short yardage situations as a RB. He is accustomed in playing in big games.

    5. The second 2nd round pick, select BPA, hopefully that will be a player like Cravens from USC (similar role as Buchannan), or a quality NT.

    6. 3rd and 4th round picks — look to small school standouts. The Cards have done an excellent job in this area in years past. I’ve said this before — whoever is the small school scout — give that man a raise!

  42. By Big Ken on Mar 6, 2016 | Reply

    RE: Campbell trade. (or cap casualty)

  43. By dkerry5242 on Mar 6, 2016 | Reply

    Zane Beadles was released by the Jags, not a bad guy to pick up for the o-line.

  44. By Cards3221 on Mar 7, 2016 | Reply

    Darren, about Tony Jefferson, he seems very childish in the way he’s handling the offer made to him via Twitter. Everytime a different safety from a different team is getting a new deal, he is reweeting it and it has nothing to do with him or his position and it’s like he’s trying to say something to the Cardinals buy doing it in a very immature way. I like Jefferson a lot, he’s a great player but the way he’s acting, I don’t see him coming back which is a bummer. Also if you Google Tony Jefferson, it says his current team is the Philadelphia Eagles, what’s up with that??

  45. By Darren Urban on Mar 7, 2016 | Reply

    Cards3221 —

    RE: Jefferson

    I would agree that TJ is disappointed with his contract offer. We’ll see where it goes from here. As for Google, you’ll have to ask them.

  46. By MartinK on Mar 7, 2016 | Reply

    Cooper will get his spot and I believe that shifting him around makes him more versatile and creates depth for the Cardinals. And despite the fact that I can see Cooper do a good job at center, now we have three unknowns on the offensive line with no clear path of improvement.

    The draft has some underrated guards and some tackles that have a future at guard and right tackle. Jason Spriggs is one of them. Some people argue we spent enough on OL. Only success or improvement will tell what is enough. We lost games because of pressure related offensive (QB/OL) failures. Once we stopped the bloodletting against Carolina our offensive line wasn’t dominant enough for us to retain possession and score to get back into the game. Of course, if we want to go back to 8 wins per season our OL is just fine…..

    And I agree with CreditCard that Cooper may do better with nose tackles and linebackers and that he has quickness to attack linebackers on the run down the middle.

    But I also think that he needs some true support from the coaches. In his second year there were a lot of mixed messages like “we can’t evaluate him until he shows up for practice” and then “he is a great talent and we have high hopes”.
    The man was physically unable to perform. It doesn’t matter how many times you say he is talented when you practically accuse him of being soft and unwilling to fight through injury.

    In his third year he was starting and lost his job through injury. Why would we flip-flop on our starters like that, especially when they are our future. I fully expected to see him back as a starter. The continuity argument for why it didn’t happen doesn’t make sense to me. Was there some kind of revelation regarding Ted Larsen that we didn’t see during training camp and preseason? Let’s hope this wasn’t about a perceived weakness to play through injury. Regardless, we ended up having a sub-par right side with players that are clearly not our future. That much for continuity!

  47. By John The Draft Guy on Mar 8, 2016 | Reply

    Let’s be clear on Cooper;

    Everyone is saying he can be good at center, or he gives us depth, ect.

    Please understand, this is the 8th highest paid player on the team.
    More than Honey Badger, Bethel, Jefferson, Buccannon, John Brown, Everyone on the defensive line not named Campbell, all 4 starting LBs, more than our safeties, more than the 3 offensive lineman on the right side.

    We could go out and sign a quality starting guard like Alex Boone for less money.

    He has hurt the team in both draft pick, salary cap and lack of production. 3 years of being a top ten paid player with no results. Understand that when you decide to talk up Cooper and having hope for him.

    Cutting Cooper would save 1.7 million. Lets take our losses and move on.

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