Reassessing receivers after Fitz news

Posted by Darren Urban on February 2, 2017 – 9:50 am

So Larry Fitzgerald is coming back, a boon to the Cardinals — at least for 2017. After moving on from Michael Floyd (which was probable as 2016 moved on and Floyd heading into free agency, regardless of his off-field issues), the Cards needed a Fitz anchor at wide receiver. But for the long-term, does it change a lot? The Cardinals still need to consider a big receiver in the draft, I’d think, a guy who can help fill the Fitz void when that comes sooner rather than later (and the way this all has gone, it feels like Fitzgerald is going to want to hang it up after 2017.)

Again, the biggest question after Fitzgerald when it comes to wide receiver is the ability for Smokey Brown to return to form. If Brown is able to play next season like he did for most of 2015 (Brown did battle hamstring issues that year and it might have been the sickle cell issue), the Cardinals should be fine. J.J. Nelson was emerging the last part of the season. Again, there probably needs to be a long-term “big” receiver plan post-Fitz, but it’s not crucial. The return of Fitz does ease the pressure — and eliminates a potential hole — that could have forced something different at the 13th overall pick. Then again, if Clemson’s Mike Williams is still on the board …

(Besides, good passing games come down to the quarterback often. If Carson Palmer retires along with Fitz, the Cards’ QB situation will be priority 1, 2 and 3. And probably 4 and 5.)

No, you don’t forget running back David Johnson either. He’ll play a huge role in the passing game again, I am sure. But again, if Brown and Jaron Brown (torn ACL) can come back healthy, along with Fitz and Nelson, the Cardinals’ receiving corps should be fine for this season.


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33 Responses to “Reassessing receivers after Fitz news”

  1. By Woody on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Jaron Brown is the dark horse in the receiving corp. His talents are very obvious to me. Get him more involved in the passing game. He’d be a starter on any other team

  2. By JTDG on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Fitz fills a huge hole but you still must get a receiver.

    Whether it is Mike Williams, JuJu Smith Shuester, or Zay Jones, one of these guys needs to be drafted.

    Maybe two.

    As for QB, I think if this is the last year for Palmer and Fitz, can you afford to draft a QB in the first two rounds.

    Let’s say, you have Mike Williams at 13 and Guard Dan Feeny or ILBs Raekwon Mcmillian or Jarred Davis available at two, how can you draft a QB?

    These guys help us win in 2017. A QB doesn’t.

    Worry about 2018 in 2018. Be all in in 2017. Guards, Centers, Receivers, CBs, and ILBs – But no QB in 2017.

    Blake Bortles, Ryan Tannehill or AJ McCarren might be available in 2018. Don’t waste a pick in 2017.

  3. By D on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Mr. Keim is still in a tough spot for QB. 99.9% chance Palmer is back this year.
    But….the future of the spot after 2017 is dark and gloomy…

    A very good chance, Palmer, Larry and BA could all retire after 2017…so, finding a QB for a potential different HC will have it’s challenges…

    Stanton is a UFA after 2017.
    The Cards most likely won’t get a chance in this year draft at the weak top 3 QBs coming out…
    They will not trade picks for Vet like Grappolo and McCarron…they won’t be able to be in the competition for the higher priced UFA QB’s when paying Palmers salary in 2017, aka T. Taylor or Glennon (don’t believe Cousins will be let go by Redskins) A Cutler, Romo Hoyer doesn’t make since with Palmer here…
    which leaves drafting a QB in the later rounds of this draft to develop, or sticking with Dysert to develop for 2017 only and wait until the 2018 draft or hope B. Bortles becomes an option after this year… My top QB, for 2018 for AZ right now will be M. Rudolph from OK ST.

  4. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Larry is a warrior, so glad he’s in the fold. Suspect Palmer is on the road back as well, always guessed it would be a package deal. Of course, not knowable, but their comments along the way suggest that. Interesting mis-reporting by Jurecki on sale of his house (which Palmer refuted). Either its listed, or not, MLS not hard to search…

    If Palmer did move his kids to CA for school, likelihood this year is it. But win a SB, trying for 2 hard to walk away from. Sense my optimism for 2017? Lol. #CardsRule

  5. By Big Ken on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    I think Mike Williams is there at the 13th pick. Not many teams with ammo to be trade back partners. Cleveland or Titans maybe. Cleveland with the most to offer, two second rounders and say a fourth? Would give us ability to draft JuJu, Feeney and McMillian. But I guess that’s if we live in a perfect world.

  6. By clssylssy on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Totally agree with JTDG. With Fitz back for another try, the Organization need to go ALL IN this time with more than lip service. We need to take this recent “warning shot across the bow” seriously and treat the offseason like a reprieve, get a couple of big bodies WRs, a real shutdown corner, lineman, and worry about finding a franchise QB at a later date, possibly picking up one of the guys already in the league. In another year, under a different HC, he will want his own QB anyway.
    We are now officially on borrowed time, so if Keim is going to do anything, now it the time…tic toc, tic toc!

  7. By Scott H on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Well, it’s simple – with Fitz on board, the Cards remain among the best in the NFL ( even without Floyd ) at the WR position. Period. Without Fitz in the picture, I think we take a considerable drop ( until proven otherwise ).

    I’m SO glad he is back for 2017. Did I mention that?

    As disappointed as I was in Floyd over the 2016 season, I was just as impressed with how Nelson emerged. I think we are in great shape at WR for 2017. I think we can believe Smoky will have gotten to a better place with his health ( perhaps as PP did with his after the 2014 season ) and with how the other JB and Nelson were looking last season…..this group is lethal.

    That said, yes, there needs to be an addition of a “big” WR to fill the void created by already losing Floyd and Fitz’ pending departure. Beyond Fitz, that just doesn’t exist on the roster as is. Would be ideal to add that piece in the draft and have that player learn all he can from guys like Fitz and Palmer.

    But a 1-4 depth chart of Fitz, Smoky, Jaron, and Nelson looks great to me. With DJ rounding into form as the best all-purpose player in the NFL and how good Gresham was looking last year ( he was NOT being used enough, IMHO )….and Palmer dealing the cards…..can 2017 get here fast enough???

  8. By Eric G on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Best part is that the Cards will play here in Philly next year and will play in Washington, I will get to see two of his last games. Fitzgerald was so good, they made him #1 twice.

  9. By joe holst on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    I would rather see them take a tight end(OJ Howard) and then a receiver later, don’t count out NE Patriot castoff Aaron Dobson. Also I would let Chandler Jones walk and draft a edge rusher in this deep pass rushing draft, it would save a lot of cap space and if they can find Markus Golden then they can find another stud in this draft and use the $$$ to resign Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson.

  10. By JTDG on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply


    Who is Joe Pequino TV ? and is it reliable.

    Just saw a tweet that said DWash is coming back .

    Hoax ?? Can’t see the cards doing this.

    If true, Should we trade for Josh Gordon and call it a day?

  11. By Darren Urban on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: DWash

    Nothing in that tweet is any different than what Mike Jurecki reported a month ago. So nothing has changed for me since my corresponding blog post:

  12. By JTDG on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Big Ken,

    Love your perfect world

  13. By Cactus Jeff on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    How does the team get better if they lose CC, Fitz, or Chandler Jones? I don’t see it.

  14. By dkerry5242 on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Of course it’s crucial to get a big play receiver in place now. You can’t wait until next year when Fitz retires and then go into panic mode. The small receivers we have now will not cut it against the taller, bigger cornerbacks and safeties.

  15. By Big Ken on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Right on John!

  16. By Big Ken on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    So you’re the Cleveland Browns and you make that trade with the Cardinals. You have three first rounders: 1st, 12th and the 13th. They ‘covet’ Mike Williams. The Cards are 3 second rounders and 2 forth rounders. Wow! I’m dizzy even nauseated. I gotta lay down.

  17. By Don on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Except for QB I see our biggest need at RG and o-line…..again. Palmer took a beating last season and BA has already said he won’t let that happen this year. Unless they have a chance at a top QB I could easily see them going for someone like Feeney in 1st.

  18. By JTDG on Feb 2, 2017 | Reply

    Cactus Jeff,

    Why will they lose Chandler Jones or Fitz?

    In my world, They wouldn’t lose CC either.

    I’ve said before, the cards have around 40 million in 2017 and can get more with a few players released (like Branch).

    But best of all, they have 70 million in 2018 and will get another 20-25 million when Fitz and Palmer retire..

    You can push contracts for Jones and Campbell into 2018

    Simple Example, give Chandler Jones a 5 year 75 million dollar deal- With 2 million in salary in 2017 and 15 million in signing bonus. Signing bonus give Jones 17 million in his pocket in 2017 but is spread over 5 years, which means he would count for 5 million against the 2017 cap. In 2018, his salary would go up to 15 million and his 3 million bonus on top of it would give him a 18 million dollar hit each year. But with 90 million in cap space, they can absorb that.

    So, Jones is signed and you still have 35 million to sign FA. In 2018, you have 75 million to play with.

    Let’s say you want to add Kevin Zeitler. Same thing applies. Lets say you give him a 4 year 44 million deal. Again, give him a large bonus, say 16 million. It will count as 4 million in cap space in 2017 along with a 2 million salary and you now have the best guard in FA at 6 million in 2017.

    The Falcons did this with Alex Mack this year. Many other teams do the same.

    If you really want to go all in, That is how you get the players you want with a limited cap number in 2017.

  19. By Marlin on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    this tight end we have, Momah, he used to be a receiver. he strikes me as someone who can line up as a big slot receiver at times…. red zone, etc.

  20. By clssylssy on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    Joe Holst…
    If we were anybody but the Cardinals, or had a Coach who knew how to use a TE, I would LOVE taking OJ Howard as well, and one of the top WRs. However, it’s not in BA’s DNA to use a TE as his first choice in his offense, and only resorts to doing so when we are without options left in the receiver pool. We were so much better when we used Greshem in the final games but that was because there was little choice, we were without receivers and Larry was hurt.
    Personally, I love the TE position, but to waste a high draft pick on Howard would be a waste of Howard’s talent, as well as, a pick we desperately need on the 0-line (or depending on what they do with our defense, maybe on the D-line). We know we need a WR, Corner, and alternative for Carson down the road, plus our defense is “iffy” depending upon who returns and how Keim’s various draft projects pan out, how good TM really is after a year off, etc.
    I’m sure that after all the hype and hoopla, many fans are counting DJ as an additional receiver, however, we should bear in mind that with increased exposure comes increased risk for injury and rather than trying to turn him into some kind of superhybrid, we should just use his talents wisely without getting greedy. Or, move him to the receiver position and get another running back and resign CJ to go with Penny.

  21. By joe holst on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    15 million signing bonus for Chandler Jones? your not even close, By JTDG, it will take 3 to 4 times that, seriously fantasy land

  22. By shannon robinson on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG – This is your time buddy to lead us through the Valley! I also add to your analysis the chance to sign Swearinger and Jefferson with 3/4 year contracts and spread the money to 2018/2019. There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that Mr. Keim will make a signing of an Offensive Guard in the FA market like he did last year with $3 million on Mathis. I think they sign John Wetzel next. C A Q Shipley (the man with three initials) will wait for Keim to settle other matters and then sign with the Cards (he won’t leave BA who has given him his only shot). In my book the Cards traded Floyd for Dobson. I also think J Ross is intriguing as a Doucet look alike.I have a lot of faith in Smoke and his brother Jaron Brown.

  23. By JTDG on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    To take the cap a step further, Some might think some of this is out there, but sometimes thinking outside the box is how you win.

    In 2018; you can release any and all of these players and save a ton more.

    – Iupati can be released to free up 6.3 million

    – Bethel for 5 million

    – Mathieu – save 4.8 million

    – Veldheer – 7 million (although, unless I land a Tackle in 2018, I keep him)

    So, you could end up with as much as 115-20 million in cap in 2018.

    But you need players. So when looking at this, you can put together a simple plan.


    Free Agency;

    1. Guard Kevin Zeitler – If you push his contract into 2018, you can release Iupati in 2018 and help absorb the cost. Zeitler is one of the best guards in football and it would pair him with Iupati in 2017 as a very good pair of guards.

    2. Resign Swearinger – Signing swearinger gives the team flexability. With Badger at SS and Swearinger at FS, we have two of the best safeties in the game. But if the Badger, again goes down, Swearinger can step it at SS. I like the idea of developing Miller at Safety to play behind Swearinger. If you release Branch, you save 3.5 million in cap space to help with signing DJ.

    3. Resign Chandler Jones – I think 5 years 75 million with 35 million guaranteed could do the trick, although I would go a tade higher. And as mentioned above, if you give a large signing bonus and small 2017 salary, you can make it work.

    4. What will it take to sign CC ? The Bennett signing was interesting. Although it seems to be a long term deal, he is paid mostly in bonus and won’t see the end of the contract. Lets say you gave CC a 4 year 35 millon dollar deal with a 2-3 million salary in 2017 and a 16 million dollar bonus. This give Campbell the respect he deserves while protecting the team. How ? If cut in year 3, he would cost 8 million against the cap, cut in year 4, only 4 million against the cap,

    5. Got to sign a CB or two. I like Gilmore and he is projected to sign as a 11 million dollar guy. I make that deal easy. But I wouldn’t be done. I would look to sign either Bouye or Logan Ryan for the slot. How can we do this? The release of Badger in 2018, frees up 5 million in 2018 and 14 million in 2019. You can get both CBs in 2017 by pushing contracts forward. Also, releasing Bethel frees up 5 million.

    But take this a step further, a DB group of Peterson, Gilmore, Bouye, Badger and Swearinger is how you go all in. 2017 or bust. Why

    Because, I would look to trade in 2018 the best CB in the game, Peterson to move to the top of the draft. Not only does it save 10 million in cap space, it allows the cards to go get that QB in 2018. With Gilmore and Bouye at CBs, you could draft another CB to play the slot.

    The Draft;

    I like the idea of trading down in the draft. If you could get to the lower half of round one and pick up a two, that is your move.
    At the end of round one I am taking Jarred Davis LB from Florida. Long rangy fast guy who could start right away.
    In round 2, I am grabbing JuJu Smith at Receiver. A playmaker to help Fitz out.
    Second round 2, Pat Elflein C/G. Give Boehm a challenge and let the best man win and the loser could be 2018’s RG battling Toner and Wetzel.
    In round 3 again, I am doubling up at receiver with Zay Jones. Why? Because this guy has hands like Fitz , can block, run great routes and get deep when he needs to. Perfect to step in for Fitz in 2018
    In rounds 4-7, I am looking for another LB, Punt returner.

    This would be a team to win it all (all in) in 2017 and be prepared for life after Palmer and Fitz. In 2019, with a small QB salary, signing DJ and Gloden will be easy.

  24. By JTDG on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    joe hoist,

    Signing bonuses are examples. But the big thing is guaranteed money. If 35-45 million was guaranteed or structured in other bonuses, the same premise applies.

    Point is, teams do it all the time. They sign players to small hits in year one and balloon to year two and three.

    For instance, Badger got 5 years 62 million. 15 million was signing bonus but 40 million was guaranteed. Thats why in 2018, if released, overall they save 5 million in cap space but still have 9.3 million in dead space.

    Badgers cap hit was 4 million in 2016 and 8 million in 2017 and balloons to 14 million in 2017 and 18.

    Perfect example to show Keim and company understand this priciple and have done it.

  25. By Big Ken on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    I think the Rams might let Trumaine Johnson test the waters. He had a down year last season. They’ve got Wade Phillips coming in as DC. No way he’s worthy of the franchise tag, but then again it’s the Rams.

  26. By michael on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply


    Great assessment but two small notes:

    Olivier Vernon signed with the Jints for 5yr/$85M. That’s the starting point for Jones, and he’ll get more. of course, keim can do things with the bonus/salary

    HoneyBadger ain’t going anywhere unless he gets injured. they’ve invested too much in him, both for his on-filed and locker room contributions

    Would love to bring in CB Gimore but without releasing HB in 2018 don’t see how that is done

    Cards are goingto need to get that CB2 in the draft. It’s a deep draft for CBs, so the idea of trading back to get an extra 2nd or 3rd rounder is intriguing, allowing Cards to address needs for 2017 (cb) and 2018 and beyond (WR, LB, OL)

  27. By JTDG on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply


    Thanks for the comments. All fair points.

    Jones Contract;

    I have said in previous blogs, if I was Chandler Jones agent, I would shoot for an Oliver Vernon contract.

    Vernon got 5 yrs 85 million with a 20 mil signing with 52 million guaranteed.

    But they staggered cap hit to be 13 million, 16 million and then 19 million over the first 3 years.

    What is interesting is Von Miller signed for more money ( 6 yrs, 114 mil) but got 70 million in guarantees., but only 17 million in signing bonus.

    But here is the interesting part, they paid Miller only 2 million in salary in 2016.
    But as we enter 2017, his salary (fully guaranteed) is 17 million, and 19 million in 2018. and then back to 17 million in 2019.
    But by the time 2020 rolls around, he can be cut and only 3 million is dead money, saving the broncos 19 million in cap space.

    Why 2020? Because, if Paxton Lynch produces, it will be time to pay him and let Miller move on. Brilliant use of the cap.

    Whoops got off topic a little. But the cards are in the same boat in 2018. Point is, they can play with the salary and bonus money to make the long term deal work. If you draft a QB in 2018 or 19, you have multiple years of a QB with low dollars just like Denver. So, paying Jones more, maybe. But it could still work.

    Honey Badger;

    Not going anywhere unless he gets hurt ? Exactly.. And which year did he not get hurt in? He is 5’9″ and 174 pounds and will be playing around the line of scrimmage. I’m rooting for him, but just do not see the long term for him. Especially, when he is earning 14 million a year and can save the team 5 million in 2018, 8 million in 2019, or 9 million in 2020 if released repectively.
    Health is the issue. Absolutely. That is what is behind my comment of releasing him.


    You can bring in one big FA just doing the cap straight up. If you push the salaries, it would be easy to make it work. Again, you could free up between 90 and 120 million in 2018. You just have to want to.
    I would want to.


    I agree that CB is a good draft group in 2017. If the cards draft a CB, I can’t complain.

    Why do I like WRs? In 2018, Jaron and John Brown are FA and Fitz retires. That leaves only JJ Nelson on the roster. Resigning the Browns sounds good on paper, but Jaron has 55 catches over 4 years. Not exactly a ton of production to hang your hat on. John Brown is battling an illness that I am not sure he can fully control.
    Receivers seem to be slow in development from college to the pros. If Mike Williams had 55 catches for 800 yards, it will be a good rookie year.

    So, just looking forward, we need some WRs who are developed in year two or 3 when our rookie QB takes over. I really like drafting two receivers in this draft.
    Because of that, I would rather sign proven CBs and draft ILBs and Receivers.

  28. By Scott H on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    What I’ve been seeing all along through the playoffs and what I will see all day on Sunday will be a big, dominant WR who wears a red #11 jersey for a bird team….who will NOT be Larry Fitzgerald. And that will suck. That is why I wanted him to return so badly for 2017. Maybe a year from now, we will see another big, dominant WR wearing a red #11 jersey for a different bird team, leading his team to a SB. There could be no more perfect ending to a career for a player like Fitz. Maybe the football Gods will help us out on this one, like they did for John Elway and for Peyton Manning. Fitz has been the WR equivalent to those players and he is no less deserving of being able to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

  29. By jwoodaz on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    Wow great stuff so far everyone! If healthy and 2 yrs is full recovery..Jaron Brown is into his own and can be the 1 or 2 if need be. The more he plays the better he becomes so far in this offense. Without being in the shadow of Michael Floyd, as with Wadkins in college his determination this year to establish himself should be paramount in his off season recovery and rehab. I believe he will do this and more. oh yeah and watch him take over in 2018.. With a proper diet and 20 more pounds J.J. Nelson will be hard to stop, a little thicker and he won’t be knocked down so easy and his yac should improve making him a 1,000 yard threat. Smoke too needs luck to and love to get healthy, and maybe 10 pounds more for him too, if all goes well a a 1000 yard guy himself. Pretty good start to a 2018 stable of receivers and we still have Fitzgerald by the way, thank you sir! He.s really not that old but his passion has to be there and the realization of how rare a talent like his is, and how awesome it would be not only for our current core but also any new draft picks or trades or UFAs to get to learn so much from such an accomplished man and receiver. time will tell but 2017 is all good, especially with a 2nd round or earlier pick. I would like to say best player available, but only a couple guys make that choice, and so far so good the past three years. This isn’t Keims forst rodeo when it comes to scouting and Drafting.. Sup Darren ty for your hard work.

  30. By Jacob Hewitt on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    Just heard from Clemson officials they said the cardinals need is QB and the cardinals were looking at QB Watson for draft. They said they are thinking about trading up for him . Is this statement true it also said Bruce Charles Arains is good Freind with coach Daboo Sweeney . Besides that is the statement true that the Cardinals are willing to trade up for him if Palmer retires

  31. By Jacob Hewitt on Feb 3, 2017 | Reply

    Oh and Darren
    The CBS Sports said the same thing Clemson said about Watson and Arizona cardinals

  32. By Big Ken on Feb 4, 2017 | Reply

    I think BA is pretty well connected in the world of football. This story of trading up to get Deshaun Watson is smoke and mirrors. If anything to get Mike Williams to drop in the draft. Nonsense that the Cardinals trade up.

  33. By Scott H on Feb 5, 2017 | Reply

    Lots of good things happening for the Cardinals so far in 2017….Fitz is on board, Fitz is a co-winner of NFL’s Man Of The Year, Warner getting in the HOF….lets’ hope there is more to come!

    VERY happy for Kurt. Some may feel that he did his best things while he was with the Rams….and that’s fine. But without what he did for the Cardinals between 2007-2009, he probably doesn’t have enough to get him in. So, as he puts that gold jacket on, Cardinals fans can know that our team helped get him there.

    In that regard, the Cardinals and Kurt Warner definitely had a mutually beneficial relationship. Without Warner, we don’t go to a SB in 2008. And without the Cardinals, he is ( probably ) not a a HOF’er. Worked out well!

    Hoping for a similar outcome to our relationship with Palmer. The Cardinals rescued him from the NFL purgatory that was the Oakland Raiders ( at that time ) and gave him the best team he has ever had around him. And he….well, he may yet take us to heights we have never known before it’s over. One can only hope fairy tales really do come true.

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