The prices of free agency, and other stuff

Posted by Darren Urban on March 13, 2017 – 5:07 pm

As we get past the first few days of free agency and the contract numbers begin to trickle in, we got a sense of how pricey the market was for some (like Calais Campbell) and how the Cards have interpreted those who have left and who have arrived. With that, some thoughts on some of the contracts handed out to recently departed and freshly minted Cardinals:

— Campbell got $30 million guaranteed over the first two years of his four-year deal, and gets a $3M bonus in early 2019 if the Jaguars choose to keep him. That’s a lot of money, but it’s why the Cardinals-Campbell marriage was destined to end. The Jags had (have) oodles of cap space, so they front-loaded the contract. The Cards didn’t see fiscally how that would make sense for them.

— The same goes for the $19 million guaranteed for Tony Jefferson and the $8 million guaranteed for Marcus Cooper, who got a three-year deal with the Bears. Bruce Arians said Cooper could get big money, and he did. I have to say I was a little surprised.

— Along those lines, I’ve heard from a handful of fans asking me about doing something like a trade for Patriots RFA CB Malcolm Butler. Not going to happen. To give up a pick and be facing a need for a giant contract extension in a secondary that already has two giant contracts with Pat P and Honey Badger, nope. This draft class is strong at cornerback. I’d guess they will draft one at some point. Will they add a vet? Maybe, but it won’t be for giant money.

— Karlos Dansby gets $2 million if he stays healthy and plays a lot. That’s a reasonable contract for a soon-to-be 36-year-old who figures to start. (Kevin Minter, who was unlikely to return after Dansby signed, was reportedly visiting the Colts Monday.)

— Jarvis Jones, the Steelers’ OLB free agent, was visiting the Cardinals. That would seem tied to Alex Okafor, who was visiting the Saints. If Okafor comes back to the Cardinals, they won’t need Jones. If Okafor departs, there’s a need Jones could fill.

— Have to say I was a little surprised Andre Ellington returned, not because the Cards wouldn’t want him — they need players behind David Johnson and Ellington can produce, especially as a receiver — but because I thought he’d want to find a place where he might get more time. The running backs market is not robust. And Ellington said he wanted to stay. Speaking of prices, I’m sure it was a team-friendly contract. It’d be good to see Ellington break off a couple of those electrifying plays he had his first couple of years.

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29 Responses to “The prices of free agency, and other stuff”

  1. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Mar 13, 2017 | Reply

    Ellington just may turn out to be a brilliant move. We know how goodd he can be, we’ve seen it in unreal flashes… It may be on a swing pass/wheel route with DJ on the other side, it might be as a slot alternative, but he is weaponized… Love this resigning.

  2. By Don on Mar 13, 2017 | Reply

    Ellington said last year that he realized he was better as a change of pace back. I’m surprised we kept him but I’m glad we did, he can still make some explosive plays.

  3. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Mar 13, 2017 | Reply

    PS: So if AQ is our C, Boehm might be our RG and backup/future C? Or, interesting endorsemen of Toner by Evan Mathis. Sleeper cell on the OL?

    Btw, heard Cards may get extra 5th 7th and TWO extr a3rds in 2018 as comp picks. 11 picks? Wow.

  4. By Wild Blue Yonder on Mar 13, 2017 | Reply


    Didn’t Keim have a radio interview this morning?

  5. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Wild Blue —

    RE: Interview

    Not that I know of.

  6. By dobie on Mar 13, 2017 | Reply

    I think Penny has potential hope the don’t give him up he will give you third down and short for a first down as for receiver got to see more of him doing that , he got heart, football sense that remain to be seen i am not an expert just a comment

  7. By Patrick on Mar 13, 2017 | Reply

    Keim always says the team sets the price of a player and that is what they are willing to pay. Who set the price for Jefferson at 3 years $12 million? Then 4 years $24 million? Who set the price for Gresham’s 7 million average? Hopefully for $7 million per year he can stop the stupid unsportsmanlike penalties. The other moves are okay, not sexy, not exciting, but okay. Glad Ellington is back, but he and Palmer tend to be on different pages on reading routes.

  8. By Steve on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, any chance we sign Anquan Boldin?

  9. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Boldin

    I don’t see it. He and Fitz are essentially the same player these days.

  10. By JohnnyBluenose on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Here is some more “other stuff” that may be of interest to some of you. Bernie Custis at 88 years old died a few weeks ago in Burlington, Ontario where he had lived since he moved from Philadelphia to Canada in 1951 to play quarterback for the Hamilton TigerCats of the Canadian Football League. The Ticats, as they are often referred to, finished with a record of 7-5. The next year Custis switched to running back and in 1953 the Ticats won the Grey Cup, the 100+ year old trophy that is awarded each year to the champion of the Canadian Football League. Custis retired following the 1956 season. In addition to quarterback and running back he also played receiver, defensive back and he returned kicks. From what I have been told Bernie Custis was a very good athlete. After high school he went to Syracuse Yes, that Al Davis)University in 1948 where he played quarterback for three years and while there he established passing records that stood for some time. His room mate at Syracuse was Al Davis (Yes, that Al Davis). Davis would later often offer coaching jobs to him but Custis preferred to remain in Canada. In 1951 Custis was drafted by Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns. Otto Graham was entrenched there as the starting quarterback and Custis assumed he would be his back-up but Paul Brown wanted him to play running back. Custis did not want that. Brown did not want to release him only to have him picked up by another NFL team so an arrangement was made which allowed Custis to sign with Hamilton. Following his playing career Custis stayed in Hamilton where he was a school teacher and school principal. He also coached Junior Football for the Burlington Braves and several of my friends were on his team in i965 that went to but lost the Canadian Championship game. One of the players on that team was receiver Tony Gabriel. Like Custis, Gabriel went to Syracuse where he established many pass receiving records and then played in the Canadian Football League for many years and was later inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame.. Custis coached college and university football in Toronto and in Hamilton from 1973 to 1989 and in 1994 he was inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame as a builder for his contributions to Junior and College football. Custis’ funeral was well-attended and many of his former players were there as well as Jeffrey Orridge, the Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. Bernie Custis had a very positive influence on the lives of many, many people. I wish I had met him but I will have to be satisfied with hearing stories about him from some of my friends who knew him. He is well-remembered and one of the things he will always be remembered for is this….Bernie Custis was the first black professional quarterback in the modern era. Rest in peace, Mister Custis.

  11. By jeffcardinalfan on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    imho its ridiculous that cards haven’t signed a right guard…IF CARSON IS NOT PROTECTED NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. some additional ol depth should b a priority as well.

    second priority should b CORNER. we must have a corner opposite pp who can handle opposing teams #2 wideout.

    I would imagine that we will get a corner and rg in free agency before the draft. Jarvis jones would b an upgrade over minter.

    even in todays sports world im still mind-boggled at players who look for a paycheck instead of a championship…lombardi must b rolling over…I sincerely hope that cc enjoys being double teamed on nearly every play and winning 4-6 games.

    it appears that the upcoming season will be largely dependent on remaining injury free and catching lightning in a bottle in the draft.

    hopefully ba is smart eough to adjust his offensive philosophy a bit…more shorter routes and not as many 50 yd bombs. we should wear teams out with passes to dj and Gresham which would open up some of the deep stuff(see brady). I would also love to see if penny could b an effective downhill runner.

  12. By Wild Blue Yonder on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply


    The reason that I asked about a Keim interview was I thought he talked with Woolfley (SP?) every Monday AM.

  13. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Wild Blue —

    RE: Keim

    That’s only in-season.

  14. By Scott H on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Yeah, so far, this FA period has not involved a whole lot of activity / movement for RB’s. Kinda surprising given that players like AP and Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles are available. Ellington staying here….really does less for me than having CJ back again would, I’ll be honest. If we lose DJ for any period of time, I have to look at CJ as a more capable replacement than Ellington. Ellington is just too small to take on a big workload.

    Last year, the Raiders seemed like the team that had an un-limited ocean of money to spend. This year, it’s the Jags. And both teams were SOOOO hopeless during the seasons that led up to that. Hmmmmm….seems to be a trend there but it’s NOT one I want to see the Cardinals fall into.

    We’ve already lost Campbell, TJ, and Swearinger. Could very well lose Minter and Okafor….maybe Rucker, too? THIS has me very concerned. I was NOT expecting so much turnover on the defensive side of the ball. Our defense was very effective last year with the guys listed above in the positions they played. Yeah, if guys like Okafor or Minter leave, there may be readily available replacements, but….two things – first, getting a replacement of equal ability is not guaranteed. And second, with all the turnover there will be at that point, there is no guarantee all these new pieces will come together in this defense to keep the defense where it needs to be to compete for top spot in the NFC.

    If anyone is looking at our defense RIGHT NOW and seeing a defense they think is SB caliber…..hey, good on ya, mate. But I’m struggling to get there. I get all the stuff about the numbers involved in the departures of Campbell and TJ, how it just wasn’t gonna happen here, they weren’t gonna get the money here they got from the teams they went to. I get that. But I go right past that ( reality or not ) to what that takes away from our defense on the field. Because come Sept, THAT is all that really matters.

  15. By D on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, we are at slim pickens in free agency for UFA for RG’s…you believe they will sign one and or will this be a late spring signing? I see a big hole on the Oline when BA and Keim say they need to protect their QB more in 2017.

  16. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Guard

    I’m beginning to wonder, all those times Arians has talked about the experience those guys got last year means they might stay in-house. Maybe sign a cheaper vet later. We’ll see. Not hearing anything right now.

  17. By Christian on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H, I posted this on the last blog for you.

    Scott H-

    Re: Not-as-Cardinal-fans

    I asked what you posted to my siblings. A Patriot fan, a Steelers fan, and a Cowboy fan. Steelers fan said we were done and conceding (there has been bad football blood there ever since the Super Bowl we lost). Pats fan said she thinks our FO is confident that we were a few pieces away from playoffs (she also blamed some of our early losses on the inexperience and poor outings we had from some key special teams players). Cowboys fan said our only real need is G (may not agree with him) and that we couldn’t bid high enough for the top talent there. I hope that helps.

  18. By Christian on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    I also feel that our offense is our playoff-caliber unit at this point. Idk about SB caliber, but few things outside of Massachusetts can be spoken of in such a way.

    I know this opinion won’t be popular, but I’m a defense-fan who isn’t too worried about our defense. We need improved play at CB2, but we should have that if Bethel is healthy OR if Williams plays more experienced OR if Jenkins comes back healthy. I like the odds of us getting one of those three things. Our only other defensive need is to maintain our pass rush, which would require Nkim making the leap OR Gunter stepping up OR Peirre cracking the rotation.

    Notice that I’m not saying we need the above 6 ifs; just one would probably be enough. We already know that Los is a more consistent backer than Minter (especially on passing downs), which makes everyone’s job a bit easier. So, while I am excited for any improvement we decide to make, I think our defense at this point should be fine.

  19. By clssylssy on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Yep, we are still on the same page and perhaps you can now understand where I was coming from in some of my recent remarks. I know you don’t live here in AZ and so don’t “live” the local sports news (as well as the national stuff) 24/7. Normally the local sports sources and the community has been REALLY REALLY high on the Cards but since 2015 , not so much and recently AzSports has questioned whether the Bidwill/Arians/Keim alliance has effectively run it’s course and blown any hope of a SB appearance/win.
    I see we have now lost Okafor to the Saints for $3M and Eddie Lacy has signed with the Seahawks who are also hosting Charles while the Saints and Malcolm Butler are continuing in negotiations.
    It would seem that the Cards are only signing a clique of “BA’s boys–from years past”. Ellington fits in w BA’s boys although CJ is the better player. I think Arians lost the locker room last season which is really why nobody wants to stick around for a last go at it, even with Fitz & Palmer returningYeah, money talks but so does a real shot at a Championship and it doesn’t seem many of our FAs still believed in the dream.
    Mr. Bidwill made a promise to fans when he brought BA aboard, but except for a few of us old timers, the climate at U of Phoenix Stadium has changed and most of the “fans” care less about our winning a Championship as they do having tickets to the best party in town, and so are OK with the front office tanking our season before it starts. Anybody who thinks we are going to “win in the draft” obviously haven’t been Cards fans for very long and don’t know football.
    My daddy always said a man’s word is his bond so, I’m upset because I really thought Michael Bidwill was going to make good on his word while Fitz was still on the roster, and really turn this ship around into a team we could be proud of and where players would want to come to play.
    Sorry, but I feel “we’ve been punked”!

  20. By Big Ken on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    I didn’t realize that golden boy Stephon Gilmore was ranked 60th out of 120 qualifying CB’s by Pro Football Focus last year.

  21. By Joe C. on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Please tell me if I’m missing any thing. On offense we’re set at QB, RB. TE and WR are in good shape. Especially with Ellington and DJ catching balls. We have two good tackles, one good guard and an adequate center. Decent depth across the o-line. So on offense we add a guard (maybe) and maybe a receiver. Keep an eye out for QB od the future. On defense we have three good safeties, one great CB, two great outside LBs, and decent ILBs. Good depth across the DL. I’m a best player available in the draft but if I’m Keim I’m targeting CB and DL in the draft. Then looking at WR and ILB. In remaining FA I’m targeting O-line, d-line, maybe ILB. Not looking for superstars but some solid mid grade starters. At least someone to push Toner and Boehm, Gunter and Nk. I’m not too pessimistic.

  22. By Scott H on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Christian –

    RE: Your siblings

    Hey, man, I swear, I didn’t get to any of them! But thanks for that response. I have a Seahawks fan friend who doesn’t think the Seahawks ever lose a game because the other team was better. It’s either always the refs / bad calls or the Seahawks beating themselves with mistakes. Whatever. But he thinks Palmer is our “weak link” and is what holds us back. Also have a Cowboys fan co-worker who, likewise, thinks Palmer is what holds us back. I’ve mentioned him elsewhere recently because he is so sure Tony Romo is the answer to all our problems and the Cardinals should be trying to trade for him.

    i can only think of them both as idiots. Even as much as I found plenty of fault with Palmer last year…really, how are the Cardinals even relevant at all without him the last few seasons???

    But, really, what can you expect from Seahawks and Cowboys fans??? Not a whole lotta’ brilliance going on there, ya know??

  23. By Scott H on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    clssy –

    For what it’s worth, I don’t know that Lacy going to the Seahawks means much. Lacy was pretty much a chronic under-achiever in Green Bay. He was supposed to be a new man last year, all fit and trim and raring to go. Then, he was a non-factor for the first couple of games before he went on IR. Honestly, a healthy Thomas Rawls concerns me more than Eddie Lacy does. And Seattle still has O-line problems yet to be solved.

    Frankly, I don’t want to have to worry about the damn Seahawks. Last year showed we can play with them. What I want is to feel better about the Cardinals going into 2017.

    Not there yet, though.

  24. By clssylssy on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    I saw Lacy play @ Wisconsin against Nebraska a few times and really dont think he ever fit the Green Bay system and have a feeling Carroll has a plan or wouldn’t have taken him. My point was that not so much about Lacy as it was that the Seahawks are being active while we are asleep at the wheel. We see players come alive with a new team all the time & sometimes it’s a matter of coaching or the system.
    I know you hate the Seahawks but I have friends from a lot of teams and just appreciate good football, which is why I was so thrilled when the Cards seemed to be finding our way to legitimatcy and why I am so disheartened by the front office. As far as making excuses, seems that is all the front office does these days!

  25. By Scott H on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    clssy –

    RE: Lacy, Carroll has a plan for him

    Well, I don’t know what “plan” Carroll might have for Lacy. They need help at RB ( I like Rawls but he’s been too prone to injury ) so they signed a guy they think will help. But I’m pretty sure the plan will be to put him on the field and give him the ball!

    The Seahawks have not been the same without Lynch, even as Wilson has developed into a VERY good QB. I guess they hope Lacy will get them back to having a presence at RB. Lacy certainly COULD give them that, but….I gotta see it before I believe it.

  26. By Fred Garvin on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Keim could have kept Calais by franchising him if he had concluded the negotiations with Jones before FA started. Then we would have had both Jones and Campbell. Losing Calais falls on Keim.

  27. By clssylssy on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    At 267, Lacy could be a tank, Carroll wants him at 240 (same as Fitz) which could make him an interesting situational weapon. I personally like systems with rotational backs as it extends the energy of the players,cuts down the risk of injury (less exposure=less risk) and gives options. I know it’s not good for players chasing stats and the fantasy people hate that, but I could see possibilities as a solid backup. Who knows he might morph into a smaller version of Lynch! (Fire hydrant with legs)

  28. By Lee on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    Ireally hated to lose Calais Campbell but I really do think getting karlos Dansby backwill more that make up for the loss. I mentioned before in the comment section of one of Darren’s articles that the Cardinals needed to get Dansby back because of his mental toughness as well as his leadership. Soooo glad this came true.

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