Feeling restricted

Posted by Darren Urban on March 16, 2010 – 4:27 pm

Not a whole lot happening here in Tempe today, but as I see the stories coming out about Saints restricted free agent Mike Bell possible signing an offer sheet with the Eagles, it did strike me as an interesting topic. Because there are so many RFAs this season because of the uncapped year (making players with four and five years of experience restricted instead of unrestricted) there is a school of thought teams will make pushes for those RFAs as the free-agent period moves on. If there are some players switching teams, it could impact the draft since picks will be changing hands.

The Cards are in the middle of such a situation as they consider quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. In a normal capped season, he’d be unrestricted. But now he is under a third-round price tag (plus the specter of the Chargers stepping up to match any offer given), making any pursuit more difficult. The Cards don’t want to lose both Whitehurst and Derek Anderson, but that could happen if Whitehurst were to sign any offer sheet and then the Chargers were to take their time.

Another interesting possibility of RFAs: The Cards’ own players. The RFAs have until April 15 to sign an offer sheet from another team. Would some team come knocking for Steve Breaston, knowing they would only have to surrender a first-round pick? Or a second-rounder for Deuce Lutui?

I’m fairly certain we’ll still see the Cards’ RFAs around when the voluntary offseason program begins March 29. All of the RFAs — the guys who have yet to sign their tenders — are usually seen at the workouts. Lutui, Breaston, Ben Patrick, Lyle Sendlein and Gabe Watson are those affected (Watson and Patrick have already been making appearances).

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Picking and choosing

Posted by Darren Urban on March 15, 2010 – 10:38 pm

Not a whole lot to add, really, to the story I posted this afternoon. I got the impression from Rod Graves during our brief chat that finding a quarterback aside from Matt Leinart is the top priority right now; that makes sense that, you know, a team would actually want a couple of guys at the most important position. Graves wouldn’t comment on the status of where the Whitehurst negotiations are, including whether the Cards had made an offer (and the same went for the details of any talks with Anderson). Both sounded like they were still in play. There is a lot less headache with chasing Anderson of course, because there isn’t another team involved like there is for the restricted free agent Whitehurst.

As for Joey Porter, I’m taking a wait-and-see. As I mentioned as an answer to one of the comments on a previous blog, until Porter visits elsewhere and another team comes into play, you get a sense of cautious optimism. Like I have pointed out, the combination of a) the right type of defense, b) an opening at his position, c) a city near his hometown of Bakersfield, California and d) a coaching staff with with he is comfortable just seems too smart for the two sides not to eventually come together. And until there is another team that brings him in for a visit, I’m not sure of Porter’s options anyway.

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A possible quarterback scenario

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2010 – 11:15 am

So the news comes down that the Cards have made a contract offer to restricted free agent quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. The Seahawks have as well. Interesting, because Whitehurst would cost a third-round pick if he leaves as a free agent and the Seahawks don’t have a third-round pick. That means they have agreed to take something else in return, which makes me hope the Cards have also worked out something that would cost them something less than a third-rounder. That I don’t know. If they haven’t, obviously the Chargers would rather have a third-rounder than something lower, and they’d want Whitehurst to pick the Cards. But the power is in the player’s hands in this regard.

That aside for a moment, let’s say the Cards convince Whitehurst to sign their offer and he eventually comes to Arizona. This doesn’t necessarily mean Derek Anderson won’t. In fact, I can see a scenario where the Cards bring in both Whitehurst and Anderson with Matt Leinart — especially if they aren’t thrilled with the aside-from-Sam-Bradford QBs in this draft. Anderson would almost certainly come in on a short-term deal in that regard. Now, you still have to convince the free agents that it’s a place to be despite other guys who are trying hard to find a place to play. Leinart, Anderson and Whitehurst are all desperately trying to get and stay on the field.

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The search goes on

Posted by Darren Urban on March 9, 2010 – 7:12 pm

The Cardinals didn’t make any official moves Tuesday, but there is the sense they are headed in that direction. That’s what happened when the Browns cut quarterback Derek Anderson. Is Anderson the answer to add to Matt Leinart? I know they like Anderson. I know he’s someone they wanted to look at if he got released, which was expected all along. That happened the same day it came out the Cards are going to have Chargers restricted free agent Charlie Whitehurst for a visit (Whitehurst was tendered at a third-round pick meaning the Cards would have to give up such a pick if Whitehurst signed an offer sheet and the Chargers didn’t match). The Cards and Chargers could work out a deal for a lesser pick.

And as a quick aside: It’s funny to me to a point that people are making a big deal (in this case, but that’s not the only place) about coach Ken Whisenhunt declining to “give” Leinart the starting job. Whisenhunt doesn’t give out starting jobs. Heck, Kurt Warner had more touchdown passes the last eight games of the 2007 season — more than Tom Brady in that span in the year Brady threw for an NFL-record 50 — while Leinart struggled before his injury that season, and Warner still had to compete with Leinart and beat him out in training camp 2008. Leinart needs to prove himself, yes. He’s not going to be able to be terrible and keep the job. But does anyone doubt he goes into the offseason as the No. 1 regardless of whom the Cards sign? He’s been in the offense since 2007 and anyone else — say, Anderson — would be brand new.

Anyway, the Cards are looking in other places. Offensive lineman Wade Smith and defensive end Nick Eason finished their visits Tuesday, and offensive lineman Rex Hadnot and Whitehurst are due tonight. Linebackers Joey Porter and Larry Foote are expected Wednesday night, as the Cards try to reunite a Steelers linebackers corp (with Clark Haggans). I know a lot of people are wondering if guys will sign soon, especially Porter and/or Foote. I would think they would both want to be in Arizona, given their other (known) options and the Steelers ties. Foote thinks his market has been set by the Browns’ deal with Scott Fujita. That seems pricey, but not out of line given the market. And you know Porter is going to want to be paid as a pass rusher. That always can slow down the process.

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Whitehurst a QB possibility UPDATED

Posted by Darren Urban on March 9, 2010 – 9:52 am

Another ESPN report has the Cardinals bringing in Chargers’ quarterback Charlie Whitehurst for a free agent visit. Interestingly, Whitehurst is a restricted free agent, so signing him could cost the Cardinals a third-round draft pick. But the reality is this: If the Cards deem the quarterbacks available in the draft weak as a class and yet they want to draft someone young, why not spend a third-round pick (the Cards have two after the Anquan Boldin trade) on a QB they think has potential? He’s been around a while, coming into the league in 2006, even though he’s never thrown a regular-season pass.

UPDATE: It also looks like Derek Anderson will soon be part of the available quarterback mix since the Browns are apparently going to release him.

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