Eric Winston, currently a free agent but the Cardinals’ starter at right tackle last season, was elected president of the NFL Players Association Wednesday, replacing the outgoing Domonique Foxworth. Winston, who has started 119 straight games in his career, has been active in the NFLPA since 2010 when he was named one of the player reps for the Houston Texans. He has served on the NFLPA’s finance committee and the committee for agent discipline. It makes a ton of sense. Winston is intelligent and he understands the ins and outs of the business that is the NFL.
UPDATE: It’s been a big day for Cardinals and the top of the union food chain. Kicker Jay Feely and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander were elected to the NFLPA’s executive committee as well.
Winston said at the end of the season he wanted to return to the Cardinals, but he knows the reality. He made about $2 million last year in an incentive-laden deal. I’m sure he’d like more and for more years than just one, but the Cardinals will likely approach his situation much like last year — looking for younger options, and seeing where Winston stands after those options are explored. Bobby Massie is still around as a potential right tackle and there is also Bradley Sowell, but the Cardinals figure to add another possibility there.
Someone asked if I thought Winston’s position as NFLPA president would hurt his chances to return to Arizona. I don’t think so. What would hurt his chances is if the Cards sign a veteran right tackle, or if they draft one. Winston went unsigned until training camp was opening last season. I don’t know if that will happen again, but it wouldn’t be shocking if it did. He is a smart, stabilizing force in the locker room, however, so if he is on the roster, the Cards get more than just an offensive lineman.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Eric Winston, Jay Feely, Lorenzo Alexander, NFLPA
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Free agency arrives soon — 1 p.m. Arizona time Tuesday. So here area few thoughts on Monday night:
— It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with Karlos Dansby. Kent Somers reported there is a two-year deal on the table worth between $10 million and $12 million — which is right around the APY that D’Qwell Jackson got from the Colts. I’m sure Dansby would like a longer deal. I’m sure the Cardinals, looking at a player who will turn 33 this season, aren’t going to go longer. Is there another team willing to pony up more? And is that enough to sway Dansby? No matter what happens, I expect Dansby’s decision to come quickly this week.
UPDATE: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting Dansby likely going to Cleveland. They would money-whip him. It wasn’t going to happen in Arizona.
— There wasn’t much new percolating Monday about tackle Jared Veldheer, whom the Cards are expected to make a pitch to when free agency starts. Whoever the Cards chase at left tackle, that too figures to come together quickly. GM Steve Keim said that even with the early free-agent talks, the Cards want to talk to a potential signee (and check him out medically). So I’d guess this year’s free agency has a good chance to be like last year’s — quickly moving, but still nothing official until Wednesday at the earliest. Will the Cards add five players in the first two days, like last year? Probably not that many. But I’m thinking there will be some additions.
— Kicker Jay Feely re-upped with the Cards Monday (nothing officially announced yet.) There’s a possibility the Cardinals can re-sign a couple of other guys before they hit the market. The move to release Daryn Colledge is coming Tuesday too.
— Aside from a left tackle, linebacker and defensive back are other potential positional free agent targets. Mike Jurecki tweeted Monday night the Cards could look at veteran CB Mike Jenkins. Again, the Cards should move quickly this week. The idea in free agency isn’t to collect a bunch of starters necessarily as much as round out the roster so the Cardinals have a lot of flexibility come draft day.
Tags: Daryn Colledge, free agency, Jared Veldheer, Jay Feely, Karlos Dansby, Mike Jenkins
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Kicker Jay Feely used Twitter to let everyone know Monday he had re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals less than 24 hours before he would have hit the free-agent market.
Happy to announce I am signed back with the @AZCardinals I never wanted to play with different teammates or for another organization.
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) March 10, 2014
The move makes sense for both sides. The Cardinals want a veteran kicker going into the offseason — they already signed Danny Hrapmann as a young, big leg to compete — and Feely wanted to return. The team has yet to officially announce anything. Feely had 127 points this season, converting 30 of 36 field goals. It will be interesting to see if the team is done at the position or if it will be Feely trying to fend off Hrapmann in a battle for the job. The Cardinals would like to get more touchbacks on kickoffs and there is always a possibility of carrying a pair of kickers (although I would not expect it.)
Regardless, the Cards have stability in the kicking game now that both Feely and punter Dave Zastudil have avoided free agency as the offseason gets underway. UPDATE: Kent Somers reports it’s a one-year deal, and that Feely expects competition. Both make sense.
Tags: Danny Hrapmann, Dave Zastudil, free agency, Jay Feely
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The Cardinals had a handful of kickers in to try out a couple of weeks ago, including YouTube sensation Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland. They finally signed one — but it wasn’t Rugland. The Cards got a futures deal done with Southern Mississippi product Danny Hrapmann, who spent a couple of training camps with the Pittsburgh Steelers and who has also kicked for New Orleans of the Arena Football League. Hrapmann made all six of his field goals in the 2012 preseason and didn’t get a chance to try one last season.
As of now, Hrapmann is the lone placekicker the Cardinals have under contract for 2014, since veteran Jay Feely is set to become a free agent in March. It is no surprise the Cardinals signed at least one other kicker besides Feely. The question will become if Feely is also brought back, and/or if the Cards look in any other direction.
Tags: Danny Hrapmann, Havard Rugland, Jay Feely
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Every time General Manager Steve Keim talks about his roster, he talks about looking to improve everywhere. That’s always the default. While the Cardinals probably need, say, offensive linemen or tight ends more than, running backs, you don’t turn down chances to upgrade your team at any position. (As for the latest talk-radio conversation about quarterback, I feel confident that a) Carson Palmer is going to be the starter in 2014 and b) if Keim has a QB sitting on the board in the draft that he really, really likes — whenever that is — the Cardinals will likely take him.)
All that said, there are spots that need addressing just for the sheer numbers. I’ve already posted this once, but below is a link to a roster breakdown done right after the season. It has changed a bit — punter Dave Zastudil has re-signed by now — but the rest of the contract situations remain the same. Keim has a little more than six weeks before contracts officially expire. In terms of strictly numbers, here are how impending free agency impacts the positions (not including all the futures deals/low-end free agents that have signed):
— QB: Cards are fine with all three guys under contract. You’d expect a fourth camp arm to sign if one isn’t drafted.
— RB: Rashard Mendenhall is unrestricted and plays a big role, although if the Cards rode Andre Ellington/Stepfan Taylor in 2014, no one would be surprised.
— WR: Assuming the Cards can get comfortable (if they aren’t already) with Fitz’s contract, the position is probably OK. They need to add someone if Andre Roberts leaves as a free agent, but they can ride with Floyd/Fitz as a top two.
— TE: A major question. Only Rob Housler is under contract for next season. This has got to be a spot where the Cards draft, right?
— OL: Upgrades are necessary and will happen, but as of now, only Eric Winston is a free agent of guys who played at all.
— DL: Need depth here. Do you bring Frostee Rucker back? And that rehab needed for Alameda Ta’amu’s ACL tear hurts the team as much as Ta’amu.
— LB: It’s hard not to notice two starters in Karlos Dansby and Matt Shaughnessy who could potentially walk away.
— DB: The Cards could probably use another young safety, although they may be in good shape if Tony Jefferson can step forward. But what about cornerback, with Tyrann Mathieu coming back from injury and Javier Arenas/Antoine Cason/Bryan McCann scheduled to be free agents. Depth is needed there. It’ll be interesting to see if Justin Bethel ends up playing a bigger defensive role.
— Specialists: Zastudil is back. We’ll see what the Cardinals do at kicker and impending FA Jay Feely.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Andre Ellington, Andre Roberts, Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Carson Palmer, Dave Zastudil, Eric Winston, Frostee Rucker, Javier Arenas, Jay Feely, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashard Mendenhall, Rob Housler, Roster, Stepfan Taylor, Steve Keim, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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There has been a lot of conversation of late about changes to the game (thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell talking about such things). It has included discussion about eliminating the kicked extra point. Now, I get that the extra point is basically automatic. Goodell said the change would just mean touchdowns would just be worth seven points — unless a team chose to go for two, which would make the touchdown worth six. Sure, more than 99 percent of extra points are made these days. But if it is so easy, why not just back the attempt up? Instead of 19 yards, make it, for example, 30 yards? Then it is still in the game and the difficulty is raised. If that’s not hard enough, back it up some more. I’ll also say this: The way most teams make their extra points makes a miss crushing a lot of the time.
So much of this goes back to the way kicking has evolved. Many think the goalposts should be narrowed or shorter field goals should be worth less points because of the high percentage by which kickers can make field goals now. To think, Jay Feely made 30 of 36 field goals this season — and many fans were ready to run him out of town because of it. That isn’t excusing Feely, because his misses ultimately were crucial to the Cards in a couple of games. But making better than 83 percent of your field goals over a season once would have made Feely the best in the NFL.
Back to the extra point. I won’t be surprised if it is taken out of the game, just like I won’t be surprised when/if the kickoff return is removed. There is a safety aspect to this too, and I understand that. If that is the reason you want it out, OK. If the reason it’s abolished is because it is boring, I don’t really understand that. Tweaking it somehow seems more reasonable.
Tags: Jay Feely, Roger Goodell, rules
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Jay Feely has made public service — especially helping the less fortunate in places like Haiti — an important part of his life. That’s a big reason he was named the Cardinals’ Walter Payton Man of the Year this season. Tonight, the NFL announced Feely is one of three finalists for the NFL Man of the Year award, joining Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis and Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman.
The award is given to players who recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.
“People look to you to be a leader, but also look at you in a certain way just because you are an athlete,” Feely said when he was named the Cards’ Man of the Year. “I think you can use that to your advantage to have an impact on people.”
The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will be announced at the Super Bowl during the third annual NFL Honors, a two-hour awards special Feb. 1 and televised on Fox. The Cardinals had an NFL Man of the Year for the 2008 season, when quarterback Kurt Warner won the award the same year the franchise played in the Super Bowl. Larry Fitzgerald was also a finalist for the award last season.
Tags: Jay Feely, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald
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Veteran kicker Jay Feely is about to become an unrestricted free agent and after the season, coach Bruce Arians said Feely’s status was “about business” going forward. That could mean different things, based on what else the Cardinals are seeking with a kicker and what Feely would cost (although even a minimum salary for a player in the league as long as Feely starts to get up there.) All along it made sense that the Cardinals would look at other, probably younger, options as they get into the offseason.
So comes news, via a Norwegian site (because sure, I’m trying to read Norwegian now) that the Cardinals will be trying out Havard Rugland — better known to the NFL world as “Kickalicious” after he posted his kicking exploits on youtube and later found his way on to the Detroit Lions roster for the 2013 preseason. He didn’t make the team, but now, the Cards apparently will give him a looksee.
“Jay Feely had a good season, and it’s not really good to know what Arizona thinks,” Rugland told tv2.no (which I then used Google Translate to, you know, translate). “I speculate not so much in it.
“They have not really said much to me what they want, I guess first and foremost, they pick me over to map and to find out what I’m good for.”
Just had a tryout with the Arizona Cardinals. It went great! Grateful for the opportunity.
— Håvard Rugland (@MrRugland) January 15, 2014
Rugland admits in the article he doesn’t want to talk much about it because he doesn’t want to have to compete with other kickers for a job, but the Cardinals are bringing in at least one other kicker than Rugland for tryouts (no, I don’t have names). The tryouts are always ongoing under the Steve Keim regime. That’s not new, and many have come through without signing, so we’ll see if this translates into actual kickers being put on the roster. Rugland, who had never played organized football before his preseason stint with Detroit, made all three field goal attempts for the Lions, including one of 50 yards.
It’d certainly be an interesting story if he joined the Cards.
Tags: Havard Rugland, Jay Feely
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We here at azcardinals.com are grinding away to post some day-after-season content, but here are some quick notes on a relatively news-less day-after following locker room availability and Bruce Arians’ final presser — news-less for sure compared to this time last season:
— Carson Palmer is still in the middle of his career, but his jersey from Sunday — still grass-stained and now autographed as seen below — is headed to Canton, Ohio and the Hall of Fame after Palmer surpassed 4,000 yards this season during the game Sunday. Palmer became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards with three different teams. He did it previously with the Bengals and Raiders.
— Arians, who is usually good for one great quote almost every press conference, got off another doozy Monday. When he was told players see him as a father figure, Arians didn’t miss a beat. “I don’t like that,” Arians said. “I’m the cool uncle you like to have a drink with.”
— Arians said he wants his entire staff back. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is expected to draw interest for head coach openings.
— Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu indeed tore his ACL, so he has a long road back after surgery.
— Arians was not surprisingly vague on specific free-agents-to-be. He’d love to have LB Karlos Dansby back. In regard to K Jay Feely, “I love Jay to death” but as a free agent, “it will be all business from here on out.”
— The free agents themselves, those who talked, said the same thing almost every free agent for every team does. I’d love to be back. It’ll depend on what they want to do upstairs.
— TE Rob Housler made good progress, Arians said, but he has to learn to block better and stay healthy. One thing is in Housler’s control. I’m not sure the other one is.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Hall of Fame, Jay Feely, Karlos Dansby, Rob Housler, Todd Bowles
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Sometimes, even the punter builds a fan base.
Dave Zastudil is in the middle of one of his best seasons, averaging 40.4 net yards per punt (45.3 overall) and dropping 32 of his 70 kicks thus far inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He has plenty of fans inside his locker room, between teammates and coaches, but elsewhere? Especially Tennessee? But Zastudil had quite the experience.
It started when he was checking Twitter last week and one of his mentions featured a picture of some guys in a family room holding a giant head shot of someone. “I looked closely and thought, ‘Damn, that’s me,’ ” Zastudil said. He showed the picture/giant head — which featured the tagline “Punting ain’t easy” — to long snapper Mike Leach and kicker Jay Feely, they all had a laugh, and Zastudil thought that was the end of it.
But when Zastudil got out to the field pre-game last Sunday, he looked behind the Cardinals’ bench and there, standing in the front row going crazy and holding up the Ain’t Easy Zastudil head were those same fans.
“Somebody gave me a pen and said, ‘You gotta go sign this,’ ” Zastudil said. “These guys went nuts. Every time I got near them during the game, they went nuts. It was like a funny dream.”
Zastudil said he sensed some “fun sarcasm” in the “punting ain’t easy” message but noted they were just some good Cardinals fans having fun. “I’m just happy the covered up the top part of my head (on the picture) so my hairline was covered,” he said. “It looked like I was a little younger.”
“It’s hard,” Zastudil said, tongue firmly in cheek. “I’m expecting this every game now.”
Tags: Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Mike Leach
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