A little of this, a little of that

Posted by Darren Urban on June 2, 2011 – 11:35 am

How much it ultimately means is anyone’s guess, but the under-the-radar meeting between owners and the NFLPA’s De Smith has to be a good sign, right? There is a hearing scheduled for tomorrow about the lockout once again, but it’s June and as long as there is talking, well, that’s better than the alternative.

— Hard to argue that Fitz is the fourth-best offensive player in the NFL (non-QB) when Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Andre Johnson are ahead of him. Interestingly, three of the four have no idea on this date who their quarterback will be for 2011. That always will impact how any running back or wide receiver will do (although lately, it’s not like Chris Johnson has had greatness in the backfield to lean upon).

— Interesting breakdown on “Run Stop Rates” for 2011 by position. Essentially, it measures the plays a defender made on a run and how effective that stop was (The post itself explains the whole thing). Alan Branch had a 90 percent stop rate, third in the NFL among defensive linemen and in the end, one reason why he finally emerged as a player the Cards likely want to keep around after so much disappointment.

The other two Cards on the list came at defensive back, and neither are big surprises. Strong safety Adrian Wilson was fifth (62 percent) as far as best run-stop rate as a defensive back — he’s always been solid against the run — and free safety Kerry Rhodes was sixth (26 percent) among the worst DBs. Then again, the entire “worst” list is virtually all free safeties, and those guys are usually further down the field before getting a crack at a ballcarrier. UPDATE: Not sure how I missed CB Greg Toler, who also made the list at 59 percent. He’s another guy who isn’t afraid to be physical, which should serve him well under new DC Ray Horton.

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Tags, tenders like normal

Posted by Darren Urban on March 1, 2011 – 10:36 am

Both general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt have said more than a few times they are going through this offseason as if there will not be a work stoppage, so they will be ready by the end of this week when the league year officially ends late Thursday night. That’s why the Cardinals — and every other team — were considering use of the franchise tags even though with labor uncertainty no one knows if they will matter on the other side (The Cardinals, as expected, didn’t use the franchise tag).

The same goes for restricted free-agent tender offers, which teams are using — as usual — at this time with free agency still schedule to arrive. The Cardinals are no different, apparently. Wide receiver Steve Breaston confirmed an ESPN report he has been extended a tender offer, and I would assume the Cards are doing that for a handful of guys who potentially could qualify as restricted free agents. Again, it’s housekeeping in a way, since everyone is in limbo until a new CBA is reached.

— XTRA’s Mike Jurecki is reporting safety Adrian Wilson has had surgery for a torn abductor muscle (in the hip area) with which he had been playing. No word yet on the length of rehab, but I’d assume he’d be ready for the season.

— If you’re looking for an aggregate site of stories on the labor talks, has a bunch of info as we head deeper into the offseason of unknowns.

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Feely goes into labor

Posted by Darren Urban on February 15, 2011 – 3:07 pm

Cardinals kicker Jay Feely, the team’s player representative, has been part of some of the talks thus far this offseason regarding the NFL’s labor issues (including an NFLPA press conference at the Super Bowl pictured below; that’s Feely in the back row just over the left shoulder of Kevin Mawae — sorry Jay, it’s the only picture out there that included you). Some of Feely’s comments about the talks and, specifically, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to a New York radio station, grabbed headlines. But his theme has been fairly straight-forward, a hope that reasonable minds on both sides will eventually help complete a new CBA.

That continued Tuesday when he appeared on Pro Football Talk Live, a webcasted TV show through with Mike Florio. The vast majority of Feely’s interview was about the labor situation, and he reiterated several times the need to take emotions/egos out of the discussion.

“If you go through each issue and you do it logically, you and I could sit there and we could find a way to come up with answers,” Feely said. “I did an event last week with (Cardinals president) Mr. (Michael) Bidwill after the Super Bowl out in Arizona.  We were presenting to the state legislature on a concussions bill that they are going to bring before the state senate on a return to play guideline.  Jeff Miller, who is one of the lawyers for the NFL, was out there as well.  Obviously, he and I had a lot of time to sit and talk.  You could sit there in a logical setting where you don’t have any emotions and where there are not the lawyers on both sides and come up with ideas that would be able to bridge the gap.  I just hope we are able to do that in the setting of the negotiations.”

Florio asked Feely — who is signed through the 2011 season — if he expected to return to the Cardinals. Feely said he “absolutely” did (it was a little bit of a weird question, because I don’t think there has ever been any doubt Feely will be back, especially after his excellent season) and then talked about himself in the bigger picture, having played for the Falcons, Giants and Jets, among others.

“This is interesting because I have had a great relationship with a lot of the owners on the teams that I played on,” Feely said. “I consider (Atlanta owner) Arthur Blank a friend of mine.  I consider Michael Bidwill a friend of mine.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Maras and for (Jets owner) Woody Johnson.

“It has changed – the feelings from 1987 to 1993 in those strike years and when that CBA was finally agreed upon.  The stories I heard from those players, there was so much hate and vitriol on both sides and so much animosity but you don’t have that anymore, for the most part, between owners and players.  You have a lot of respect.  You have a lot of mutual admiration.  You have a lot of owners and players who work together to get things done, both in the community as well as within advertising and the team structure. I am hopeful that we can go through this process without ruining these relationships.  That is part of what has made the NFL so successful is the ability for the owners and for the players to connect and to work together.”

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For now, business as usual — mostly

Posted by Darren Urban on February 14, 2011 – 9:55 am

Last week, the scouts for the Cardinals all came to Tempe for their normal pre-combine meetings. The pro personnel department still is meeting daily to talk about potential free agents, and coaches are prepping as if there will be a minicamp after the April draft. At this point, they can’t do anything else.

Obviously, there is a lot of talk of what is — and what isn’t — being accomplished between the NFL owners and players when it comes to a new collective bargaining agreement. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel pessimistic about a work stoppage. But until there actually is such a thing, each team (including the Cardinals) has to prep like free agency, for example is going to start at 10 p.m. Arizona time the night of March 3.

(Draft prep wouldn’t change anyway, because there will be a draft regardless — although it will be interesting to see if the back part of the draft changes at all. Since no players would be able to sign a contract in the event of a lack of a CBA, there would be no undrafted rookie classes until that was worked out. Each team would have their draft picks, and every other rookie would remain in limbo.)

Because there is prepping as usual, I suppose in that light it still makes sense to speculate about trades, like the fact Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb now is on record as saying he’d like for the Cardinals to be a part of trade talks for him. So speculation and preparation will remain. Until it doesn’t.

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Deciphering the uncapped year

Posted by Darren Urban on January 20, 2010 – 10:49 am

As we close in on free agency and what looks like a year without a salary cap — and then, a possible work stoppage in 2011 — the rules for free agency have changed. I’ve already touched on this of course, but the league has now put out a release putting in relatively simple terms what it all means in the short-term. I’ve put the release here as a link for anyone who’d like to sort through it. The biggest news I was not aware of? There will be a draft in 2011 even if a new CBA isn’t in place.

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