Numbers, they are a-changin’

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2010 – 9:48 am

Bryant McFadden actually had eyed uniform No. 20 since he showed up in Arizona as a free agent last year. But the cornerback ran into a veteran – cornerback Ralph Brown – who already had it and “Ralph wasn’t going to budge.”

“I was stuck with 25 and I wasn’t really a fan of 25,” McFadden said.

So when safety Kerry Rhodes arrived in a trade this offseason seeking that same 25 – since 25 had been Rhodes’ number since he got into the league – McFadden wasn’t going to be like Brown.

“I told him, ‘We’ve got to make a switch,” Rhodes said. “He said, ‘Is 20 open?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but 21 is.’ ”

Rhodes had been issued 21 – Antrel Rolle’s old number – when he arrived. But Brown’s 20 was also going to be available since the team wasn’t going to re-sign Brown. There were a couple hoops to jump through with the NFL, since McFadden “25” jerseys were made, but it’s official now. And it was relatively peaceful.

“No fights about it,” Rhodes said with a laugh. “We kept it civil.”

Civil, but not necessarily free. Asked if Rhodes was going to have to cough up any compensation for giving up 25, McFadden smiled and said, “We’ll leave that undisclosed.”

It wasn’t the only flip-flop. The Reggie Walker-Joey Porter switch recently came down, and veteran linebacker Monty Beisel also convinced fellow linebacker Cody Brown to flip-flop. Beisel had been 52 in his first stint with the Cards, but when he returned last season he took 50 because Brown already had 52. Brown had been 50 in college.

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Beisel, RFAs re-sign

Posted by Darren Urban on March 29, 2010 – 12:00 pm

The Cardinals brought back middle linebacker Monty Beisel on a one-year contract Monday, something necessary to uphold a semblance of depth at the position. Four guys also signed their tender offers: wide receiver Steve Breaston, center Lyle Sendlein, defensive tackle Gabe Watson (all restricted free agents) and cornerback Michael Adams (who was an exclusive free agent). The Cards now have just one unsigned restricted free agent — guard Deuce Lutui. Again, the Cards also lost a free agent Monday when wide receiver Sean Morey signed with the Seahawks, a move that wasn’t surprising.

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Filling in the roster gaps

Posted by Darren Urban on March 24, 2010 – 1:47 pm

With the owners’ meetings wrapping up today and the pace of free agency slowing down, it may be a good time to look at where the Cardinals’ roster stands — and where there are holes that need to be filled by the time minicamp begins April 30.

This topic crossed my mind after writing yesterday about the signing of wide receiver Darren Mougey, who may or may not pan out but certainly isn’t been seen (at least as of now) as a replacement, whether it’d be Anquan Boldin or even Jerheme Urban. He’s just one of many receivers that will be on the roster this summer. Today, the Cardinals officially have 60 61 players on the roster, leaving 19 spots to be filled by the draft/undrafted rookies (which figures to total between 14 to 16, depending) and then some free-agent spots. There are seven veterans un-signed who could still return: LB Monty Beisel, FB Dan Kreider, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware, K Neil Rackers, DT Bryan Robinson and WR Sean Morey (although I think Morey is more likely to end up in Seattle right now).

(On my 60-man count, I am including all the restricted and exclusive rights free agents who have yet to sign their tenders, because they eventually will.)

What spots need shoring up? The Cards need at least one more quarterback, and even if St. Pierre comes back, they need someone young, at least for camp. They need another receiver or two, although I am guessing whether they chase a veteran may depend on what happens in the draft. Remember, at that spot, a fourth receiver would likely need to play special teams and guys like Kevin Curtis or Torry Holt tend not to want to do such things.

The Cards definitely need to look at nose tackle, especially if Robinson doesn’t return. They need inside linebackers even if Beisel comes back (which I expect). They probably could use another young pass rusher at outside linebacker without knowing exactly what Cody Brown/Mark Washington/Stevie Baggs brings to the table. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get another cornerback — you can never have too many — and a return man is also needed if Steve Breaston is going to be the No. 2 wideout.

Numbers-wise, here is the current 61-man breakdown by position:

  • QB  2
  • RB  4
  • FB  2
  • WR  6
  • OL  11
  • TE  4
  • DL 9
  • OLB  6
  • MLB  4
  • CB  6
  • S  5
  • Specialists  2

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Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2010 – 12:35 pm

Right now, the Cards are knee-deep in offseason meetings, meaning I haven’t had a chance to talk to general manager Rod Graves for a story. That will be coming. In the meantime, I have collected all the contract situations (at least, organizing what year each player is signed through, or their free agent status) in a file you can find right here. It doesn’t cover every single player on the roster but it has everyone I considered a contributor this season or someone who needed to be addressed.

Officially the Cards have 14 unrestricted free agents and 10 restricted (the numbers would have been 17 and 7, but Gabe Watson, Deuce Lutui and Jerheme Urban all are going to be hamstrung by the new rules when the NFL deals with an uncapped offseason). On offense, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Starters Dan Kreider (FB), Anthony Becht (TE), Sean Morey (special teams) and Mike Gandy (T) — along with Jeremy Bridges (G/T) are unrestricted. Bigger questions are on defense, where Karlos Dansby (LB) and Matt Ware (S) could walk away, and the Cards are in transition with veteran UFAs like Bryan Robinson, Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Ralph Brown and Monty Beisel.

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Waiting to see on Boldin, Hayes

Posted by Darren Urban on January 13, 2010 – 1:44 pm

The injury report will come out today, but the only players that seem to be in limbo will be receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle), who missed practice, and linebacker Gerald Hayes (ankle), who also missed practice. Coach Ken Whisenhunt would only say the two were getting better, but there was no detailed discussion of the situation. The Cards are in decent shape with both spots if those players can’t go; we already saw how the Cards can make up for Boldin and behind Hayes, veteran Monty Beisel — playoff-tested from a year ago — was signed for this very possibility.

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Friday before the Titans

Posted by Darren Urban on November 27, 2009 – 4:40 pm

Thanksgiving came and went and, as usual, the holiday seemed like a blur. There is a lot to like about this job but that’s one of the downsides – the traditional holidays this time of year flash then disappear in the grind of the season.

But it does give us a chance to hear the thoughts of defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who has continued to slide his desire for a new contract out once in a while never in a snit but instead with a little humor. The message is never lost, though. This week, Dockett said his family wasn’t coming out for Thanksgiving in part because the team leaves Saturday morning for Tennessee and he was saving their trip for the following week for Minnesota weekend. He just doesn’t have the cash to afford to fly his family out from Maryland more than once in a while.

“We don’t have no Albert Haynesworth money,” Dockett deadpanned. “If I am able to get off minimum wages I would definitely take my family out to all the home games because I know they’d be happy about that.”

Yeah, I’d guess Darnell would be happy about it too. Haynesworth, the Redskins’ defensive tackle, got some $40-plus million in guarantees from Washington last offseason. Dockett is making $3.5 million this season and is scheduled to make $3.75 M in 2010 and $4 M in 2011. I can only hope his family can handle their time apart.

Nevertheless, there’s a game against the Titans up first:

— Dockett did give big props to Tennessee’s running game and talked about what a huge boost to the confidence it would be for the defense if they could slow the Titans on the ground. And to think, Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, currently the NFL’s leading rusher, could have been a teammate. The Cardinals absolutely loved him going into the 2008 draft. They loved Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie too, and cornerback was perhaps a more crucial position at the time. I think there was hope Johnson may slide all the way to their second-round pick, or at least into the second round where the Cards could trade up (a la Alan Branch in 2007). But the Titans grabbed Johnson in the first round. It seemed a bit premature at the time. Uh, not so much. He’s clearly one of the best already.

— Speaking of running games, the Cardinals are 27th in the NFL. But over the past three weeks, this is how the NFL’s top rushing teams shake out: 1. Carolina (183 yards a game); 2. Tennessee (182.7); 3. Arizona 162.3.

— Say what you want about the guy, but Dockett is productive and playing well. He has a sack in three straight games and is making a strong Pro Bowl push.

— Perfect weather planned for Sunday: 64 degrees and only a slight chance of rain. Could the Cards have had any better weather this season? Heck, even in the postseason, it looks like it will be all domes.

— Kurt Warner is going to play, barring something crazy. Hopefully the Cards can protect him well enough to avoid a replay of his St. Louis hit, but Warner is going to get tagged a couple times. That’s just the game.

— Warner’s 89 straight passes without an interception was the longest active string in the league for starting quarterbacks before Thanksgiving. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers surpassed him Thursday and is at 125 attempts. Two other guys have longer active streaks than Warner but neither plays: Washington’s Todd Collins (222) and Kansas City’s Brodie Croyle (96).

— So that’s where the offense was …  in the first seven games, the most yards the Cards generated was 383. They have surpassed 400 each of the past three games, the first time since 1969 the team has had more than 400 yards in three straight games.

— Getting LB Monty Beisel back was crucial. It didn’t hurt that Beisel wanted to come back all along, but his knowledge of the defense will allow them to drop him in right away. He can play both inside and outside and most importantly, fill Will Davis’ spot on special teams. The Davis injury hurts. He was playing well and earning more and more time on defense. The ability to get him back before the playoffs, I think, is important.

— Watching Vince Young throw, that passing game doesn’t frighten me. He can complete some passes, but he can’t beat you that way. Now, if he starts to scramble, and you defense gets out of position and then he finds a way to throw it, that can beat you. It’ll start on the early downs for the Cards. They can’t let Young or Johnson rip off too many big runs (I don’t think you can realistically say “any big runs.” That’s unfair). And the Cards have to move the ball and score points. The Titans can’t score with the Cards.

— It’s week two of the Does-Adrian-Wilson-get-his-20th-career-sack watch. Not going to be easy with Young running around. Young has only been sacked once this season.

— The Cards need to win at least one of their next two games, both for confidence’s sake and to put the 49ers out of the picture.

That’s about it. We’re off to the Music City tomorrow. Hard to believe we’re about to hit December. As well as the Titans have played, the Cards again are giving off good vibes before this one. Having Warner healthy helps. So does an undefeated road record. Can it pay off into another win? The Titans are hot, but so are the Cardinals. It’s going to be fun to watch it unfold.

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Beisel comes back, Byrd cut

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2009 – 1:59 pm

Searching for depth at linebacker – especially after Gerald Hayes and Chike Okeafor missing games with back problems and having the inexperienced Reggie Walker and Ali Highsmith on the roster – the Cardinals brought back veteran Monty Beisel today. The Cards wanted Beisel when his contract expired after last season , but Beisel instead followed Todd Haley to Kansas City. Then Beisel was cut after just three games and has been searching for a job since. He had been in contact with the Cardinals in an attempt to come back since then.

To make room on the roster, the Cards decided they couldn’t hang on to four tight ends any longer. They released Dominique Byrd, who had yet to appear active in a regular-season game this season. With Anthony Becht and Ben Patrick taking hold of the two tight end spots on game day and Stephen Spach a more accomplished blocker than Byrd, Byrd was the odd man out.

The Cardinals also brought back a couple of familiar faces to the practice squad: linebacker Pago Togafau and defensive end Jason Banks. Both Banks and Togafau were injured during training camp and eventually received injury settlements. They take the place of FB Jed Collins and DT Antoine Holmes, who were released from the practice squad.

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No Beisel and the end of the week

Posted by Darren Urban on October 1, 2009 – 1:16 pm

The Cardinals have wrapped up practice for the week — they’ll be back together Monday — so here are a couple of things to get to, besides DRC’s fractured finger.

— The Cardinals aren’t going to get LB Monty Beisel. Said GM Rod Graves in a text message from the road, “MB does not fit into our plans. We won’t be re-signing him.”

— The mood seemed a little lighter all the way around Thursday at the workout. I’m sure some will wish the Cardinals stayed angry from the Colts’ loss, but that rarely happens in the NFL, where the players are taught to let the previous game go — win or loss — by Tuesday night. Sometimes, the irritation to coaches or players lasts through that first practice of the week, but usually by Thursday everyone has moved on. The Cards have done that.

“It was a very emotional loss for us because we have a lot of proud players on this team and it was embarassing the way we played,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s tough when you go into a bye week having to deal with that. But I feel it puts our focus where it needs to be.”

— Whisenhunt will stay in town, watch his son play high school football Friday night, and then he’ll watch NFL football Sunday. He’ll try to do it as a fan, but inevitably, he said, he’ll fail.

“It’s hard not to watch it as a coach,” Whisenhunt said. “I try to watch it as a fan but then you start thinking about plays or looks you are seeing. I think that’s the natural reaction.”

Of course, Whisenhunt said the top two games he’ll be watching just happen to be the next two teams on the Cardinals’ schedule: The Texans (home against Oakland) and the Seahawks (at Indianapolis).

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Beisel available

Posted by Darren Urban on September 29, 2009 – 9:29 pm

Veteran linebacker Monty Beisel, whom the Cardinals wanted to bring back as a free agent before he was lured to Kansas City by Todd Haley, has been released by the Chiefs (Ironically, one of the players signed by the Chiefs Tuesday during the roster moves was former Cards tight end Leonard Pope). Would the Cards still be interested in Beisel? Perhaps. Right now, the only backup inside linebackers are the inexperienced Reggie Walker (who would probably clear through to the practice squad if needed) and the undersized Ali Highsmith.

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