The hard, hard NFC West

Posted by Darren Urban on July 21, 2014 – 10:39 am

Some NFL training camps are underway. The Cardinals get started themselves by the end of the week, with the team’s “Quarterback School” going on in a couple of days. The season is here. Many believe the Cardinals — including those who work at 8701 South Hardy — are going to be competing for a playoff spot again this season. It makes a lot of sense. But the raw reality of the division is also apparent, driven home this morning by Peter King’s initial “Fine Fifteen” ranking in the NFL.

King has the Cardinals 11th in the NFL, not altogether a bad spot (and about where many of these types of things put the Cards). There are 12 playoff teams in the NFL, so conferences aside, there is the thought the Cards belong in the postseason. But it is interesting to note that, if King’s rankings were to hold, the Cardinals would also be the last place team in the NFC West.

He has Seattle No. 1 and San Francisco No. 3, and also as St. Louis as No. 10. In the end, such rankings mean little, because they play the games on the field and not on paper and yada, yada, yada. But it does underscore what everyone talks about when it comes to the “NFC Best.” The division still plays a role in your season, although not as big as it once did — you can in theory go winless in your division and still finish with 10 victories. Last year, the Cardinals lamented their 2-4 division record, especially two close losses to the 49ers they felt were within their grasp.

It makes for an interesting question: Is it better to have your division be the best in football? Or would it be better to harken back to the days of 2008-2010, when the Cards not only were able to see lesser teams around them but in the case of 2010, remain in the hunt for the division title late in the year even though it was a bad year? Carson Palmer votes for the way it is now. “It’s a great challenge the competition within the division,” Palmer told NFL Network. “I think it really kind of hardens you as the season goes on. … It’s a grind getting through this division, but I think with Seattle and San Francisco getting to the championship game, a lot of that has to do with playing within this division. It gives you an edge.”


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Financial kicker in position battle UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2013 – 10:27 am

UPDATE: Carpenter’s 2013 salary is indeed lower($715,000 according to the NFLPA website), but an NFL source said he has bonuses significantly raise his price, essentially doubling his salary. Carpenter would make $75,000 for making the team, and another $40,000 every game he was active kicking — which translates into more than $1.4 million for the season if he were to kick all 16 games without adding in other potential incentives. That would make the financial comparison to Feely a wash, and clearly take that part out of the equation.

Bruce Arians said he wanted to have Dan Carpenter kick the first half on Saturday and Jay Feely the second half, assuming the opportunities pan out. This is a kicker battle that will go through the preseason finale in Denver, he added. That isn’t a surprise.

But as everyone knows, there are sometimes other factors besides performance that play into position battles. We already know the age difference (Feely is 37, Carpenter is 27). There is a chance money could play into this one. Considering Carpenter apparently had some options with where to sign, GM Steve Keim again seemed to come out ahead in Carpenter’s one-year deal. According to, Carpenter is set to make a salary of $725,000 and got a roster bonus of $110,000. Meanwhile, Feely is scheduled to make $1.5 million. If released, Feely would cost $250,000 of dead space, so the Cards come out ahead and certainly, it would save in some actual dollars spent.

And if Feely stays, it only costs the Cards $110,000 of dead money for Carpenter, which is easily digestible. That too is a scenario that could happen

The Cards have about $6.1 million in salary cap space, according to the most recent update by the NFLPA. That will morph after the cut to 53, since right now the only cap numbers counted are the top 51 and dead money. After final cuts, teams have to account for all 53 plus practice squad, injured list and dead money.

— Apropos of nothing, check out this insightful peek inside Bruce Arians’ offensive meeting from an OTA this summer, courtesy of Peter King. A great read.

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Kitchens: “Thank you just doesn’t seem near enough”

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2013 – 2:26 pm

Cardinals QB coach Freddie Kitchens has been released from the Arizona Heart Hospital following his emergency surgery to repair his aorta last week. He has returned home, although he will have limitations on his activities and visitors. Kitchens is expected to return as QB coach, likely limited in the beginning, at some point during training camp. It’s great news for Kitchens, who, had things not been covered so well by the Cards’ training staff last week, might not even be alive right now. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who was coincidentally out here the day after Kitchens’ surgery reporting for a future story, wrote today that 80 percent of such cases like Kitchens results in death. That we are talking about his return to coaching is a great thing.

Kitchens released a statement through the team:

“There are so many people that I’ll be indebted to for the rest of my life and ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem near enough. First to the Cardinals medical staff, (head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and his crew, (team physician) Dr. (Wayne) Kuhl. They recognized immediately that something was wrong, even when I wouldn’t admit it. They knew enough to send me right away to Chandler Regional (Medical Center) where the ER staff and attending physician jumped right in and knew how critical the situation was. They airlifted me to Arizona Heart Hospital and made the arrangements for Dr. (Andrew) Goldstein and the surgery team there to operate on me through the night.

“Looking back, I have no doubt – none whatsoever – that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the those people. I’ve played or coached football my whole life so I can definitely appreciate teamwork and a smooth, efficient operation but the work those doctors, nurses and medical personnel do is just incredible. Again, I wouldn’t be alive without them. I’m overwhelmed by the prayers and kindness everyone has sent my way; from the Cardinals, throughout the NFL, in Arizona, Alabama and everywhere else. I realize how truly fortunate I am and the blessing I have been given.”


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Tweetup with Peter King, the Cardinals and Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 1, 2013 – 6:07 am

After many years of saying he wanted to do it and never quite making it out to Tempe, Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King is finally taking part in Pat’s Run later this month. And with it comes a little something extra the night before.

(It’s all right within his column that also has King too thinking Carson Palmer-to-Arizona will happen, which makes sense to me in some way, shape or form.)

King will be hosting a super-sized Tweetup Friday night, April 19th, at Tom’s Tavern downtown. King has hosted a handful of Tweetups before (for the Twitter non-initiated, a Tweetup is a gathering set up with Twitter followers), most notably at the Scouting combine in Indianapolis the past few years. King wanted to do a Tweetup to somehow benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation if he was going to come out and run the race. The Cardinals are helping him do that.

King’s goal is to raise enough money to fund a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Tickets for the event are $40 — space is limited to 250 people — but it has an impressive lineup of Tweetup events:

— Food: Happy hour & carb-loading (pasta) stations
— Two drink tickets – redeemable for house wine & draft beer (other drink options  available for purchase w proceeds benefiting Pat Tillman Foundation)
— Football discussion/Q&A moderated by King with Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, new GM Steve Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians
— Cardinals cheerleaders & Big Red to attend plus cameos from Cardinals players (Who exactly is still TBD)
— Auction items/raffles to benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The Tweetup will be from 5-7 p.m. Got to get to bed early for the 7 a.m. race, right? (I’ll be running. Will you?)

Tickets go on sale this morning via phone (602) 379-0102 and at both Cardinals box office locations in Tempe and Glendale, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the Pat Tillman Foundation. With phone orders through April 6th, tickets can be mailed out. After that, tickets must be picked up at a box office prior to 3 p.m. on April 19th.

If you want to follow Peter on Twitter, he’s at @SI_PeterKing. You can follow me at @cardschatter, and the team account is @AzCardinals. And if you want to take part in this Tweetup — whether you are on Twitter or not, if you are running in Pat’s Run or not, make the call.


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Washington gets SI honor

Posted by Darren Urban on January 7, 2013 – 9:44 am

Linebacker Daryl Washington was only named an alternate for the Pro Bowl, behind 49ers inside ‘backers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. But at least one person had Washington as the best inside linebacker in the NFC. That would be Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who named Washington — along with Pittsburgh’s Lawrence Timmons — as one of his all-NFL picks this season. King only has a list without explanation; He says that is coming in his Tuesday column and I am sure he will hear from someone complaining about, for instance, the absence of either Willis or Bowman (or both.)

But clearly, Washington had a huge season, even if he wasn’t able to nab that 10th sack when it was all said and done.


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