Signings not quite the news they used to be

Posted by Darren Urban on May 13, 2015 – 2:11 pm

The Cardinals now have signed four of their seven draft picks — second-rounder Markus Golden, fourth-rounder Rodney Gunter (pictured below) and fifth-rounders Shaq Riddick and J.J. Nelson. First-rounder D.J. Humphries, third-rounder David Johnson and seventh-round Mr. Irrelevant Gerald Christian all should end up signing sooner rather than later. This is where are now with rookie contracts. Since the new CBA was put into place in 2011, there are no more tension-filled offseasons for teams when it comes to getting their draftees to sign on the dotted line.

It wasn’t always that way. Back in the early 2000s, in my previous life as a newspaper reporter covering the team, signings took the summer. No Cardinal ever seem to sign before July 4th. The days leading into training camp — and often, at least a day or two after training camp started — were spent on contract watch. Sometimes it was just the first-round pick. Sometimes, there were a couple of other contracts that were also pushing the deadline.

Now, all these guys are signed by the time the Cardinals are done with minicamp in mid-June. Everything goes faster. The Bears have made it their mission to get all their picks signed within a day or two of the draft.

(For those asking, players who have not yet signed still can work out. The team and player sign an agreement saying contract negotiations will proceed in good faith even if the unsigned rookie gets hurt. That’s what happened with Dante Fowler and the Jaguars. Fowler blew out his ACL in his first minicamp practice. A few days later, he signed his deal with the Jaguars getting the same money he would have gotten as the No. 3 overall pick had he not been injured.)

There are no more ifs with rookie contracts. It’s when, and there’s not much waiting.

Guntersignsuse


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Cards go with pass rusher, return man in fifth

Posted by Darren Urban on May 2, 2015 – 12:04 pm

The Cardinals had two fifth-round picks — back-to-back — and went with a couple of needs. The first was West Virginia defensive end Shaq Riddick, who at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds will be an outside linebacker with the Cards. The second went to super-fast wide receiver J.J. Nelson of Alabama-Birmingham, who ran a blazing 4.28 40 at the Scouting combine but at 5-10 and 156 pounds is going to have to weigh a little more to make an impact at receiver.

Riddick had seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss last season, his lone year at West Virginia after transferring from Gardner-Webb. He needs to put on weight but could be an effective project for down the line. UPDATE: Riddick said he’s up to 260, which still leaves him in good shape at 6-6.

Nelson averaged 38.3 yards a kick return last season with four touchdowns and averaged 10.7 yards per punt return. He’ll be the early candidate to be the return man in both areas, I’d think. He was Conference USA’s special teams player of the year.

J J Nelson


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