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As Cooper, Watford, Fells Leave, No New Cardinals

Posted Mar 11, 2017

Team's list of own free agents dwindles

Cardinals running back David Johnson throws a pass Saturday during Kurt Warner's annual charity flag football tournament at the team's Tempe facility.

No one arrived in Arizona Saturday for the Cardinals, but a few players left.

Cornerback Marcus Cooper went to Chicago on a three-year deal and offensive lineman/”Swiss Army knife” Earl Watford signed a two-year contract in Jacksonville, joining former Cardinal Calais Campbell in making the transition to the Jaguars. Meanwhile, tight end Darren Fells got a one-year contract with Detroit.

Watford’s deal is worth a reported $6 million, while Fells reportedly will get $1.5 million.

After the Cardinals had signed safety Antoine Bethea, linebacker Karlos Dansby and kicker Phil Dawson over the first two days of free agency, there were no newcomers on a Saturday in which free agency across the NFL slowed.

But with former quarterback Kurt Warner’s annual charity flag football tournament going on at the team’s Tempe facility, General Manager Steve Keim and director of football administration Mike Disner were still in their offices working on the roster.

With Watford and Fells signing, the Cardinals are down to nine of their own free agents without new deals:  Running backs Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson and Stepfan Taylor; guard Taylor Boggs; defensive tackle Frostee Rucker; linebackers Kevin Minter, Sio Moore and Alex Okafor; and cornerback Mike Jenkins.

Cooper had been acquired in trade prior to last season for a 2018 draft pick, and he finished with a team-leading four interceptions. With his departure, the Cardinals will need a new starter at cornerback across from Patrick Peterson.

Fells had been a restricted free agent who did not get a tender offer from the Cardinals, and struggled last season. Watford started seven games at right guard and three games at right tackle as the Cards used his versatility to help deal with a rash of offensive line injuries.

The one-time fourth-round pick was never able to find his way into the starting lineup on a permanent basis, however.

“Just want 2 thank every1 from the @AZCardinals from ownership down. 4 years flew by. Will greatly miss the ppl of AZ. All the support & love” Watford tweeted.

OSWEILER QUIET ON TRADE

One of the players at Warner’s event was new Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was traded there from Houston this week and whose future is cloudy. Osweiler, who played at Arizona State, declined to do interviews. “No news,” he said as he passed by reporters.

But Warner complemented Osweiler’s willingness to appear at the tournament despite what was going on with his professional life.

“It says a lot about the character of the man,” Warner said. “It’s not easy when you’ve got cameras and people are going to ask you. And the hardest part sometimes is when you don’t have answers. … It means the world to me. It speaks volumes on the character of the man, and why I believe he’s going to land on his feet.”

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