The Cardinals extended first-round tender offers to a pair of restricted free agents: cornerback Eric Green (25) and defensive end Antonio Smith (94).
The Cardinals have said repeatedly they consider cornerback Eric Green and defensive end Antonio Smith key parts to the team.
Now there is tangible proof.
The Cards extended first-round tender offers to both restricted free agents, meaning that should another team try to sign either Green or Smith away – and the Cards have the right to match any offer – Arizona would get a first-round draft pick in return.
Green and Smith would earn $2.017 million in salary for 2008 with the tender offer.
The only other restricted free agent to whom the Cards tendered an offer was reserve offensive lineman Elton Brown, who got the "low" tender. If Brown is signed away, a team would have to surrender a fourth-round pick, the round in which Brown was originally selected. Brown's salary would be $927,000.
All three players have the right to negotiate with another team before they sign the tender sheet. The offer must be signed by April 18.
The Cards declined to tender offers to five other restricted players: linebacker Darryl Blackstock, tight end Tim Euhus, defensive end Bo Schobel and receivers Jerheme Urban and Ahmad Merritt. Blackstock has been the most disappointing, never finding a role despite being a third-round pick in 2005. (For a complete Cardinals free-agent rundown, click here.)
A lack of a tender offer doesn't mean those players won't return however. Instead, the Cards can sign them to a lower salary than the $927,000. The minimum salary for the players with three credited seasons – which is the case of all five players – is $520,000.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt has already said he would like to have Urban and Merritt back as possible replacements for third receiver Bryant Johnson, if Johnson leaves as expected as an unrestricted free agent.
The first-round tenders to Green and Smith were a small surprise; they could have been given second-round tenders that carried with it a salary of $1.417 million. But with the higher designation, the Cardinals gain peace of mind heading into free agency since it is extremely unlikely a team would surrender a first-round pick for either player.
Green was having a solid season with 56 tackles and 12 pass deflections before suffering a season-ending groin tear against San Francisco Nov. 25. Smith became an anchor at left defensive end, finishing with 5½ sacks.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 2/28/08. Updated 2/28/08.