It was March of 2003 -- just about this time of year, a week or two later -- when I left my post covering the NFL owners meetings at the Biltmore to head to Tempe and ASU. The Sun Devils were holding their pro day, and the star of the show was going to be Terrell Suggs. It was that day that I first thought about when the news broke that Suggs would be signing with the Cards as a free agent. That day. And not because of the pro day per se -- when I told him Thursday I had attended, Suggs smiled and said, "That wasn't a good day" -- but after. I was driving back to the Biltmore after it was over when I got a call saying the Cardinals were holding a press conference that afternoon. It would be at the Biltmore, in front of the national media there for the meetings. Seems that they had signed a free agent named Emmitt Smith.
Smith, of course, was playing out the end of his career. Suggs too is at the end of his career. But it doesn't seem quite the same. Suggs still had seven sacks last season. He may not be the guy who won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 anymore, but I think he can still make an impact (Suggs played that coy Thursday, just saying "we're gonna find out" when asked about how much he had left.)
The Cardinals have already had a significant roster overhaul. Before free agency, they added CB Robert Alford, OLB Brooks Reed, TE Charles Clay and ILB Tanner Vallejo. They got T Marcus Gilbert in trade. They signed Suggs and QB Brett Hundley Thursday, and reports have them adding at some point ILB Jordan Hicks, G J.R. Sweezy, WR Kevin White and G Max Garcia.
Meanwhile, familiar names have departed. G Mike Iupati signed with the Seahawks, although it was pretty clear Iupati was going to be moving on. G Oday Aboushi left for Detroit. LB Deone Bucannon signed with the Buccaneers and reunited with former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, getting a one-year deal hoping to build back his worth in free agency -- an understandable decision to leave.
LB Markus Golden is also doing the same, heading to New York to play for Giants DC/former Cardinals DC James Bettcher as he tries to get back to that 2016 level and be a free agent again. (A quick note on Golden -- I will personally miss him. The dude just loves to go full speed and play football and the rest of it is just noise. I hope he can find the range again.)
It'll be interesting how free agency goes from here. The flurry is probably over. There could be a guy here or there, depending on the market, but the attention may turn mostly to the draft. No. 1 awaits.