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You've Got Mail: After The First Wave Of Free Agency

Topics include lack of new signings, Ojabo's draft spot and Jalen Thompson

Mailbag Gardeck Golden Jones

Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Nigel Green:

"Hello from the UK, Mr Urban, thanks for the mailbag. I always enjoy reading the questions and answers. What chance is there that OBJ goes to the Cardinals now the Rams have signed Allen Robinson?"

I don't think it's a great chance. The Cardinals need a No. 2. Pinning your hopes on a player who just tore his ACL in mid-February doesn't seem like it would play out as needed. I'm not ruling anything out, but OBJ may end up back with the Rams and the Cardinals would need someone else if they did.

From Derek Cooper:

"Kirk, Jones, and Edmonds moved on. It looks like the Cards are signing their cornerstone players and depending on the draft, with a touch of discounted free-agent splash at the end. Am I looking at this right? The money increase for Murray Will be HUGE next year."

Clearly the Cardinals have waited out the early free-agent push. I don't know if they were in on anyone of note without landing him -- it's possible -- but yes, it looks like they will have calculated FA deals this year. At this point there are still some intriguing names available so we will see what happens. But yes, they wanted to re-sign some of their key guys. As for Murray, he's going to cost a bunch sooner rather than later, and the explosion of huge QB extensions the last week cements that. But your choice is a big contract for a good QB, or a questionable QB situation that will be cheaper but won't help you win much.

From Caleb Thompson:

"The salary cap means nothing, several teams have made that clear, making the Cardinals lack of action in bringing in free agents all the more frustrating. But a few holes could still be filled with decent, fairly cheap help. Edge (Lorenzo Carter perhaps?) and WR2 (MVS or Fuller), maybe even another vet corner (Kevin King?). Too expensive? Wishful thinking maybe?"

No, I don't think those names make me think too expensive. Whether they would sign one, I don't know. I'll take umbrage at saying the cap means nothing, Clearly it means something. Can you be ultra-aggressive despite it? Yes. Whether people are OK with it or not, keeping Ertz and Conner in particular were key FA decisions, even though they were already on the team.

From TG:

"Just want to start this off with a fact. Every real and non-delusional Cardinals fan knew that Chandler Jones was going to leave. Players go to free agency for a reason. Markus Golden is the only player on the player on the roster who was around when the team was actually good. Aside from that basic knowledge, who is currently the longest active tenured player on the roster?"

Not sure what you mean "when the team was actually good." They won 11 games this season. That qualifies as good. But the longest tenured player right now is tackle D.J. Humphries, who has been on the team since 2015. Golden was on that team but left before returning. If they re-sign Corey Peters, he will tie Humphries.

From Jesse Arrieta:

"Hello Darren. I am thinking about our upcoming draft. What position do we take with our first pick? O-line? Not at all. We have lost Chandler, Kirk and Chase. By re-signing Connor, we do not need to worry about finding a starting RB. I say we resign A.J. Green and pick up Julio Jones. Those two players may not be what they once were.but surely they are as good if not better than most of the number 2 and 3 Wide Receivers in the league. We do not need to take a linebacker. I think we can find a pass rusher in later rounds. I think that if we take the best cornerback available with our first pick, our opponents will need to have two great wide receivers or more to beat Murphy, Wilson and our first pick CB. D-line or corner should be our first round pick. Or WR if we don't or can't sign Julio Jones. Whatcha think?"

I think this is backwards logic for the first pick. If you think there is a great receiver or edge rusher -- especially edge rusher -- in round one, you jump at it. Or even a game-changing offensive lineman. I disagree that you assume you can get a pass rusher later. To me, as we sit here in mid-March, that is the Cardinals' biggest hole. Doesn't mean there will be one at 23 that makes sense. But cornerback, receiver, defensive lineman, all could be the pick. (No, I don't expect Green back, and I wouldn't sign Jones either. I don't think that older, veteran wideout pick has necessarily worked the way they've wanted.)

From Ben Watson:

"I was taking a gander at the legendary 2013 NFL draft and reminiscing about Jonathan Cooper and what could've been. And then I realized how similar Coop and David Johnson were. All-world talents who seemingly lost all confidence after getting injured. And I'm not one to criticize them for something like that. In my opinion, it makes all the sense in the world to become a bit trigger shy after a traumatic injury like that. Its just so unfortunate for us and them. What could've been. And don't get me started on Daryl Washington! That guy had the talent to be the best defensive player in Cardinals history."

I don't know if Washington would've been that good -- they have a handful of actual Hall of Fame defenders -- but it certainly wasted a talent with all his off-the-field issues. And we never saw enough of Cooper to know either, since he was hurt in his first preseason. Injuries are part of it, though, and many guys are able to come back and have tremendous comebacks.

From Chris Ruslowe:

"Pass rusher David Ojabo tore his Achilles at his pro day and now understandably will slide in the draft. I'm not celebrating that in the least. I wish he didn't get hurt and went top 10 as he was projected. With that said, the reality now is he might be an option for the Cardinals at 23. My question is do you think the Cardinals draft one of the best pass rushers in the draft, albeit with the risk he just had a major injury?"

That's impossible to know right now. Every team is going to do their due diligence on Ojabo and his injury. I had seen one mock draft before the injury of him dropping to the Cardinals but I agree -- he would've been off the board. But in all reality, given that it might take him six or seven months to get back on the field, I'm guessing you have to really believe he will be special on this level -- after an injury like this -- to take a flyer on him in the first round.

From Brian S:

"Are we able to talk about free-agent misses objectively, performance based, not personally about the players? I know it may be harder for you since you know these guys personally. But I wanted to ask since you've seen them all come and go, where does Jordan Phillips rank in the hierarchy of bad misses? From your perspective, who has been worse on the FA front?"

If we are talking money as part of the equation -- and I think we have to, because if you sign a player for a modest deal and he doesn't pan out, that's not a terrible signing, in my opinion -- yes, Phillips has to rank up there. Availability is just as important as ability, and Phillips was just never available. Sam Bradford, obviously, did not work out well at all for the money he got. They were counting on defensive lineman Darius Philon and cornerback Malcolm Butler, and neither made it out of the preseason, but those weren't because they were bad signings, but happenstance and decisions by those players.

From Zack Clifford:

"Hey Darren, appreciate the mailbag! My question is, do you think the defense is hoping to replicate the success they had when Chandler went down with his biceps injury and it was more of a group effort in getting to the QB? If not, which free agent do you think is left that makes sense? If there isn't anyone there, do you think that becomes our first-round pick for sure?"

Last first, I don't think they are locked into any first-round position. You can't make that determination until you are on the clock and see how the rest of the first round rolls out. I think, with the way the roster is, there is a good chance they sign a pass rusher -- don't know what level in terms of price -- and draft one. I think that spot needs that kind of attention. But if they don't have a true the-offense-must-plan-for-him edge rusher, yes, Vance Joseph worked with it before to success. But part of the reason it was so successful was that Haason Reddick broke out and Dennis Gardeck came out of nowhere. Players still have to perform.

From Big Red:

"What's the outlook on Jalen Thompson? He's become a pretty darn good safety, but you worry anytime you have a big money man in a position room (Budda). Teams tend to be hesitant to pour more money into the position. Do you think we lock Jalen up long term or do you think he's outpriced himself."

I think there is no question the Cardinals want to extend Thompson and I think that is already on the radar. How quickly it might happen I don't know.

From Bob Knot:

"Hi Darren, rapid fire questions: -

  1. Alford gone or possible re-sign?
  2. Who's our starting pass rusher No. 1 now that Jones is gone?
  3. Zaven the starter now Hicks gone?
  4. Eno the #2 RB now?
  5. Will Hop be 100% for preseason activities?"


  1. Possible, but might be later.
  2. Golden until/unless someone shows up better.
  3. Yes.
  4. For now. He'll have his chance.
  5. Yes.

From Cardinals Woo:

"MAXX IS BACK! When did Maxx Williams become such a beloved player? I don't remember when it happened, all I know is it happened and we are so happy to have him. I tell you Maxx and Zach Ertz could be the best TE 1-2 in the league. This is the best TE depth we've ever had. No disrespect to Jerheme Urban."

I don't think Jerheme would feel disrespected because he played wide receiver, not tight end. We'll see how the Ertz-Williams duo works; I agree it could be excellent but Williams still needs to fully recover from his injured knee.

From Jared Roeff:

"Isn't 'Keim Time' a misconception? I keep hearing how there's Keim Time free agents coming in the second wave of free agency, but aren't all of Keims greatest hits the blockbuster moves? Chandler, Hop, Watt. Those weren't 2nd wave value moves. Those were shocking, NFL changing moves. They just happened to be labeled 'Keim Time' because nobody knew they were coming. So with that said, its fair to say there are no big crazy moves coming for the Cardinals this offseason?"

I don't know if there will be any "big crazy moves," but no, that's not where Keim Time came from. It came from signing Antonio Cromartie 10 days into free agency, it came from signing Karlos Dansby (in his first return) in May, it came from signing starting tackle Eric Winston, starting tight end Jermaine Gresham and double-digit sack guy John Abraham on the eve of training camp and it came from signing running back Chris Johnson and cornerback Tramon Williams during training camp. All those guys were "Keim Time" as big pieces that came later. That's how I see it too. Watt was one because of the suddenness but Hopkins and Jones were just smart trades.

From Jose Orozco:

"Hey Darren, Jose here. This my first question ever. Who do think is going to be WR2 and RB2 for the upcoming season?"

Welcome, Jose. Don't have a concrete answer for you. As of today, I'm not sure WR2 is on the roster. RB2 could be Eno, but I think he'll have to win the job, ultimately.

From Thomas Krepelka:

"The issues of team building and roster construction always seem to come into play from this point (free agency starting to the beginning of the season) and some teams do it through drafting/developing and others a mix of both. As of today, the entire 2018 draft class is going to be playing next year with a team not named Arizona Cardinals. Is that a sustainable model?"

No, you can't turn over a class that quickly and have it work long-term. It's not as if the class was bad -- of six picks, you have two offensive linemen still playing and two good players in Christian Kirk and Chase Edmonds. I think Edmonds might've stayed if not for the emergence of Conner; Kirk just ended up getting paid much more than anyone anticipated. The draft has to give you a solid structure on the roster. No one argues that, and Steve Keim has acknowledged multiple times the need to do better with some picks.

From Kevin Tobey:

"Never understood why we go for undersized cornerbacks. Plus letting Chandler go one of the best we have had since Daryl Washington who was very promising. I guess we will look for the cheapest or a player in his 30s to come in. Hi Darren. Huge fan and never miss a mailbag reading you are excellent. Been a Cardinals fan since the Neil Lomax days. If my punctuation was better I would join in asking questions. But you're perfect for the job. Thank you."

The Cardinals have tried getting bigger cornerbacks too -- the ones that are 6-foot (or more) and have great cover skills a) aren't plentiful and b) usually are rarely available. Washington wasn't a pass rusher, he was an inside linebacker. As for Jones, the Cardinals saw his value at this point in his career as one thing and the Raiders clearly saw it elsewhere. We will watch it play out in real time in the next couple of seasons what the right call was.

From Andy Vold:

"Glad to see we re-signed James Conner. Every year we have injuries at running back. Last year I don't think we had a healthy RB for the playoffs. which may have affected the team more than most realize. Seems like a team needs three good RBs, but we never seem to have that third guy. Is Eno or Ward ready to be a No. 1 RB if two go down?"

I don't know. You are right, injuries at running back are plentiful, not just with the Cardinals. I still think there is a chance they add another possibility at some point to put in the mix with Benjamin, Ward and Jaylen Samuels.

From Drew Jones:

"Does Chandler's $17M deal with Vegas convey to a third-round compensatory pick?"

Normally, that contract would indeed create a third for the Cards. Unfortunately, any veteran who has already played 10 years doesn't generate that high of a pick anymore. Best they can do from Jones is a fifth, which is what Patrick Peterson was similarly worth last year for the same reason.

From Mike Ponfe:

"I think the Jeff Gladney pickup needs more discussion because its one heck of a low risk/high reward move. He's not some journeyman whos washed out of six other teams. He had a normal up and down rookie season. And then he missed all of 2021 with a pending court case (for which he was found innocent). That's the extent of his NFL career. A 1st round CB less than 2 years ago. From where I'm sitting, we just got a free first-round draft pick. Maybe he develops, maybe he doesn't. Thrilled with it."

We are going to find out. The contract Gladney got certainly showed he had interest other places and that the Cardinals have confidence he has a chance to make a difference.

From Matthew Chadduck:

"I agree that the current jerseys are good, but I also think introducing something new would be beneficial, so why not a brand new helmet? A second helmet design is allowed for 2022, and bringing back the old version of the Cards logo for a throwback or something seems silly; the new Big Red logo is objectively superior, so why not try out a black helmet?"

I don't know if there has been discussion of a different helmet, nor if black would be an option. Such a move has been out there as a suggestion for a while. Not sure it would resonate in the building, but I don't know. I don't expect any different helmets this season. -- they would have had to tell the league about it last summer.

From Wyatt Douglas:

"This made me laugh. You need to get a @Cardschatter version for yourself."

1) It's probably something our main account needs more than me. If someone acts like I can do something about moves, I have no hesitation at making sure that person knows they are wrong. 2) Do you think it's really going to change how anyone thinks? Nope.

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