The Cardinals wrap up OTAs this week, with minicamp next week. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Marlowe Swihart:
"Hiya Darren, just wanted to chirp in real quick. I saw some of the comments you posted from D.J. Humphries. Count me among those who are rattled by the lack of Humphries contract news. Not even speculation. No comments from Steve Keim. We hear about Kyler's deal on an hourly basis. But there's been little if any talk about Hump's deal. He's arguably our second-most important player on the team. Am I wrong? He's a top 15 LT. Top 10 when he's at his best. We can't pay Kyler at the cost of losing Hump. What's your outlook? It's generally accepted Kyler will be paid in the coming weeks. Same with Hump?"
Well, I will start with the comment you made that "we can't pay Kyler at the cost of losing Hump." Meaning ... you'd rather lose Kyler Murray if it means keeping Humphries? Who is he blocking for? That makes no sense to me. That said, I don't think it's an either-or situation. Keim is only going to comment on things he is asked about; if the media isn't asking him he's not going to bring it up on his own. Humphries certainly didn't seem worried about anything. Maybe a franchise tag could be needed down the road. Maybe the extension happens at some point. If I had to guess right now, Humphries will be around beyond this season.
From Martin James:
"Hi Darren. We've seen back-to-back late-season collapses by the Cardinals, with Kyler at the helm. The OL is obviously a problem, as seen vs LA. However should more blame also be leveled at the wide receivers? Statistically Kyler has proven he's pretty darn good at throwing the ball. Our failures imply that our receivers are a substantial issue. Hop aside, how do you view our WR corps? As a response we let Kirk walk and add Hollywood. Mission complete? Do you think that's enough or should we have added more new blood?"
I think there was plenty of blame to go around late in the season across the offense. Leaving any one part out would be foolish. But the idea is that Rondale Moore can step into Kirk's role, and when Hop plays -- and yes, the suspension is a looming issue -- you have him and Hollywood as an excellent No. 2, and that doesn't include what A.J. Green and Antoine Wesley can give you. (Plus Conner/Williams out of the backfield and more Zach Ertz and maybe Trey McBride.) I don't know who else you are bringing in (you weren't trading for someone expensive like A.J. Brown) that would've been that much more for this team.
From Joseph Stradling:
"With the departure of Jordan Phillips and the unfortunate loss of Jeff Gladney, do you see the Cards bringing in free agents to replace them? Do you think Sheldon Richardson or Ndamukong Suh or Kevin King are possibilities?"
With the passing of Gladney -- especially since he was expected to play a bigger role -- I would say a veteran at cornerback is a must. I have thought for a while they could probably add another veteran on the defensive line too. Now, are any of those three guys you mentioned possible? Hard to tell. The Cardinals are going to see them as add-ons, so it'd be prove-it money at this point. Whether they would be OK with that -- assuming the Cardinals like what any of them could bring at this point in their careers -- is another thing.
From Abdul Anwar:
"Are there any young quarterbacks on the roster that have looked good? How is Jarrett Guarantano looking? He could be a steal as an undrafted free agent."
I mean, we only have two candidates: Guarantano and holdover Trace McSorley. They have looked fine -- I'd give McSorley the advantage because he has played in the league -- but let's face it, they need to get to camp and get some preseason game work in to really tell what they might be. We're talking about third-string at this point, because Colt McCoy is locked in as No. 2.
From Seidy Black:
"I keep seeing projections that Kyler's extension is going to be in the 3-4-year range. Given we are paying him early, shouldn't we lock him up for longer? Say six years? Nobody wants to go through this BS every 2.5 years so wouldn't it make more sense to just get it settled now? Mahomes notably signed a 10-year deal. Of course that'll be renegotiated prior to its expiration, but it's the right idea. Highly paid QBs kill your roster, it's just a fact of life. So getting them paid and put out of mind LONG TERM should be the goal right?"
Some layers here:
- We don't know how long the extension would be. If it is truly an extension, and he has two years left, then he's under contract for five or six seasons.
- You are right, no one wants to keep going through this. But I have a secret for you -- the length isn't gonna matter because if he (or any QB) signs and two or three years into a six-year deal contracts have exploded even more and he's playing well, guess what? He's going to want to renegotiate.
- We don't know what each side wants? Does Kyler want to be under contract for six or seven years? Do the Cardinals want to commit that long (because the longer the deal, the bigger the up-front bonus.) Fitz wouldn't sign for more than four years for the very reason you noted -- he wanted to go back to the table. Frankly, I was surprised Mahomes did what he did; it goes against all the trends in today's NFL.
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hey Darren, thank you again for the mailbag. I think Eno Benjamin might not make the team this year. If I remember his blocking on passing plays wasn't good. A coach and GM don't want running backs who don't look after their QB. But also I remember Eno saying during an interview he doesn't watch a lot of film and when he leaves the building he doesn't think about football and so compared to other players, maybe he doesn't have the want to be the best and put the time in. I could be wrong. He seems to have the skills as a runner but things like special teams is also a big problem. Do you think Eno Benjamin has a big chance to make it on the 53?"
Right now, I don't think there are any givens in the running back room besides James Conner. Darrel Williams is close to a lock I'd think but not 100 percent. I don't know about any Eno comments about video but I know that he's in a large pool of players and if he wasn't staying up on or off the field it's going to hurt his chances. Kliff Kingsbury complimented Benjamin this week so I think he's got a shot. But you are not wrong; he's got to round out his game as a backup.
From Sidney Sexson:
"Darren I would like your opinion on some free agents that are still available now that we have the additional $10 million from the previous release of Jordan Phillips. Of the following CBs who would you most like to see signed? Robert Alford, Xavier Rhodes, Kevin King or Chris Harris, Jr.? If there was also the possibility of adding an edge player who might you choose from Trey Flowers, Justin Houston, Carlos Dunlap or Jason Pierre-Paul?"
I know this can be a fun exercise -- pick out the player you'd like to see the most. I'm not a huge fan, because I haven't done any scouting to see where these guys are on the performance scale nor what money they want. I mean, for cornerback, King actually is on the right side of 30, although Kingsbury said the team still has Alford on their radar. Certainly Alford knows the defense. Dunlap looked good against the Cardinals in the finale last season, but I don't know if any of those options stand out for me.
From Jason B:
"I hate seeing anyone lose their life at such an early age. I thought Jeff Gladney would have been a young key piece for our defense. I hope the team can bounce back from this tragedy. I have two questions: What are the Cardinals going to do to fill that void? Can you explain why Malcolm Butler is owed dead cap money for a signing bonus? Butler screwed over the team and didn't want to play for the Cardinals and then he unretired and went back to the Patriots. I think that is so unfair."
I'd be lying if I said I understood completely why a retiring player would be able to keep at least some of his signing bonus but obviously, he was able to keep some of it after spending the offseason and training camp with the team. As far as the cornerback situation, they will sign a veteran at some point. Whether that is soon or not until camp is upon us, we will have to see.
From Robert Stinson:
"Hi Darren. Full disclosure, this is a left-field comment that you may have no patience for, but it's on my mind so I wanted to share. I'm a die-hard football fan, but professionally work in the financial world. The scary reality is we haven't even started the recession yet. The fan in me is already becoming very agitated by already-millionaires complaining about money, when a large majority of Americans are going to be legitimately suffering financially. If they want to pay Kyler, do it now and then counsel him to never peep about money ever again because a historically bad time is on the way for average joe fans."
I mean, the negativity seems kind of overwhelming from you. If you know this is coming, and you work in the financial world, you should be excited -- given your knowledge of the future you should be able to sidestep the problems. As for players and contracts, all I can say is you can let it bother you or not. It's not changing, it's not going to change regardless of where the country is financially, and players get paid that kind of money because the fans want the product. If you are one of the best in the world at your job, you make a lot of money. And it becomes public because that's the only pressure players can generate; if you got a better offer from the financial place down the street, you could just put your two weeks in and take it.
From John Turelli:
"Team sports have always been in question with the great athletes we witness everyday. We all know that if Michael Bidwill could sign Kyler for $10 mil per season for life he would. Kyler and any professional athlete is a corporation in itself. It's time for this franchise to sign a long-term option at QB for us. Match the Browns QB contract and move on. We need a whole lot more than a QB on this team. Go Cards and let's all give Kyler his due process. 2022 will shine when all this contract talk is over."
So here is the other side. I agree if the Cardinals could get Murray for a bargain-basement deal, they would. But personally, I understand why the Cardinals (and every other team) would balk at a Watson deal for any player, since the Browns decided to obliterate the market because they decided they needed Watson. If the Cards "match" the Watson deal, your next part -- "we need a whole lot more than a QB" -- is moot because that alone will crush the cap.
From Dee W:
"Any rookies standing out at OTAs yet? I was impressed by Trey McBride's natural leadership in that mic'd video. Also, it's hard to ignore the Chandler comps with Myjai Sanders -- they have similar builds and personalities. Also, is Cameron Thomas hurt?"
I don't think anyone really "stands out" in OTAs. As Kliff Kingsbury said this week, guys can start to show what they have, but it is hard to really tell for sure. I'd hold off on the Jones=Sanders. Myjai is still raw and has a long way to go to be Markus Golden or Haason Reddick, much less Jones. Thomas was hurt at the beginning of the offseason, but he is OK now.
From Ben Quesada:
"Is it a possibility for the Cards to transition Zaven Collins to OLB like they did with Haason Reddick before it's too late again?"
The difference between Collins and Reddick was that Reddick was a pass rusher in college. Collins was not. I don't think there is a parallel there.
From Jerry Atwell:
"Do you think D-Hop will return to to form without PEDs? Patrick Peterson did not return to form after cheating on PED."
I don't know if there is a direct comparison between the two. Yes, I think Hopkins will be the player he was before.
From Richard Wakefield:
"Thanks for answering my question about Hopkins and Peterson. I certainly didn't suggest we get rid of Hopkins. That would be foolish. But quit treating them like a savior when they do get back. They did a selfish thing and it hurt the team. Hopkins can, and has, won games for us. That means he can also lose games by not being here."
It stands to reason that if Hopkins hurts the team by missing games, then he would come along and save them with some wins when he returns. That's the definition of savior.
From Robert Laycock:
"Hi Darren. With the Cardinals getting the IHMA deal in Mexico, does this mean that the Cardinals will only play international games in Mexico for the foreseeable future? Forgive me if this is a dumb question but as a UK fan it worried me that the Cardinals wouldn't be part of any UK games anymore."
The Mexico connection will be important for the Cardinals because of the NFL deal, but no, it doesn't eliminate the possibility they play overseas. There is always a chance to be the visiting team for a team hosting a game in London or Germany. Do I anticipate that anytime soon? Probably not.