We have the Super Bowl matchup for this crazy season: B.A. and the Bucs against the Chiefs. We also have a mailbag for this week. Thanks again for all the questions. There were so many I've had to keep some for next week. As always, if you want to submit one for a future mailbag, go here.
From @undead172 via Twitter:
"What are the Cardinals priorities as far as keeping our players out of free agency?"
Or put another way, what players might they try to extend before March 17? This is a good question. To be honest, at this point, when it comes to the guys fans will be particularly wondering about, it's going to take a nice deal for them to not at least test the market, I would think. As far as priorities, I'd think Haason Reddick and Patrick Peterson would be the top two names on the list. But in both cases, again, why wouldn't they want to see what the open market might bring?
From Chris Minton via azcardinals.com:
"With the 2021 salary cap apparently being in the neighborhood of $180 million, and also with the possibility of a 17th game being added for the 2021 season, could/would TV contracts be renegotiated for the upcoming season to account for the 17th round of games? And if so, could/would that renegotiated amount be immediately available as extra cap room for teams?"
Current TV deals don't run out until after 2021, and the current rights holders aren't going to be like, "Sure, we'll renegotiate and give you more money this year just for a 17th game." One of the reasons the 17th game is coming is to jack up the 2022 negotiations. Also, owners had agreed to spread the cap pain over a few years, so this drop doesn't account for all the missing revenue. The extra TV money in the future will help, but the dip that is coming is going to happen. Teams just have to figure out how to deal with it.
From @Real_OliBarwald via Twitter:
"If Calais Campbell becomes a salary cap casualty for the Ravens, do you think the Cardinals would try to bring him back? Moreover, is his and the organization's relationship still good enough for him to possibly take a 'hometown discount' this late in his career?"
We will wait to see what players will be cap casualties -- and there figure to be a number of them given the cap drop. I think Campbell's relationship with the Cardinals is just fine. Any player at this point who is into his 30s, again, given the situation, is going to have a hard time getting any kind of significant deal this offseason. That's just my thought. (Although in a normal setting, I don't know why CC would do a "hometown discount.")
From Mike Stofko via azcardinals.com:
"Hey, Darren. From what I have been reading among Cards' commentators and fans, it seems almost universally accepted that Andy Isabella was a bust of a draft pick. My feeling is that he has not been used correctly, and if so used, would shine. Let me explain. In my view, Izzy is in the mold of a Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman-type. Line him up in the slot and send him over the middle for the 7- or 8-yard pass and let him break free on an occasional 'take the top off route.' Here is my prediction: if the Cards let him go, he will be immediately vacuumed up by Bill Belichick. I'd be interested in your take on this point of view. Thank you."
I think Isabella is heading into a very big year for his tenure with the Cardinals. And for most players, I think three seasons is worth allowing before anyone should get saddled with a "bust" tag. I think the Cards drafted Isabella to do just what you are saying. A few things have gotten in the way. One, the Cards use a lot less four-WR sets than they thought they would when he was picked. Two, Larry Fitzgerald has remained an inside receiver, which has helped keep Isabella on the bench. And three -- the biggest one, no doubt -- he hasn't shown enough to be on the field more. Maybe he would flourish somewhere else. The Cardinals would like for him to break out here. If he can't, then we'll see where else he might get a chance.
From @AidanTibuni_5 via Twitter:
"Would you like to see a change at the running back position? If so, who would you like to draft/get in free agency?"
For whatever reason, Kenyan Drake didn't have the same pop in 2020 that he did in 2019, but I think a lot went into that. I think he is still capable of being the back who played so well at the back half of 2019. That said, if there is change at running back, it'll probably be financial-based more than an outright decision that different personnel is needed. I will say I can see the need for a bigger back, to team someone with Chase Edmonds for a little of that old-school "Thunder and Lightning" effect, just in terms of some short-yardage situations. Where you would find that back? I find it very unlikely the Cards would ever spend a first-round pick on a running back (I want to say it'll never happen, but never say never). But I am also leery of spending a lot on an older veteran back in free agency (if Drake didn't return) just because of the way backs are valued in the league right now.
From Sebastian Quiros via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. Do you think we may attempt a trade for someone this offseason? Considering cap, assets to trade among other things. I'm thinking maybe an already proven corner? Would a trade for Jaire Alexander be impossible?"
Let's start with the last one. Yes, trading for Alexander is impossible, because why would the Packers want to part with a 23-year-old Pro Bowl cornerback? But could the Cards trade for a cornerback? I mean, it's possible, but what are you parting with, and what is his salary? With the cap dropping, draft picks and cheaper free agents will be important. I know that you will potentially need a No. 1 cornerback, but those aren't readily available (again, why you'd never get an Alexander or someone like him.)
From @AZSteveW via Twitter:
"Hi Darren. With Haason Reddick having a breakout year, what options do the Cardinals have to retain him?"
It's simple really. They re-sign him, or he leaves as a free agent. There is the option to use the franchise or transition tag as well. although given the coming cap constraints, using the tag this year would be incredibly taxing on your flexibility. (Overthecap.com currently estimates the Cards will have only about $9 million in cap space and a franchise tag on Reddick would be $15M by itself.) My guess is that they will have an idea of what they want to give Haason, and they will try to keep him around, and it'll depend on what the market might bear. He could re-sign (or go elsewhere) on a one-year deal as well, and then try and go back into the market when the salary cap isn't jacked up -- but he'll be risking a dropoff in production in that case.
From @smolscam via Twitter:
"How important do you think the hiring of a solid passing game coordinator is considering how stale the passing attack looked at the back end of the season?"
Couple of different things to hit on here. With the retirement of Tom Clements as passing game coordinator, there is that role that could ostensibly be filled, but I am not 100 percent sure they actually hire someone, or even dole out that title. As for the "stale" state of the passing game, the work has to be done on whether it's about the scheme or about personnel. They need another receiver, in my opinion. Now, realistically, it's a combination, but how much of each? And how much can Kliff Kingsbury get out of his offseason self-review?
From @sixxalx_alex via Twitter:
"Now that PFF released the re-draft of 2019, it got me thinking: If the Cardinals back then decided to go for someone like Nick Bosa, how far down do you think Kyler would've gone? Now it is very hard to see him in other uniform and the impact he would've had."
My first thought would be, can you imagine Kyler with Kyle Shanahan, with the 49ers picking 2? Or maybe the Raiders at 4, or the Bucs at 5 or the Giants at 6? I don't think Murray would have fallen very far at all. He was the best QB available in 2019.
From @jhart9232 via Twitter:
"Darren, what's the thought process on why teams must decide whether to pick up a fifth-year option (a la Hassan) prior to them even playing their fourth year, as opposed to after the player's fourth year prior to beginning free agency of that year?"
I would guess it would be because if the teams could pick up the option at the end of the fourth year, it'd essentially be like having a free franchise tag, only cheaper. It gives both player and team a set cost for the fifth season. And truthfully, you should have a pretty good idea of what you have after three seasons. Reddick's arc is rare.
From JR Arthur via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, historically why have the Cardinals not used tight ends much? From coaching staff to coaching staff, we have always treated tight end like a fourth option. I don't get it. We did a little better this year, with Dan Arnold contributing some. But overall, it's still bad. Look at Travis Kelce's stats. He's a top-shelf receiver who also plays tight end. He's arguably more valuable than any wide receiver in the league considering he has two jobs on the field (OL and WR). New England's top weapon for years was Gronk. The real difference maker in both those examples is a HOF QB, but the point stands. Tight ends are weapons that can change a game."
So the question becomes, do the Chiefs and the older Patriots use more tight ends because they think it was the best idea? Or was it because they have/had Kelce and Gronk? I don't recall the 49ers being overly reliant on tight ends until Kittle came along. The Patriots haven't used tight end a ton since Gronk left. I feel pretty confident if the Cards had a player like Kelce, he'd be used more. So yes, if they happened to draft Pitts from Florida, for instance, I'm guessing he's going to be a big part of the offense. But if I am the Cardinals, I'm still thinking an upscale wide receiver to add to Hopkins would be more important (and I don't think Pitts will be on the board by the time they pick.)
From @CardsHypeMan via Twitter:
"I have 3. Who do you want to see us get in the draft? When could we hear Larry's decision? And what will most likely happen with P2?"
For me, too early to know particular names. Position-wise, my first instinct is for a cornerback, although at 16, I am flexible depending who is on the board. A good guard, a pass rusher, even a wide receiver would work for me in this general sense. As for Fitz, that's a great question. The latest we have found out in the past (and of course, it has always been coming back up until this point) is around the first week or so of February. Now, could that timeline be delayed this year? Possible. But the Cards will likely need to know before they start into offseason roster work. In terms of Peterson, I think he's going to want to hit the open market and see his value. I think the Cards would like him back, but I'm sure they have a price in mind. It only takes one team to outbid them. My gut says Peterson is going to take the best offer he can get. That may not be in Arizona.
From @WLife100 via Twitter:
"Chandler Jones must sign an extension or he could be a salary cap casualty. He's $20 million against the cap in 2021. Cardinals could save $15 million."
Chandler Jones isn't getting released. As of right now, he's your only real pass rusher under contract. Could they extend him to lower that cap number? Very possible. But Jones has a lot of leverage in this regard right now.
From Sam Cardsfan via azcardinals.com:
"There could be 17 games next season. That means all records and stats starting now are essentially reset. Get ready to see more 2,000 yard rushers. More 50+ TD QBs. Not by a lot. Those are still high bars. But I'm just saying. The thing I wish they added was a second bye week. I think that would've gone a long way in softening the blow of the extra week. Especially considering the Cardinals specifically have one of the three toughest schedules. I don't want to be a pessimist, Darren. But we have a brutal schedule. It's nothing but playoff teams and Trevor Lawrence. It's going to be an extra long year."
Well Sam, I know you said you didn't want to do it, but you did a terrible job of not being a pessimist. You're making some pretty big assumptions, first about the immediate impact of Trevor Lawrence and then how the rest of the teams might look. The Lions without Matthew Stafford? Maybe the Packers without Aaron Rodgers? The Colts right now have Jacoby Brissett as QB. I'm not saying these games won't be difficult. But man, it's not even February yet. We don't know what these teams will look like by the time the Cardinals play them -- especially in an offseason that could play havoc with rosters across the league.
From @dante_hirsch via Twitter:
"Will the Cardinals be keeping Chris Streveler as QB2?"
An excellent question. I would guess they will try and see if an upgrade is possible there, because it does not look like there will be an offseason of on-field work in which they could actually try to get Streveler where they would like him to be. That doesn't mean Streveler won't be around in 2021, but I could definitely see him as a No. 3 and Kyler's backup being a veteran with some experience (although I wouldn't expect the Cards to simply swap Streveler and Brett Hundley, a free-agent-to-be, at this point.)
From @doiknowyoutoo via Twitter:
"I remember numerous stories about Carson Palmer using a virtual reality system that helped him with game prep. Has Murray ever used it?"
I do not believe so. The Cardinals haven't used that system in a couple of years now. You are right, Carson did think it helped him. But not every QB feels the same.
From Josh Pashkow via azcardinals.com:
"DeShaun Watson is still mad at Houston for trading his best receiver, and he wants out. So this is the Cardinals' big chance: Trade Kyler Murray and our second-round 2021 draft pick for Watson, where he'll be reunited with D-Hop."
The Watson drama in Houston goes way beyond the D-Hop trade. Beyond that, this is the kind of trade suggestion that takes me back to the late 1980s/early 1990s, when one Suns fan called up the 620 Sportsline one night and said in all earnestness the Suns should deal Negele Knight and Kurt Rambis for Hakeem Olajuwon. This one isn't quite that bad, but a) Kyler remains attractive because of his contract and b) the Texans are going to be looking for so much more than that if they were to trade Watson (which I still wonder if it would even happen.)
From @LeDoss31 via Twitter:
"Are the Cardinals looking and prospecting for players outside the U.S."
Yes, the Cards keep an eye out for players outside the country. They have signed a couple over the years, although they have not panned out.
From Ron Turner via azcardinals.com:
"Why does Murray ignore Fitz? I mean, you have a future Hall of Famer and he seems to go others first? Can he not see him because he too short? Is this a coach's call? Is he so in love with Hopkins? Is Fitz so covered and is not open? To treat him this way is ridiculous. Your thoughts."
At this point in their careers, Hopkins is a better receiver than Fitz, so that's why Hopkins is going to get the ball more often. Fitz still had 72 targets despite missing three games, which was behind only Hopkins (160) and Christian Kirk (79), and given that Fitz was probably the third receiver coming in, that tracks. Maybe they didn't throw to Fitz as much as you'd like, but in context, he wasn't ignored. I can understand the thought they should have looked to him more often, particularly in the red zone. But this idea that he was treated poorly, I just can't get on board with that.
From @_JackTheRealOne via Twitter:
"Do you think there is a chance we will redesign our jerseys this offseason? I believe they are due for an update."
I do not think there is chance of a new jersey this offseason.
From @RossDownie92 via Twitter:
"When will Larry get a statue outside the stadium?"
Feels like this question should be an "if, then when" kinda thing. But let's see if the man even retires or if we get more Fitz in 2021 first.
From @MsLJay via Twitter:
"Can someone ask Larry Fitzgerald if he'd like to marry me?"
Someone? Isn't this kind of a personal, one-on-one type of thing, Ms. LJay?