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You've Got Mail: Cardinals Head Into The Offseason

Topics include Simmons' move, Marco Wilson, and fifth-year options

Mailbag Zay Budda JT

We have entered the offseason portion of the mailbag. This will be my final mailbag of the next few weeks but that doesn't mean we won't have mailbags. Yes, we will have guest mailbaggers. Craig Grialou will host a mailbag for July 27, we will have a week off for July 4th, and then the great Dani Sureck will host a mailbag on July 11. Keep that in mind if you want to send in specific queries. In the meantime, questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Sebas Quiros:

"Hey Darren. I saw Isaiah Simmons say he'll be working full-time as a DB. I think it's a good change for him but how do you reckon it will work? I know it's hard to tell but, naturally you have Jalen as your free and Budda as your strong so where exactly do you see Isaiah fitting. Are three safeties normal? You think maybe one of them will play some slot or maybe a deep safety role? All based on what you know or think, how do you see it potentially functioning?"

These are questions I'd feel more comfortable talking about after training camp has begun. But yes, this is doable. The Cardinals did it basically last year with all three on the field. I do think that at times people get a little wrapped up in exact positions; if Simmons can play well on the back end, and with the abilities both Thompson and Baker have, I have no doubt DC Nick Rallis can make it work if that's the direction they want to go.

From Raine Voights:

"Hey Darren, I am very confused about Isaiah Simmons being moved to DB. Do the coaches really think he is fast enough to keep up with NFL wide receivers? I know he is a great all-around athlete and has been labeled as a guy that can play anywhere, but I can see him being picked on by opposing QBs. What are your thoughts?"

Simmons played the majority of his snaps last season as a nickel corner, so the idea that he hasn't played a lot in the secondary already is just wrong. That said, that's the issue, isn't it -- where does he fit? The fact the Simmons role continues to be a storyline into yet another season, however, is what to watch. It's been said before but this is a crucial year in his career.

From Beep Peskov:

"Hey Darren, I don't know if you've noticed, but to me, Marco Wilson seems like the invisible man around here. Nobody ever talks about him. And he's arguably our No. 1 CB. That's not weird to you? They say the blue-chip positions are QB, LT, pass rusher, and CB. He's one our big 4, and yet I've not heard one mention of him since the season ended. Do you not think that could be a big story with Murphy leaving?"

I get the thought process. I would guess there is a couple of reasons for this. Wilson hasn't done any press conferences, which is a natural way for a story to happen. But I also think the cornerback position is wide open. Yes, Wilson could be the No. 1. But we don't know how this is going to play out. I have no doubt Wilson will be a major storyline in training camp, when everything is out there for reporting and things come into sharper focus.

From Dale Hatfield:

"I grew up in the era of the Steelers 'Steel Curtain' defensive line which had Jack Ham and Jack Lambert as linebackers backing them up. Both are in the Hall of Fame. I heard an interview with Jack Lambert and the interviewer asked how he had been able to be so good for so long. I will never forget his response. He said, 'I knew that if I didn't play well, Jack Ham would kick my ass.' My question is do the Cardinals have players who will hold other players accountable like Jack Lambert described in that interview?"

I have no doubt they have some, yes. I think Budda Baker is one, for instance. But it takes the coaches too, and there has to be some self-accountability. Everyone is their own person; you aren't making anyone do anything they don't really want to do. (I mean, just look across our nation when it comes to that these days.)

From Jason EVCF:

"Hi Darren, thank you for all that you do. I've been enjoying your mailbag for years but it's my first time asking you a question. Can you please explain the pros vs. cons of teams exercising a player's fifth-year option? Seems like the Cards usually get hosed on this. Isaiah Simmons, for instance. He hasn't been that bad. I liked the pick a few years ago and I think he's developing. Also linebackers (or arguably now a safety) don't usually make as much as other defensive players options so why not roll the dice and pay the man? Aren't these fifth-year options only guaranteed for injury? We don't want another Haason Reddick situation. Wouldn't it be more beneficial to keep a fifth-year option and cut them before year 5 if they flop? Or trade said player for a late round pick to another team willing to take a chance on a former first-rounder?"

This might answer your issue right away but the fifth-year option these days is fully guaranteed. So the option for Simmons meant he would've been guaranteed about $12.7 million next season whether he was on the roster or not. Yes, they could trade him, but if they didn't want him in part because he wasn't worth that, why would another team take him? When it comes to the fifth-year option, it's a gamble either way. Of course the Cardinals don't want a Reddick situation, but they aren't the only team who declined their 2020 pick's option, and the situation does not mean the Cardinals can't sign Simmons to a long-term extension this season.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren, thank you for the mailbag. I read the mailbag every week and you hear people saying how having four offensive tackles is like a bad thing and we need to cut some. That makes no sense. Tackles in the NFL are not easy to find. Do you think there's a way to rotate them so we can keep the offense of line fresh to be better run blockers and pass pro? Also, isn't the fact that D-Hop hasn't signed somewhere show he couldn't be traded and release was the only logical option for the Cardinals?"

The issue with the keeping all is multi-fold. Josh Jones is going into the last year of his contract. You need three tackles for sure, but four is a luxury that is tough. You're not going to have two backups active on game day, so you are making one inactive and that doesn't make a lot of sense. Other teams probably wouldn't mind, because tackles are important, making an offer for one of your extra ones. As for D-Hop, I am sure there are those who would argue you could've held him longer to see if at some point there was a trade that could materialize. But I would agree with you. There wasn't a trade there because teams don't want to pay the money he hopes to make (which in the end will be less than his contract was for). I don't think the Cardinals wanted the distraction during mandatory minicamp either.

From Donny Customs:

"Given all the talk about the renewed prioritization of our running game, it becomes extra curious that the team made no running back personnel changes. It is still Connor, Keontay, and Corey. Do you expect that to change at all? I'd say Connor is locked in at No. 1. But I'm really surprised, given the coaching changes, that we haven't brought in different depth at running back."

I get the impression they like Conner as a workhorse. But I think in the short-term, it's more important for them to repair the offensive line first. I don't know if there is going to be a ton of roster changes before camp. I do think the Cardinals will watch the waiver wire closely in August and cutdown time to claim players. There could be a running back in there.

From Ken Cropper:

"I've been intrigued by the story of Bernard Seikovits and his time with the Cardinals. Do you believe that Bernhard has progressed to the point of making the 53-man roster this year?"

There is definitely opportunity. This is the last year he can be around with an international exemption. I think it'll be tough to make the regular roster but he might have a chance to be on the regular practice squad.

From Joe Cardea:

"How much of our dead cap money in 2023 and years beyond was planned by the previous admin, like with voidable years?"

According to, the Cardinals have about $37 million in dead cap money this season, have about $8.3 million in dead cap for 2024. Most of this year's dead cap is Hopkins ($21+M) but the rest is from the previous admin. Next year's money, right now, is from the retired J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson.

From Kevin Sheedy:

"My son-in-law plays for the Cardinals. What is a reliable way to keep up with his play/status? Right everything is Hopkins this and Hopkins that, he's gone, there are other wide receivers in camp."

I'll be honest, Kevin, I do not know which player is your son-in-law, so I'm not sure the best way to keep up with him. Yes, there has been Hopkins stuff but at this point, that's been the biggest story -- and the fallout of his release means something still.

From Jim Davenport:

"No question just a comment. The Wired head coach brought more energy in one session that I saw from the prior head coach in three years!"

Glad you enjoyed the video.

From Bob Dawdy:

"Have the dates for training camp for this year been announced yet?"

From Art Pozza:

"There were so many problems last season. But the one I couldn't stomach is the self-inflicted wounds: False starts, holding, etc. Have you noticed, specifically, any attention to this detail?"

Multiple players have talked about the accountability being pushed and to me, that goes hand in hand with (some) penalties. I agree pre-snap penalties are something that can't happen; holding and in-play penalties, some of those are going to happen. It's the game.

From John Turilli:

"I do not understand why you cannot report on OTAs as a sportswriter? Us fans rely on all of you to inform us on what the Cardinals are doing and what all the new athletes look like. Like you have stated it really does not matter until pads are on and hitting starts. So then why not report to us what is going on at OTAs and on the practice field? Is this an NFL or Cardinals rule?"

I am assuming you are talking about when I note that practice is closed. Yes, that is a Cardinals rule. The vast majority of the OTA and minicamp practices are open to be reported upon through the first 25 minutes or so; after that video and reporting of what is going on is not allowed. I get why that is frustrating but it's the rules. And having been out there to watch that, I can tell you even if it was open you wouldn't tell much. I know you want to know what guys "look like" but the 11-on-11 stuff is rarely done full speed and on pass plays, once the ball was thrown, usually the pass defender all but gave up as the ball neared the receiver so there would be no contact. It doesn't really look like what it will even in training camp. I know that's disappointing but it's reality.

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