We have arrived at draft week. In a couple of days, the Cardinals will finally choose with their lowest first-round pick since the 2016 draft. We'll see what they do at No. 16, but first, there is a mailbag to consider. As always, you can go here to leave a question for a future mailbag.
From Logan Schmidt via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, I am very excited for the draft, but I have noticed the Cards don't have a pick in the 3rd round. Should they consider trading into the 3rd?"
Should they consider it? Sure. But it would likely come from some kind of trade down with their earlier picks, and that would mean giving up the chance at someone you might want. As Steve Keim said, it'd be better to have a pick in the third round, but I agree that it was worth it to get a center like Rodney Hudson.
From Adam Duncan via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, I was wondering about your thoughts on Jaycee Horn and Caleb Farley for some draft guys. Thank you."
Pretty simple really. If Farley's injury issues don't scare you away, I think either one of them would make for a very nice first-round pick. That doesn't mean they will necessarily be another Patrick Peterson, but I think both have a chance to be solid in this league.
From Jeremy Heathcote via azcardinals.com:
"Dazza, with the additional game per year do you think, post Covid-19, that games might head over to places like here in Sydney? I reckon it would be close to 83k limit crowd at Olympic stadium if the Cards came out."
I would think Australia would be a potential site down the road, yes. I don't know how soon. Mexico and the U.K. remain on top, I think Germany could get a game or two, and Brazil as well. But there are a lot of options.
From Odie Blivins via azcaridnals.com:
"Do you know if the tenders to Fitts, Gardeck and Zeke are already 'accounted for' in our current cap? Overthecap says we have $14M free. I see Gardeck signed his $3.3M. So does that mean we are now down to 11M? Or was that $3.3M already taken account? Sort of like how the draft rookie pay is already baked in to the cap projection."
Obviously, this question came in before Fitts and Turner signed, so that's done. But yes, any tender offers -- whether it is restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents, in this case, or even franchise and transition tags -- automatically are counted on the cap, signed or not. If the tag is unsigned and then rescinded, then it comes off the cap. As of now, overthecap.com still has the Cards with a little more than $13 million in cap space.
From Gary Hilton via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, hot tip for ya, Fitz going to Tampa. Cards have moved on and this gives our hero one last good chance for a ring. Bucs have a receiver position open, they can't come to terms with Antonio Brown and he's still a head case anyway. Regarding uniform change, I agree with you they are OK. However, one small change would be great -- getting rid of the boring gray face mask. How hard is it to have white facemask that matches the helmet and the mostly white uniform? The Steelers black looks great, Pats red, Miami seems to match well their white helmets with white face mask."
If Fitz were going to Tampa, why wouldn't he have said that already? I try to be in the never-say-never camp on things, but I'm pretty much Fitz-will-never-play-elsewhere in my thought here. As for the facemasks, I mean, OK? I just can't get worked up over it.
From Melinda Schussele via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Thanks again for your mailbag. It's appreciated. After hearing about the chants for Larry at the recent Suns game, I hope Larry knows how much fans want him back! IF the team gets new uniforms (love the AZ flag on the shoulder), and IF Larry returns (Is there money left?), wouldn't it be great to have Larry model No. 11 as the announcement of his return? I keep hoping one more year for him with our now really loaded, playoff-Super Bowl-worthy team,. Can't wait for season to start and want Larry to be part of the excitement!"
The team isn't getting new uniforms. Not this year (and no, I don't know of any plans for the future either.) If Fitz comes back, again, they have some cap space right now (about $13M) and so yes, there is money. Now, is what the Cardinals would want to pay the same as what Fitz would want? I don't know. And again, Fitz might decide (or already have decided and just not telling anyone yet) that he's decided to retire and the money is moot.
From Nathan Kurtz via azcardinals.com:
"Is anyone else surprised that Patrick Peterson didn't really talk about Larry in his letter? From what I have heard, read, and seen, Larry sets the standard for how a player should be in and out of the locker room and is a 'big brother' to all of his teammates. Patrick's letter barely acknowledges Larry except as one of the OGs. Was there beef we don't know about? Or were they just not as close as I would have presumed? Not trying to start drama, just genuinely curious. Thanks! All in all, it was a great letter and I wish Patrick the best."
He did note Fitz early and called him an OG, so I'm not sure how you get from there to a potential rift. I suppose Peterson could have said more about Fitz (and maybe I was thinking he would too) but in the end, he went in a different direction and I didn't see anything wrong about that. Personally, even if Fitz was mentioned a little less, I like that Peterson named some of the people on the staff he will miss -- that's what resonates with me.
From Joseph Cammiso via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, I enjoy your mailbag immensely. It is a cool place to interact with the team's media and I appreciate everything you do for the organization. Do the Cardinals seem to be a organization that tends to promote from within moreso than other franchises? I see front office people stay a long time. Steve Keim is a great example of a rise-thru-the-ranks-type of guy. Adrian Wilson another example. I think it's cool that we have an owner that likes to allow the organization to become a family. Do you see us continuing this model of 'community' and 'within the organization' promotions? It goes as far as the roster too with all of the players with Arizona ties. Do you think we are slightly biased in the name of personal relationships and connections to Arizona when it comes to players and staff? Do you think it ever comes at the teams detriment?"
I mean, there were reasons when the Cardinals drafted the players they have drafted that happen to be from Arizona, so I don't think this really applies to players. As far as the the front office, I mean, yes, when you develop relationships, you know the people you are working with and it makes some sense because you know they fit the culture. There is absolutely something to be said about sometimes bringing in fresh perspectives, but at the same time, there is an unknown there too. I think Keim was deserving when he earned his promotion. Wilson has earned his promotions. But not everyone stays. Jason Licht came and left here twice as he went to find different jobs. Ultimately, no, I don't think it's a detriment -- if you hire the wrong person, in-house or from outside, that becomes the detriment.
From Benny Loy via azcardinals.com:
"Never-Gonna-Happen what if: Lets rewind the clock three years. Owners pass the new Numbers thing. Fitz is currently No. 11 but wants to get his Pitt No. 1 back. Incoming Kyler wants No. 1. Who gets it?"
Since this rule change happened before the draft, Fitz would've gotten it because Murray wouldn't yet be on the team. And as an aside, I was there when Murray officially picked No. 1 and he actually looked a little surprised it was available to him, so I don't think he would've been crushed or anything had he needed to take something else. But you're right, it's all moot, starting with the fact Fitz never would've dumped No. 11 after 14 years.
From Steffen K via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, greetings from Germany -- a country with way too many Seahawks supporters ;-) I read that with the expansion to a 17-game schedule, games outside London or Mexico City (e.g. in Germany) might be possible. I know that the Cardinals were set to play in Mexico City in 2020 due to hosting next year's Super Bowl and they played in London in 2017. Is there any possibility that the Cardinals will play in London or even Germany in the next few years? Thank you for great work with the mailbag and all the best from Germany!"
I do think there will be games in Germany. Whether the Cardinals are one of the teams that get there is a different story. I wouldn't rule it out, however. With the 17th game there will be a lot more international opportunities for every team, so the math alone says the possibility is there.
From Jason Trimm via azcardinals.com:
"I don't really have a question only a fun suggestion. We all know the kickoff is boring now, so why doesn't anyone suggest that a strong-legged kicker play more of a role. For instance if the ball is caught and downed in end zone the touchback is at 25, if it goes out of back of end zone then ball at 20, and if the kicker can make it through upright then at the 15. Just a fun suggestion and maybe teams carry two kickers."
It's certainly a thought. I don't know any GM or coach who would want to spend a extra roster spot on a second kicker, but I get what you are saying. You are correct in saying it would make kickoffs, even touchbacks, a little more interesting.
From Edson Sierra via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, I'm at a point in my life were I'm seeing former players' kids in the draft. This has me wondering, who is the biggest family in the NFL? I'm wondering if there is a family that has made football sort of the family business?"
You mean besides the Mannings, who had Archie produce Eli and Peyton, and now older brother Cooper has a son who is a stud QB going into college? That is the first example that comes to my mind.
From Joseph Stradling via azcardinals.com:
"Seems like every year now when they play the Rams the Cards do not look competitive. The Rams' defense just dominates up front. Other teams have had success against the Rams and you would think that maybe adopting a new strategy from the teams that do have success would benefit them greatly. Do you think that Aaron Donald and company just create too much havoc and our O-line just can't handle it?"
Well, the Rams did have one of the best defenses in the league last season, and Donald is, you know, the best defensive player in the league. But yes, the Cardinals have struggled mightily against the Rams. The Cards' defense has had its issues in those games too. To suggest the Cardinals just do what other teams do against them, it's never that simple. If there is one measuring stick the Cardinals can/should use in terms of improvement year-to-year right now, it's probably how they match up with the Rams.
From Carl Upshaw via azcardinals.com:
"Good day Mr. Urban. Long time reader, first time writer. I have a question that I want to ask with the utmost respect for the individual(s) in question. Those being practice squad guys. Evan Weaver is my example. Evan was a tackling machine in college. Yet it appears Evan probably will never get called up to the main roster, because he's brutally under-athletic (by NFL standards). That brings me to my point: Steve Keim and Co. knew Evan was under-athletic and unlikely to ever crack the roster when they drafted him. So why draft him? You can't teach speed; and maybe this guy can be a punt returner. I'm just wondering from a front office point of view."
When you reach the sixth and seventh rounds, even the fifth usually, those players are all going to have significant flaws. It's all a crap shoot in a lot of ways, and you grade these guys the way you grade them. I don't know if he has a good chance to make the roster this season but I certainly haven't been given any reason to think he will never do so. There isn't any reason that I can see at this point that he can't turn into another Tanner Vallejo. Is he going to be Luke Kuechly? No. Can he star on special teams? Possibly. You are never going to find a guy that late in the draft that you are thinking, "Yep, this guy is a sure thing."
From Sleepy P via azcardinals.com:
"Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie is talking about wanting to continue his NFL career. How about it? I'm sure we going cornerback in the draft but one more vet in the room ain't hurt nobody. You know what's funny? Prime DRC was so fast that I bet old DRC has slowed but still the fastest CB on the team."
I'm not sure about the latter -- if he was still that fast, I'd think he'd still be playing already. I don't know what's going to happen -- the Cardinals may still need a veteran cornerback after the draft -- but I'm not sure DRC, who's play was not the same at the end and who has played nine games since 2017 and none last season, would be the one you'd want.
From Garth Short via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, it's been a while and I hope you and your family are well. In the Draft Notes the team shows that in 1978 they drafted a punter, Steve Little, in the first round. I believe he was from University of Arkansas. But, I remember him as a kicker. Also, believe he died at an early age in a car accident. I know he was before your time, but could you refresh my memory? Thanks."
Yes, the Cardinals took Little with their first round pick in 1978. It was not their finest hour, taking a kicker/punter (he did both) 15th overall. (The Saints, the next year, took kicker/punter Russell Erxleben 11th overall, and he didn't work out either.) Little played only two-plus seasons with the Cardinals before he was cut six games into the 1980 season, and on the day he was cut he lost control of the car he was driving and he was paralyzed from the shoulders down in the accident. He died in 1999. He made 13-of-27 field goals and only 41-of-51 extra points (back when extra points were only 19 yards.)
From Jason Woodlief via azcardinals.com:
"With some teams bringing in 'senior assistants' to help out in certain areas, given the relationship between Vance Joseph and Wade Phillips I was wondering if there have been any thoughts on bringing him in to help out. Everywhere he goes the defense seems to be pretty good. Thank you for your time, have a good day."
You are correct, Joseph and Phillips have a good relationship, but I would think if something like that was going to happen it would've been much earlier in the offseason.
From Leo Gimble via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. It's really been amazing to watch D.J. Humphries development. There are not many bigger Keim critics than I with his subpar draft record, but I thinks it's fair to say Humphries may be his single best draft pick ever. He's a top 10 left tackle and those are hard to find. With that said do you think maybe its already time to extend him again? Pay only goes up so the sooner we re-sign him the cheaper it will be. Thanks."
In general, the Cardinals don't like to extend players with more than a year left on their contract (there are always exceptions, of course.) So I wouldn't expect to talk about extensions with him before the end of this season -- especially when the Cardinals have so many other guys who will actually have expiring contracts after 2021.
From Jason Beckum via azcardinals.com:
"The NFL is expecting full stadiums for the season. Are the Cardinals going to allow fans to come into the stadium for training camp? I wouldn't expect them to have the player sign autographs, but just so we can get back to something normal. I also think it is good for the fan base to get an idea of what we can expect for the season."
I wouldn't be surprised if there is some way to have at least some fans in for camp just given the direction the world is heading, but nothing has been announced. Keep checking azcardinals.com, and as soon as there is info, it'll be right here.
From Rea from Phoenix via azcardinals.com:
"I really like Devon Kennard, the man. Off the field he's doing some great things in expanding player financial literacy and planning for the future. I always hate seeing the 'Broke' documentaries. However it seems obvious he's not a fit for our scheme. He's a very good football player, as we saw with his time in Detroit. But Golden has a lock on the blocky, slower, edge-setting pass rusher position. We don't need two. We can save $1.1 million by releasing him, and I wonder if Devon would like to go elsewhere where he can start again. Just wondering why that hasn't happened when it looks best for all parties."
At this point, the money for 2021 has pretty much dried up, so I don't think it benefits Kennard to be let go at this point, not when they haven't adjusted his contract. Also, given that two of your outside linebackers are coming off major injuries, are you totally sure you don't need him? I don't know what is going to happen, but there is a reason they kept him with all the other roster moves.
From Jason Lagang via azcardinals.com:
"Hello Mr. Urban. Thank you for always taking my questions. Why do people always hate on our uniforms when it is just something you have to wear to play and it is not even a big deal? Do you think we will make any splash at tight end in maybe trading for a guy like David Njoku? Do you think we are going to sign one more vet cornerback? One more thing sir, have you thought about coaching in the NFL because it is clear to say that you know your facts and I think you would be capable to become a head coach. Thank you sir and enjoy your day!"
- Uniform analysis and any resulting emotion around it is a very personal and individual choice.
- I do not think there will be any splashy-ness at tight end.
- I think there is a good chance that they sign another veteran cornerback, although what happens in the draft will adjust that up or down.
- I appreciate your kind words about my knowledge but there is no way I could coach in this league (and that sound you hear is Adrian Wilson reading your sentence, shaking his head and saying "What the hell, Urb.")