The Super Bowl is over. The Chiefs are the champs. And now, we move on from the 2019 season, already a month into 2020. Football is over, people. Kind of. Obviously, there really is no offseason (please, no more questions about what I do in the offseason). The Scouting combine is only a few weeks away, and already mock drafts have overtaken the internet. And of course, the mailbags continue! So if you have a question, free free to go here and send one along.
From Barbara Tower via azcardinals.com:
"I saw the article on K2 giving the Super Bowl ticket to Adam Cook and thought what a great thing that was. Our coach seems like such a sincerely nice person. My question is do teams not playing in the game get a certain allotment of tickets?"
Yes, teams not in the game are accounted for, as are players and coaches. But it was a move he certainly didn't need to make, especially since I am guessing he has plenty of Texas Tech ties that were hoping to see Patrick Mahomes as well.
From Michael Muglia via azcardinals.com:
"Now that it appears the Cardinals will be hosting a game in Mexico, would that count towards the requirement of giving up a home game to host the Super Bowl? I know the initial rule stated you had to host a London game, but it would make sense for this game to count for that requirement."
First, they key phrase is "appears" because while I know there was a report, it's only been one report and no one else has confirmed it. That said, whenever the Cardinals would play a game out of the country -- whether it was Mexico or elsewhere -- and assuming they are the "home" team, yes, that would serve as the giving up of a home date for the Super Bowl that will be played at State Farm Stadium at the end of the 2022 season.
We have to see what free agents actually make it that far without an extension or a tag, but generally, I'd think if you want a defensive lineman, you probably should look free agency, and that could go for OL too, although this draft is supposedly strong with the offensive line. I think receiver is better in the draft, and linebacker would come down to who might be on the FA market.
From Robert Paulson via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. I could get on my soapbox and rant for hours about the ridiculous nature of the Scouting combine. You have an entire season of game film of these guys playing football. Whats a 40-yard dash going to tell you? It's my contention that the combine can only HURT teams, not help them. Because GMs fall in love with a guy's measurables, more than his gameday resume. I understand medical checks. I get interviews. But the drills? WHY? What possible thing can these non-football activities tell you about football?"
These are fair questions, especially since so many guys train so hard for the specific drills. In truth though, the idea originally was to have all the players do these things all in one place for the teams so every team didn't have to fly to every pro day -- because even if they stopped doing drills at the combine, they would still happen on college campuses during pro days. Are there times when the measurables seemingly overtake the video? Yes. But let's be honest here -- there is no "right" way to do this. Even if you just went by game tape and you didn't have any workouts otherwise, you will still see draft mistakes. Because there is no way to guarantee the right picks.
From Tom Cowley via azcardinals.com:
"Seems like we are covering defensive needs via free agency and offensive needs via draft---your take on that please. How do you rank our primary needs now: EDGE,ILB,DL, CB,OL? Thanks."
I'm not sure how you would make the determination that the Cards are going defense in free agency and offense in the draft, given that neither have happened yet nor has anything happened to even give that appearance. I suppose it could end up that way, but I would doubt that they would necessarily go into the draft -- especially the first pick -- constricting their choices so tightly. In terms of the defensive needs, from your list, I'm going to say DL, ILB, EDGE, OL, CB. Although an argument can be made to swap EDGE and ILB.
From Zim Neerit via azcardinals.com:
"There is a small contingency of fans (this guy) who believe we need to get money out of the running backs room. Trade David Johnson to B.A. in Tampa. Let Drake walk into free agency. RB is a position you can roll with young, cheaper guys. Chase Edmonds showed he can ball. There are also of phenomenal RBs in this draft in the mid-rounds: Travis Etienne, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor to name a few. Running back success is generally dependent on offensive line success. So I'd much rather invest in the OL and just stock up on a couple talented youngsters. Thoughts?"
To start with, Etienne is staying in school. So let's not mislead people. Your sentiment isn't unique. I'm not sure what will happen with Johnson. But in terms of Drake, I think they will have a certain amount of money they are willing to reach, and if his market ends up exceeding that, I do think they would be willing to move on. I do think running back is a spot that might be easier to make work with multiple (and potentially cheaper) choices, but at the same time -- as we saw with Drake -- there are players that fit better than others. You want to be successful and not hamstring yourself just because of money.
I guess it would depend on who the receiver would be. And given the high-end WR talent in this draft, it might make sense in that scenario to just take the rookie and let him be great long-term rather than get a guy with limited time left with a much higher salary. As for Johnson, I don't know what will happen, but I can't see them getting that high of a pick for him, particularly with his current contract.
From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, Kyler Murray created a stir in the media when in an interview he stated his interest in playing baseball during the offseason. Do the Cardinals have specific language in Murray's contract prohibiting him from playing baseball and if not, should the team be concerned? Perhaps the next contract Kyler signs with the Cardinals he might stipulate that he be allowed to play for the A's who still hold his rights. Thoughts?"
It is not surprising that Murray still loves baseball and that he will always have a part of him that will wonder how he would have done in that sport, and not surprising that he would ponder trying to play some. But yes, there is a clause in his contract that prevents him from playing baseball. Obviously, the Cardinals want Murray to be football-only. The two guys who played both at the same time the best -- Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson -- played cornerback and running back, respectively, and since Sanders was a "that dude" cover corner (as in, you take that dude), both could handle much better the mental part of the NFL easier. A quarterback needs to put much more time into that aspect of the game, including the offseason.
From JoJo via azcardinals.com:
"Cardinals should sign Calais Campbell. He's a free agent, will be 35 but made the Pro Bowl this year. Why not? Jaguars aren't clearly on the verge of a Super Bowl, he got his full $60 million, will cost less, and he's coming home to the Red Sea. Offer him a 2-year deal with guarantees. This helps to solidify the D, and will present the opportunity to nab an OT or LB at No. 8 with less regret. Then get a DT of the future in round two or three."
Calais Campbell is not a free agent nor is he scheduled to be. He has one year left on his Jacksonville contract (at $15M, so he has not gotten his full $60M.) The only way he would be available is if they cut him. Maybe that happens if they want to start fresh. He is still a Pro Bowler, so we'd have to see if he'd really cost less. But a veteran defensive lineman would help in the short term, no question about that.
I have yet to get a specific answer on that, but if I had to guess, it would be consistency in his routes. That can encompass a lot -- including getting off press coverage -- but that's where I would start. This is a big offseason for him.
From Tim Tekulve via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, I'm a big fan of the Cardinals since 1960 and I'm hoping they boost the defensive line with free agency or draft even with the first pick. My question is Mr. Bill Bidwill was the owner of the team. Many are grateful to him for bringing his franchise to Arizona. With his passing, do we know who will be the owner of the team now? Yes, Michael appears the obvious but I'm not sure. RIP Mr. B."
Michael Bidwill is the chairman and president of the team, but I believe the ownership remains with the Bidwill family as a whole. I'm sure, as Mr. Bidwill faced declining health, the siblings all figured out how that would work going forward.
From Robert Malicki via azcardinals.com:
"Is defense in the NFL going the way of 'defense' in the NBA? The push toward high-scoring games by tweaking rules has downgraded the kicking game and the pass defense. This Super Bowl may give us a glimpse of what's around the corner for a typical NFL game. There's the international games, talk of a 17th game, the effect of an ever-increasing salary cap and those are OK, but it's two trends that have caught my attention. One is the NFL opening itself up to almost endorsing gambling and the other is the push to emphasize scoring. To this long-time fan of professional football I fear their effect on the game. Do I suffer from too much history to compare or is the NFL becoming blind to the game being built on having three phases?"
A lot to digest there, Robert, and you kind of bounce around. I'm not sure how the game being built on three phases has anything to do with wagering, to be honest, and in case you haven't noticed, the entire country has gotten more lenient with gambling. The push for scoring, in the end, is what grabs attention in the NFL. Has it trended up? Yes. But defense still matters, and I think that's been proven a few times (ask the Ravens after playing the Titans, for instance.) The kicking game is evolving, but part of that has to do with safety concerns, not scoring. And if you are talking about eschewing field-goal tries and/or punts in order to go for it more on fourth down, that's not about rules but simple math. Teams have been too conservative over the years going for it on fourth down, and now they are starting to realize that.
Let's make this very clear -- Fitz often travels on his own, so he's not usually looking for a companion, and I'm pretty sure I'd be way way down the list of people he'd take even if he decided to take someone. Not sure where I'd go. I'd be pretty open, as long as I'm not jumping out of an airplane or bungee-jumping off some ridiculous building or bridge. Would Larry let me fly first class? I'd say yes -- as long as I paid for my ticket.
From Norm Lewis via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Thank you for the mailbag as usual. I understand you've been with the team for some time now and so you've really seen the passing of the seasons in this franchise. Can you please compare the team from your first day to now. In the past, the Cards had a reputation of being 'cheap.' Guys having to pay for drinks in the locker room. I'm just curious how times have changed. The culture of the the locker room. Team professionalism. How everybody conducts themselves behind the scenes. The facilities themselves, etc."
Let me just say that I don't ever recall players paying for drinks since I've been around. But like anything over the last 20 years, things have evolved for sure. The moving into State Farm Stadium in 2006 was a giant move, especially when it came to an influx of cash flow. But while there might have been differences once, in talking to cohorts around the league, the Cardinals are a lot like most other NFL teams. The upgrading of the practice facility (including getting the name the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center) is ongoing, but as everyone knows, they've added a practice bubble, a cafeteria, an upgraded locker room and weight room, increased the size of both the football staff and the organization's overall staff, and updated a lot of the medical/preventative side of things. But as far as how people "conduct" themselves, it's a normal work environment, and always has been. The locker room can be different at times, but that's the world we live it -- guys are checking phones a bunch, like most 20-somethings.
From Halee Kleo via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren! I got so many questions but dont want to bombard you with multiple emails. So here they are:
1. Is this the best TE group we've ever had? Maxx +Arnold+Clay seem like such a talented trifecta.
2. Do you see Alford rehabbing still? Hows he lookin? He limpin?
3. Are you going to Indy yourself for the combine? Have you ever? It fun?
4. You got any vacation coming up? Darren needs an offseason too right
5. Dreaming is free....but boy what would this team be if we had Budda AND Tyrann at Safety?
6. Did the media and we fans make too big of a deal about the "cellphone breaks" thing?
7. Do you see future cardinals GM Adrian Wilson regularly? How's he doing?
8. Do you think Dansby should be in the ring of honor? Statistically, he qualifies.
8 1/2. Scale of 1 to 10 how exciting would be the return of Calais Campbell?
9. Lastly, but certainly not least, Lorenzo Alexander just retired. Guy is actually a Valley staple. I constantly see him on local TV and radio. I see we have an opening at linebackers coach. Does it not make perfect sense that Lorenzo should get the spot? He's been a player-coach his entire career. Bring him in!"
So Halee, I'm gonna be honest here -- we're trying to mailbag this thing out through the entire offseason, so saving questions for one at a time might not only get you more complete answers it might sustain the mailbag. Just sayin'. But if you insist on question-bombing me, here goes nothing.
- Might be, although tight end has not been a glamour position through the years, so ...
- I have not seen Robert lately, although he said at the end of the season he is confident in his offseason return.
- I am going to Indy for the 20th straight year. So yeah, I've been there. Not sure fun is the adjective.
- Yes I need vacation, but nothing planned yet.
- Love them both, not sure it's ideal to have two sub-6-foot safeties.
- Yes. Because if they were called bathroom breaks no one would've batted an eye.
- I see him almost every day, where he gives me my standard greeting.
- Love Los, can see the argument, but when you leave a team twice in free agency, that factors in too.
- I love Calais. Also addressed that above.
- I do not see LoZo, as great as he is, being added to the staff.
Here's this week's version.