You've Got Mail: Free Agency Is Here

AZC_CardinalsMailbag

It's the first week of free agency. So much is fluid. To that end, I'm noting that this has been posted at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, so things can change. As always, if I don't get to your question I likely answered one similar. And you can send a question in for next week's mailbag by clicking here.

First, as of right now, Suggs is not officially signed -- don't forget that part. Not until Wednesday at the earliest. But overall, I do not think the Suggs arrival precludes a Bosa pick. Suggs is on a one-year deal. You are going to have pass rushing needs far beyond that. If Bosa is the player many think he can be, you still want him on the roster.

From David P. via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren, Love the job you're doing and seems of late that there are a bit more relevant / intelligent questions in recent mailbags. However I am a bit troubled re: Kyler Murray. I've not (to date) heard anybody account for who would be the seasoned starting QB in Arizona should we take Murray first. I don't know of any GM or HC starting a rookie from day one (essentially) blindly. Why aren't we factoring that into the Murray HYPE?"

I don't know. If you are taking a quarterback first overall, these days, I don't know if you need/want to go through the process of having them sit when the first time that "seasoned vet" stumbles you know everyone is going to expect Murray in the game. Look at the Browns with Taylor and Mayfield last year. If you truly think the guy is worth the No. 1 pick, I think you play him. Now, do I think, regardless of if Josh Rosen or Murray is QB, that they need a veteran backup? Yes. Now that Mike Glennon has been released, that needs to happen. But Rosen is your starter. And if Murray ends up here, I'd think he is the starter. I'll be surprised if a third name ends up in the mix.

From Ben Quesada via azcardinals.com:

"Do you think the philosophy on the O-line will change from this,'sign elder statesmen of free agency' to 'keep and mold youngsters like Bobby Massie, Earl Watford, Evan Boehm, and countless others.' One more thing, what was the difference in cost for Antoine Bethea and Tony Jefferson."

Taking the latter first, Bethea was to make $4.5 million this season, which would have been his highest salary as a Cardinal. Jefferson is playing on a contract that averages $9M a year.

As for the offensive line issues, the hope was to develop linemen and that has not gone well. But they have D.J. Humphries and Mason Cole and Korey Cunningham and the idea is to get them to the level they need to be at. They aren't letting players go that they feel have a really good future. Just because you say you want to develop them and try doesn't mean they will develop. That said, again, it has to get better and the hope is that Sean Kugler has the kind of pedigree to make that happen.

Obviously it looks like Jordan Hicks -- aside from Suggs -- is the guy who will end up here and that will help fortify the position. If that goes through, I'd guess linebacker will have been addressed in free agency and you can get a guy or two in the draft.

From Michael Sullivan via azcardinals.com:

"I believe our GM has shown little or no ability to evaluate offensive linemen. What are the chances of having our 2019 O-line draft prospects evaluated and graded only by our scouts and O-line coaches, then assign 4 of our 11 picks to the O-line, and then have all our 2019 O-line draft picks made by Sean Kugler?"

I know this is going to be crushing to you and to others, but guess what? The offensive line prospects are always evaluated and graded by scouts and the offensive line coaches. Every single year. Just like the scouts and linebackers coaches grade the linebackers. And so on and so on. When the list comes out to rank them, everyone has had input. I don't mean to mess up your narrative, but Steve Keim isn't unilaterally ranking all these players.

From Dan Headley via azcardinals.com:

"You have heard all of our crazy ideas and opinions, You are GM/Head Coach, who are you taking right now? If you trade back, who with? And your selection there and other targets? No sidestepping. (Keep up the great work)."

See, here's the thing. I'm a big believer in the evaluation process, within which I do not get to take part. (Neither do the fans, which is notable.) I don't even watch everybody's college games in the fall. I see some of the teams I like to watch. I didn't see Bosa all season, so how I would I know him compared to Josh Allen? But what would I do? Based on what has been written and what's out there, I would investigate Murray and if I truly believed he was a generational talent, I'd take him. But since I do not know that myself, I would probably go Bosa or Williams, depending on who I thought would be better at the next level. And I have maintained all along my preference would be to trade down if possible, hopefully not too far, get an extra first-rounder at least, and build the roster that way.

From JTDG via azcardinals.com:

"This is a serious question. I don't know if you can truly answer it. My question is, although I love T-Sizzle, it does continue a trend of Steve Keim's. Either he is finding older players, guys with an injury history, or both. Is this just a philosophy or more importantly, do the Cards have a difficult time attracting young talent. For instance, I can't remember the other times T-Sizzle's contracts came up he was saying I'm ready to get back to the desert."

1) The reason you can't remember the other times with Suggs' contracts coming up is because they never came up. He never hit free agency, Baltimore always made sure to re-sign him. He was tagged twice earlier in his career, but the Ravens were never letting him go anywhere. So that's moot. 2) In terms of philosophy when it comes to free agency, this is how it works. I know you have railed on them getting player X or player Y over the years but I do know that analytics does play into their thinking and getting the "best" player at a position in free agency doesn't necessarily make sense to them if you are well overpaying for the talent level. Where the Cardinals have faltered is the draft, which is where, philosophically, they wanted to make their roster. Free agency -- which is mostly about older players, unless they have an injury history, isn't supposed to be the place you are finding your core.

Reddick will be an inside linebacker. The way it looks right now, the hope is that he will start alongside Hicks in the 3-4 alignment.

From Eric Scott via azcardinals.com:

"First off I want to say that I believe trading Rosen and drafting Murray is a huge mistake, but outside of who the QB is, what are the odds we take a shot at TE Tyler Eifert maybe an incentive-laden deal because when healthy he is dangerous, Also maybe a Daniel Brown from Chicago as a depth receiving TE."

I do think they need to add at tight end. But given the depth at the position in the draft, and the fact they have Charles Clay and want to develop Ricky Seals-Jones, I don't see Eifert, especially with his devastating injury history, as a target.

Thanks for reading from all the way in Poland. I think, here in mid-March, yes, Murray is on the table as an option. They wouldn't be doing their jobs if they didn't at least investigate the possibility. I do not think they've made any decisions about that pick, though. As for Wetzel, he won't be starting. I don't know if they will bring him back -- it's possible -- but does he fit as the kind of lineman Kliff Kingsbury will want for his offense?

From Leonardo Faria via azcardinals.com:

"OLá sou brasileiro e aqui vai minha opinião: porque não negociar Josh Rosen com os Raiders pelas duas das tres escolhas que os prórios Raiders tem, e draft Bosa em Primeiro e Murray em Quarto?? ou assinem com NIck Foles e trocam com Giants por escolha e Beckham?? mas negociar com osa raiders seria mais interessante, pois ainda voces teriam Foles, murray e BOSA!!! abraço a todos voces, sou fã de voces"

(TRANSLATION FROM GOOGLE TRANSLATE: "I'm Brazilian and here's my opinion: why not negotiate Josh Rosen with the Raiders for two of the three choices the Raiders have, and draft Bosa in first and Murray in the quarter? Or sign with NIck Foles and trade with Giants by choice and Beckham? But negotiating with the Raiders would be more interesting, since you would still have Foles, Murray and BOSA! Hug you all, I'm a fan of you."

Had to post this one from Brazil, and thank goodness for Google Translate. That said, it's good to see you apparently have video games down there because this feels very much like a Madden kind of thought process. Because no, it's not going to happen (even if Foles was still out there.)

All of the above. Teams create a free-agent list similar to their draft board, they rank players, they determine budgets and potential contracts. They reach out to player agents and talks go on. Sometimes, a player will recruit a free agent.

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