Mock drafts are everywhere. That includes in the various draft rooms of teams, who will mostly wrap up their draft meetings this week with versions of mocks so they are prepared for many scenarios by the time they are on the clock next week. In the meantime, this is a real mailbag, not a mock mailbag -- these are real questions from real fans. As always, you can leave a question for a future mailbag here.
From Stephen Schafler via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. I'm excited about the upcoming season and really like what the Cardinals have done in free agency, although I hated to see Haason and Patrick leave. I know it's just part of the game. You can't keep everyone. I think the general consensus is that the Cardinals will take the best cornerback on the board with the 16th pick. However, there is one player that I would love to see the Cardinals move up to get and that's Kyle Pitts. His skill set is off the charts and a defensive coordinator's nightmare. This guy could be better than Kelce, Kittle or Waller from Day One. I'm sure that every GM in the NFL would love to have him but my question is, do you see any possible way that Arizona would be willing to trade up for him? Thanks and Go Big Red."
While I understand the attractiveness of Pitts in any offense, no, I don't see a realistic scenario where the Cards give up what it would take to get him. I don't think he gets past 6 or 7 at the latest, and I don't think the Cardinals can afford to give up, say, their second-rounder this year and a first-rounder next year (in addition to swapping firsts this year). I would be stunned if that happened.
From Fidel Ayala via azcardinals.com:
"It seems that the only CB available at the 16th Pick will be Greg Newsome. Why not trade down to about the 26th choice with Cleveland and pick CB Caleb Farley and get some extra picks in the draft."
Well, if Farley is there at 26, then Newsome isn't the only one at 16, right? We will see what's there at 16, and what makes sense in the moment. Obviously if they don't like the crop of people at 16, trading down to get an extra pick or two makes sense -- but is there someone on the board another team wants? What makes you think the Browns will want to move up? Also, dropping 10 spots is significant -- you have to feel like there will still be a guy there that's worth it.
From Tom Cowley via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Seems mighty quiet on the western front ... office, that is. Do you see any action on the free agent front prior to the draft? The tight end from Cleveland mentioned in a possible trade looks interesting, but who could we trade? A free-agent cornerback is foremost need right now, experienced."
At this point, no, I don't expect any more free agents before the draft. The Cardinals already have 79 players for their 90-man roster. Of course, that number can be quickly cut down by trimming some of the lower-rung players if necessary. They have six draft picks, so they only need a few more bodies, undrafted rookies and otherwise. The point is that they can afford to wait, see what positions they get in the draft, and go from there. There will be vets out there post-draft.
From Jesus Aguilar via azcardinals.com:
"With the recent signing of James Connor and all the other FA signings, it looks like the Cardinals have covered every big hole on the team and want to go into the draft with the mindset of getting the best available player at 16. I also don't see them wanting to trade up for a player but perhaps trading down could be a possibility. Just wondering what your prospectively are on this."
That feels like a fair analysis. The pick at 16 will probably still be narrowed to a handful of spots -- they aren't drafting a QB, for instance -- but they do seem to have flexibility. (They still need to pick up a cornerback at some point, though.)
From Joy Brooks via azcardinals.com:
"I have two questions. What's going on with Larry? Is he staying or going? Surely he knows, so why not announce it. Second, instead of worrying about whether or not the players will get to have all their offseason work, why not vaccinate them all so it won't be an issue. Is the NFL considering that?"
I don't know if Fitz is staying or going. Do I think he knows? Probably, although it stands to reason he isn't 100 percent in with whatever decision because, like you said, why the wait? Then again, might he wait until the dead of the offseason when he is off in some foreign land and no one is around the office to announce it either way? I wouldn't put it past him. As for the offseason, the league isn't mandating player vaccinations right now. Truthfully, that would be a battle because there are players who do not want to get it.
From Reggie Holt via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. I'm not worried about Josh Jones, but I do have concerns. As you've alluded to, the way the team speaks about Josh seems to subtly hint that they view him as a guard only at this point. I don't like it. He was a darn good college tackle. And a pure right tackle at that. Not even a calendar year ago we were so excited we landed him in the third round. How is this possible? We obviously can't see practice footage, but I wonder if they are giving up too quickly."
Jones is not a pure right tackle. He made 45 starts in college, all at left tackle. So there's that. I think the hints about him being at guard are in part because he might be able to find his way into the lineup at guard easier than displacing a veteran like Kelvin Beachum. It took D.J. Humphries a minute before he found his way in the NFL too. I don't think they are giving up on him in any way. But I think he was hurt by not getting an offseason and not getting preseason games last year, and this isn't a team in a position to deal with youthful mistakes at this point. If they think Beachum is better suited to get them to the postseason, he's going to be in there. Jones will have to prove things should be otherwise.
From Wayne Campbell via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. In a recent mailbag you mentioned that Rodney Hudson's new deal wasn't an extension, it was a raise. Why did they do that? We don't owe him anything. When we did Hop's new deal, we added years on. There was no reason to give Hudson more money if he's not going to play more years for us. Was he threatening to sit out?"
I'm not sure how you interpreted it as a raise, but I never said that. I said they gave him money in the form of a bonus up front -- money he was going to make in salary anyway -- while adding another void year to the two he already had for cap purposes. He does not yet have any extra money on his contract that wasn't already there when he was with the Raiders.
From James Charles via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Regarding Rodney Hudson's recent contract changes, I understand we converted salary into guaranteed money but why were years not added? I would think if we would want to lock him up long-term after trading a third-round pick for him. Centers can play deep into their 30s and I believe he's only on a two-year deal currently."
You are correct he is only under contract through 2022. Again, if you add years, you would have to give him guaranteed money to go along with that, and with the two years left, I think they have other pressing contract issues that will come first.
From Max Lloyd via azcardinals.com:
"The Cardinals have gotten so many good players but one thing I'm really wondering how they keep getting all these good players without much cap space. I know we're pretty low on that."
Actually the Cards have made multiple contract adjustments in order to clear cap space, and then have either signed players to low-cost contracts or constructed them so the cap hit in 2021 is as low as possible. That will mean something next year when many of these deals void and there will be dead money on the cap, but it was necessary to get through the pandemic-stricken cap year.
From Bob Kitsos via azcardinals.com:
"Thanks for your work on the mailbag. It's a fun read. Do you think the Cardinals are satisfied with their tight end situation or is that a possible position selection later in the draft?"
I think they still need another body at tight end. I wouldn't be shocked if they took one in the draft, but if they don't get one, I'd be surprised if they didn't look for a veteran afterward.
From Edward Anderson via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, I for one support the additional game. Hopefully next year it will be at State Farm Stadium. Is there any talk of expanding the roster by one or two players due to the extra game? Thanks. Love the mailbag!"
As of now, no, rosters aren't expanding. The new CBA did account for a growing practice squad, however, and I wouldn't be surprised if the league ended up keeping some or all of the PS adjustments on game days, where teams could elevate a practice squad player or two if they wanted.
From Juan De La Peña via azcardnals.com:
"Hi Darren! With the signing of Colt McCoy, do you think there's a competition for QB2 like we saw last year? Or we will only see Streveler in certain situations, kind of wildcat formation if he remains in the team? Thanks, and greetings from Argentina!"
I think Colt McCoy will bring a skillset that will give him the upper hand on the backup job, but yes, I think they will give Streveler a chance to win it. Again, depending on how the offseason plays out and the work involved might impact some of these decisions and whether younger players can make enough headway.
From Joe Cardea via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, are voidable years just sunk cap hits? In other words are we on the hook for Campbell for the next three years? Same with Watt and Green. Are we locked into the dead money for those voidable years?"
Teams are locked into the dead money, yes. But they aren't spread out over all the voidable years. Campbell, for instance, may have had multiple void years, but his dead money -- $4 million -- all is carried on this year's cap. Green's dead money will be on the 2022 cap, Watt's dead money will all be on the 2023 cap, and so on. The year when the contracts void.
From ez boosey via azcardinals.com:
"Do more Larry's Suns ownership questions. I'm sure if you didn't nag him about football he'd be happy to discuss the Suns. Going straight to the Finals this year. Watch Fitz get a ring!"
Who's nagging Fitz? I've reached out to him one time since the season ended, and that was for this story.
From Lonnie Lasagna via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren! I have a fascination with the Kevin Bacon game in real life and finding connections between people. Football rosters are easy because you have surface level stuff like years as a pro and colleges. But I still enjoy them. Did you know D.J. Humphries and Max Garcia played on the same OL at Florida? I had no idea. Our two special team MVPs came in together three years ago, Gardeck and Turner. Whatever the process was 4 years ago, that landed these 2, do that again. Chris Banjo and Kelvin Beachum played together at Southern Methodist. De'Vondre and Maxx played together at Minnesota. Been discussed, but the fact Pitt Panther teammates Andy Lee and Larry Fitz are (were) on the Cardinals 18 years later is pretty stunning."
Clearly, with a name like Lasagna, something named Bacon would click. (Would bacon work in lasagna? I might have to try that.)
From Kev Sheridan via azcardinals.com:
"You just posted a pic from inside State Farm Stadium at noon on a Wednesday. Why are you there? Do you regularly go to the stadium?"
I do not regularly go there. I was there while working on a big project our content department is putting together that will be unveiled before the season. I think everyone will enjoy it.
From Lorn Verretti via azcardinals.com:
"What's the future looking like on Chandler Jones? He's going into the final year of his deal. He will be 31 this season. Don't tell me the team is looking to move on one season removed from his 19 sacks. Again, I don't know the situation, but that's the perception. And it bothers me that they would be trying to back away from Chandler, and give an older, more oft-injured JJ Watt a massive deal."
Jones is going to play for the Cardinals this year. What happens after that is TBD. I would guess they would look into an extension if he returns healthy and productive. That's certainly the assumption. But yes, age is a factor -- it always is, and it would be malpractice for any front office if they didn't consider it. There are also options like a franchise tag, if it came to that.
From Blaine Pierce via azcardinals.com:
"OK, I'm going to be the one calling for the trade of Chandler Jones. We need picks and cap space. His apparent refusal to renegotiate or extend to help the franchise, $20 million for one sack in five games last year (yes, injury-related) and a like salary this coming year calls for this trade while he still has some value. I would ask for a third and fourth; if you don't think we could get that it just proves my point. On another topic, a few weeks ago it was intimated by you in a mailbag that TV revenue and local Glendale commercial business and not necessarily Cardinals fans' opinions are truly what matters. So, why the mailbag?"
Whew, lot to unpack in this one. I'm getting whiplash from the previous question/analysis of Chandler Jones to this one. Definitely a 180-degree turn. I'm not sure where you are getting his "refusal" to renegotiate or extend. If the team isn't talking to him about it, how is that on him (I'm not saying they are or are not.) And "helping" the franchise is a loaded term that I don't love; if a player wants to do something like that fine, but if they don't, that's cool too. It's their life. If you are insinuating he should take a paycut, I'd disagree. If Chandler Jones were on the open market, he'd be signed in a second for a good chunk of change. Besides, the Cards want him and need him, especially in 2021. I wholeheartedly disagree you should trade him. Not if you are trying to reach the playoffs, which they are. (By the way, he didn't get sacks when he was healthy but he still had quarterback pressures that showed he was doing his job.)
As for the mailbag, I'm not sure to what you are referring, because I don't recall ever making a comparison to TV money and fans' opinions. Why the mailbag? Because it's interesting content and because I want to answer fans' questions the best I can. I'm sorry if you thought this was a device that fans could use as a vote. I certainly never said that was the case.
From Derek Cooper via azcardinals.com:
"I just want to thank you for the mailbag and Cardinals Underground (podcast) discussion. As a fan from the 20,000-in-the-Sun-Devil-Stadium rotisserie oven it means a lot. It's been 17 years since my life has taken me to the Black Hills of South Dakota after 15 years of having Cardinal seats. AZCardinals.com is my lifeline along with game pass. Tell Paulie, Kyle, Wolf, Dave, and the rest of the crew thanks for me. The signing of James Conner as a great big back with receiving skills sent me diving into my past and looked up the player that made me a Cards' fan in the first place. The original 'Larry! Larry! Larry!' Centers. Neil Lomax and Jackie Smith are two other names that stood out to me for the Ring of Honor. Is the ROH limited to one addition at a time?"
Since it was created with the first batch, yes, the Cardinals put in at most one person per year. But there is no hard and fast rule, including that there must be one every season.
From Paul B via azcardinals.com:
"I've always felt veteran player leadership was totally overblown. These men are adults. They have coaches to coach them. They don't need co-workers coaching them. With that said, I do notice how suddenly our CB room is void of established veteran leadership. Yes we have Butler and Alford, but what I mean is we don't have a long-term established CB who will be there year-to-year anymore. With where the room is now, you know we are going to have a big influx of rookie cornerbacks the next few years. Say in this draft we take Caleb Farley, and he turns out to be pretty good in his first year. Does that mean starting next year Caleb is suddenly the leader of the CB room?"
This all feels incredibly premature -- and I do think it's humorous that you make the opening point that leadership is overblown and then are concerned over leadership. Which is it? In this case, let's see if they even take a cornerback in the first round, let's see how he plays. It's hard to predict what will happen in 2022 at that position or many others. And I think having Budda Baker in the secondary will provide plenty in terms of leadership, even if there isn't necessarily a guy that jumps out at you at cornerback.
From Shaun Collins via azcardinals.com:
"Thank you for facilitating these mailbags and filling the information gaps for the Red Sea. I know you get beat up quite often with questions about new uniforms, but I have a different question when it comes to the eventual replacement threads. The Lions sport the letters 'WCF' on their sleeve for William Clay Ford. The Bears have 'GSH' on their sleeve for George S. Halas. Would you like to see something similar on the next uniform the team introduces, and if so, what do you think it should be? I would like to see something along the lines of 'PT40' to honor Pat Tillman, but we are also the oldest team in the league if memory serves. Maybe we could incorporate something that highlights that."
I mean, I hadn't thought about it to be honest. Would I like it? I don't know if I feel strongly about it one way or the other. If they were going to do something long-term, I would think they would've stuck with the "WVB" for the late Bill Bidwill. I don't know if they would suddenly do something with Tillman considering he was killed 17 years ago at this point and they hadn't made a permanent uniform fixture.
From James Stinson via azcardinals.com:
"I'm a HUGE Cardinal fan and live in Tucson (please no haters). Anyway, do you think it would be a good idea/or a possibility for the Cards to play a preseason or scrimmage in Tucson to build the fan base, similar to what the Packers do? Maybe have a meet-and-greet with some of the players to get snapshots and autographs. I think that might help in filling State Farm Stadium with Cardinal fans and have less fans from the opponents (like Seahawks, 49ers, etc). I believe the Cards could get local businesses involved and that could cover all or most of the expense. One more question: do you know of any charter bus companies going from Tucson to Phoenix for the home games? I've searched online for hours and haven't located any. I LOVE going to the games, but hate the traffic! GO CARDS!"
On the latter, that's a question for other fans. I don't know of any off the top of my head. As for the former, there won't be any actual games in the preseason moved away from State Farm Stadium. I can't speak for practices; I remember, in my former life as a newspaper beat writer, going down to Tucson to cover a practice in the offseason, for that reason -- to give Tucson fans an up-close look. But I have not heard of any future plans along those lines.
From Zack Maus via azcardinals.com:
"Darren I appreciate your mailbag so much, I hope you don't take all these post requests to serious! I didn't think you'd actually post mine from last week in which I assure you I was joking about Kyler leaving from no new uniforms. I also cant believe I said Bill and not Michael when referencing the owner, that was a lapse in my excitement over the joke that I wanted to submit. Was hoping you'd roast me a little worse but the 'C'mon man' take was funny. BUT with that being said, I know you're not a scout and I honestly don't know how much digging you do into the draft prospects every year, but from what I've seen/heard Caleb Farley has a REAL chance at slipping to us at 16. Chris Simms says he's the closest thing to Ramsey he's seen, but I've also seen Waddle slipping a couple time as well in which there's a lot of Tyreek Hill chatter. My question is if we are on the clock at 16 and both guys are available, who would YOU, Mr. Urbs, want the Cardinals to select? I say Farley 100%."
I apologize for not laying down the nuclear sarcasm, but had you been serious, that can get me gummed up too. As far as Farley and Waddle, if I felt like the medical checked out on Farley, and assuming my evaluations aligned with what everyone is saying about the talent of both players, I'd prefer they take the cornerback. But I could understand otherwise.
From Jeremy Kravitz via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. I'm sure this will be a coming story anyways, but off the top of your head can you think of any players who will take advantage of the new number system? Safe to assume Simmons isn't getting #11 (nor anyone ever again)."
First, the new number system would have to pass. If it does, I don't know if there is anyone off the top of my head that would definitely change. Don't forget any players of note have to go through a process of "buying back" any jerseys out there on sale with an old number, so that can slow or even stop the process, depending on how badly a player wants to change.
From Chris Mack via azcardinals.com:
"Kyler liked another post on Instagram regarding uniform updates. We miss nothing, NOTHING! Tell you what though, the protests of the fans may be ignored, but when the face that runs the place starts talking about our uniforms, that's when things get'a movin'! I'm looking forward to the new uni unveil where they do that fashion show and it'll probably be Kyler and Hop and Chandler and Budda and it's all dimly lit and the cameras all fast moving and the music is all dramatic like bum..bum...BWAAAAAHHHMMMM! New unis man. I got a FEVER. and the only prescription. Is new UNIS."
See, I gotta ask my man Zack if this is another one of "those" uniform entries. But at this point, it might be totally serious. I'll say Chris, at least you all put us in the moment. (Although that part that Kyler "runs the place" .... I mean, ehhhh, I'm not sure about that.)