The Cardinals are on to OTAs. The mailbag is on to ... yet another week. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Bose Besse:
"Kyler Murray will not attend OTAs because that is the type of behavior we want out of our 'franchise QB' who we want to be married to long term?"
I mean, let's not act like he's the first QB to miss some OTAs. Aaron Rodgers didn't go to OTAs in 2021. Didn't seem to impact much. I get why people have things to criticize him about, and that's fair. This is a collectively bargained option for all players. We will see if Lamar Jackson shows up to the Ravens' OTAs, but I doubt Baltimore will want to keep him long-term any less.
From Kent King:
"Any rhyme or reason to why certain draft picks are signed before others? It's human nature to like order. So it would make sense to sign the seventh rounders, then the sixth, etc. Work your way from easiest to hardest (not that any are difficult with the CBA, but first-rounders often haggle over offset language). So why is it every year we see the fourth-rounder is signed first ... then one of the seventh-round guys ... then the third, etc. It's so weird to me. Why so arbitrary?"
It feels a little OCD to worry about it in those terms, but essentially, it's how they come together. All these guys have agents who still need to be part of the process, to look over the deals, and who usually have other rookies and clients with which they are dealing. You get them done whenever they are done (although sometimes third-rounders take a little more time because of a guaranteed salary loophole in the CBA that leaves room for some negotiation beyond the slotted contract.) Even the first-rounders usually don't take much time anymore.
From Joseph Stradling:
"With all of the rookie contracts of draft picks being slotted and easier to get done, I was curious as to whether all of these contain basically the same language and terms. Four-year deals with a pre-determined signing bonus and one-year guaranteed? Do the undrafted players sign a different contract?"
Every contract begins with some standard language and then you tweak in some circumstances (guarantees, length, incentives). Essentially, though, yes, the draftees are signing the same deal. Most NFL contracts don't have a lot of guaranteed salary. And undrafted rookies usually are signing three-year deals with minimum salaries, with varying signing bonuses.
From Art Pozza:
"I don't understand why Zaven Collins keeps get handed the starting inside linebacker job and has never proven he deserves it. Collins a great talent, but maybe this isn't his spot?"
That's what you do with rookies that are picked high. Kyler Murray started without proving anything. The bottom line: You can only prove something by playing for a while. If you don't play him, you won't know if he can prove himself.
From Tom Ward:
"Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury were given extensions on their contracts. This I believe was necessary for recruitment purposes. Players would not want to play for a lame duck coach or GM. OK, but what happens if the season is a bust? Fire them both? Does Michael Bidwell form a small group to investigate potential candidates now so as to be proactive instead being reactive at the end of the season?"
If there was a scenario in which Michael Bidwill thought he might make a change at the end of the 2022 season, it makes no sense for him to give long-term contracts to his coach and GM. Not sure why this is even a question right now.
From Case Walker:
"Mailbag questions, draft edition:
- Does Trey McBride's addition imply we are moving on from Maxx? Or will those three be the trio? The Cards actually usually have three or four tight ends on the roster, so certainly we could keep all three long-term. Also will he play special teams?
- Does Keaontay Ingram's addition imply we are moving on from Ward? Also what do you see Ingram's role as?
- Myjai Sanders said he likes Reddick's style moreso than Chandler. What does that mean? I'm guessing that means a 100 percent speed rusher? Chandler liked to bullrush a lot.
- Any ideas yet what side Thomas and Sanders will be? I believe Thomas mostly attacked from the right side in college. Would make sense to keep them where most comfortable?
- Lecitus Smith was aligned at center during rookie camp. Is he the backup C?
- Of all the rookies, do you think any above others has a shot at being a starter?"
Draft edition answers:
- It doesn't imply anything. Right now, Maxx Williams has to get back on the field after his knee injury. Injuries in-season happen too, and as always, the NFL is a year-to-year league. We will see what happens in 2023.
- Ingram is a sixth-round pick. It doesn't imply anything other than they have added another back to the room to compete for a roster spot. Right now, the only running back that -- to me -- is a lock to make the team is James Conner.
- Sanders did not say he liked Reddick's style more. He said he thought he was more like Reddick. He sees more similarities in the game, and I wouldn't be surprised if Reddick was the one the coaches brought up to Sanders as the guy they could see him becoming.
- Way to early to know how that plays out.
- Nothing is decided when it comes to offensive line depth. They have had exactly one OTA of offense versus defense, and you can't hit. Smith did take snaps at center and I do think he will get extensive work there as a potential center going forward.
- Probably McBride in a two-tight end set.
From Nathan Palmer:
"Greeting Darren, Do you have any word on Kyler's extension, Hump and Watt's restructures/extensions, and any free agents we are signing? I would love Eddie Goldman or Kyle Fuller. Do you think Corey Peters signs a minimum right before camp like last year? I thought he was a great veteran player and had some great plays last year."
There is nothing to report right now on any extensions. As far as free agents, I wouldn't be shocked to see them sign a veteran cornerback and perhaps a veteran defensive lineman, although I don't know if that would be Fuller or Goldman. As far as Peters, I don't even know if he is planning on playing this season. If he is, at this point, I wouldn't rule out a late return but if it was going to happen, I am a little surprised it hasn't yet (last year he was coming off an injury.)
From Cary Wood:
"Who is the projected starter at right guard? Will Hernandez? Not sure how the team feels about Josh Jones at this point. We also took two guards in the draft."
If I had to guess right now, yes, it would be Hernandez, but I don't think anything is set in stone. They think Josh Jones is a tackle, so I'd think he'd work more there during training camp.
From Dale Hatfield:
"Hey Darren. Before I begin let me say that criticizing a team's performance does not mean a person is not a big fan of the team. Coaches watch film mainly to find flaws and ways to minimize them. Fans watch games and when we see a flaw, we talk about it. Thanks for giving fans with criticism a way to let off some steam. That's probably a hint about where this is going. The Cardinals' record over the last eight games in the last three seasons is is eight wins and 16 losses. Something happening once can be an aberration, twice can be a coincidence, three times is a trend. If a late-season collapse happens again this year it is a tendency. I think it's possible the organization is not seeing the forest for the trees. What do you think?"
Dale, let me start by saying I have never had an issue about people criticizing the team or players/coaches. But there's a way it can be done. As for your question, I'm not sure what the trees are in this analogy. If you are asking if the organization understands that struggles down the stretch are a problem, of course they do.
From Tom Cowley:
"Hi Darren. Do you have any favorites coming out of rookie camp, especially for those positions which seem to need attention (cornerback and pass rusher.) Also, I thought we would sign the free-agent center from the Giants last week after his visit?"
There isn't a ton to be learned from one initial minicamp. Cameron Thomas wasn't 100 percent healthy so he couldn't do as much yet, although I'll say Myjai Sanders looks the part. At cornerback, we're talking about a seventh-round pick in Christian Matthew. We have a long way to go before knowing if he can help. As for Billy Price, he remains unsigned. We will see if that ever bubbles back up. Again, when a free agent visits and doesn't sign, it's usually because it's not the money he was looking for.
From Richard Wakefield:
"I don't understand the Cardinals thinking about DeAndre Hopkins. It was the same with Patrick Peterson. They act like when he comes back he'll our savior. These guys cheated. They thought that taking banned substances would be OK unless they got caught. The penalty cost them a lot of money but it cost the team more. Football is not like baseball or basketball where they have a lot of games to catch up. Not so in football. If Hopkins' absence only cost us one game it's too many. Last year when he was hurt it did cost us but he couldn't be blamed. This time he can be blamed."
I'm not sure how else the Cardinals would approach this. I understand you are frustrated and angry, but are you suggesting they get rid of Hopkins? That's foolish.
Frim Jacob Lagang:
"Hello sir. I remember on the last mailbag you asked what is with all the sirs with me asking the questions. It was because I just like respecting everyone and especially someone who works for the Cardinals like yourself. Anyway can 'First Take' get a more accurate person that knows what he's talking about like you, instead of Keyshawn Johnson? Sad about the Suns but I know they'll be back. I heard they want a third all-star to take pressure off of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Who do you think could come in? What's your take on bunch of hate about Chris Paul? Sorry if I am talking about Suns too much. I do not expect it to happen but would trading Andy Isabella for N'Keal Harry help? Keaontay Ingram reminds me of Alvin Kamara so he excites me. Jeff Gladney in my opinion is boom or bust but I am hopeful. Has he been at the facility training? Thank you sir for taking my questions."
Lot here, Jacob.
- I don't see 'First Take' looking to hire me anytime soon.
- No idea if they brought in another star who it would be.
- Chris Paul has done a ton a great things for the Suns. But his struggles in the playoffs killed them, and it seems he was hurt again, and the reality is you can't count on 37-year-old pro athletes, Tom Brady excluded.
- I don't think the Cardinals have interest in N'Keal Harry.
- I don't believe Gladney has been here yet but I don't know for sure.
From Cathal Scarry:
"Hi Darren, I'm from Ireland. I picked the Cardinals as my team after watching 'All or Nothing' on Amazon. Most people who follow the NFL here in Ireland support the East Coast teams mostly due to emigration history and the high proportion of Irish Americans there. I know that the Mexico game is coming up and is a huge market for the Cardinals and rightly so, but has there ever been a suggestion that they may see this side of the ocean? There is a fanbase here in Ireland for the Cardinals. Maybe a pitch for a London game? Or in Dublin, see Croke Park Stadium, it's huge. Anyway, great work on the website and all the podcasts, your social media team are excellent."
Of course the Cardinals did a London game in 2017 and it'd be cool to go back at some point. I don't think the NFL has any plans for a game in Ireland at this point, however. I'm not surprised there are Irish fans; I did a podcast out of Ireland at one point. I think it's great that the team has found fans around the world.
From Jared Finlay:
"I'm not certain why there is this desperation to pay Kyler. 'Super talented headcase' is a tale as old as time in the NFL. It's arguably a top-three reason why any player goes bust. Ryan Leaf was in fact incredibly talented. As was Jamarcus Russell. As was Daryl Washington. The list is never ending. So why is Kyler any different? Stop pretending like there isn't a problem when there is. It's hard to put a finger on it, but Kyler has this disconnect."
Wait, wait, wait. You are putting Kyler in the same bust category as Leaf and Jamarcus Russell? As Washington, who battled the drug policy (when Kyler has never broken one rule or gotten in any trouble whatsoever)? Those might be the worst comparisons I have ever heard about any player. Again, I get why people get frustrated with him for not attending OTAs. OK. But for someone who admits you "can't put a finger on" his disconnect, you certainly tried, with horrific results. I know Murray had a terrible playoff game. You want to argue about how much he should be paid, fine. But let's stop with the hyperbole that not only makes no sense but is unfair to Murray.
From Punchy Juan:
"Did you film Larry's retirement video Folktales? How long have you known? Dog help you if you been withholding this information from us."
Yes, it was Folktales and yes, there will be one or two that have a lot of Fitz. But there is no "retirement" video. He's not saying anything new on the subject. (But guess what? He's not playing anymore.)