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You've Got Mail: Organized Team Improvement

Topics include Pairs at left tackle, national interest, and cornerback battles

Mailbag OTA shot 0521

The Cardinals are in the middle of OTAs. The mailbag is in the middle of its weekly grind. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. Don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag with at least a first name and last initial.

From Noah Randall:

"Hi Darren. Not that you asked, but I hate versatility. Paris can play left tackle or right tackle, cool, don't care. Pick a spot and let him MASTER that spot. Does Trent Williams flip flop back and forth? No. I'm happy to hear PJJ will be left tackle but I resent the 'We'll see how it goes' comment by Gannon. It feels destined to fail when the plan is so infirm. How about this? Let our No. 6 overall left tackle the left tackle no matter what, and let a bunch of guys battle it out at right tackle?"

There's a lot of emotion there Randall. I'm not sure it's well placed, but as I have said many times when people ask me if they should be concerned about one Cardinals thing or another -- concern is a deeply personal choice, so who am I to judge your level of emotion?

However ...

Let's look at your comments point by point. You're right, I didn't ask, but that's fine. You say you don't care about versatility which is also fine but also completely moot, and the coaching staff (and front office) does care. I am curious -- do you really believe Trent Williams wouldn't be an excellent right tackle if given the chance? You're right he doesn't move, but I would argue that he is great because he is great, not necessarily because he has played only on the left side. Heck, Jonah Williams got the chance to "master" the left side, the Bengals made him move, and it turned out well for him. I will be stunned, btw, if Williams isn't the right tackle this season, so I don't think there is going to be a "bunch of guys battling it out." Finally, again, you gotta feel how you feel, but it's a little strong to say you "resent" Gannon saying that. In the end, he's going to give himself wiggle room -- especially since a media person pointed out he had said originally he wasn't going to tell us who was playing where and then changed his mind.

Versatility is important because if you only have eight offensive linemen active on game days, you better be able to play multiple spots. You don't know the number of injuries that might happen in a game nor how many. That's simply being prepared.

From Michael T:

"Hello Darren. The schedule was just released and it's exciting to be a Cardinal fan. I wanted to comment on the lack of interest for our team by the national reporters. No one is giving us a snowball's chance in you-know-where of having a winning season with the exception of very loyal fans and team employees. It seems to me that being under the radar will work to our advantage. I think we'll still be considered a fluke late into the season with even a winning record. So my question to you is what do you think our record will have to be before people take us as a serious Super Bowl contender?"

A Super Bowl contender? You're going to have to have 12 wins, right? Look, this team won four games in 2022 (and looked bad doing it) and won four games last season. I'm not sure why anyone would expect national media to suddenly announce the Cardinals alongside the Chiefs as favorites. Every time I've talked to Monti or JG, they acknowledge the same when I mention it does seem like the culture is much better -- "We have to win games." They understand the winning comes first. Everyone should.

From Miles Mann:

"We have a lot of young corners the team seems to like, but only so many can make the roster. Murphy-Bunting, Williams, Melton, and Jones all seem like locks, but Clark, Thomas, and Davis and maybe a vet would probably compete for the last one or two spots. How many of those guys do you think could end up on the practice squad, and how exactly does it work? Thanks for doing the mailbag, it's always a joy to read."

How many on the practice squad is a tough prediction right now. I'd guess two, maybe. Depends on if they keep four or five on the 53. As far as how the practice squad works, all PS players must be released and are subject to waivers (unless they are a vested veteran, in which case they are unrestricted free agents) and can be claimed to another team's active roster. If they clear waivers, they can be re-signed to the PS (although at that point they are free to sign with any team's PS.)

From Julius K:

"We know MHJ is wearing No. 18. Do we know what BJ Ojulari's price tag was for the number? He seemed thrilled that it was available last year so I'm guessing he drove a hard bargain for it."

The answer, Ojulari told me, is zero. There was no transaction. Chronicled it all here.

From M Chad:

"It seems really difficult to watch every NFL game these days with all these services fighting for a piece of the cake. For those of us who don't live in Arizona, which streaming services will I need in order to watch all 17 Cardinals games this year? Also, do you have any suggestions as to which game I should try to get tickets to in person?"

I'm not the one to ask about what games to see in person. That's a choice that has many variables, and only you can know the right answer. As for watching every NFL game, who is watching every game? I'd argue that you can see more games now than ever; when I was growing up you had three or four games on Sunday and one Monday night. That was it. So to watch every game was never a thing. If you don't live in Arizona, you need Sunday Ticket. That's it. (OK, ESPN+, so you can sign up for one month to get the MNF game if you choose.)

From Patrick D:

"Hey Darren, I know that the NFL Draft was a couple of weeks ago but most people saw the Tip Reiman pick as a reach for a guy you could get in the fourth- or fifth-round, but with so many teams showing interest do you think this was a good pick? And as mainly a blocking tight end at Illinois, what does this mean for Drew Petzing's running scheme for offense?"

I don't know if it means anything different for the offense. They ran the ball a lot last season. Improving the blocking would seem normal, no? As for it being a "reach," again -- and I addressed this last week -- is a reach because "experts" thought he'd go later, or because we know for sure no one is picking him for a couple of rounds? (Narrator: We don't.) Reiman was where he was on the Cardinals board. They had him rated higher than Rabbit, than Christian Jones, than Elijah Jones. If someone else built a team, they might not have him as high. But that doesn't mean he's a reach. A reach is when you are taking a position just to have it when the guy isn't rated there (think edge Cody Brown in 2009.) Monti Ossenfort doesn't operate that way.

From Scott Miller:

"How many of our drafted players have signed with the team?"

As of this posting eight of the 12 draftees are signed. The ones left are Marvin Harrison Jr., Darius Robinson, Trey Benson, and Rabbit Taylor-Demerson.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren, thank you for the mailbag. You always do such a great job. I love your honest answers. Do you think with the change of college where now they can make money in college, do you think certain positions are more likely to stay in college for the maximum amount of time, and with that make it better for the NFL teams that they might be more NFL ready? Also, if you had to pick one of the other 32 NFL teams to work for what team would it be and why?"

I don't think we really know what the answer to NIL's impact might be. I don't know about certain positions but maybe certain players -- the guys who are stars in college but have a good idea they have a ceiling in the NFL. They can make their money in college now. But the main guys are still going to make more money in the pros and, especially for football players, you only have so much time in your body to play and the financial end is still better in the NFL. As for another team to work for, I would never look at it that way -- it'd be about where to live. Not that I am going anywhere, but my wife has very specific places where she'd be willing to go. Since the Chargers moved a few years ago, I think the only viable city she was open to was Charlotte. And they already have a Darin doing this job.

From Joeldude S.:

"Hey Darren, with the Cards not picking up the fifth-year option of Zaven Collins do you think he'll be on the roster Week 1? If not, who are the leading options for edge rushers? Sorry if you addressed this in a previous mailbag. Thanks for your time!"

Yes, Collins will be on the roster. The option was for the 2025 season; he is still under contract this year. Monti Ossenfort said the team still wants Collins -- it was just clear that the $13+ million option didn't make sense for the team. I'm not ruling out a contract extension. This is a big season for Collins.

From Mark Bates:

"I can not find out how Taulia Tagovailoa did during rookie minicamp. Assumed they passed on him?"

Correct, they did not sign him. He wasn't going to be able to show much; they didn't really do much in rookie minicamp.

From Juan de la Peña:

"Hi Darren. The, RB room looks like the deepest group in the roster. Do you think they carry five running backs to the season opener? If not, who would be the man out? Thanks as always, greetings from Argentina!"

Way too early to know what this will look like. To me, Conner and Benson are the locks. From there, it'll be earned. If DeeJay Dallas has a big special teams role, yes, I could see five backs, but four may be more likely. Again, there will be some guys from different positions that will be "surprise" cuts because the Cardinals are trying to build a roster where there are tough choices. That's how you know your roster is improving.

From Fran G:

"Hey Darren. It seems there are an endless stream of 'we need a new stadium' bullpucky from every corner of the sporting landscape. Many of these teams have a perfectly fine stadium (D-Backs, for instance). Along with the stadium complaints comes the inevitable threats of leaving. Please assure us Darren that the Cardinals are content with their stadium and aren't going to whine about a new stadium for a very long time."

That's above my paygrade but I don't see the Cardinals wanting to move from State Farm Stadium. They have put a lot of money into improvements (and more are coming, like the new luxury seating) and that doesn't look like a franchise wondering about a different building.

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