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You've Got Mail: Ramping Up Into The Offseason

Topics include the coaching staff, reworking the offensive line, and free agency


As the Super Bowl approaches -- the NFC West is represented with the Rams, although that was an ugly way to get there -- and the Cardinals build out the coaching staff, it's time for this week's mailbag. As usual, you can always send along a question for next week's session by clicking here. And if I don't get to your question in particular, I usually have answered on that is similar.

First, this is the reference to the expected hiring (not yet official, as of this posting) of Tom Clements as the passing game coordinator/QB coach, which will ostensibly be in place of the offensive coordinator. Would it hinder? I would doubt it, otherwise he wouldn't do it. The way I see it, Kingsbury was basically going to be the OC anyway, right? That's why you hired him. Clements will organize the passing game and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone else help with the run game (OL coach Sean Kugler? Expected RB coach James Saxon?). Sometimes titles aren't everything. For a number of years Rod Graves did not have the GM title but he essentially functioned as a GM.

From Andy Mckillop via

"Hi Darren, 'evening from London! It's great to see the club be so pro-active in hiring the staff for next year. Clearly names in free agency is a tad premature, although I'm sure the front office has a scouting list of who they would like to see in Cardinals colors next season. That's where my question comes in. How much influence in free agency selection will Coach Kingsbury have on individual players, or will the scheme and philosophy be discussed with Steve Keim and the front office then find players from there?"

Essentially, it'll be the latter. Keim controls the roster, especially working on an NFL level where Kingsbury is going to have limited exposure at this point to players and their performance. These next few weeks will be about meeting as a group to talk about needs in free agency and potential targets. I'm sure Kingsbury will have input, as well as his staff. But it'll come down to the front office, the prices of particular free agents, and the market as a whole.

That's not how scouting works. Scouts are assigned areas of the country/schools to cover. There are overreaching cross checkers that also look at those players, and then Keim also looks at as many as he can. When the pre-draft meetings are held, all the scouts (and the position coaches) get in a room together to hear the original scout's report and the player is discussed. So it's not just one or two people that have a say in this.

From Greek Dakota via

"Hey Darren, been a big fan for a long time. You and the rest of the staff do an excellent providing great content for the rest of Cardinals nation! My question is do you think there is a chance the cardinals move either Humphries or Cunningham to guard (Personally would prefer Cunningham at tackle, huge upside in terms of potential, and Humphries at guard) perhaps to make use of their athleticism, therefore allowing them to pick up a solid right tackle in free agency (Like Ja'Wuan James?) and making the line not as huge of a problem going into the draft."

Well, I don't know yet what guys are going to be out there for free agency. I am not ruling anything out but no, at this point I don't expect one of those guys to be moved to guard. Obviously there is a lot on the table in terms of upgrading/retooling the offensive line. I think they have to look hard at free agency, and even if they had a piece or two, they will need to look at it in the draft. It's a spot that needs significant work, not just band-aids.

Like offensive line, I don't know if you make it one or the other. They need a veteran to help, even if Larry Fitzgerald returns. But they also need to replenish the room, and that calls for a draft pick I would think. Again, in the position they are in, limiting options is not a good idea. I'm not sure the WR free-agent class is all that impressive either, which is why you'll need to look everywhere.

As I have mentioned before, in my opinion, trading down would be my first choice -- because of the QB thing. But someone would have to want to trade up, and I'd have to know how far down someone is expecting me to go before I'd say do it for sure. If you are asking me who would I choose with that pick, it's too early for me to have a specific name. I know everyone says Nick Bosa, and a great pass rusher isn't a bad idea, but I'd want to explore everything. It's the beauty of having that first pick. I know I'd want -- assuming there is one -- a generational player, whatever the position might be.

The cap hit would be the cap hit for Fitz, no matter when he signed. If he came back at midseason and was paid $8 million for eight games, the cap hit would still be $8 million. But it's moot, because if Fitz retires, he'll be done. He's not coming back midseason. If he decides to play, it'll be from the start of the season.

I could see the Cardinals potentially interested in keeping a couple guys, yes, like a Markus Golden. But it's going to be very difficult to get a deal done at this point because as a player, if you are now set for free agency in March and you know it's impossible to get hurt between then and now, what is the incentive to not at least check out the market? Again, the Cardinals may bring back some guys as those players get the idea what might be waiting for them, but how many would just be a guess. There is also the possibility -- and this has happened before -- where the Cards have a number they present, the player turns it down, and the Cardinals move on to others at the position once free agency starts.

By "reasonable" I assume you mean salary-wise? I mean, Glennon's contract is pretty reasonable for a veteran backup. He's only making $3 million between salary and a roster bonus. I'm not sure you're finding a much better deal for a comparable guy who knows he's going to sit behind Josh Rosen.

From Alan McKenzie via

"Are you going to be more active in using the West Coast offense?"

Oddly, I have very little use for the West Coast offense. It doesn't really address my biggest need, which is transcribing interviews from my recorder. That's just the worst.

Obviously, the PI call was ... less than ideal. Whether things are changed long-term, we will have to see. You certainly don't want that to happen again. But I'm a big believer in not blaming the refs, because eventually, everyone gets bit and I don't see any real way around it. The fans, for instance, still upset that Santonio may or may not have had two feet in, well, all I can think about is the 14-point swing right before halftime.

As mentioned earlier, I think if Clements is coming here, he's your guy there. If Kingsbury wasn't hired in large part for his offensive abilities, I'd be a little skittish about no official OC. But Kingsbury was, so it makes sense to me. I'm not sure this is going to run much different -- titles aside -- than when Bruce Arians was head coach and Harold Goodwin was the offensive coordinator.

From Jeremy Heathcote via

"Hey mate firstly always great reading what's happening with the team from over here in Sydney and with some Aussies making an impact my question relates to Valentine Holmes, who has given up Rugby League to try to get a gig over there. He's won premierships and represented his country. Not sure if you've seen his highlights in our code or not. (You should.) Think the Cards might look at him late as a WR? Or any other team?"

You are correct, I have not yet seen any video of Mr. Holmes, nor, frankly, have heard of him. But could the Cardinals look at someone like that? Sure. They have done that before with international players, guys like Eli Bouka, Moubarek Djeri and Australian Joel Wilkinson. None have panned out, but it's something the team looks into. Do I think Valentine will get a shot somewhere in the NFL on a 90-man roster? I could see it. Whether he can actually make it, it's a long shot.

Not that I know of, and I would highly doubt that -- whatever the Raiders do next season -- the Cardinals will end up sharing space.

From Jerry Brown via

"What are your thought about rookies playing on the O-line? B.A. seemed to think they couldn't contribute, but the Cards got critical help from Mason Cole last season, and other teams seem to make it work."

The Cardinals had two straight head coaches -- Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians -- who didn't love playing rookies if they could help it. That's understandable. Coaches tend to trust players with more experience. But generally, I say put the best guys out there, and all things being equal, get the young guy his early reps. Especially when you can see the ceiling of the veteran, and it's not much different than where the rookie is now. Every situation needs to be assessed on its own merits.

I think everything is in play right now. You need at least three decent pass rushers anyway. It comes down to the money allocated to the spot. But in terms of a roster with those three guys, I think you can absolutely make that work.

From Robert Malicki via

"Most or all of the coaching staff is in place. This was an aggressive move by Steve Keim. Can we fans expect the GM to keep the pedal to the metal during the offseason? While the state of the team's finances regarding current contracts and 'dead money' may dictate coming decisions the Kingsbury hiring points to a 'don't stop now' approach."

I think the Cardinals are hyperaware of the disappointment of the 2018 season and how a turnaround is needed. History says that can happen quickly, and it helps to have a settled quarterback situation. In terms of building the roster back up, yes, I think they will try to be "pedal to the metal." What form that takes is TBD. It'll start in free agency, and I could see a potential OL signing like Jared Veldheer back in 2014 (not that I am sure what OL will be out there by March.) We'll see.

Coaches -- even new ones -- aren't allowed to talk to players in-depth about football until the offseason program begins in early April. As a first year coach, Kingsbury (and his staff) can start that April 1. After that there are hourly restrictions per day over the next few months, and once OTAs end in June, players are again off-limits until right before training camp.