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You've Got Mail: Role Playing Over Video Meetings

Topics include Campbell's spot, Fotu on offense and the Lions on the schedule


We've got the schedule, now we see how the offseason plays out. We've changed up the look slightly here at the mailbag too, so we will see how that goes. Let me know your feedback. As always, you can leave a question for next week's mailbag here.

From Jesse L via

"What positions do you see the cardinals adding to in 'Keim Time?' Are there any obvious money-saving cut candidates?"

The spots that pop into my mind would be a backup edge rusher, a backup veteran safety and maybe a tight end. At this point, they aren't going to cut guys for monetary reasons; you would've done that by now had that been the plan.

From Steve Drumm via

"Hi Darren. The Cardinals signed ILB De'Vondre Campbell this offseason and he was slated to be a starter in our 3-4 next to Hicks. Steve Keim mentioned that Simmons will play ILB, so does that make Campbell the odd man out and likely headed to the bench? I think he is too good a player to be riding the pine and his stats with the Falcons prove that."

No, Campbell isn't going to the bench. You signed him for a reason (although it is a one-year deal.) Could Simmons cut into some of his snaps, especially in sub-packages? Yes, I think that is possible. But the beauty of Simmons is that you should be able to move him around at times. Maybe Hicks doesn't have to play every single defensive snap this season.

From Nelly Cromwell via

"Do you think Kliff Kingsbury is too casual and cool? I know players like him. But does he lead them? I ask because I was just watching the 'All or Nothing' after the Carolina loss. Team in shambles, and Bruce comes up and gives a great speech, as he does. It's unfair to compare Kliff to B.A., or anyone to B.A. for that matter, but there is something to be said about being a boisterous leader. I wonder to myself if Kliff can sustain motivation long-term with how passive he is. Kind of goes back to that thing about don't be your kid's friend, be their parent. These are grown adult men, but the sentiment is the same."

Well, I guess I am confused at the end of your statement. Are you saying he isn't a leader because he is too quiet? Because he is too friendly? I mean, Bill Belichick isn't going out there with rousing speeches. Dave McGinnis was excellent with speeches, but his teams didn't win. I don't think there is any one way to be a good and winning coach. You mention in passing that these are grown adult men. Yes, they are. If they right now are using coaches as their motivation, they aren't going to be in the NFL for very long. This isn't high school.

From Conrad Nall via

"Sir, with businesses starting to open around the country, when do you anticipate the Cardinals announcing a plan for getting players gathered in Arizona and on contract? Thanks!"

There were multiple reports last week about a memo sent out by the NFL outlining how team facilities might begin to be able to reopen. At this early stage, players are not yet part of the equation. The league will probably approach this as a whole (taking into account the guidelines for each individual city/area where a franchise is located.) Some of the draft picks around the league are beginning to sign contracts; that's a matter of getting a physical done. But this is all going to be a week-to-week life right now.

From Halee Kleo via

"Hi Darren! I really like Evan Weaver. I do think he can be a good player in the NFL. I don't know how it would work, but in my brain I think Hicks+Weaver at ILB manning run responsibilities, and then Simmons can just float and make plays like Tyrann. I don't know at what position. Maybe safety. But it just feels like a nice yin/yang between Weaver and Simmons. They cover each others weaknesses. Isn't that funny how things work out? I remember when the Suns had like four starting point guards, and then suddenly had zero starting point guards for, like, 5 years. Now with the Cardinals, we had a major depth issue at LB, and now we almost have a surplus. Chandler, Kennard, Campbell, Weaver, Hicks, Simmons, Reddick. We got a bunch of guys. It's nice!"

I would guess Simmons will move around but I don't know if just letting him float is going to be the plan out of the box. But as intriguing as Weaver is, I'd say it's unlikely you are going to see a lot of he and Hicks on the field at the same time. The skillsets -- and limitations -- are too closely aligned. And you don't really account for Campbell. He's getting $6 million, Weaver is a sixth-round pick. That math doesn't usually equate to Weaver playing a lot more.

From Lyn Kedin via

"As a Brit rugby fan and decade-long Cards fan, I can see the Leki Fotu pick providing an interesting opportunity for a novel play. Fotu played a second row forward in rugby whose role would not only be to tackle but to catch and carry the ball, breaking tackles as he goes. It's a skillset and physique well suited to a dual-function tight end. It certainly would addressing the need for a 3rd TE. Would they have the imagination to try it?"

Could I see a scenario at some point that he was used in a heavy package on offense? Yes, especially after seeing how athletic he really is at that size. Whether they might do that right away when Fotu is a rookie might be a different question.

From Lewis Richards via

"Hi Darren, big Cardinals fan from England here! Obviously with the good moves that have been made in the draft and free agency in particular, we seem to have a great chance of making the playoffs with the extra wild card spot this year. Do you think that's a realistic aim or just to improve on last year's record? Also, if you could pick one player to trade to the Cardinals on offence and defence, who would they be? All the best, Go Cardinals!"

The trade question is tough, because I tend to look at these things through a realistic prism and I don't know what guys might be available at this point nor what I'd be willing to get. I mean, if this is Madden and you can force through a favorable trade to get a Khalil Mack to bookend with Chandler Jones or get Quenton Nelson to stick in the middle of the offensive line, that'd be nice but it's also never gonna happen. As for the playoff push -- especially with the extra spot -- yes, it's realistic to think you can push for the postseason. I think when you look at the moves the team has made in the offseason, it sure feels like a team trying to take advantage of the rookie deal of a franchise QB.

From Chase Anderson via Twitter:

"HUGE Fitz fan but I wonder why he isn't taking a bigger pay cut to build a better roster around him? Don't blame him wanting $$$, but at his age, to play on a team that hasn't been competitive for four yrs, knowing how badly he wants to make playoffs, doesn't make sense."

I understand why some people think this way, but ultimately, Fitz has earned that salary and he's worth more to the franchise than just the stats he posts. And would you really be saving significant money? He was still your leading receiver. Would they have a better chance to make the playoffs if he were making $8M instead? I don't know if the roster would be that much different.

From Tom Cowley via

"Hey Darren. When might we learn on additional free-agent acquisitions (i.e., Jefferson, Golden, Kevin Peterson, etc.). I'm not impressed with our selection of undrafted rookies. I don't see any of them replacing any of our first or second-teamers. We might get lucky again and grab another future release in an area of need? Thanks."

You set a pretty high bar for undrafted rookies -- I've never gone into an offseason thinking one of them is going to be among the top two on the depth chart. I mean, if they had that kind of reputation, they would've been drafted. I actually think the Cards' roster is in pretty decent shape right now. I mentioned in a question above the positions they could possibly consider for a later pickup -- safety, edge rusher, tight end -- but I don't see a spot screaming for help. They obviously brought back Kevin Peterson Tuesday, so that helps depth.

From Air Raid City via Twitter:

"I don't know why the Niners want to use our stadium, where they can ask permission from a UofA, ASU or NAU college to use their stadium this season. What do you think?"

A few things here: We don't know the 49ers would want to use State Farm Stadium. It's speculation right now, based on outcomes we don't know will happen. Also, if the NFL ends up in a position like that, the league is going to work as one to make a season come together the best they can. This isn't an us vs. them situation. Bottom line is that the Cardinals' home is best suited for NFL football. That's why it was built in the first place. But mostly, I think of all the things that are of concern right now -- and I'm just talking about football, and not even the world -- sharing a stadium would be low on the list.

From Monsterdemo via Twitter:

"Will the Cardinals media be affected by COVID-19 during the season in your opinion? For example, less interaction like the NBA did with their reporters? Or is it too premature?"

At this point, everything about what might happen or not happen during the season would be premature to hazard a guess.

From Andrew Miller via

"Hello Darren, despite your sage advice to keep things 'week to week' and to be prepared for the unexpected, I am curious about the contractual implications if the season were to be truncated or scrapped. What payment provisions are typical in player contracts for a 'force majeure' (act of God) -- do players get paid? Would a lost year count toward a multi-year contract? Is the current world situation impacting the contract negotiations with rookies and rookie FAs?"

No, I don't think the world is impacting the rookie contracts. But beyond that, I don't know how that might work. At this point, the league is looking, given the months to go between then and now, at the season being played and then those questions are moot. Obviously, when/if those circumstances change, they will have figured it out.

From Josh Gedye via Twitter:

"With so much of how this season will go riding on how big a jump Kyler can make in Year Two, what are the signs you will be looking for in the first few games of the year to determine if he has made a significant jump?"

I'm looking for a QB who is making the right decisions on a consistent basis, knowing when the play is over, which he was mostly doing at the end of last season anyway. And I'll probably be looking for a QB who is comfortable enough in the pocket to look down the field. Honestly, if he continues to trend the same way he did as last season went -- especially with Drake for a full season and adding Hopkins -- he's going to "jump" just fine.

From Alan N via

"There were quite of few 'shocking' drafts this year, not only Green Bay taking Jordan Love but their acquisition of A.J. Dillon has generated some talk as well. These bigger running backs seem to me to be kind of a rare commodity in the NFL...but also come across as being huge game changers when used properly (take Derrick Henry for example in what he provided in the playoffs). ... Why isn't the depth used more (this is a team sport after all) to keep different styles (talent) and builds of players instead of just being xerox copies of each other with the same size, etc.? Especially in an area like running back where the versatility could reap wonders, if not early...certainly it would down the stretch of the game after defenses get a little beaten up. I'm just saying that if you had someone that was a little like Marcus Allen (Kenyan Drake) that also had a Jerome Bettis in the depth used in breaking down defenses in the hard yards."

That's all well and good -- if you are willing to run the ball a ton. That's not the way it works in this league anymore. It's hard to construct a team, and pay a QB a ton of money, and then just run and play defense. Especially when the rules favor passing so much. Yes, the Titans and 49ers fell back on the run game heavy in the playoffs and had success. But both teams faced hard decisions about their QBs in the offseason (although both brought them back) and it feels like in both situations they aren't getting the bang for their QB buck. The other factor is running an offense that fits both -- the Kliff Kingsbury offense would not fit well with a big, burly back, methinks.

From Joe DeMuelenaere via Twitter:

"What are the odds that Jones is the starting right tackle in Week One? He does have familiarity with the air-raid offense?"

I still think it's unlikely Josh Jones is the starting right tackle, and any chance he might have likely dwindles with the loss of on-field offseason work. Coaches tend to like a veteran if they have an option, and with Marcus Gilbert -- and/or Justin Murray -- they may have that option, even if they only use it for the beginning of the regular season. As for Jones and the Air Raid, first we have to see how much Air-Raiding Kingsbury is going to do. But yes, what Kliff's background on offense has been is similar to what they ran at the University of Houston.

From Eli S via

"I noticed we signed RB Sirgeo Hoffman as an UDFA. But he's not on the roster now. Do you know what happened?"

Specifically I don't, but no, he will not be on the roster. And to clarify, when the list of UDFAs came out, they were only agreed-to deals. No one had signed. And it's not uncommon for someone on the original list to never end up signing officially.

From Kevin Neeb via

"Just wanted to somehow get word to Josh Jones that he shouldn't feel bad he was picked in the 3rd round. That's what l call the Cardinals' 'lightning round.' l've been a fan for more than 30 years and lately that round seems to find lighting in a bottle. They way l see it, he's the new diamond in the rough and l can't wait to see him shine! I hope that somehow this gets to him. Thank you."

It's out there in the world for Josh to see it. The Cards were obviously happy with the pick, to be able to get Jones where they did.

From Brad Cain via

"Not a question, but a statement on the schedule release. As a die hard Cardinals fan I have to say, week one against the Niners, lmao, they're done, we have the defensive line coach to stop the run, we have the inside linebacker to shut down Kittle's game (Campbell), and without Sanders they don't have a number 1 receiver, although even if they did we still have P2 and Alford coming back healthy. The only hard games I see are against the Sea chickens, and I figure if history proves to repeat itself, we will win in Seattle and lose at home, other then that maybe two more by slipping up but I see us as real contenders and 13-3 is total possible. So I guess my statement is, DON'T SLEEP ON THE CARDINALS, BECAUSE IT WILL BITE YOU IN THE A--. All that and I didn't have to mention the offense once. Thanks for listening Darren, from a die-hard Cardinals fan stuck in northern California."

Brad has stepped off the podium.

From Jessica Liby via Twitter:

"Why do we play the Lions seemingly every year?"

Luck of the draw. The Cardinals are going to play the Lions once every three years anyway -- the NFC West plays each of the other three divisions on a rotating basis yearly. The years the Cards don't play the NFC North as a whole, they play an NFC North team either on the road or at home -- and that team is the team that finishes in the same position as the Cardinals the year before. For instance, the Cards had a home game against the NFC North in 2020, the Cards finished in fourth place in the division in 2019, and the Lions finished in fourth place. The same happened in 2018/19 schedule. And in the 2021 season, wait for it -- the Cardinals will play the Lions again. It'll be in Detroit, and the Cards will play all the NFC North teams.

From Edson Sierra via

"I know it's not the same scenario, but would you say there are lessons learned from Haason Reddick that would be used with Isaiah Simmons and if so, what would they be, in your opinion?"

Honestly, the biggest one already should've been put in play -- don't draft a player unless you are sure you know how to use him effectively. My guess is that the Cardinals had many, many discussions about that. But I really feel this is apples and oranges. Some people thought Simmons was the No. 2 or 3 player available in the entire draft. Reddick did not have that pedigree.

From FuJer Bear via Twitter:

"Hey Darren, thanks for the mailbag! Outside of K1, who do we expect to have a big 2nd year, who are you looking forward to seeing developing? I guess I would like to see our 2nd year WRs."

Yes, the first players that come to mind would be the second-year drafted wideouts, particularly Andy Isabella. Another guy would be center Mason Cole, who is being given the opportunity to be the guy in the middle of the line. And I'll also be watching Byron Murphy. He played a ton last season and was fine, but given where he was drafted, the Cardinals could use a step forward in his game too.

From RamsToddFather via Twitter:

"One the few holes I see on offense still is at TE. Maxx Williams is good but I wouldn't call him dynamic. Could they be in the potential TE market with earlier notions of Evan Engram and O.J. Howard being on the trade block?"

For starters, were Engram and Howard ever on the block or was that just speculation? Mostly, though, no I don't see them making a trade like that. I think, for the offense they likely want to run and with the receivers they already have, using Williams and Dan Arnold will be worth it. They might need to add another tight end -- Charles Clay could still potentially come back -- but I don't see them looking to make a big deal for a top target.

From Garth Short via

"We all know how much pub Kliff Kingsbury's house received on draft night, and I believe it was noted that he lives in Scottsdale. I should add that I live in the same town as Commissioner Goodell (around the corner, yet miles away). It got me wondering about where you live, and is it anywhere near other members of the Cardinals' family?"

I live in Tempe, close enough to the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center that I run past it on Sunday mornings (offseason, of course.) Kliff lives in Paradise Valley, which is definitely not within running distance. Most of the players and coaches live a bit further away, either south or north.

From Josiah Crocker via

"How can I get a job with the Cardinals? Also, don't forget about the weekly uniform update."

You gotta have skills, Josiah. And you go from there. As for the uniforms, this is a good place to tuck in a comment from Michael Bidwill, when asked about uniforms during the recent "Virtual Huddle" Zoom for season-ticket holders.

"There is a process for that," Bidwill said. "We look at everything. We look to update things from time to time. We have made adjustments, but there is a lead time (to change). There won't be any changes this year and I don't mean to suggest there will be (in the future.) But we look at things and listen to the fans."