The Cardinals head to Seattle this week, a place where they have been very competitive over recent years, battling a Seahawks team trying to hold on to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. In the meantime, here are your questions after the Cards beat the Browns, and as always, you can leave a question for next week's mailbag right here.
From Chad Johnson via azcardinals.com:
"I know you've said David Johnson will be on the team next year, but with Kenyan Drake in the final year of his contract, can we afford both if we re-sign Drake? How much money can the team afford to put into running backs, especially with Chase Edmonds here too (although on his rookie deal.) I suppose I'm asking if the Cardinals can make an attractive enough offer to Drake with David Johnson's contract?"
While I have said Johnson will be here, it's in large part because of his cap hit/guaranteed money and as we go -- and as Drake dominates the work -- this is not something that I feel is a lock. As for your specific question, I guess it'll depend on the market for Drake and what kind of money he seeks. Unfortunately for running backs, teams usually don't want to spend a mint on a guy. I think Drake knows he fits well here and the Cardinals like him, so I'd expect them to at least work toward a new deal. But the position -- because of Drake and Johnson -- does feel unsettled at the very least.
From Don Patterson via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Two questions. How do the Cards chose their Man of the Year candidate? Heard a lot of garbage about Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim picking David Johnson just to make him feel better about not getting snaps and I don't buy it. Second, I know there are a lot of variables but say a team is picking in the top 10, how many of their picks would you expect to contribute significantly their first year and by their third?"
- The Man of the Year choice comes after nominations through the team's community relations department, and there are usually three or four players considered each year. Michael Bidwill is part of the process but there are multiple people involved. (And no, I don't think Johnson's football situation had anything to do with it.)
- So many variables. If it's not a quarterback, it's probably a disappointment if there isn't a contribution right away, and certainly significant contribution by the third year. But just go back and look through the top 10 of each draft and obviously there are a few players each year that never reach that level.
From Neil Yogi via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. Kyler made an off-hand comment I noticed at his post game presser Sunday and it was about the jump ball to Dan Arnold. He said 'I've never had a guy that big before' regarding Arnold's 6-foot-6 stature. That led me to think about Hakeem Butler. I'm really starting to wonder how much of a difference Hakeem would've made on this season. I know its hindsight and speculative. But what do you think? He had a really good camp. And he is in fact a very unique weapon given his height. I mean we were the worst team in the red zone all year. Kinda goes hand in hand. Should he be the most exciting return for the 2020 season?"
Couple of things here. The Cardinals are not/have not been the worst team in the NFL in the red zone. They haven't been good (currently tied for 28th), but in the interest of being accurate. Second, I think Hakeem had some good days before he got hurt but I don't know if I'd say he had a really good camp. He was raw and a work-in-progress, and, especially judging how the year has gone in the receivers room, I do not think he would've gotten much more work than Andy Isabella or KeeSean Johnson. That said, it will be intriguing to see Butler next season -- to see the potential jump for all three drafted receivers -- and I do think he and Arnold could give Kliff Kingsbury red-zone options (which I wrote Sunday.)
I can't lie -- it's killing me that I can't copy-edit your tweet. Nevertheless, I'm not sure how a vet could prevent any Murray injuries. If the suggestion is that a vet could teach Kyler how to do that, I think he's got a pretty good handle on it himself. At 5-foot-10, he has long had a sense of self-preservation when it comes to sliding. On the fumbles -- which he really hasn't done much -- that doesn't take a veteran QB. That can just be Kliff Kingsbury making it clear he needs to cradle the ball better when he's out and about on a play.
From Deiter Marks via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, really happy to see P2 bounce back and have a really solid outing. Despite all the backlash he gets from over-sensitive fans, he really is a pro's pro. He always speaks very well in front of cameras. And so I know his comments Sunday that 'this won't be the last time I'm in a Cards uniform' for 2020 can mostly be construed as PP saying the right things, but do you think there's a chance this relationship has actually been mended? I love PP and want the best for him. But as a Cards fan, it's my belief you should never trade away PP unless you have his replacement on hand."
I don't know if I can say mended because I don't know exactly how broken things were. I also am of the belief that there are only so many guys who can be a No. 1 cornerback, Peterson is one of them, and that alone would make me cautious. How he played against the Browns is how you want and need him to play, and that guy you want and need around. I don't think Byron Murphy is ready to be that No. 1 cornerback. So how does that impact your thinking this offseason, especially when you could use defensive linemen/pass rushers with draft picks early.
Kingsbury said yes, it's because Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy have been banged up. Cole has earned some time as well, Kingsbury said.
From Brandon St. Randy via azcardinals.com:
"Hiya Darren. Got a twilight zone question for you regarding Suggs. I wish the guy well. I do hope he goes back to Baltimore and wins a ring. For everyone thinking he only came to Arizona for a paycheck, the guy had 5.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. That's actually pretty dang good. We got our money's worth. I think the outrage speaks more to people's flawed expectations. Suggs was a good Arizona player and it was nice to finally see him in red. Which brings me to my question -- it's funny how the two biggest 'what ifs' in Arizona history, Suggs and Adrian Peterson, actually ended up Cards. Can you think of another? This house has been exorcised."
No, I guess I can't think of any other bigger what-ifs. But I will say, Suggs had a nice start and had some stats, but the last eight games or so, his production dropped way off. I'm not sure I can say they got their money's worth -- in hindsight, I'm guessing the Cardinals wish they would have spent the money differently, or at least given Suggs less.
From Kyler4ever via azcardinals.com:
"Why did we spend money extending Maxx Williams if we use him less than Clay or Dan Arnold? It really drives me nuts. Maxx isn't Kelce or Gronk, but we see all over the NFL how valuable tight ends are. In fact we see it every Sunday as the opposing tight end dunks on our heads. It makes me question the direction of this GM and coaching staff, top to bottom. As if they don't have a plan for anything they do."
I'm confused. Are you upset they don't use Williams more than the other two tight ends? Or upset they don't use the tight end? Williams played 40 snaps Sunday, Arnold 11 (and Clay 43) so I'm not sure how you say Williams isn't being used. They scored 38 points and had 445 yards. I think the offense did just fine.
I can't speak for the front office, but if I had to rank that particular list, I would do LB, CB, WR, OL. And I would put DL ahead of all of them.
From Frieda Jost via azcardinals.com:
"Do you think we more likely pursue a new right tackle in the draft, or re-sign Justin Murray or re-sign Marcus Gilbert? For a journeyman camp body, Murray has performed respectably. I think he's at least earned himself a long-term backup swing-tackle deal."
I agree, I would want to re-sign Murray. That wouldn't preclude me from looking for better options to improve right tackle, however. As far as Gilbert, that'll be interesting. Given his injury history, I'd like to have him back to see what he can still do if he is willing to take a much smaller deal.
I talked about Johnson and Drake earlier in the mailbag. According to overthecap.com, Johnson would be $16.2 million in dead money. He is guaranteed $10.2 million in salary, and he still has $6M of prorated signing bonus counting in that case.
From Tom Cowley via azcardinals.com:
"Will we see Max Garcia and/or Jordan Mills or Brett Toth before the season ends?"
If you are asking about in the lineup, I would doubt it unless there is an injury. Right now, Mills and Toth are still on IR, and their activation might've been mostly to allow them to get practice time.
From Cardinals No. 1 fan via azcardinals.com:
"Please humor me! The Jags cap space next season is a whopping $306,000. I've been reading Jags articles all season, and they love Calais Campbell as much as we do, but Campbell is the clear veteran cap casualty choice. So, do I need to ask the obvious? What are your thoughts on bringing Campbell home? His skillset doesn't age. Yeah he is 34, and will continue to be dominant. We have a desperate need for him. And I'm not asking 'can we get him' because of course we CAN. I'm asking realistically, do we go after him?"
Yes, his skillset does age. (Just like Fitz.) Doesn't mean they can't produce, but Fitz isn't the same player he was seven years ago, and Campbell too will have lost a step. On a personal level I would love to have Campbell here again. But it would have to be on a modest deal, and I'd have to have other young players there, because with all due respect to Calais, there isn't much of a future there. I'd say that about any older defensive lineman. (And this hypothetical only matters if you are right and the Jaguars move on, and there is a lot of unknown around the Jags right now.)
From Goose Martin via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. I know we are entering the 'is Larry retiring?' phase of the season/offseason as we have for the last five years, it seems. Every year everybody plays the will-he-orwon't-he game. You have said you think he comes back. Obviously it's pure speculation, but could you give your thought process on why you think so? You've been through this thing many times now, so maybe you've picked up on little nuances in Larry's comments or personality that lean you that direction?"
I just think Fitz still loves pretty much everything about playing. The losing, of course not. But the money? Yes. The stats/chasing Jerry Rice? Yes. But perhaps the biggest thing is the locker room. I remember Emmitt Smith saying what he was going to miss the most was playing dominoes in the locker room with his teammates. That's impossible to replicate in "real" life. He has bonded tightly with the other receivers. Those are the reasons. Doesn't mean it's for certain. But the thing about retirement -- and why guys often hang on as long as they can -- is once your playing days are gone, they are gone. I would hesitate to give that up too.
From Rod Reed via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, time for the weekly Hump watch 2020. Guy has stayed healthy. Has played OK, but as we know even mediocre left tackles get p-p-paid. I think one option we haven't considered yet, do you think we tag him? We infamously tagged Karlos Dansby like, three times, and it seems we haven't used it for awhile. Do you think the tag is an option for D.J. Humphries? Also, do you think Hump is the type to protest the tag and sit out if it came to that?"
If Humphries is tagged, no I don't think he'd have an issue. It would cost more than $16 million. In my mind, if you are willing to tag him, you might as well get a deal done. I would think both sides would feel that way. The Humphries situation will be, obviously, one of the biggest ones to watch going into the offseason. (And actually, the Cardinals just used the tag a couple years ago on Chandler Jones, although it was to just buy a little time, and he signed an extension soon after.)
From David Cantu via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, Thinking of cornerbacks, I see Brandon Williams is technically on the roster -- injured reserve. Do you think he comes back next year and performs well? Or have you heard anything about him?"
Williams is on IR with a back injury. I have seen him around rehabbing. As of now, no, I wouldn't expect him to return, but never say never.
From Shep Smith via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, please, for the love of which ever deity one believes in, can you let us know if the team is even looking into updating the uniforms for next season. If not, someone needs to tell them that they really ought to. It's seriously time. And I've seen others ask several times in the mailbag so I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Our uniforms are consistently ranked last or close to last on most platforms I've seen addressing this matter, and I can't help but agree with them. For a team that hasn't done much the past couple of seasons, this could be a bone they throw to the fans. Something refreshing for a new, promising new season. Thanks for all you do D!"
People love this topic for sure. Nothing, as far as I know, is being planned. But your concerns have been forwarded to those above my pay grade.
From Halee Kelo via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren! You're gonna HATE this question but I must ask: Winning games this late in a lost season only hurts our future. I'm speaking from a fans' and organizational standpoint. I know players couldn't care less about the draft. But I think its important we be honest here. The reason we have our franchise QB Kyler Murray is because we picked No. 1 overall. High draft picks are how bad teams are fixed. So winning Sunday pushed us out of the top five. Do you think Keim/Mike and Kliff have those types of conversations privately? Nobody is ever going to outright say 'it's better long term if we lose now' but I can't fathom they don't at least address the elephant in the room."
I don't hate the question. There's too much hate in this world already. But if you would've heard the music booming through the walls after Sunday's game, you'd understand a little more why this doesn't make sense. This is basically a why-you-should-tank question, and it rarely works well in the NFL. Tell you what -- if you promise that fans, who in your mind benefit from this losing, will still buy tickets and not criticize the losing (because it's what they are supposed to be doing for the better draft pick), I'll make sure everyone here gets the message losing at this point is better.
From Tony Bailey Sr. via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, not to get too personal on ya, but I saw on Twitter that you're in your 20th season covering the Cards. Is this your last stop in terms of career destination? Are you looking forward to covering this team for another 20 years, or was there something else you might have your eye on someday? The Arizona fans certainly enjoy having you around, for what it's worth."
To begin with, I appreciate that, although I'm guessing not all Arizona fans might feel that way. There are definitely a few who have made sure to tell me otherwise. As for my plans going forward, I do love my job and I understand how fortunate I am to have this job. We will see what happens in the organization, but right now, I don't expect to go anywhere else. Will it be another 20 years? Well, I'm not that young. At some point, retirement is going to be in the thought process.
Wait, did you just Fitz me? Hey, if this is about retirement, I'm not even thinking about that right now. When it ends, it ends. There will be another Cardschatter in here a couple of months after I leave. No comment about any potential handsomeness of my replacement.