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You've Got Mail: Strength And Conditioning Commences

Topics include what to do at 3, the notion of flexible players, and who gets 0

Running back James Conner hugs quarterback Colt McCoy on the first day of voluntary workouts this offseason.
Running back James Conner hugs quarterback Colt McCoy on the first day of voluntary workouts this offseason.

It's been an ... interesting month already. But we always have the mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Preston Van Buren:

"Hello Darren, I know you work for the team and that likely makes it harder for you to be an independent voice on the Keim/Bidwill-Wilks/McDonough drama. However, what are your thoughts on the way forward?"

My thoughts on the "way forward" are to let it play out. Honestly many of the things that have been reported by both sides are news to me, so I don't know. The legalities involved also will make a difference. I know there are many fans who want to know exactly what is going on. I totally understand that.

From John McGill:

"Hey Darren. I hope you and your family is doing well. It really starting to bother me that so many fans are saying that the Cardinals are tanking next year. To me that is implying that the Cardinals are purposely making decisions to lose games next year. Just because we may not agree with the choices the team is making doesn't mean that they are going to be bad choices for the team. I really wish they start using the word rebuilding than tanking. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that is just mine. My question is how does the wide receiver class look this year and is there anyone the Cardinals may draft in the later rounds?"

The wide receiver class is OK this season. It certainly doesn't have the depth or high-end talent as some recent drafts. If the Cardinals were to deal Hopkins I would think the team would seriously consider a WR at some point, but if Hopkins is still here it feels like draft picks could be spent better elsewhere. It depends on how this regime thinks of Hollywood Brown (who is going into the final year of his deal) and Rondale Moore, who is still trying to prove he can stay healthy.

From Mark Mason:

"Hi Darren, I'll keep this short and sweet. Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter? I've looked at tape on both and after seeing mock drafts with Carter being taken by Seattle and I'm concerned over that pick. Both players are beasts; however, I believe Carter is better at tackling. Would Mr. Bidwill consider Carter at No. 3 with his history?"

I would take Anderson. But yes, Carter is talented. I can't tell you if Michael or the Cardinals will ding Carter significantly for off-field stuff; there is a lot more that goes into that background check than just what pops in the media and no one is going to know the results of that. I know a lot of people are concerned the Seahawks could get Anderson or Cater, but the Cardinals have to make the best decision for them and not make decisions about who they can keep from Seattle.

From Barry Hicks:

"Hey Darren, what's your view on 'flexible' players? Keim was on the greenlight podcast and to his credit, the man is consistent. For 10 years he talked about his love for Swiss-army knife players. Personally, I despise that mindset. OK at everything, great at nothing. Left tackle Trent Williams is the best LT in the NFL. I guarantee he's awful at pretty much everything else. I could not care less what kind of a center or guard he is. Why? Because he's the best LT in the NFL. I want specialists who do their one job better than everyone else. Have you gotten a gist yet of how Monti thinks in that regard? And also whats your views on it, if you were GM?"

Generally, the players the coaches really want to be flexible are the backups. If you are a backup offensive lineman, and the team is only having three reserves active in a game, they better be flexible. I understand what you are saying. Truly I do. But let's also be clear that just because a player is made to play only one spot doesn't mean he will be great there, and frankly, sometimes these guys better have more they can do to keep a roster spot. In the case of Isaiah Simmons, I do think it would help him to focus on one spot. I would also argue if Trent Williams went to right tackle, he'd be a pretty freaking good right tackle.

From Dhruv Parmar:

"I hate the pessimism around the team before even the season has started. There's people projecting that Cardinals drop/tank in order to get No. 1 or No. 2 in 2024 Draft. I have heard the reset word in your mailbag as well quite a bit. I get the way they have stayed silent on big name splashes might indicate as such on top of letting our talent leave. But is the front office silently admitting that fans don't expect anything this season? What is the sentiment you feel in the building?"

I don't think the front office is saying anything to the fans. I think when you bring in a new regime, there is usually significant turnover; I think with where the roster was a reset was necessary. Will that translate into a lot of wins this season? It's going to be difficult, especially when your starting quarterback is coming back from a late-season ACL tear. I know that Jonathan Gannon isn't going into the season assuming the Cardinals are going to lose a lot of games and the players won't either.

From Caleb Thompson:

"When talking about where Isaiah Simmons should play, with the Cardinals potentially going to a 4-3, would the outside linebacker position work better for him versus the edge in a 3-4? I could be missing wildly but isn't that outside linebacker in the 4-3 expected to play in space more where Simmons is pretty darn good?"

They don't know where they are going to try Simmons yet and I'm not sure they know what they want to do for certain. That'll be the work to be done during OTAs and minicamps. Also, to be clear, I think the Cardinals will use a lot of sub-packages, so that could also play a role. I do agree that the coaches need to find a spot for Simmons and see if he can excel in one area.

From Max Baumann:

"Why the heck is Zach Pascal getting the No. 0? We all understand thats a highly coveted number and I think the vast majority expected our No. 1 pick in the draft would likely get it. Possibly Will Anderson. Possibly the CB Witherspoon. I don't mean to be rude (as I proceed to be very rude) but why is this wide receiver who's going to make zero measurable impact on our team get that coveted No. 0? He's behind Hollywood and Moore and probably Dortch as well (I didn't even mention Hop)."

Lotta assumptions you are making, Max. If Hop is around, I get the pecking order but at Pascal's size, he is absolutely a leading candidate to start at one of the outside receiver positions. I sincerely doubt he will have "zero measurable impact." Finally, I am confused at the high emotional reaction over this jersey number. I have never been around a team I've covered in 20-plus years where they "held" a jersey number until the draft for a rookie. No matter where a guy is picked, he's still a rookie. He can get what's left.

From Greg Painter:

"I personally think free agency was a home run, why pay a guy one year $13 million-$25 million for a team that is more than likely not going to win a Super Bowl in the next couple years. No one knows how the draft will shake out but it looks like they could trade back once if not twice and receive multiple picks and draft picks next year. Just wondering will you be at the draft this year? I WILL BE IN THE FRONT ROW WITH THE TRADE BACK SIGN AT THE DRAFT!"

I will not be attending the draft. I will be here in Tempe with the decision-makers with the story of how it unfolds.

From Robert Laycock:

"Do you see the Cardinals trading back more than once? For example they could trade back with the Colts then go a little further and still get a top defensive playmaker."

The question will come down to the quarterbacks. If Young and Stroud go 1-2 and then, for example, the Colts make the swap to get Richardson, will there be a team that likes Levis enough and worries enough about other teams that they'd want to deal? I suppose it's possible, but I am going to guess that there will only be one deal if the Cardinals move off No. 3.

From Jason W:

"Hello sir. I was wondering about all the criticisms I hear about Kyler and his study habits if you know who he goes to for his quarterback training. I hear about other quarterbacks meeting with Jordan Palmer and seeing Mahomes and Trey Lance working together but I have never heard who Kyler actually works with in the offseason. Thank you as always for your time, have a great day."

Kyler's father, Kevin, was a college QB at Texas A&M and is a renowned high school QB coach in the Dallas-area. He continues to work with his son as well.

From Steve Drumm:

"Hi Darren. Sean Payton once remarked that if he were coaching the Cards, he would get Kyler Murray a star player at running back so that Murray could 'breathe.' I'm a big fan of Texas RB Bijan Robinson and I think he will be a star at the next level. Say the Cardinals trade down to pick No. 11 with the Titans, do you think Robinson becomes a central part of the discussion in the Cards war room (provided he is still there) or do you still anticipate a defensive player being selected regardless?"

I don't know if the Cardinals go defense regardless, but I do not think it would be Robinson and I personally do not believe in taking a running back early. I think you can find backs to help an offense (or Murray) without spending a ton of draft capital or money. Given that Murray is in line to be a $50 million cap hit in 2024, he will have to find a way to be the star of the offense. Running back is one of the best/first places a team will look to save costs.

From Jayson Wing:

"Hi Darren. What type of salary cap implications are there if the Cardinals released Hopkins?"

Let me state for the record I don't see any way the Cardinals release Hopkins. But a player earns the same cap implications whether he is traded or released. In Hopkins' case, he would carry with him a dead cap hit of $22.6 million.

From Andy Hoskins:

"No way we cut Hop. Trading him makes sense for our rebuild. But cutting him? We don't NEED his cap space because we aren't signing anyone. If nobody wants to trade for him, fine, KEEP HIM. And we don't care what Hop thinks. He's well paid. He's a professional. He will perform per usual. Cutting him would be anti-competitive and would destroy any shreds of morale left on this team."

As I mentioned above, I don't see them cutting Hopkins.

From Jeff Smith:

"Hello Darren. Curious on your thoughts, should we keep or trade out of our No. 3 pick? I was a big believer in acquiring picks until recognizing Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Kyler Murray were all top 3 picks and the value they brought and are bringing to our organization. What do you think, go for the closest thing to a sure bet or take a chance on hitting with several additional picks?"

To be clear, Murray was a No. 1, Fitz was a No. 3, and Pat P was a No. 5. I've said all along I would want to know all the details -- how far down would I be going, what is the compensation I get to drop, and yes, even the thorough scouting reports on Will Anderson and all these other first-round guys. Without all that information, it's a difficult decision. If you truly believe Anderson is an annual Pro Bowl guy -- and there are those who believe he isn't quite that level -- then you need to carefully consider if you should grab him. One thing I do believe strongly: Do what is best for the Cardinals. As I have mentioned before, making this choice based on what the Seahawks may or may not do is foolish to me.

From Ian McMechan:

"Greetings from Thailand. Is 'power football' dead?"

By power football I assume you mean grind-it-out and clock control? Because there are still times when you want to control the clock late in a game and it behooves you to run the ball down a team's throat. But generally? This isn't 1976 anymore. If you can't pass the ball, you won't win consistently. I believe that. And if you can't be explosive offensively, it will cost you dearly.

From Drizzy Buckford:

"Suns winning it this year? Why or why not? Undefeated when KD laces up. Also would be nice to send Al McCoy out on a high note."

Yes, it would be great to send Al out with a ring. Having Durant matters. But are they guaranteed to reach the Finals or win the Finals? Nope. I can easily see scenarios where they come up short. The Bucks are a heck of a team on the other side of the bracket. And while I like the Suns' chances to compete for a title, I don't think it's a lock they beat the Nuggets, or the Kings or the Grizzlies or Warriors or even the Clippers. Maybe I'll sound foolish if they roll over everyone, but I'm willing to take that risk. That said, the Suns have a very good team, and the type of team that should have postseason success.

From Will K:

"Hi Darren. Any chance we'll sign Daryl Washington and Fitz to one-day contracts so they can participate in the new uniform reveal? (See how I checked three boxes off of Urban's favorite topics list with one well-crafted question?) But a real question: What do you like about the new uniforms? What don't you like?"

An excellent swing for the fences on that one. Although what makes you think I have seen any new uniforms?

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