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You've Got Mail: Talking Draft, Talking Trade

Topics include Budda Baker, interest in No. 3, and trading for a high-pick disappointment 

Clement dumbells mailbag 0417

Offseason work continues, and there is even a minicamp next week as well as the draft. This week? You get more mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From John Turilli:

"Do you feel if any player wants out, the team should trade him? Trade Budda to Houston for their second-round pick this year. I don't know about you but I am sick and tired of professional athletes putting their bank accounts before us fans and their teammates."

Generally, I don't get too emotional about players wanted to be traded. Especially in the NFL, they have a certain shelf life to make money and they want to maximize it. No one else in other jobs are asked to take less or take less than what they are worth (without having the chance to leave) and be told they should stay for the betterment of the company or your co-workers. That said, guys don't have to be traded even if they want out. The Cardinals have had a number of players ask for trades in the recent past and they were not dealt. Just like I feel like the player has the right to ask for one, I think the team has the right to make the best decision for itself too. Don't get me wrong, I understand the fans' point of view. Truly I do.

From Harry Burris:

"Do you really think there are six teams calling about No. 3, or could this be a bit of sportsmanship from the Cardinals? Drumming up interest to twist the arms of perhaps one or two teams who actually are calling? For the record, I want Will Anderson. I think it's a terrible idea to trade back. If this team actually cares about building culture, you do it by taking a passionate, hard working, franchise cornerstone guy like Will."

I don't know what the reality is for what the Cardinals might have as an option. I don't know if they will really know until they are on the clock, and frankly, it would be malfeasance not to explore everything and likely wait until the draft to make the final decision. (That of course changes if you get a history-altering deal.) I understand the idea of getting Anderson and he is a guy that seems to be a perfect fit to me too. Again, this idea that Anderson is 100 percent a sure thing is false. He could/should be that guy but no one really knows. And again, the Cardinals have a lot of holes that need to be filled the next draft or two.

From Gary W:

"Darren, I have asked a couple of questions before and you have printed them so thank you. I have no idea how to structure contracts but my question/observation is why not extend Baker and Hopkins with contracts that have nominal increase in total money but give them guaranteed money? For example, Baker is owed about $35 million over the next two years. Make it $45M over the next three years and guarantee $12 million a year. Isn't the real issue with their contracts is they have no guaranteed money on them? Thank you for listening to our fan rants and being patient with us."

To be clear, we don't know for sure the actual reasons because both Baker and Hopkins (and the Cardinals) aren't saying. But more guaranteed money certainly seems like at least part of the reasons. It's what's driving the Lamar Jackson situation too (although Jackson, unlike Baker and Hop, is actually a free agent). I can honestly say that I don't see Baker taking that deal. If he wants to be the highest paid safety, $15M a year AAV isn't close. With Hopkins, and the amount of injuries he has had over the past couple of seasons, I don't think the Cardinals would be comfortable guaranteeing a bunch of money that potentially could be a dead hit. That said, on its surface, that is a potential solve, yes.

From Art Pozza:

"I understand that the team is in dire need at center. Many mock drafts have them maybe taking one on Day 2. I also believe center is the toughest position to learn (assignments, formations, etc.) Can we expect a rookie to come in and start? What would be your top options? How do you think Monti Ossenfort will address this?"

I'm not willing to say right now a rookie will come in and start because I don't know what rookies will be there for the position. But if they take the right guy in the draft? Absolutely he could start. My top options would be the top centers on everyone's draft charts, but I have no doubt the Cardinals would like to draft a center. How that plays out on draft night, we will see.

From Derek Cooper:

"Hello from the Black Hills of South Dakota! Been away for a spell, so I read last mailbag and eared up Cardinals Underground and have a lot of comments. Tanking? WOW! Glad you mentioned James Conner on Underground, we have players on this team. Murray squats? I have the same injury, it's not up and down but side to side that is the problem. So here's my pre-draft inquiry. I will throw out four names that will get significant playing time this year who are still on rookie contracts (the easy ones): Rondale, Zaven, Isaiah, Marco. Who would be the next four?"

I'm assuming you are asking the next four on rookie contracts? I mean, not knowing how this coaching staff is going to assess all these guys, but I will go Trey McBride, Rashard Lawrence, Cam Thomas and Josh Jones.

From Neil Bowie:

"As the saying goes, you reap what you sow,and the harvest is here. I feel for you Darren having to put a positive spin on this. Do you think a 1-16 season would be a success? Thanks."

Look, I understand the pessimism right now. But I don't see this being a one-win team. I'm sure there will be some that want to debate me, and that's fine (not that I'm going to debate) but we are much too far away from knowing what this is going to look like in September for me.

From Gene Saturday:

"Cornerback Jeff Okudah got traded to the Falcons for a fifth-round draft pick. My question, and probably can be expanded to all fan bases of all NFL teams, is when a lopsided deal like that goes down, why wasn't Arizona in on that? I'd happily give a fourth for Okudah. Cornerback is a dire need. Dude is ridiculously talented, and maybe he just needs a change of scenery. Is this just a matter of working the phones and checking in on guys? If I were GM Gene, I would call all 31 other teams, daily, and say 'who you shopping?' Again, to be fair, maybe we were in on it and just chose not to pursue. But it is just irksome when things go down like this."

I understand the question. I do. But some of it you might answer yourself. You said he is "ridiculously talented" yet all the Lions got was a fifth-round pick. You don't think the Lions shopped around to try and get better than a fifth? The Cardinals did a deal like this last year. They gave up a fourth for a player going into the last year of his deal who had been a disappointment thus far in his career. Cody Ford didn't work out. Okudah has had a lot of injuries too. I'm not sure what happens with him, but I don't think grabbing a guy because he was once a top 3 pick is good enough reason. The Lions signed multiple cornerbacks in part to replace him.

From Mark Mason:

"Do you ever get tired of all the hype flying around at this time of the year in the NFL? Trade this. Draft that. Because of need? Because of salary cap or whatever else is floating around at this time of the year. As for D-Hop, I don't see him going anywhere. Neither the Cardinals nor D-Hop seem to be having a knock down drag out over the possibility of a trade or as draft fodder. As a fan, who enjoyed his performance here in the Valley, I was hoping he'd stick around. Which brings me to the next media candidate for salary leveraging Budda Baker. They feel he's not getting paid enough. Really? I guess contracts don't have the same legal power as they used to. All this because Budda Baker dropped the AZ from his media profile. Didn't Kyler do that too and he's still with the team after some renegotiating. It's almost draft day and the fever is getting hotter as the rumor mill works on justifying their salaries. I don't need to justify a salary. My reward is watching the Kevin Costner movie 'Draft Day' for the third time this month. Far more rewarding than any soap opera rumor mill. Are you tired of all the non-verifiable media hype yet? I think the Cardinals fan base is."

Oh, let me tell you something, Mark. It doesn't matter what year it is or what is going on with the Cardinals or at what position they are drafting, I have always tired of the pre-draft process by now. However, people pay attention. The numbers do not lie. And I don't begrudge those who love all the draft talk and speculation. I've always been a person who just wants to know who the Cards have taken, and I will write about them. As for all the other stuff, that's just part of the NFL offseason. Every team has some of it.

From Tye in 801:

"Those are some serious allegations against Michael Bidwill. Is the league currently investigating the Cardinals? And if so do you think it would too risky for Arizona to trade the third pick with the possibility the NFL could take away draft picks next year?"

I do not know what would be happening with the arbitration or any investigation. I am waiting to see everything play out like everyone else. As for the No. 3 pick, I mean, if they trade the pick they will get other ones this year. I don't think this draft and what you do impacts what might happen later, and I don't think you should think in those terms either.

From Will K:

"Hi Darren! Pretend you're surrounded by enemies. They have you boxed in and your only passage to safety is by answering this question: What is your preferred 'trade-back' scenario for the Cardinals?

  1. Trade back to No. 4 with Indy to get a FEW additional assets (and likely also get Anderson at 4)?
  2. Bypass Anderson completely and trade back to get a giant pile of assets (let's assume at least their first & second in '23 + 2 first-round picks in '24 & '25)?

Safely escape your enemies, Darren. You must choose."

This took a violent turn, didn't it? It's not a game, it's not a game, it's not a game -- we're talking about practice(-ing a draft scenario.) On the other hand, it would be really interesting to go all Squid Games on the NFL Draft. At least the first round. I do not think there is any way you are getting a haul like No. 2 unless you are going all the way back to the mid-to-late draft. That's awfully far away, and you are dealing with teams that likely won't have high picks. I never say never, but if that's the case, I'm taking the Indy deal. Of course, now the possibility seems to be increasing that Anderson is gone by No. 2 and the Cardinals still might not be able to trade, and that really would be a violent turn for the Cards.

From Caleb Thompson:

"When talking about where Isaiah Simmons should play, with the Cardinals potentially going to a 4-3, would that OLB position work better for him versus that 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."

Yes, that is possible. Until Simmons gets in here with these coaches, however, it's going to be hard to know where he fits best and where the coaches like him the most.

From Jason W:

"Hello sir, I am doing a follow-up with you about something that has now become more important than uniforms, Daryl Washington updates or whether or not Donovan McNabb can fill in for Kyler. Is there any word on getting to see you, Paul and Dani on the the Cardinals Underground. The chemistry seems natural between you all and it seems like it would add to it if we could see some of the expressions I am sure you guys give each other. Thank as always for your time, have a great day."

This has been something that has been discussed more than once, and it is under consideration. Logistics is something that has to be considered, but knowing there is at least one person out there with interest might put it over the top. Or at least give me reason to ask again.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren thanks again for the mailbag. My opinion, I felt like last year we were not even competitive and I feel like Kliff wasn't even trying. All I want for me to be happy is for a team to grow and make improvements from week to week and let's see what happens. I'm not putting a number of wins on my goal but a overall performance. And here's my question: For Cardinals Underground why don't you play a new game of who can learn the new staff member's names the quickest. Like a weekly trivia hosted by the great producer, I think it's Jim Alejandro, and see who does the best?"

I'm not sure people want to hear about staff names here at the Cardinals, but I do know this, Jim Omohundro will now forever be Jim Alejandro to me and no one can tell me different.

From Gorilla Guerilla:

"SUNS PLAYOFF BASKETBALL IS HERE! Clippers are going to get absolutely dog-walked. Mavericks already in Cancun. Calling my shot now, we are winning the West. I think the Nuggets may give us a good fight, but otherwise I'm not remotely concerned. I think Book+KD+Ayton+CP make us unstoppable on offense. The only thing that can beat us is more offense, which I don't see in the West. I do have concerns though. I think the Bucks are waiting for us in the Finals again, and I honestly don't know who takes it. You're a lifelong hooper. What's your breakdown of the Suns playoffs?"

Unfortunately, this gets sent in before Game 1 and then Game 1 happened and yeah, I guess the Suns forgot to bring the leash. Long way to go and the Suns didn't play all that well, but yeesh. I don't mean to go all old-man basketball but there is a reason boxing out is a thing. (Even when and especially when you aren't going to get the rebound yourself.) Always fun to have the monumental pressure of a must-win in Game 2. The possibility of the Bucks seems so, so far away right now.

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