Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

You've Got Mail: The Longest Week Of Camp

Topics include young cornerbacks, starting center and the PUP rules

Mailbag Rondale Catch Camp 0801

We are deep into training camp already and the Jonathan Gannon era. Time for another mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. You can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Jason B:

"Hi Darren. Why has most of America just written off the Cardinals? We have been to the playoff three times in the last 10 years. This team just needs to gel; I know the team has a lot of changes, but McCoy, Conner, Brown, and Ertz are no scrubs. On defense there is a lot of unknown but if they can get them to play as a team a lot can happen. Last year the Seahawks were not supposed to contend and Geno Smith was supposedly washed up but yet they went to the playoffs. To me, a team for which no one has any expectations is more dangerous."

Jason, I appreciate your optimism. I think internally, the Cardinals have a similar mindset as yours, as they should. In the interest of fairness, I can understand where outside skepticism would come from. The biggest piece of the equation is the absence of your franchise QB for now, and the Cardinals do have a lot of spots on the roster where they need to prove they are capable. Two of the players you are counting on to be stars, Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, are playing in brand-new roles. (The schedule, also, is a beast.) But we will see what this looks like in early September. I do believe the players are energized, and Jonathan Gannon without question has a plan.

From Mark Kimmel:

"With the cornerback room being on the young side and lacking experience, what do think this new coaching staff can offer to get more out of the existing cast?"

A good question. The coaches for the DBs -- Ryan Smith and Patrick Toney -- have been on college staffs, so they know what it's like to coach younger players. It helps, IMO, that Gannon cut his coaching teeth on being a secondary coach, so he can help in the equation. What happens at cornerback will be fascinating. It could be painful at times, but some of those guys are going to get serious experience to move forward.

From Bob Kitsos:

"I know it's early, but there doesn't seem to be much discussion at this point regarding the center position. Do you think the team is OK with what they have in camp or are they looking at free agency? Are you a little surprised they didn't select a center in the draft?"

Well, they did draft a center. Jon Gaines II, the fourth-rounder, is a center for them. If you are asking why they didn't take a center in, for instance, the second round, I guess I could've seen that, but again, we don't know how they had whomever was graded at the time they were making picks. Hjalte Froholdt has been C1 all through the offseason and nothing has changed on that yet. I suppose I could see Pat Elflein getting a look there at some point, but barring injuries, I don't see them signing anyone else.

From Art Pozza:

"Thank you for all your efforts. Can someone explain all the PUP rules that are in play? Do you miss four games or all the season?"

For the PUP, we can use Kyler Murray as the example (although all the PUP guys fall under the same rules.) Murray can come off PUP at any time during game and start to practice. If he remains on the PUP list until we reach the regular season, the Cardinals either have to put him on the 53-man roster or leave him on PUP. If he stays on PUP he must miss at least four games (and those weeks of practice as well). Anytime after that he can begin to practice again, whether it's Week 5 or Week 12. Once he returns to practice, the Cardinals can activate him to the roster at any time.

From Bryan Rowlan:

"It would've been awesome to get a little more from the alumni recognition part of Back Together Saturday, especially as a season-ticket holder who stood outside for 50 minutes to be first in line for this portion of practice. It would've been awesome as a lifelong fan to get to a fist bump from Michael Pittman or Frank Sanders or take a photo with Lance Smith or Leonard Davis. Can you post this so Mr. Bidwill can read? Thanks."

Consider the suggestion passed along.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren, thank you for the mailbag.Some people have said Hjalte Froholdt shouldn't be the starting center. I know he hasn't had a lot of starts, but if he proves to the coaches he can do it and has the trust, why not? Do you think production or experience is more important? Do you think Hjalte Froholdt should be the Week 1 starter or not? And do you feel Dani Sureck is coming for your job?"

I think it safe to say my job and Dani's job are different enough the world can have both. As for Froholdt, if the Cardinals think he's the best guy -- and he's going to get the chance to show them both in practice and in the preseason games -- the fact he doesn't have a ton of experience won't matter.

From Collin M:

"Hi Darren. I was hoping to get a little schooling on the economics/financial strategy of NFL teams, using ours this year as an example. Could you speak to how GMs approach making financial decisions with ticket/merch revenue versus player signings. For example, a team may save money in 2023 by not spending on big names during free agency, but will risk losing ticket/merch revenue this year if the team underperforms or is boring to watch. It's pretty clear that we are focused on putting the team in a good position in 2024. So, while we do have decent cap space right now, we're not really spending it on one-year deals for 2023. Just hoping to understand the trade-offs that go into making decisions like that. Thanks."

If you are trying to put together a solid organization, making football decisions by considering merchandise or even ticket revenue is a very fine line. You want to sell out your stadium. You want to sell jerseys. But it starts with the team and winning, and if the people you put in charge of football decide the roster must be broken down and rebuilt for longer-term success, then as an owner that's what you have to do. If you band-aid things, it still might not get you all the tickets and merch sold that you want but you definitely will have a hard time reaching your ultimate goal, which is a title. I've also found that your fan base wants to believe you are working hard to get that title. Many understand the process might mean it could be lean here or there, but if the team is going in the right direction, fans tend to understand if they can see a clear goal in mind.

Related Content