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You've Got Mail: The Minicamp Week That Wasn't

Topics include target shares at wide receiver, right tackle and the 2011 Kolb trade

AZC_CardinalsMailbag

The Cardinals were supposed to have minicamp this week, but that isn't happening. The mailbag is, however. As usual, send questions for future mailbags by going here.

From Dave Clark via azcardinals.com:

"Why do some players only last five days on the roster? (Linebacker) Zach Brown last year was a fairly notable big name. And we signed him. And he lasted five days before we cut him. In those situations, what happens? Did the player not grasp the system (but of course he doesn't get it yet, its only been five days)? Was it a personality issue? I just don't know what you can learn about a guy in five days that makes you cut him that fast."

Every situation is different. Sometimes it is a personality conflict. Sometimes it's clear the player isn't going to fit the spot like they had hoped. Sometimes a guy is just a fringe player and another move is immediately needed. Sometimes a guy might miss a meeting. Sometimes a guy might get into trouble away from the team. If there is one thing the Cardinals have done since Steve Keim became GM it is churning the bottom of the roster. You mention grasping the system -- I mean, if you are signed in-season, for instance, you have to show quickly why it makes sense to keep you around. There isn't a lot of leeway.

From Tim Angelino via azcardinals.com:

"When looking back to 2011, we draft Patrick Peterson in April and traded away Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in July for Kevin Kolb. Do you think they drafted P2 knowing DRC would be dealt soon? I'm just trying to figure out what the mindset was. Because let's pretend the Kolb trade never happened (wouldn't it be nice). Would you rather have PP+DRC? Or (prime) Fitzgerald+Julio Jones? Wowzas. Really can't go wrong. Man does the Kolb trade hurt even more when you consider what could've been."

So I understand what you are saying. But here's the thing: Who was your quarterback if you don't make the trade? John Skelton? I love John, but I think we all saw enough of him to know he wasn't the answer. Max Hall? They had no one. You can argue the Kolb trade was forced and that the Cardinals should've prepared themselves to be in a better position than they were. (And technically, no trades were supposed to be discussed during the lockout, which is why the Kolb trade took so long while the new CBA was being hammered out. But did they know they could likely lose DRC when they took Peterson?  ¯\(ツ)/¯) Peterson turned out to be a pretty good pick, though, and without making the trade, instead of having DRC-P2, you were probably instead looking at DRC and ... Blaine Gabbert.

From Cindy Dobbins via azcardinals.com:

"Just saw Bruce Arians talking about Tom Brady holding team workouts to build team togetherness and learn the system. Wouldn't that be a good idea for Kyler or Larry, or somebody to do?"

You're not the first to suggest such a thing, and there are probably multiple reasons why -- as of my typing this -- it hasn't happened. I'm not overly concerned about the "team togetherness" thing, and realistically, Brady is in a new system on a new team, so it's probably more important for him. Fitz did get the receivers together for dinner. As for learning the system, they have already been working on that in meetings. It's not like 2011, with the lockout, when there was nothing.

From Rob Bates via azcardials.com:

"Do you have any idea what they might do with season-ticket holders and the upcoming season. I figure there will be games without fans, which in hoping will be just preseason, but may be many more. Thanks again."

The topic of fans and tickets is, like everything else, being discussed on the highest levels of the NFL and with the teams but is still being sorted out. I wish I could give you more concrete information but in the world we live in right now, everything is fluid out of necessity. We just don't know what the landscape is going to look like when the time for games arrives. More detailed ticket questions can be asked if you call 602-379-0102.

From Jordan Gamble via Twitter:

"In your expert opinion - what does the target share look like at WR this season?"

That's a really hard question, especially since we have nothing to go on. We don't know how they will want to utilize DeAndre Hopkins in relation to Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, and we don't know if a fourth -- Andy Isabella? -- might fit in. Sitting here now I have probably the same thought process most would have: Hopkins with the most targets, followed by (assuming health) Kirk and Fitz fairly close together. (Kirk actually had just one target less than Fitz last season and Kirk missed three games. So Kirk might be up on Fitz.) After that, it's a crapshoot. If Isabella can show some things, I think they want to get him on the field. Where might Hakeem Butler fit in, with such little prep time? KeeSean Johnson?

From Michael Travers via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren and thank you again for another opportunity to focus on our Cards. Coach Kliff has had the extra time to formulate new plays incorporating; D-Hop, Kenyan, Fitz, Kirk, Arnold and Isabella into what we hope is an exciting top-five offense. With the defense being greatly improved with all the new players it all bodes well for an interesting season for us fans. It should be the offense that leads the way in 2020 until the defense gels and begins to dominate, and we know the NFC West is going to be a challenge. We know seasons are not won or lost in the first month but for this team how important do you think it will be to stay focused and get off to a great start?"

If you want to make the playoffs, a good start is usually mandatory. But if you look at who the Cardinals face early -- after an incredibly difficult opener in San Francisco, you play four teams that were worse than you last season. It's impossible to truly know what a team will look like one season based on what they did the previous season. But in theory, the schedule is set up so they can get that good start. Assuming that the Cardinals have made the strides they think they have.

From deltinez11 via Twitter:

"If players are allowed to kneel to take a political stand during the national anthem, does that mean fans can have political signs out in the stands during the game?"

From the stadium's A-to-Z guide, "Signs cannot be commercial, political or obscene in nature." But fans do have the choice to kneel or stand.

From Tom Cowley via azcardinals.com:

"The pickup of the TE was a good one. Do you see another before camp? Referring to Everson Griffen especially. Tony Jefferson might work also -- any chance?"

I have not heard anything about adding any other vets and we are about at that time when coaches and front office essentially disappear for most of the time before camp to get much needed time off. If they were to sign a vet, I would think it would be right before or during camp.

From YotesHowl via Twitter:

"It seems like this sort of offense really benefits from an outstanding tight end. Is that guy on the roster or, or do we lean into the running back in the flat or seam to compensate?"

I thought Maxx Williams played pretty well last season (as did they, which is why they signed him to a contract extension.) They also think Dan Arnold can become a weapon. Are either of those guys going to turn into George Kittle? Probably not. But in terms of the offense, Larry Fitzgerald can run many of the routes that an "outstanding" tight end could do with the same results. I don't think their tight end situation is something that will hinder the offense.

From Charlie Fleet via azcardinals.com:

"I miss Calais Campbell. I understand why they let him go. It was a gamble. They put their chips on Robert Nkemdiche and he was a bust. But Calais is the best example of why you should never say, 'He's 'x' years old, he's about to lose a step, best not pay him". Yeah, that happens. But you should only do that with players who have demonstrated an actual loss of step. He was only 30 when he left, and here were are hoping we could get him back at 34. Yeah, Patrick Peterson is 30. He's still a great player and clearly our No. 1 CB. Richard Sherman is 32 and still elite. Champ Bailey balled out until he was 34. I'm not a happy camper. I'll take a 38-year-old who plays well over a 25-year old bum any day. With that said, I hope they extend PP. I hope they extend Peters. I hope they find a way to bring CC back."

I miss Calais too. You are right, he's still playing at a high level. And you have mentioned quite a few players who have excelled at an older age. Steve Keim would rather have a guy who plays well at 38 over a 25-year-old who is poor too -- but figuring out who those guys are is another story. And when you pay them more than once, their cap also means decisions have to be made elsewhere on the roster. This league is built on balancing the salary cap. That's why the cliche "you can't pay them all" is a thing. The Peterson situation is going to be very interesting -- especially with Hopkins seeking a contract upgrade and the reality of the potential cap implications of a season with fewer or no fans.

From Big Fish via Twitter:

"What about questions at right tackle? Who do we expect to start? Marcus Gilbert? Justin Murray? Max Garcia? Is Gilbert even back to being 100 percent?"

I find it interesting you didn't even mention Josh Jones, the third-round pick. He will be in the mix, ostensibly, with Gilbert and Murray. If I had to guess today, with no on-field work, I'm predicting Gilbert. But that's assuming he is 100 percent.

From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren, you have mentioned before that you attended Chaparral high school in Scottsdale as a youth. I was interested to know if Chaparral High had a good basketball team and if you played some varsity ball on the team. Did you have some 'baller' status back then?"

I most certainly did not have any such status. I was not on the team. The program was excellent when I attended school there -- we lost in the state semifinals my senior year with a pair of D-I players in Ross Monaco and Neal Meyer. I did, however, write the heck out of that season for my school newspaper.

From Mac via Twitter:

"When can we expect new uniforms?"

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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