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You've Got Mail: The Potential For Mega-Weapons

Topics include Kyler in pistol, trading up for Paris, and a developmental league

Hollywood mailbag 020524

It's Super Bowl week, and by this time next week we will have the latest NFL champion. By this time next week there will also be another mailbag entry, although we have to get this one done first. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. Don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag. (And just so people know -- I am receiving questions, even if when you submit you might not be getting the confirmation message on the screen. We are working on that.)

From Michael Travers:

"Hello Darren. Appreciate the work you do with the mailbag and thank you. Okay, let's for a minute envision the team drafted MHJ and an offensive tackle in the upcoming draft. In your opinion, do we re-sign Hollywood Brown? It's possible that Kyler could have Harrison, Wilson, Moore, McBride, Conner and Hollywood. This would be a scary lineup to defend."

Well, you're going to have to make a decision about Brown -- or any other free agent you want to sign -- long before the draft. So you can't assume player X or player Y will be available when you pick. Whether it is Harrison or not I do expect the Cardinals to draft a receiver, so the math would still be there if they re-sign Brown. I think it'll come down to what Hollywood wants and how much he seeks. If he ends up doing a one-year prove-it thing so he can get to FA again next season, does he want to go somewhere where he'll be targeted a ton? Because if he stays in Arizona, there will be a lot of mouths to feed as far as Kyler's targets. 

From Paul Dent:

"The Cardinals have always been my team therefore I love reading all the content you put out, Darren. It's great coverage. Here's my questions: 1) How do you feel about cutting some of Kyler's shotgun snaps by putting him in the pistol? 2) Do you think there's a scenario where the Cardinals take a top tackle (Fash or Alt) and then draft another TE in the early second round and integrate him in a true run-first offense featuring two TEs on the field almost all the time? 3) How easy do you think it is to move a stud TE like McBride to an H-back type position and still get production? I'm thinking of Kyle Juszczyk for the 49ers. It's hard to say as a Cards fan but the man's a beast and a nightmare to cover. 4) I'd love to see Rondale more take on a scat back role running a few times every game/moving to the outside. Do you think that's a possibility? That run against the Cowboys was beautiful."

Some good questions here, Paul.

  1. To say just have Kyler in the pistol rather than shotgun feels like it's missing context. For what purpose? Ultimately, as Kyler gets more comfortable under center, I think having the balance between that and shotgun is fine. If OC Drew Petzing has a package of plays that would use the pistol, great. But to just say, put Kyler in pistol, I think you need specifics.
  2. There is definitely a scenario where the Cardinals take a tackle with their first pick. But no, I do not expect a tight end in round two. You have McBride and the potential of bringing back Swaim and they want to see what they might have in Higgins and Vokolek. You can find a blocking tight end later and you don't need another receiving one.
  3. McBride is going to be a tight end. This offense doesn't need a full-time H back. 
  4. You've already seen Rondale work in the backfield some although I'm not sure it'll increase a lot. I think Moore's status/role for 2024 will be interesting to watch play out. 

From Gary Muller:

"Darren, I'm still curious why Monti traded back up to get PJJ last year when so many solid tackles were available (Wright and Skoronski especially). We could have held onto that other pick and drafted a decent CB, edge, etc that now would have a year's experience for next year and still gotten one of those three tackles (PJJ maybe)? Who knew the Houston pick would be 27th, it sounded good at the time. As a lifelong Cards fan, I was shocked when we passed on Adrian Peterson, (for Levi Brown), Ronnie Lott (we took EJ Junior), and while catching a break in the Josh Rosen trade, by having the talk of the pre-draft camp DK Metcalf still available (and taking Andy Isabella). I hope we trade down from four this time and still get a decent receiver and more picks. Love our Cards forever, but we need to max this draft. Thanks Darren, Paul, Craig, Dani etc for keeping us entertained during the offseason."

Simply put, they felt that Paris was the best option as a tackle and that's who they targeted. Obviously on their board, they did not see Johnson and others (Wright and Skoronski, in your example) as equals. While I understand lamenting some past draft choices, I don't think it makes any sense to lump them together -- literally the Brown/Junior/Isabella picks were all made by different top decision-makers, so there is no connection to why they happened. And I'll say, every team has picks like this in their history. Every one. And also every team has to max their draft every year.

From Terence Roche:

"Hi Darren. In April, if it was guaranteed that whomever the Cardinals draft at No. 4 would be an absolute locked-in, elite high performer who would dominate at that position for the next five years, what position would you draft for? Let's take quarterback, running back, and safeties off the table based on who's there now. Thanks!"

I suppose if you could tell me those things are guaranteed, it'd be hard for me not to take either an offensive tackle or an edge rusher. But as we all know, these things aren't guaranteed. (And if you think they are guaranteed with a player, like for instance a certain wide receiver, and you aren't sure about others, that has to be part of the decision-making process.)

From Richard Price:

"Will the Cardinals draft Marvin Harrison Jr.?"

I do not know. And to be honest, I don't believe they know yet.

From Joe Cardea:

"I see there are questions about keeping Zaven Collins now. I don't think you pay him $10M plus per season but I think he is a future piece of the Cards defense. Whether you liked Keim or not you can't discard too many pieces. I'd keep him, even if it meant overpaying. You can get rid of the players or overpay, but you gotta have players. I think sign him for three years including next year and then let him go after the next contract if need be. Thoughts?"

I don't know if there are questions about keeping Collins at the moment; the question is about whether they pick up his fifth-year option for 2025. I'd say in general, you are right you need to have some players, and sometimes you might need to overpay here or there, but this is about this new regime deciding what players fit best into what they do. That has nothing to do with what Keim brought; believe it or not Ossenfort isn't discarding players because Keim brought them in, he'd be moving on because whomever doesn't fit what they do now. 

From Mike Jadens:

"Hi Darren. Bringing back my bi-annual 'why doesn't the NFL have a development league?' question. Every other major sport does. Let assistant coaches run the show. Fill the teams full of UDFAs, tryout guys, end-of-roster guys, etc. People are football junkies. I've no question the ratings and viewership would darn near match what we see during the regular season. Let the NFL and NFLPA hammer out the details, but ultimately everybody wins."

So here is my "I understand why they don't have a developmental league" answer -- understanding that if they wanted, that's doable too. My first thought is that there are not enough quarterbacks that can make it viable. Because of injury concerns, teams aren't going to want to put any of the guys they actually want to develop into such a league, especially QBs. Also, and this is a big one, teams would prefer to have their players take part in their own offseason work rather than play in another league to develop. And yes, I know you are talking about fringe guys and not necessarily guys who are already on teams -- but owners have no desire to plow millions into a developmental league for guys who may or may not be the 52nd guy on a roster. 

From Adrian Angulo:

"What are our big positional needs for the 2024 season?"

There are a few, to be honest. I think they want to upgrade at left guard and you have questions about your left tackle right now. They need a receiver. They need defensive linemen and an edge rusher. They need a cornerback. Will be a fascinating offseason.

From Sebas Quiros:

"Hey Darren. Follow-up question to the last one I sent, the one about Fitz's No. 11 being retired. Say they don't retire it officially, would they still tell players they can't pick that jersey? Made-up scenario: we draft Marvin Harrison Jr. and he says he wants No. 11. Would the team be willing and, from what you know of Fitz, do you think he would give his blessing for someone, in this case MHJ to use it?"

A lot to dig into here. I'll work backwards. Fitz has always been a humble sort, so I could see him saying OK, sure, Player X can use that number. That said, I do not think the organization would put Fitz in that position. I don't think they would offer 11 as an option to anyone. No one wore No. 24 for a number of years -- on purpose -- out of deference to Adrian Wilson. I don't think the Cardinals have any desire to have anyone else wear No. 11. Probably ever. 

(Fun fact: The last player to wear No. 11 before Fitz was .... QB Jeff Blake. Blake also gave me one of my all-time favorite quotes when I called him after he was cut following the 2003 season. "It's not like I've played bad ball. I've just been on bad teams.")

From Rob Ert:

"Will the Cardinals go to red/white uniforms like in the 70s and 80s or stay solid? Always liked the change. I know you have no idea, but a question."

I have not heard of any plans right now to mix and match the uniform tops and bottoms right now. I know many have inquired about wearing the white pants with the red tops, although the uniforms were not necessarily designed to go together like that.