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You've Got Mail: Tumultuous Time In America

Topics include training camp reps, playoff chances and salary cap math


To be honest, I wasn't sure it made sense to post this mailbag today. Given the way this country is hurting, the way racism continues to flourish, the way minorities are too often treated and mistreated, it's hard to write and think about football. But here it is. If you want to leave a question for next week, go here.

From Robert Malicki via

"Will teams use this exhibition season as the opportunity to get the work in that they may be denied in a normal camp setting? We may see teams play with an urgency to get better prepared especially working newly acquired free agents and rookies into their respective schemes. I am concerned, like I was with work stoppages and strikes of the past, that head coaches will prioritize the starters because they will not have time and opportunity for the roster's bottom half. Do you see our coaching staff as up to the challenges ahead and be able to push us to ever increasing success as the season its very tough second half?"

I do think there could be more of an urgency in training camp and/or preseason games because of the loss of the offseason. Kliff Kingsbury has already said he made a mistake last year keeping so many things under wraps in the preseason without practicing them in real time. Will it cost younger players who aren't starters? Probably. That's why offseason reps -- and the rookie minicamp -- are so important. You have to have the regulars ready for the season.

From Michael Travers via

"Hi Darren, again thank you for this opportunity. There has been a lot of chatter about Kyler Murray being one of the top candidates for MVP this year. We all know they have not even played a down yet and anointing them this early is only for fools and national sports writers. A .500 record would be a very successful year. However, going from last to first happens each year in the NFL. Do you think, we'll even have a season of football in 2020? If we do and Kyler plays like a MVP, throwing to Fitz and D-Hop and we have career years from a couple of our other stars that going to the playoffs could happen?"

Right now, yes, I expect a season of football. I can't say for sure if it will be a full season. As for making the playoffs, sure I can see a scenario where the Cardinals are good enough to make it in. There has been an seventh team added to each conference, so that gives them an added opportunity. They are aiming higher than .500 -- that was the point of the D-Hop move, among others. They want to capitalize on this period when Kyler Murray is on his rookie deal.

From Sidney Sexson via

"Darren, you have mentioned several times how there is uncertainty regarding next year's salary cap, due to how the revenue stream may be affected by the current environment with the coronavirus. My understanding is that the NFL teams get most of their revenue stream from the current TV contracts. We are always used to the cap being higher each year so if you are able, please explain how the salary cap is calculated, and how it might be affected by games being played without fans or the season being shortened. As always thanks for your answers."

Without getting too detailed, the cap is set based on total revenues (although what goes into that pot is a specific list) set at 48 percent for the players in the new CBA, with some potential adjustments based on new TV contracts. In basic terms, the total revenues include TV money as well as part of the ticket money for each game as well as licensing deals and merchandise. That's divided by 32 and then you take 48 percent of that for the cap. (It's more complicated than that, but you get the idea.) Obviously if there are fewer fans and/or fewer games, there would be less money collected and therefore, a lower cap.

From Mac Sanchez via

"I would love to sign Everson Griffen but do you think Devon Kennard makes that unlikely? Both guys would be making considerable money, and you just cant pay big money to guys to be rotational. What do you think? Do you see a way we could get this done? Another Valley product returning would be amazing."

As I've written before, I'm thinking if any extra pass rusher would be signing with the Cardinals it'll be for a smaller deal and likely in a specialized role. If Griffen found a more lucrative situation with another team, I wouldn't be surprised. If he sees this like Suggs, where he'd like to play in his hometown, perhaps that could make a difference. But I'm guessing he might have other options -- and that's assuming the Cards would pursue him (or any other veteran pass rusher.)

From Una Anthony via

"Hi Darren. This is a woulda-shoulda question, so no biggie. Do you think there's any regret with how the Tyrann Mathieu relationship fell apart? It was understandable at the time. Guy was highly paid, and it was to be determined whether he could stay healthy going forward. Well he did stay healthy and is looking like his All-Pro self these days. As Cardinals fans we cant help but feel a little regret, because you just imagine what this defense would be if our two safeties were Tyrann + Budda. That would be something to behold. And throw Simmons into the trio? Googily moogily."

I'm not sure you'd have two smaller safeties like Mathieu and Baker. But overall, when you say the "relationship" fell apart, I don't see it that way. Tyrann was understandably upset, but the Cardinals made a financial decision based on the situation they had. As a person, as a guy in the locker room, the Cardinals always loved Mathieu. They were cautious after he had torn his ACLs twice. It's not like they didn't try to keep him, albeit with a paycut. Tyrann bet on himself and won big, both monetarily and with a ring. You always want to see the happy endings with all the fan favorites. Most of the time, on most teams, that doesn't happen.

From Peter DeMaio via

"Hi Darren! Long-time Cardinals fan, one-time season ticket holder. Can you explain why we can't have fans in the stands if we abide by social distancing? The protocol is 6 feet, so why not every other row, every other seat or whatever the protocol measures out in each venue? The bathroom stalls can be every other stall is closed, again go to whatever the math measures out in each venue/bathroom. Snack bar, same thing. We are doing this already at all of the stores. Wear a mask and have the venue pipe in crowd noise. What do you think?"

I think all those decisions are made well above my pay grade, but all those things are being discussed and figured out by the NFL. If there are fans, there will be, I would expect, social distancing in place. (Although while there should be a lot of social distancing being done at stores already, I think we all know it's more hit and miss than it should be.)

From Bo Harshbarger via

"What is your opinion on the Cards bringing back tight end Charles Clay? And how about extensions for Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker? The secondary would be hurting with either one gone. Thank you for your time."

Well, Bo, your question came in before the Cards signed Dylan Cantrell this week, and if they were going to sign a tight end, I'd think getting Cantrell makes Clay unlikely. They really liked Dan Arnold and Maxx Williams, so if Arnold can play the Clay role this season, then they have their top two and try and find someone else -- perhaps Cantrell, who played under Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech.

From Rob Bates via

"Why has Darnell Dockett not been added to the Ring of Honor? I know you don't have a vote, but I think he is deserving. Thanks."

You are correct, I don't have a vote, and I do not have input. You are not the first to suggest such a thing. Darnell was a force of nature while he was with the Cardinals. He was the best defensive player on the field in Super Bowl XLIII. It didn't end the way he wanted in Arizona, but it was great when he was able to return to officially retire a Cardinal. I don't know if he'll end up in the ROH, but I'm guessing he'll be a candidate.

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