The Cardinals are going through what is basically their one main week of OTAs this week, with mandatory minicamp coming next week. The mailbag, while not mandatory, is easy to volunteer for, right? As always, leave a question for a future mailbag by going here.
From Tim from Phoenix:
"Darren, I was intrigued by your article about Bernhard Seikovits. We're so desperate for a tight end, maybe he has a chance to come off the practice squad some week? Certainly seems like more of a possibility than your writers who keep asking if Larry would play tight end. Personally, I'm cheering for Bernhard. #PsychoFitz"
We have to see if he ends up on the practice squad with his international exemption or not. If he is on the practice squad with the exemption -- giving the Cardinals one extra practice-squad player -- he is ineligible to be activated all season. He can only try and improve his game in practice. If they do think he has that ability, he could be put on the regular practice squad and yes, he would be eligible to be activated.
From David Beiber via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, when do rookies, and veterans begin getting paid in in 2021?"
As a quick backstory, up until the new CBA, the payment schedule for salaries was simple. You salary was divided by 17, and you got a check every week of the regular season (including the bye week.) Bonuses were paid out whenever they were due. Under the new CBA, players can choose instead to be paid over a 36-week span. That begins with Week 1 of the regular season and continues through the 18th week following the conclusion of the regular season. (Which means players in the playoffs would have two revenue streams, their regular paycheck plus whatever playoff money a team earns.) Players do earn small stipends with offseason and training camp work.
From Stevie Henderson via azcardinals.com:
"Not a team question, but I don't know where to find the answer, Darren. What is that blue thing Zaven Collins was holding in the second Cardinals Flight Plan episode?. He made it sound really important both in college and the NFL locker rooms. From the quick shot, it is difficult to tell. Does it have something to do with cleats or athletic tape/wraps? As a girl whose intermural sports were limited to basketball and volleyball during the dark ages, I have never seen such a 'tool.' "
Yes, that's exactly what it is: a device with two blades in it to quickly and safely cut off whatever you had taped for practice/games, whether it's your wrist or ankles or whatever. I can attest from being around the locker room for many years, they aren't always around and guys are always hunting other guys' lockers to grab one to use.
From Jason Beckum via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Can you tell me what the team is building next to the great lawn? Also, are we concerned about the future at receiver since we are still picking up receivers or is picking up Antoine Wesley just so the coach can have one of his guys? I don't see us carrying more then seven wideouts (Hopkins, Green, Johnson, Moore, Isabella and Kirk) leaving 5 guys to fight for one spot if any."
On the first question, I can't tell you -- I'm not sure myself, and I'm guessing an announcement will be made at some point. On the second, whether Kingsbury knew Wesley or not, the team had just released one of the wide receivers it had and so it wasn't a shock they added another. I do think people get caught up in the offseason numbers way too much. You are going to need a lot of receivers for minicamp and training camp. I don't expect Hop to get a ton of reps, I wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinals are smart with Green. There's a good chance they only carry six receivers too. Again, the numbers now don't matter. It's the numbers later. Now, it's taking looksees and having bodies.
From Brad Cain via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, just have to say that I don't think it is possible for Larry to just fade away. Maybe to the football world, i.e. NFL Network, ESPN, but until he says goodbye, I don't believe the fans will ever let him just fade away. There is way too much love for him in Arizona and Cardinals' fans hearts. Thanks for your time. LETS GO CARDINALS."
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Nobody said anything about Fitz being forgotten. He's not going to be forgotten, especially in Arizona. He owns a piece of the NBA team, for goodness sake. The point was, what if he doesn't actually say anything?
From Zack Maus via azcardinals.com:
"Yo Urbz, I don't have a question right now but when you said 'What if he doesn't announce anything at all? What if he just fades away?' in regards to Fitz announcing his plans, I cried. I think you'd kill a five-minute stand-up set at a comedy club. You should look into it."
You cried with laughter? Because otherwise I'm not sure how you got from making you cry to a comedy set. And by the way, yeah, I wouldn't do that. Me getting up on a stage to do comedy is as likely as me getting a tattoo.
From Barry Horner Jr. via azcardinals.com:
"I have a ton of respect for Larry Fitzgerald and the time he wants to make a decision but, is there any news at all? I feel at this point the fans and the team would love to be able to make final arrangements one way or the other. I wish him the best if he is done I just wish he'd just come out and say it if that is the case. The FA picks are pretty much making it seem the the door has shut on No.11 coming back. If you have any news that would be great. Signed, a fan for more than 20 years."
Barry, you aren't wrong -- any news would be great. Alas, it's Fitz's timetable, and we're all just living by it. I will say this though -- either he's playing or he's retiring. He's not dying, for pete's sake. "Final arrangements" doesn't quite fit the situation. Just sayin'.
From Cy Fredrick via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, love the Larry never-making-an-announcement-and-just-fading-away theory. I think it is perfect! Although I can see some fans being upset and feeling like he owes them more than that (insert eye roll). Let's say the theory comes true, and in the next year or two the Cards win a Super Bowl. Do they offer Larry a ring as a gesture? Would Larry take it, in your opinion? Thanks for the 'bag.' Great stuff! Excited for this season!"
An interesting concept. Do I think they could offer a ring in the first year or two after retirement? I think that's very possible. Would he take it? I don't see why not. The Colts gave Edgerrin James a ring after they won the Super Bowl in the 2006 season and he had spent that first year with the Cardinals.
From Sonny AZ Cards via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, from rookie mini camp how do you feel about Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan? Did KK/VJ gave any comments about our rookies that you think interesting? Have you met Robert Alford in the offseason, and do you know how he is physically at this moment as he is planned to be our starter?"
We got to see about 25 minutes of the first minicamp practice, so it's impossible to get a good read on just what Wilson or Gowan or any of the rookies might do at this point. Nothing the coaches are going to say will change that either. As for Alford, I have not seen or talked to him. Hopefully that'll change in the next couple of weeks.
From Juan de la Peña via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Is Rondale Moore going to return kicks and punts? Has Kliff already said anything about that? It would be cool to spark the returning game, I don't remember the last TD we score on a return (David Johnson in Chicago I'm thinking, but on a punt?) Thanks!"
I fully expect Moore to be the return man for this team, It's one of the reasons they drafted him. I do think they could use a boost in that part of special teams. The last time the Cardinals scored on a kickoff return was indeed David Johnson in Chicago in Week 2 of 2015. The last time they had a punt return for a score was Ted Ginn, also Week 2 but in 2014, in New York against the Giants.
From Caleb Thompson via azcardinals.com:
"Listening to Rondale Moore's press pass interview, he certainly comes across as a very intelligent, well-spoken individual. Seems to have a true passion for the game and the right amount of self-confidence to come in and produce but also ask questions of the vets to truly be a pro. How much stock do you put into such eloquent answers?"
I guess I'd have to ask what the stock is for? In my small dealings with him, I agree, he comes across as smart and self-confident. I do think that's important. But I have known players over the years that are both and they haven't necessarily succeeded on the field. It's a good start, but he still has to make plays and there are factors beyond those you mentioned.
From Kat Jackson via azcardinals.com:
"So are we not adding a veteran CB? What's going on in 2021? It appears Steve Keim has done a complete 180 from his approach the last nine years. Suddenly we are heaping loads of responsibility on rookies. Since the day Keim became GM its always been 'slow with rookies.' Hump didn't play his rookie year. Nkemdiche (for different reasons). Reddick. Simmons. But suddenly, out of the blue, not only must Zaven and Simmons play right now, we are cutting all the veteran LBs so there's no plan B. Cornerbacks, we got two veterans, and if either gets hurt, we got a bunch of rookies and UDFAs waiting in the wings."
Didn't I just answer this last week? I do kind of chuckle -- I feel like every year, everyone screams that the Cardinals don't play their draft picks, why did we draft them and then sit them, etc., and now that some might play, a bunch of people are screaming that they shouldn't. First of all, let me know what veteran linebackers that were cut. And how about we see where the roster is, say, Sept. 5, rather than June 1.
From KC Dent via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. There's been some talk on the fan forums about Rondale Moore, and his personality. Maybe you could offer some input having met him in person. First and foremost, I want to acknowledge its unfair to make any assumptions about the kid. But we are human, and first impressions matter. There are quiet guys like A.J. Green. But then there's Rondale, who seems...I don't know, angry? Sad? Is he upset he slid to the second round? Is he upset he's in Arizona? (As pointed out, Rondale grew up in Indiana and went to school in Indiana. So this might be his 1st time away from home. Who knows). But all we know from afar, is this kids NFL dream supposedly just came true, and he looks miserable."
It's been well-chronicled that Moore thought he should be a first-rounder, so there is that. But I haven't really been able to meet Moore yet so I don't know what might make him tick. It might be he's just a quiet guy. If you are comparing him to the off-the-chain emotion we saw from Zaven Collins right out of the box, that might not be a fair comparison. Mostly I think it can be a little dangerous making too many assumptions, especially about rookies. I remember wondering if Adrian Wilson was ever going to say much when I talked to him as a rookie and I came to find ... OK, maybe that's not the best example.
From Boo Rogers via azcardinals.com:
"Who will the No. 3 RB be? Ward? Eno? ENO?????"
Feels like there is a lot of nervous tension there, Boo. Yes, I think Jonathan Ward and Eno Benjamin both are in that mix. I don't think either are locks. Ward obviously showed some special teams skills last year. Eno might have to do the same. That's a true camp battle when you start talking about the No. 3 running back.
From Norman Fain via azcardinals.com:
"Thank you for considering this question and the variety of Q & A you produce in this forum. I greatly appreciate your added insight. As a business owner when I have a gap in my capabilities I seek out competent help to make my efforts more effective. I get that Coach Kingsbury wants the playcalling duties and I believe he is good and getting better. His gap seems to be game management while we are on offense. Just my observation. With whom can Coach build the trust to fill that gap with a common offensive scheme intention? It seems to me that might flip one or more close games this season in the Cards favor. I look forward to your knowledgeable response."
Kingsbury has trust with a few guys on the staff that I think can be sounding boards there. Sean Kugler got his promotion and you figure he will have a bigger say. And with game management specifically, Kingsbury already has a good relationship with Cam Turner, the QBs coach who works closely with Kingsbury.
From Nathan Kurtz via azcardinals.com:
"So I've been seeing rumors about us going for Zach Ertz. Do you think it is possible? What do you think would be a fair trade? I certainly would be happy to see a star tight end on our team."
Ertz is an Eagle and at this point I don't know if that will change. But he is certainly fodder for speculation and that probably isn't going to change given the things he's said and his contract status. That said, I'm not sure you're going to see a "star" tight end in this offense, and I'm not sure Ertz is that guy anyway.
From Jim Monachino via azcardinals.com:
"Will the Cardinals open their training camp at State Farm Stadium to fans who have been fully vaccinated?"
The Cardinals have yet to announce their plans for training camp, fans or otherwise. I would not be surprised, given that the league plans to have games fully attended, that camp practices will be open. What the guidelines might be for that are still TBD as well.
From Joey Cammiso via azcardinals.com:
"Let's talk offense. Last year it seemed like the league couldn't stop Kyler Murray from getting first downs whether thru the air or with his legs. After the heart-stopping win over the Seahawks it seemed like we were figured out offensively. Passing-wise weeks 1-9 Kyler Murray averaged 15.44 first downs thru the air, 4.3 first downs rushing. The rest if the year the averages were 12 and 1.85. First downs are I think one of the most important thing an offense can accomplish outside of scoring. What gives? I know Kyler got banged up Week 11 but honestly this team was getting figured out starting against Miami. Based on what you saw last year what do you think the team needs to do from a scheme standpoint to keep teams from adjusting to what works for us?"
Look, being honest, I don't break down tape enough to say what scheme stuff would need to change. I think helping with some skill players like adding Moore, probably moving Kirk to the slot and having Green on the outside can help. But again, some of this will also be about a young quarterback continuing to -- hopefully -- evolve.
From Mike Cardsfan via azcardinals.com:
"The team gave Jordan Hicks permission to seek a trade, however that doesn't mean there's a trade opportunity out there. It's growing late in the offseason and finances are evaporating. My question for you is is there a chance Hicks remains on the Cardinals in 2021 as a backup, or is it a burnt-bridge situation, and he just wants out?"
I can't answer the last part because I haven't talked to Hicks. As a result, I have to think there is a still a chance he returns. I will quibble with the idea it's late in the offseason -- it isn't really, and guys can come in with a couple weeks left in training camp if needed. There is still time for something to happen. Or not.
From Sebas Quiros via azcardinals.com:
"I'm guessing by now you've received a nice amount of Julio Jones questions. I got one of my own. Do you think the Cardinals have what it needs to make the deal? By that I mean, cap space (yes I'm aware Hop said on Twitter he'd be willing to restructure the contract for Julio) but still the question stands. Also, do we have the assets to trade? Basically I want to know if you think it can be done or if it's even a good idea to go for it."
Steve Keim has proven he will pull the trigger on some big-time trades. So the willingness to make a move is always there if it makes sense. Hopkins' restructuring his contract doesn't really do much for whatever reason it might be done in terms of saving cap space. As always, every team can make the cap room for anything it wants. Eventually that will have to be accounted for at some point. I'll also say I have always been leery about spending too much cap space on any one position. There are exceptions, of course, but you've already put a ton of money into D-Hop.
From Roger Newby via azcardinals.com:
"I have been a Cardinal Fan for 55 years. I miss the uniforms of the 1960s. Do you see the uniforms changing? Please return to the all-white uniform and the solid red jerseys."
Do I see them changing? At some point yes. But not soon.
From Ryan Tetrick via azcardinals.com:
"When are you guys going to be able to interview in-person again? All of these virtual interviews are painful to watch at times. People have their dogs barking, forget to unmute themselves, and all sorts of technical glitches. Please make it stop! P.S. New uniforms?"
Ryan, I wish I had the power to move back to in-person interviews. I have grown tired of Zoom, I want to have that connection to the players I interview, and while all those other things are also a concern of mine, it's also being able to see Bobby Mac's face again. He never turns his camera on!
And no, no new uniforms, as I previously said.