The quiet of the building is obvious now with the coaches on vacation as well as most of the players. Rookies are still around of for a couple of weeks, just like the mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here. (As an FYI, next week's mailbag will be the last before it goes on a short hiatus as I take some vacation.)
From Joel Soderburg:
"Who were the standouts in OTAs for both the rookies and veterans? And there has been chatter that Zaven Collins hasn't absorbed the playbook well enough to be able to call out different sets. What's your take on his progress?"
It's tough to really know who "stands out," simply because there isn't a lot of real football happening and some of the players weren't around as much. I think on offense, Rondale Moore and Eno Benjamin helped themselves this summer with what they did, and on defense, I think I'd put in some usual suspects: Byron Murphy, J.J. Watt, Jalen Thompson. As far as Collins, some of the chatter has partially come from Collins himself. It's a fluid situation. I have no idea first hand how he has done with it. I think we will have to get through most of training camp before we know for sure how much Collins has progressed in that area.
From Chuck Mogavero:
"Any updates about Rodney Hudson? Thanks for what you do for the fans Darren!"
There is nothing new about Hudson since the news the Cardinals are trying to "work through some things" with him. I don't know if we will get any clarity on the subject until we get much closer to training camp at this point. But if anything comes up, it will be on azcardinals.com, don't fret.
From Mikey MC:
"Hi Darren! I'm not sure how closely you follow the rest of the league but it appears the Cardinals dodged a bullet. Treylon Burks, the wide receiver drafted by the Titans who was rumored to be a target if he fell to us apparently has bad asthma and is struggling in OTAs. My question is mostly philosophical: how do teams not know that? How do they not know something as basic as this guy has asthma? And apparently its so severe the kid hasn't been able to practice for two weeks. I think it's the humidity in Nashville that got him, but it wouldn't be any better here with our dust and pollen."
I don't know Burks' specifics but I guarantee every team knew he had asthma, including the Titans. There are reasons to be wary or take guys off draft boards for medical reasons. But obviously the Titans figure they can balance the risk just fine. I don't know if Burks was ever truly a potential target of the Cardinals, but again, something like asthma is factored into the player grade -- just like every team.
"This looks like the Cards' last year for a good shot. How are they going to survive with all the free agents they have next year? It looks like a majority of the base will need re-signing. The Cardinals never seem to re-sign all the pieces and next year with all their young pieces that have been drafted are up for contracts. Not good. What are your thoughts? Can they get all back or most anyway? Thanks and great work."
Of course they can. Whether they will, I don't know. They will survive, of course. I would be surprised if there are any extensions before the Kyler deal is done -- assuming it is. But D.J. Humphries, Byron Murphy and Jalen Thompson would seem to be at the top of the extension list. It'd be nice to get a couple of those done before next offseason. That's when it gets tough, because if you allow a player to get too close to free agency, they are going to want to see what is out there.
From Rico Gandel:
"I just saw one of those 'who every team in the NFL should trade for' articles and one of the submissions was surprising to me. It said the Vikings should not trade for, but trade away ... Patrick Peterson (given they are a young rebuilding team with plenty of young CBs). to, you guessed it, the Cardinals. Compensation was like a 6th round pick. You know what? I like it. Let's do it. Granted, I didn't watch any Vikings ball last year but apparently P2 graded out as a middle-of-the-league CB per PFF. That's all we need. If you've listened to his podcast lately, it seems clear he's accepted the fact he's not a star anymore. He's content being a veteran rotational guy in Minnesota. The one thing we die hard Cards fans know is that Pat cares deeply about his legacy. I think it would be fantastic for him to come back and go out high. As a starter, for the team he spent his career."
P2 was a free agent after last season and the Cardinals had a chance to sign him then but they didn't. So not sure why they would want to now give up a pick for him. Also, if Peterson is middle-of-the-league now, you'd think the Cardinals would be able find someone else available without it costing a pick. It'd be a nice story, but usually, the storybook doesn't quite work out in real life. Ask Cam Newton last year in Carolina, for one example.
From Jeff Swartz:
"Are the Cardinals going to find a free agent to replace Jeff Gladney? If so, who might that be?"
The Cardinals signed Josh Jackson last week, but I wouldn't be surprised if they added another one before camp. Who that would be I do not know. Robert Alford remains an option.
From Brent Sottamayer:
"Last week I asked a question about the delay in free agent acquisitions and you responded with the question 'how does signing guys now protect us from injuries?' I'll answer you: Because other teams need players too. Perfect example is Robert Alford. Can we all agree that the Cardinals are basically using Robert Alford as a fallback plan? If Marco or Murph were to get hurt, Alford would probably be signed the next day. Problem with that 'plan' is that Alford is a free agent and can very well get signed by some other team today. And then Marco or Murph get hurt. What then? This is not just about Alford. He was one example. The point was we need several positions. CB, DL, a WR. So do other teams. And by nature, the best get picked first. So by the time we 'get around to signing guys" it's going to be bargain bin guys."
At this point in the offseason, it's about "bargain bin" guys. There is a reason guys are still on the market. I understand your point, but the difference between available players this time of year is not that great. You asked about Keim Time signs. Some of the best ones happened right before/during training camp: Eric Winston, Jermaine Gresham, John Abraham, Tramon Williams, Chris Johnson, Lyle Sendlein, Corey Peters. The Cardinals have proven they can wait and it can work out.
From Robert Malicki:
"Hi, Darren, this is more in reply to a query from the last mailbag. Matt S. inquired about the military service of Bill Bidwill and you seemed to defer. That's understandable for a variety of reasons. But, many years ago, maybe in the 1990s soon after the team's move from St. Louis there was an extensive article on his service in the U.S. Navy during the 1950s. He was a Cold War warrior."
I certainly didn't mean to downplay Mr. B's military service. I was only pointing out that I wasn't aware of any article particular to that topic. I went through our historical files here and if it did exist, we unfortunately do not have a copy I could find. I did find one good one about Mr. B from 1985 which goes over his life in general.
From Bradley Abbas:
"What's the Cardinals position on Deshaun Watson? And don't hide behind the 'he's not a Cardinal so we can't comment.' You're a member of the NFL and any member employing him reflects upon the shield and all the members of the NFL. I'm a 29-year season ticket holder awaiting your answer."
There is no "position" that I am aware of. I do not speak for the team, anyway. I have my feelings. My guess is you do too, and you make little effort to hide them (although to make a large effort to demand something of me you really have no standing to demand). Ultimately, the NFL pays its commissioner millions of dollars per year to figure this stuff out. I appreciate you are a long-time season ticket holder. I do not think the Cardinals would have pursued Watson even if they had needed a QB. That's my guess.
From Phillip Gillam:
"Darren, with all the injuries that bound to happen throughout the season, do you think it would be a good idea to expand rosters to say, 55 and game day at 47? Or would that have to collectively bargained. I was reading your comment about the running back room being stacked and it sure would be nice to keep five instead of four."
Yes, it would have to be collectively bargained, and I don't know if at this point the owners want to add another couple of roster salaries. But right now, the CBA does allow for a 55-man roster on game days (and up to 48 active) through the two-man practice squad callup each week. I won't be shocked if a running back lands on the practice squad. But the whole point is to create competition and keep the best ones, and that's what the Cardinals want to do in the backfield.
From Lemmy Walters:
"If you listen to any of Isaiah Simmons comments/media interviews, it should be inevitable to everyone that he will eventually leave the Cardinals at the end of his rookie contract, and immediately complain about how he was misused in AZ. It's painfully obvious he doesn't want to be an ILB. He enjoys OLB (getting after the QB) and slot CB the most. He says he does as the team asks. Fine. But a happy player is a productive player. Rather than experience Reddick 2.0 why can't we just put him where he's most comfortable? We need an ILB? Luketa is said to be a beast at ILB. This doesn't need to be complicated!"
Obviously you have all this figured out. I am impressed you not only, through a few questions in press conferences, know that Simmons not only hates playing inside linebacker but is willing to leave as a free agent -- not even knowing what the Cardinals might offer contractually -- as soon as he can. I will admit, I do not get that vibe. I don't disagree that a happy player is preferred, but I don't know if he is not happy. As for Luketa, it'd be nice to have him develop into someone who makes the roster, but if I am reading your question right, you are saying the Cardinals should drop a seventh-round pick into the starting lineup? With all due respect to him, most of the time if you are a "beast" anywhere, you are probably going higher in the draft.
From Rosalie Quiroz:
"Where can I get a Trey McBride jersey? I want this young man to know his friends from Colorado are here to support him."
There will be some coming but the ones for off the rack aren't ready yet. You can make one custom by going here.
From Daniel Axt:
"Hey, being a fan from Germany it's not easy to follow college football. In part my question has to do with that. Could you please explain these different terms (and I know I'm mixing a lot of things here!). First team all American? All-pro compared to pro-bowler? All kinds of these names or titles get thrown around in games sometimes and sometimes I feel a little lost not knowing what's what and if it belongs in college or the NFL. Thanks for the time and the mailbag. I wait for that all week."
No worries Daniel. All-America/American is a college football term. Multiple outlets announce an all-America team each year; generally there is a consensus of all of those to find the "official" AA team, although it's possible for a guy to land on just one of those outlets' AA list and get called that afterward. The All-Pro and Pro Bowler are NFL teams. The latter is simply someone named to the Pro Bowl, which obviously not only has multiple players at each position (because it's a game) but also includes all the replacements named after the original teams are made -- which has lessened the impressiveness of the honor. All-Pro is a more select group. There are a few outlets that name an All-Pro team and while there is no "official" one, it's generally accepted that the Associated Press All-Pro team is the one that garners the headlines. The All-Pro team is a "starting lineup" so there is just one first team QB, five offensive linemen, etc.
From Gary Gammiero:
"Hi Darren! Do you think the Cardinals will have an alternate helmet this season? I think black with the same logo would be cool!"
I don't know if they will, although alternate helmets are allowed starting in 2022. And if there is one, I don't know what it would look like. Certainly something to think about.