The Arizona Cardinals signed four players, punter Waylon Prather, quarterback Tyler Palko, running back Justin Green and guard Ben Claxton, to 'futures contracts' meaning that the contracts will take effect on March 1st. They actually signed these guys in early January but somehow we missed them in the all craziness surrounding the playoffs. Anyways a 'futures contract' basically means that the Cardinals have these guys under contract for the 2009 season, but it also means that they weren't even on a practice squad at the time they were signed. To be honest, most of the time these guys don't amount to anything, but hey welcome to the off season. Here's a quick look at each of these guys and a very early look at whether they've got legit shot at sticking around...
Waylon Prather: I'll start with the Prather because he probably has the best chance at sticking around based on the need at the punter position. He was undrafted out of San Jose State last season and spent time on the Saints and Jets practice squad early in the season. Prather was a walk-on a San Jose State but earned All-WAC honors in multiple seasons. He averaged around 40 yards a punt throughout his career at SJSU. He's also big for punter (6'3 225) if that matters.
Justin Green: Depending on where you look, Green is either a running back or full back. Green played running back at University of Montana and was named all conference as a junior and honorable mention as a senior. He was drafted in the 5th round of the 2005 draft by the Ravens and they used him as a blocking fullback. He played in 28 games over the next three seasons, even starting seven, but he was cut during camp of the 2008 season. He spent a day (literally, they signed and cut him within 24 hours) with the Jets before the '08 season started. He's got good size for a FB (5'11 251) and his signing could be bad news for Terrelle Smith (UFA) or Tim Castille (ERFA) or it could mean nothing at all.
Ben Claxton: Claxton (6'2 301) is listed as either a guard or center but he played center at the University of Mississippi where he was a two time All-SEC player. He was originally drafted by the Broncos in the 5th round of the 2003 draft by the Broncos but he's since bounced all over the league, including Browns, Dolphins, Bucs, Steelers, Falcons, Raiders, Seahawks and Lions. He's played in just two NFL games back in 2005, with the Falcons. Just about the only bullet point on his pro resume is that he spent two seasons with the Berlin Thunder in 2004 & 2005 (NFL Europe) where he earned All-League honors both seasons.
Tyler Palko: So I saved the most recognizable name for last and I'm assuming that we've all at least heard of Palko. He played at the University of Pitt where he was room mates with Fitzgerald for two seasons before Fitz entered the '04 draft. He had note able college career starting three seasons and amassing over 8,000 yards and threw 66 TDs versus just 25 picks. He completed almost 70% of his passes as a senior but he doesn't have ideal size (6'1 215) or an elite arm and that left him undrafted in the '07 draft. The Saints signed him and he spent that season bouncing between their roster and practice squad but severely injured his thumb during the '08 preseason (he played the Cardinals in the preseason opener). He's probably just a 'camp arm' but he had some skills and could be candidate for the #3 job if Brian St. Pierre isn't resigned.
So that's probably abunch of useless information on some guys who are long-shots, at best, to ever make the Cardinals roster, but they'll be around during training camp. Has anyone seen these guys enough to get a read on them? Any of them have a chance to stick around and actually make the roster?