3-4-11: Bird Droppings - Fitz talks QBs, CBA deadline extended, and Cardinals with expiring contracts

Your links for today.

Who is expiring?
Regardless of the status of the CBA, the Cardinals have a chunk of players whose contracts will expire whenever the league year ends. What that means for free agency is uncertain because the CBA will address those rules. But as an FYI, here is a list of the current Cardinals who will have their contract run out this offseason. If a player has an asterisk, he has at least four accrued seasons in the NFL:

ProFootballWeekly.com - NFC West free-agent preview
After what turned out to be a very disappointing 2010 campaign for the Cardinals, there are no locks to be re-signed.

Video: Sitting down with Larry Fitzgerald - NFC West Blog - ESPN
We interrupt this NFL labor waiting game to pass along something entirely unrelated: Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald sitting down with ESPN's First Take for a segment about his team, his offseason travels and interests beyond football.

Fitz talks quarterbacks
Larry Fitzgerald is down in Orlando taking part in "ESPN the Weekend" — it’s good to be an athletic superstar — and did the rounds on a pair of ESPN radio shows, "Mike & Mike in the Morning" and "The Herd." And he talked a little bit about the Cardinals’ quarterback situation on both shows:

Matt Ware quietly overcame Type 1 Diabetes to continue career | ProFootballTalk
Cardinals safety Matt Ware won the team’s Ed Block Courage award this year, but we didn’t know the complete reason why until the award foundation ran a bio about Ware this week.

Report: Mic’d up teammate caught Leinart ripping Cardinals, Whisenhunt | ProFootballTalk
Memo to NFL players: Watch what you say to your teammates. They may be wearing hidden microphones.

Hope Sets In The West
Heading into the offseason, questions and optimism color division outlook

Phoenix Suns' 4th-quarter surge not enough against the Boston Celtics
The Suns wanted carryover but got it from the wrong source. Rather than the Suns drawing off a four-game win streak, the Boston Celtics drew off their Jan. 28 loss at Phoenix when they stormed to a 29-point lead before having to hold on against the Suns reserves for a 115-103 victory Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Phoenix Coyotes fall to Los Angeles Kings on power-play goal
The up-and-down Los Angeles Kings hardly resembled the team that was humiliated at home by the Detroit Red Wings just two days earlier.

Twenty-four hour extension reached for NFL labor talks - ESPN
America's favorite sport is still in business -- for another day. The NFL and the players' union agreed Thursday to a 24-hour extension of the current collective bargaining agreement so that negotiations can continue.

Honoring "Machine"
"Machine," in fact, had a real name. It was a while before I had learned it, though, since Cardinals assistant athletic trainer Jim Shearer never goes by anything but Machine, his nickname that might as well be his given name. He’s been around the Cards for a long, long time, with this past season his 37th on the team’s training staff. He’s a fixture, having been on the field for 745 games since 1974. He’s that guy who plays the crusty veteran, but beneath the thin facade is a good person (I remember him welcoming me to my job here when I transitioned from newspaper beat guy to in-house web reporter).

A long-ago visit from a Prince
Once upon a time, there was a relatively skinny kid from Glendale who was ripping up the local high school scene as a dominating running back, rushing for more than 2,100 yards as a senior. One of those weeks in the fall, the skinny kid from Apollo High School was invited to the Cardinals’ complex after winning the Wells Fargo high school player of the week award. And Prince Amukamara came by to meet, among others Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald. (OK, it wasn’t too long ago. It was 2006).

Newton, Roethlisberger and the Cardinals - NFC West Blog - ESPN
They stand 6-foot-5 and weigh more than 240 pounds. Both quarterbacks possess the strength and mobility to extend plays even after defenders latch onto them. They have strong arms, but both struggled with accuracy at the NFL scouting combine. Scouts thought both could have used more seasoning at the college level.

azcentral.com blogs - Kent Somers - Labor issues, blah, blah blah
My wife and I were with another couple the other night when I started to tell what I thought I was a interesting little story. About halfway through, the two women had tuned me out and started their own conversation. I think that's the reaction a lot of us have when we hear about the NFL's labor troubles: yea, yea, just wake me when the whole thing is over.

Karma hits NFL owners hard during off-season
Ten things we have learned since the end of football season:

Chat wrap: Labor talks and free agency - NFC West Blog - ESPN
JR (Tradeland): Mr. Sando, first off love what you do for the NFC West. Do you think the Cardinals can afford to draft a QB with the 5th pick with Fitzgerald in his contract year and the pressure of starting such a high pick sooner rather than later, especially considering Fitz has a no franchise tag clause in his current deal?

Tim Hasselbeck stirs the NFC West pot - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Tim Hasselbeck's recently concluded appearance on 710ESPN Seattle generated rich fodder while Tim's brother, Matt, heads toward a possible lockout without a contract. The familial bond runs strong. Tim, an ESPN analyst and retired NFL quarterback, might have let his emotions get the best of him when he downplayed other quarterbacks as viable options for Seattle while defending his brother.

NFLPA union reps put it on (offensive) line - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The NFC West is heading into a potential lockout with Chester Pitts, Adam Goldberg, Takeo Spikes and Jay Feely as its player union reps. A few notes on the 32 reps, as identified by the NFL Players Association:

azcentral.com blogs - Kent Somers - Fitz beats press coverage, again.
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald appeared on ESPN's Mike and Mike radio show this morning and addressed, sort of, a range of topics, including labor strife and the Cardinals quarterback situation.

azcentral.com blogs - Kent Somers - A lockout exception
If NFL owners vote in favor of a lockout, players won't be allowed to enter team facilities or talk to coaches, with possibly just one exception. Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and his foundation, First Things First, have received permission from the NFL to again use the Cardinals facility for their annual flag football game.

azcentral.com blogs - Kent Somers - Quietly enduring
I wasn't surprised when safety Matt Ware was named the Cardinals recepient of the Ed Block Courage Award. Ware has been a solid player and person since joining the team in 2006. What led him to be selected, however, was a shock. Ware was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the spring of 2009, according to a profile written for the awards ceremony.

NFL Lockout On Hold As Sides Manage To Alienate Entire Universe Of Fans - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
The NFL owners and players union have had weeks and years to talk about the end of their current collective bargaining agreement, but somehow one extra day is going to get a deal done. Call me skeptical. Reports are the players have asked for 10 more days of jaw wagging while the owners, who didn't become owners of NFL teams by talking, have not agreed.

JaMarcus Russell is on the verge of losing his mansion - Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Yahoo! Sports
The biggest bust in NFL history could be getting the boot in Oakland again. JaMarcus Russell is facing foreclosure on his $2.4 million Bay Area mansion after failing to pay the mortgage. According to TMZ (which managed to secure some documents about the foreclosure in between all of its Charlie Sheen coverage), the former No. 1 pick owes nearly $200,000 in back payments.

NFL combine: Cam Newton, defense among dominant themes - ESPN
Once Cam Newton completed his workout, the 2011 NFL "Cam-bine" officially became the combine. Defense took over.

Top 20 Biggest Draft Busts | National Football Post
Tuesday’s report stating that the New York Jets have officially decided to part ways with former first-round draft pick Vernon Gholston got me thinking: With just three NFL years under his belt, where does Gholston fall on the all-time bust list? You can see where this is going.

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Blaine Gabbert Surges To No. 1 Pick Following NFL Combine - SBNation.com
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft has a much different look following the NFL Combine. The previous No. 1 overall pick slides nearly out of the top 10, while the new man atop the mock draft didn't even participate in all the combine drills.

2011 NFL Mock Draft: 1.1 - Mocking The Draft
5. Arizona (5-11)- Von Miller- OLB- Texas A&M - I still feel that Arizona needs to go quarterback here but Miller will be tough to pass up. The Cardinals might be set on looking to upgrade the quarterback position with a vet which would open the door for Miller in this spot. There is little doubt that Miller will develop into an excellent passer rusher.

Julio Jones leads this year's Combine Risers list - Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Yahoo! Sports
Stock at the scouting combine is a difficult thing to quantify. Whether a player rises or falls in the eyes of the scouting proletariat is dependent on a seeming infinite number of things, and anything -- mental or physical, emotional or spiritual -- can trip them up along the way. No matter how well anyone does here, the NFL's personnel minds will always head back to their facilities from Indianapolis and turn on the game tape right away. That's where most of the questions are actually answered, though the usefulness of combine drills varies per position and per player. Here are 11 players who, for whatever reason, got back on the planes to their hometowns with a rise in several draft boards.

Mallett leads list of 2011 Combine Fallers - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Stock at the scouting combine is a difficult thing to quantify. Whether a player rises or falls in the eyes of the scouting proletariat is dependent in an infinite number of things, and anything – mental or physical, emotional or spiritual – can trip them up along the way. No matter how well anyone does here, the NFL's personnel minds will always head back to their facilities from Indianapolis and turn on the game tape right away. That's where most of the questions are answered, though the usefulness of combine drills varies per position and per player. Here are eight players who, for whatever reason, got back on the planes to their hometowns with a fall in several draft boards, and a lot to work on before their pro days.

Ten things to know, right now, about the labor situation | ProFootballTalk
As you spend Friday wondering exactly what will be happening with the NFL and the players’ union as they embark on the extension aimed at getting another extension, it’s a perfect time to get up to speed on the issues, so that you can dazzle your friends and/or cure your insomnia. Yeah, we know this stuff can be boring. But football fans need to be educated on these issues.

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