Should I Stay or Should I Go?
As much as the Cardinals and every Cardinal's fan out there would like Dansby to stay, consider him as good as gone. The deal that Dansby is worth, is around the same ballpark that Bart Scott got (48 million with 20 million being guaranteed). Dansby wants more than that, and another team will unwisely give into his request. That being said, at this point the Cardinals don't have an adequate backup to step up and fill Dansby's shoes. This means they will need to find his replacement either via the draft or free agency.
Through free agency there are a few names that could be available, such as DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans and Barrett Ruud from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but assuming there is no new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) in place by the time free agency starts, those players will be RFAs (restricted free agents). After you take away the RFAs from the list there is a significant drop off in talent. The best available would be Larry Foote, who would be nice signing for now but not really a long term answer. That is why the Cards will more than likely look to fill the position through the draft.
There are a few players in this year's draft that could step in and produce immediately, such as Alabama's Rolondo McClain and Florida's Brandon Spikes. The better choice would be McClain, as he would not only fill our biggest need, but the Cardinals would also be drafting for value as McClain will likely be gone by the 26th pick in the draft. Another great replacement is Brandon Spikes. Before the season started Spikes was a potential top 15 pick, and he still could be. At this point however, it's highly unlikely as some on field issues have caused his stock to drop. Spikes will more than likely be available when the Cardinals are picking and I think we take him here. (McClain and Spikes will be looked at more when we take a look at potential Cardinals draftees)
2010 Inside-Linebacker Predictions: Dansby Leaves and Cardinals Draft Brandon Spikes
Boldin, as we all know, wants a new contract. He has been complaining about it since the beginning of the 2008 season. Although he has said he won't request the Cardinals to cut or trade him this season, he will likely be gone. With Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet lining up as the top three receivers, the Cards are looking good at the wide out position. Look for the Cards to trade Boldin to another team for a third and fifth round pick in exchange. My money would be on the Miami Dolphin
2010 Anquan Boldin Prediction: Traded to Miami for a 3rd and 5th Round Pick
The Cardinals don't want to get rid of Rolle, as he is a key role player on the defense at free safety. Not only does he bring playmaking skills to the defense, but there isn't anyone behind him on the depth chart who could step in and start right now. The problem is that his contract for 2010 balloons to 12.1 million dollars. That's a ridiculous amount of money for a player that isn't even the best in the league or let alone the best player on the defense. He has already said he won't take a pay cut from this season but something's got to give as the Cards can't afford to lose their fourth big name player of the offseason (according to my predictions). I think they get something worked out in terms of a long term deal. The deal would probably be close to what Wilson got(5 year 36 million with 15.5 being guaranteed).
2010 Antrel Rolle Prediction: Signs a Long Term Contract to Stay in Red.
Backup Quarterback Solutions
With Kurt Warner retiring and Brian St. Pierre becoming a free agent, the Cardinals only have one quarterback on the roster - Matt Leinart. With the Cardinals being already set to give Leinart a shot at starting they will need to find two backups. To me, Leinart is the type of player that doesn't want to look over his shoulder at someone possibly stealing his job. That is why the number two quarterback must be someone that is content with being the backup. They can't be someone that will try and turn heads and stir up a quarterback controversy. The perfect quarterback that would fit this mold is Charlie Batch. Not only does he know Whizenhunt's system and was the backup quarterback while Whiz was the offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh, he also knows his place as a backup. He would be the perfect solution for the number two spot.
For the third spot on the depth chart the Cardinals will more than likely look to the draft. Now, going with the original theory that they won't grab a guy to make Leinart look over his shoulder, the Cards will not draft one in the first couple of rounds. Expect them to start looking for one in the fourth round andmaybe the third round. My prediction is they will grab BYU's Max Hall. Hall is a project as he does need to refine his game a bit, but if Leinart lives up to his potential than Hall would have all the time in the world to do that.
2010 Quarterback Predictions: St. Pierre Walks, Charlie Batch is Signed, and Max Hall is Drafted
Outside Linebacker and Julius Peppers
With Clark Haggans, Chike Okeafor, and Bertrand Berry, this unit was very old last season. They did draft two young players last season in Will Davis and Cody Brown to install some youth in the position, but they both faced injuries. With the loss of Berry to retirement, and the potential loss of Okeafor as a free agent, the team needs to add a more at this position. One possible move is going after Julius Peppers.
At first thought it sounds good to think about Peppers wearing Cardinal red but then reality and logic kicks in. There is a list of reasons why Peppers would not make sense for the Cardinals. First of all, he just turned 30, meaning his best seasons are behind him. Second, he has never played in the 3-4 defense that we run, making it tough to know if he would play well in our system. Lastly, because of those first two reasons it does not make sense to pay him the amount of money he is going to be looking for. The Cards might call and find out if he would come cheaper but ultimately I think he goes elsewhere.
That means the draft is the likely scenario again for this position. This is not a bad thing as Whiz and Co. have been good at finding talent and this year's draft, like last year, is loaded at the OLB spot. Since we took Brandon Spikes in the first round(based on my prediction) that means they will have to wait till the second round till fill the outside linebacker void. It's a little bit tougher to predict who would be at our spot for the 52nd overall pick but I think South Carolina's Eric Norwood could available there and he would fit fine in the 3-4.
The Cards could also look to adding another seasoned 3-4 veteran, such as a Mike Vrabel or a Joey Porter, to help Clark Haggans mentor these young players that are now being leaned upon heavily to carry this unit. Porter would be the best choice as he knows a lot of the Cards coaching staff from his time over with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He'll most likely be available in free agency too as Miami is expected to release him when the 2010 offseason officially gets under way on March 5th.
2010 OLB Position Prediction: Peppers is a no go, Eric Norwood gets Drafted, Cards Sign a Seasoned Veteran
While these are just predictions, it is not that far out there to think that some of these could actually happen. A lot of them make sense for team in the direction they are trying to go, at least in my opinion. What do you think of these predictions? Do you agree with them? Or do you think something else will happen?