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3-3-12: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Campbell Tagged, Bountygate

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 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Time for some links, normally the main focus would have been on Calais Campbell and all the other players that received the franchise tag yesterday, but we also got a huge story about the Saints placing bounties on knocking other players out of the game and Goodell is going to drop the hammer on them at some point.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Cards Play Tag With Campbell
Defensive end gets franchise designation while contract talks continue

Per League Source: Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals in Talks For First Round Trade | National Football Authority
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of three teams sitting in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft with not one, but two picks. The second pick was courtesy of the Oakland Raiders in the trade that sent quarterback Carson Palmer to the Bay Area last season. After speaking to a team executive on Monday, National Football Authority senior writer Bear Heiser has learned the Bengals are eager to move up in the first round to secure themselves the top running back in this draft class—Alabama Crimson Tide's Trent Richardson. Along with this information, the source also provided info as to who the Bengals have been talking with in the first round and it was none other than the Arizona Cardinals—who are itching to move down in the first round along with acquiring more drafts picks in the deal.

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on DE Calais Campbell
In a move almost as predictable as a sunrise, the Cardinals placed the franchise tag on defensive end Calais Campbell on Friday, three days before the NFL deadline to do so. The tag restricts Campbell's options in free agency, and the Cardinals and Campbell's agent, Ben Dogra, can continue to negotiate a long-term deal until mid-July. Campbell could immediately sign the franchise tender, guaranteeing himself a salary of around $10.6 million for the upcoming season. blogs - Kent Somers - A franchise tag primer
As expected, the Cardinals placed the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on defensive end Calais Campbell. That begs the question, what's are the differences between the exclusive and non exclusive tags.

Bounty or not, Kurt Warner says big hit didn't cause him to retire -
Kurt Warner took one of the hardest hits you'll ever see in his final NFL game. Warner threw an interception in a playoff game against the Saints, and and was drilled by New Orleans' Bobby McCray on the return. A report has come out that says the Saints offered players money for knocking certain players out of the game, a kind of "bounty" for injuring opponents. Was Warner one of them?

Kurt Warner thinks bounties have been part of the league for a long time | ProFootballTalk
Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who absorbed a big hit during a playoff game against the Saints in his final NFL game, has responded to the news that the Saints were using a bounty system at the time.

Word From the Birds Blog -The Saints’ "bounties" and Warner’s playoff game
The NFL dropped a bombshell Friday, releasing the results of an investigation that p;layers and at least one coach on the New Orleans Saints were funding and using a "bounty" program for many defensive players, including extra money for anyone who knocked a player from a game. One of the reasons the investigation started was the complaints that the Saints had targeted Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner in the teams’ playoff game in New Orleans in January, 2010. That was a game that the Cards lost, 45-14, and ended up being Warner’s final game of his career. He was beaten up during the game and then was crushed by Saints lineman Bobby McCray trying to make a tackle after an interception. Warner retired a few weeks later.

Word From the Birds Blog - After tag, where Cards and Campbell go from here
The Cardinals, as everyone knew would happen for a while, tagged defensive end Calais Campbell Friday amidst the flood of players across the league getting the tag. So what’s next?

Warner: Saints hit legal, not career ending - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Kurt Warner, speaking Friday on Sports 620 KTAR, used the word "disappointing" to describe allegations the New Orleans Saints organized bounties for knockout hits on opposing players.

Warner: Saints hit legal, not career ending - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Kurt Warner, speaking Friday on Sports 620 KTAR, used the word "disappointing" to describe allegations the New Orleans Saints organized bounties for knockout hits on opposing players.

Cardinals face a tough decision on Levi Brown | ProFootballTalk
Competent left tackles rarely if ever become available in free agency. And while Levi Brown, the fifth overall pick in the 2007, wasn’t regarded as a competent left (or right) tackle early in his career, Brown has become in the past two seasons a much more consistent performer.

Arizona Cardinals need an answer at right tackle, too
When it comes to money and attention, there is a large disparity between left tackles and their counterparts on the right. Left tackles make more money and receive more scrutiny, presumably because they most often are on the blindside of quarterbacks and are usually facing the opponent's best pass rusher. We can debate the validity of those assumptions in the future. But there's no question we've discussed left tackle Levi Brown far more than we've talked about right tackle Brandon Keith. So let's take a look at Keith.

Warner says there is no place in NFL for cheap shots -
A report has come out alleging that the New Orleans Saints players maintained a bounty program, one that led to them targeting opponents with the intent to injure them. The NFL began its investigation into the matter in early 2010 after hearing that quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre had been targeted. Warner, who retired a couple weeks after the Cardinals lost a playoff game to the Saints, said the news isn't a total shock.

Sando: Cards need young O-line, get R. Williams healthy -
The Arizona Cardinals will have to be more diligent with their choice in the draft this year and aim towards younger offensive linemen, according to Mike Sando, an NFC West blogger for ESPN.

Cardinals franchise Calais Campbell | ProFootballTalk
Calais Campbell is the latest player to get the franchise tag. The Cardinals announced today that Campbell, a defensive end who has played all four of his NFL seasons in Arizona, has been franchised.

Arizona Sports News:

Suns woeful offensively, but still defeat Clippers
The Suns' season won't remain headed in the right direction without consistency, the missing element to their improved defense this season. They have found that coming out of the All-Star break, following the second-half shutdown that won Thursday night's game against Minnesota with a four-quarter effort that offset their messiest offensive performance of the season. The Suns rallied from double-digit deficits on consecutive nights for the first time since 2006, but did it more impressively Friday by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 81-78 at US Airways Center. The Clippers shot 36.8 percent in falling to 21-13, the best record of a team that has lost to the Suns this season.

A personal plea to Vontaze Burfict -
I can't stand watching talented people self-destruct. Maybe it's because I never had any talent and envied those that did? Maybe it's because I hate to see people waste something that could change their lives and their children's lives? Maybe it's because the blessing of talent often comes with a stain on the soul? Watching Vontaze Burfict self-destruct in Indianapolis was difficult.

Phoenix listed among most miserable sports cities -
The Suns are looking at their third trip to the lottery in four seasons. The Cardinals have gone a couple years without a playoff spot, with Valley fans excited over an 8-8 season. And sure, the Diamondbacks won the NL West last season and the Coyotes are looking at their third consecutive playoff appearance, but not long ago they were two of the worst teams in their respective sports. Perhaps that's why Forbes ranked Phoenix as the third-most miserable sports city in America.

NFL News:

Saints Implemented Bounty Program Administered By Gregg Williams, According To NFL Investigation -
According to an NFL investigation, between 22 and 27 players and at least one assistant coach on the New Orleans Saints participated in a bounty program which rewarded players for injuring players on the opposing team.

Saints, Drew Brees Situation Starting To Get A Little Ugly -
New Orleans Saints' QB Drew Brees is scheduled to be a free agent on March 13 but the Saints will never let him reach the market. He'll be issued the franchise tag if the two sides can't reach an agreement by this weekend. The deadline to use the franchise tag is Monday, March 5. But they are entering into dangerous territory, at least as far as the PR game goes. Earlier this week Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Saints GM only wanted to pay Brees as a "very good" not a great quarterback. That, of course, ruffled some feathers. And now a report comes out -- probably from the team -- that the Saints offered Brees a contract before last season that would have made him the highest paid player in the NFL and he turned it down. Via Larry Holder at news: NFL says Saints created 'bounty' program from 2009-2011
The league announced Friday that 22-27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints maintained a "bounty" program administered by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Saints’ ‘bounty fund’ could have them in a lot of trouble with the league | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo! Sports
ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report that the New Orleans Saints are alleged to have maintain a "bounty system" through at least the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. The NFL's security department believes that between 22 and 27 defensive players on the team, as well as at least one assistant coach, maintained a program funded primarily by players that rewarded tackles inflicting injuries on opposing players, resulting in those players being removed from a game.

Saints' bounty system and the Rams - NFC West Blog - ESPN
St. Louis Rams fans can expect coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to field a defense with a nasty demeanor. It's looking like a formal bounty system for opposing players might be out of the question. The NFL appears ready to come down hard on Williams' former team, the New Orleans Saints, for rewarding hits that left opposing players with injuries. ESPN's Adam Schefter has the details, including a quote of interest for Arizona Cardinals fans.

"Bountygate" possibly taints Saints’ Super Bowl win | ProFootballTalk
The league’s announcement that the Saints violated the "bounty" rules sends a clear message to the Saints and every other team regarding the fact that such activities won’t be accepted. But what message does this entire situation end regarding the Super Bowl victory the Saints earned at the end of a playoff run fueled by extra payments for injuring opposing players?

The Saints 'Bounty' Program, And The NFL's New PR Crisis - From Our Editors -
If you were to guess which NFL team maintained an active bounty program for defensive players looking to knock opponents off the field, you'd never guess the Saints, but here we are.

Gregg Williams’ bounty history should result in a lifetime ban | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo! Sports
The vile practice of paying players to knock other players out of games, known as a "bounty system" to most and referred to as "pay for performance" by longtime defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, was thrown into the spotlight on Friday, when the NFL released a 50,000-page report indicating that with Williams as their defensive coordinator, the New Orleans Saints participated in a system that paid players cash bonuses for hits that knocked opposing players -- most notably marquee quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Kurt Warner -- from games.

Offensive and defensive players look at the Saints’ ‘bounty fund’ very differently | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo! Sports
News of the New Orleans Saints' "bounty fund" made its way around the league quickly. Players became aware that they were targeted for bounties, and that their injury might have resulted in a payout of $1,000 or more to a Saints player.

Loomis could pay price for lying to league, owner | ProFootballTalk
General managers only have so many people above them in the NFL hierarchy. A team owner is one. The league office is another place you don’t want to mess with.

Report: Williams had bounty system in Washington too | ProFootballTalk
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams didn’t start his bounty system in New Orleans. It goes back to his days with the Redskins at the very least. Mark Maske of the Washington Post has a detailed report that could submerge Williams in hotter water with the NFL. If that’s possible.

NFL finds that Saints violated "bounty rule" | ProFootballTalk
No NFL team whose city hosts the Super Bowl has ever played in that game. And the Saints will be launching their effort to do so with a very dark cloud hanging over the franchise.

League should consider taking Saints’ franchise tag | ProFootballTalk
Though the release issued by the league office mentions only fines, suspensions, and forfeiture of draft picks as possible discipline for the blatant three-year violation of the league’s bounty rules, the timing of the league’s disclosure of the information invited speculation as to whether Commissioner Roger Goodell is contemplating something a bit more creative. Something like, say, stripping the Saints of their franchise tag for 2012.

(To be honest I would enjoy seeing this happen)

NFL Free Agency 2012: Bargains Abound On Running Back Market -
Running backs lack the appeal they used to have in a pass-first NFL but teams looking for help in the backfield in free agency should be able to find a bargain this spring.

Peyton Manning Is Throwing 'Much, Much Better' -
We have a Peyton Manning update. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star reports that the Colts QB is in Florida working out and he is throwing "much, much better" at the moment. Manning has been rehabbing since his most recent neck surgery.

Dashon Goldson Getting The Franchise Tag; Safety Will Remain A 49er -
The San Francisco 49ers seem to be wasting no time in making sure their key players will be returning next season. They have already signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a big, six-year contract and now appear on the verge of placing the franchise tag on safety Dashon Goldson.

Ray Rice Officially Franchised By The Ravens -
Unsurprisingly, Ray Rice was handed the Baltimore Ravens' franchise tag on Friday. He will be among the highest paid running backs in the league, earning $7.7 million next season. More importantly, the Ravens bought time to negotiate a long term contract with arguably their most important offensive player. Rice was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Bengals Kicker Mike Nugent Picks Up The Franchise Tag -
The Cincinnati Bengals become the second NFL team to issue the franchise tag to their kicker. The Cleveland Browns gave it to Phil Dawson on Friday and the Bengals did the same to kicker Mike Nugent. This means Nugent will return to Cincinnati on a one-year guaranteed contract.

Matt Forte Franchise Tagged By Chicago Bears -
The Chicago Bears have been attempting to sign star running back Matt Forte to an extension before free agency opened up. The two sides were set to meet last week during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and begin discussing a new deal for Forte. It appears that the talks were either not progressing as quickly as hoped, or Forte was not interested in any of the Chicago offers, because the Bears will be using their franchise tag on Forte to retain him for the 2012 season.