I think most of us can agree that the release of Floyd on Wednesday was a surprise, though not overly shocking.
On the surface, it makes sense. Michael Floyd’s place in the receiving core was in free-fall. He started the season as the locked-in number two, heir apparent to Larry Fitzgerald.
The only concern we had was his penchant for being maddeningly inconsistent. He would disappear one game only to explode in the next.
We hoped he would remedy that in 2016, which, in retrospect, he sorta did. He play was consistently poor.
He exceeded 65 receiving yards in just one game, and never had more than five catches in a game.
His 33 receptions for 446 yards are well below his season average, and his catch rate (47.1%) is especially poor. But still, he was young, and his season only made his possible resigning more of a bargain.
So why the release of a guy who was going to be a free agent in just three weeks? Here’s some clues I think we picked up from Floyd’s release.
- We will target a wide receiver early in the draft.
Michael Bidwell’s statement on Wednesday: “He was a 2012 first-round draft choice for us, a person we thought would eventually take Larry Fitzgerald’s position and be the No. 1 receiver for the future. Deeply disappointing that we moved on and he didn’t work out as a person we had a lot of faith in.”
Now, with Floyd gone, that Larry Fitzgerald replacement is back on the shopping list. The answer isn’t on the roster, and with free agency lacking a true franchise guy (Alshon Jeffrey isn’t going anywhere), it only makes sense he’ll come to us in the draft. And in a strong but shallow draft that includes guys like Mike Williams, Dede Westbrook, Cooper Kupp and Juju Smith-Schuster, I think we strike soon.
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we pull the trigger in round 1, though I would prefer to grab a cornerback early.
As for the quarterback position, maybe we take a shot in round two, where I believe there will still be talent (We would have pick 43 as of today).
I don’t know. What I do know, is that Palmer (and whatever quarterback succeeds him) needs guys who can catch what is thrown to them.
- A message needed to be sent.
Much has been said about our locker room. Bruce Arians has called out players for being “selfish” and not playing as a unit. Reports have questioned the team’s mental toughness and focus.
Keim had this to say Monday- “...After the season — and these last three games are critical, for a lot of reasons — number one, I want to identify who loves it. Which guys are passionate about the game and who are our top competitors. ... [I]f you’re not going to compete and you don’t play with passion, you’re not going to be on this roster in 2017.”
Michael Floyd was released just two days later, which states a very strong, simple message. Be accountable. Hopefully this also extends to the coaching team, where improvements are certainly possible. But the players are certainly on notice. Which leads me to my next belief.
- We will be active (or passive) in free agency.
One of the larger complains about the release of Floyd regarded the team “throwing away” a possible compensatory pick. But perhaps Keim realized that Floyd’s eventual deal wouldn’t affect comp picks at all.
The actual formula for rewarding compensatory picks is a mystery, but the basis is simple- Lose more big names than you sign, get additional late round picks. The max you get is 4 though, and the list of Unrestricted Free Agents is massive- Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell, Evan Mathis, Frostee Rucker, Jermaine Gresham, DJ Swearinger, Tony Jefferson, Chris Johnson, Kevin Minter, AQ Shipley, Alex Okafor, Josh Mauro, Marcus Cooper, Earl Watford, and Stepfan Taylor.
The possibility of Floyd’s deal being one of the larger deals an ex-player signs is unlikely, especially after 29 teams passed on the possibility to claim Floyd off waivers.
Another possibility is that we come out balanced in free agency, signing an equal or larger amount of UFAs, at which Floyd’s deal would be cancelled out anyways. Either way, with Floyd’s value at an all-time low, a slew of free agents to be, and team needs aplenty, Floyd’s release and eventual deal seem irrelevant.
- Larry is sticking around for 2017
After a forgettable 2016 for the team, speculation of Larry Fitzgerald retiring rose. The team and player denied such rumors, but releasing Floyd (to me at least) shows the team has faith that Larry Fitzgerald will be a Cardinal next year.
Let’s be honest- Floyd’s issues and struggles were evident, but a 2017 wide receiver core featuring Brown, Brown, and Nelson doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. Fitzgerald does not seem too pleased with Floyd’s release, but his loyalty to the team has been evident and I’m confident he’ll be back in 2017, likely with a new student to mentor.