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News and Notes on the Cardinals

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-OTA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

  • The same day that David Johnson was observing practice from the sidelines, rumor had it that the Cardinals are in the process of trying to sign him to a long-term contract. The Cardinals would be wise to wait another year on Johnson, unless Johnson and his agent are willing to accept a contract that averages $8.25M a year (which would put Johnson at #2 in the top RB salaries tied with Devonta Freeman and $200K a year above LeSean McCoy,, but not at the pinnacle where Le’Veon Bell sits @ $14.5 per his second-straight franchise tag---a figure which Bell believes he warrants per year moving forward).
  • The Cardinals history of long-term contracts is a dubious one. During BA’s tenure, for example, the tenures of QB Carson Palmer, QB Drew Stanton, T Jared Veldheer, G Mike Iupati, TE Jermaine Gresham and S Tyrann Mathieu were all marred by injuries. Only WR Larry Fitzgerald managed to play every game and consistently play at a level commensurate with his salary.
  • Therefore, wouldn’t it behoove Steve Keim to be especially cautious about signing players to long-term contracts following injury-marred seasons?
  • Why has S Tre’ Boston visited with the Cardinals twice and remained unsigned? Here’s a guess. The Cardinals are still hopeful that S Tyvon Branch can return from his ACL injury---which was iterated this week by Antoine Bethea, who loves Branch as a teammate, chemistry builder and friend. Coming off injury, Branch would have to sign a contract at the veteran minimum (with little to no guarantees) that contains playing time incentives. That contract is likely in the neighborhood of what the Cardinals are offering Tre’ Boston, who is coming off a 56 tackle, 5 interception season with the Chargers (PFF grade: 81.4, #30 S). The Chargers drafted Derwin James and have apparently moved on from Boston. As we know, the UFA safety market this year has been very slow. In addition to Boston, Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid are still unsigned.
  • The Tre’ Boston situation is yet another perfect example of Steve Keim’s modus operandi. He puts a figure on the contract he wants to offer and he sticks to it, knowing he has a player like Tyvon Branch in the wings. Thus, if Boston concedes that he needs to accept a one-year “prove-it” deal to build up his market value, for 2019 then the Cardinals could actually wind up signing both Boston and Branch (when he’s ready).
  • Rumor has it that Keim is hoping to do the same at CB if, in addition to trading for Jamar Taylor (and getting Taylor to lower his 2018 cap figure), Keim is able to sign UFA CB Bashaud Breeland, whose market has shrunk, because of his foot injury.
  • TE Gabe Holmes had a good week in OTAs. First, he and Ricky Seals-Jones were lauded by Steve Wilks for their blocking and then on Thursday Holmes was on the receiving end of some nifty passes from Josh Rosen. Holmes looks like he’s in tip-top shape.
  • The combination of organized stretching, the emphasis on conditioning and Steve Wilks’ up-tempo game speed type practices is hopefully the answer for diminishing the number of injuries this year.
  • Ray Brown is raving about his offensive line and his depth. While Brown might be a tad overzealous in claiming his group could be the best in the NFL, it’s refreshing to hear praise this time of year, rather than continued criticism and doubt. Changing the mindset and improving the chemistry of the group are Brown’s top priorities and it appears the players are embracing his teaching and his enthusiasm.
  • PFF just put out its Top 50 player list for 2018 and, you guessed it, no Cardinals are on that list. Three Seahawks are: #12-LB Bobby Wagner; #22-FS Earl Thomas; and #34 QB Russell Wilson. One 49er is: #43 DL DeForest Buckner. And two Rams: #1 DT Aaron Donald; and #36 DT Ndamukong Suh.
  • PFF has 8 Edge rushers in their top 50: #7-Mack (OAK); #8-Miller (DEN); #13-Jordan (NO); #16-Bosa (LAC); #19-Campbell (JAC); #25-Graham (PHI); #31-Lawrence (DAL); #43-Ingram (LAC)-----and no mention of Chandler Jones.
  • PFF has 5 CB in the their top 50: ##1-Hayward (LAC); #17-Ramsey (JAC); #29-Harris (DEN); #31-White (BUF); #32-Lattimore (NO)-----and no mention of Patrick Peterson.
  • PFF only has one RB in their top 50: #24-Bell (PIT)----and no mention of David Johnson.

The 2018 Cardinals are fast becoming the official Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL---as in “no respect.” “You know, my wife and I like to talk after making love---the other night she called me from a motel. I tell ya I tell ya I tell ya, I get no respect.”