Happy Thursday to all across the Red Sea!
I wrote this article yesterday, on Wednesday which to some (insert Geico camel) is also known as “hump day”. Fitting, as the Cardinals had a “Hump(h)” of their own that made a splash this past week.
On Monday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals made their first post-Fitz free agency splash by signing D.J. Humphries to a 3-year, $45 million deal with $29 million guaranteed.
With the Cardinals likely giving him the lower $10 million amount in 2020 (to save on the back end for more moves made this year) it reduces them from 15th in cap space down quite a ways amongst NFL teams.
(UPDATE: this was revealed to be $11.5 million and a full amount of $12.8 million per Overthecap.com with next year’s deal being guaranteed following March 21st, 2020—so a 2 year deal as many had said)
What was interesting and surprising to me particularly was…the negative feedback received from such a deal amongst fans and others and even was mentioned by Humphries himself.
While Humphries is by no means a top 15 tackle in the NFL (and some might say not even a top 15 left tackle) the main feedback to him signing a market value deal for 1 year less than most projected was “but he’s not good why pay him that money?”
This question was usually followed up without any other questions such as: “Who do you get to start at left tackle, then?” “Will paying them be equivalent to their contract value as to their value on the field?” or “Will their draft pick if it’s used on a tackle at pick #8 be guaranteed to play at his level coming in as a rookie at LT?”
Some even rejected the move simply because, well, I won’t have to tell you how many fans feel about Steve Keim’s tenure as GM overall, but even Cardinals beat writer Kent Somers chimed in, a bit surprised at the negativity:
Constantly amazed so many fans find absolutely no joy in the teams they follow.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) February 18, 2020
(Even I might be feeling a bit called out right now, lol)
All of these are worthwhile questions above. And it’s because they all funnel to the same place:
“Probably another guy, a rookie or free agent”. “No, you’ll have to pay a lot more for a better tackle, and probably way overpay compared to Humphries’ deal”. “No, they won’t be better but they might be long-term” or “Yes, they’ll be better cause he’s bad.
Essentially they all say the same thing: “Doesn’t matter, literally anyone has to be better that they can find to put in there.”
And I think there’s an argument to upgrading but…that’s not really the case, is it?
Especially now that the new terms of this deal have come out.
I don’t think you’ll be able to find many haters and even those who were against it who suddenly ONLY went for it due to the money can agree—it’s the team not overpaying for the guy.
The Cards only have maybe 2-3 positions where you WON’T be able to find a suitable upgrade on their team—Murray at QB, Chandler Jones at Edge, Budda Baker at Safety (outside of a guy like Jamal Adams pretty much), or cornerback Patrick Peterson when playing well. Fitzgerald for what he brings is irreplaceable but…that’s about it.
It’s ultimately a gamble in the end, no matter what.
Like playing the stock market, it doesn’t do to put all your eggs into a few big baskets like Apple/Google/Amazon, etc. Cause if those companies fall and the price for those shares does as well, if you paid handsomely for them…yikes. Likewise, a bunch of boom or bust stocks end up evening out as well.
It takes those mid-range reliable stocks, and a bunch of them with positives and negatives, to make an overall growth of profit for a shrewd investor. Once you’ve identified what those are, even if you don’t have the big-time stocks you’re still going to bring in more wins than losses.
It’s the same way in the NFL and free agency with Humphries being one of those guys…and admittedly I think most fans don’t see him as that because of the injuries (missing 1/3 of his games) and the “Knee Deep” reference from Arians where most fans prefer to hear nothing but positive things about their players and prospects and negativity, unfortunately, can stick.
It probably goes deeper than that, however, into just the idea of fan perspective and, dare I say, entitlement. The whole “I pay my money, support the team and wear the jersey!” mentality where a lot of football fanatics only like to see the best and brightest get paid and extended by their team….but not for the money they see that might limit them.
If all football was a choice between being paid via a salary cap vs. pro players playing for pennies….first you wouldn’t see pros if the money wasn’t in it at that level but secondly, fans seem to always be okay with teams paying less. There’s even an argument for Larry Fitzgerald to take like $4-5 million a year (imagine if your boss wanted to cut your paycheck in half the last year before you retired, hehe).
Humphries, even, is a good example of this in how fans felt that a 3 year deal gave the Cardinals an “out” if his injuries came back vs. a 4th year…how many cited Humphries’ ability to add another deal as an advantage?
But just the same, how quickly do things change in the NFL?
At this time 2 years ago, David Johnson was about to become a top paid running back in the NFL and did…before having an average overall season and now is on the trading block. Likewise, Jared Veldheer has played on 3 different teams since he left the Cardinals, all on single season deals.
If that were you in that player’s shoes…I’m sure you’d prefer to maximize your OWN profits as best as you could, yes? Or would you say “Know what, an extra $2,000 a year is probably more than I’m worth…” Hard to say, eh?
Maybe we’ve got it all wrong and should be rooting more for the player making $29 million guaranteed and bemoaning that he didn’t get an even $30 million vs. rooting for these guys to take less and less. Maybe the human interest is more important. As is the idea of market value and how while Humphries might LOOK like a top-paid tackle…people will have forgotten all about his deal in just over a month.
Maybe that’s just not realistic or the way that the world works as ultimately it’s only a special, select few who get to that ultimate level of renowned praise. And the rest we have to take it one day, one year at a time. With an emphasis on those medium, background or in the middle consistent deals, jobs and companies or smaller businesses that keep the world floating on by.
And in this situation, just maybe, with a deal like Humphries that ends up right in the middle of expectations, it couldn’t be more perfect despite what critics might say. We’ll know in 2 years, anyway…but for now let’s at least celebrate someone who took the nickname “Knee Deep” of how far a coach said he had to put his foot up a player’s *** to get him to work and made it “knee deep” in cash. If he plays well over the next 3 years and AZ keeps him, he’ll be paid a ton.
But as of right now—the Cards still have the flexibility to move on...
Are fans upset and feel he was unjustly rewarded? Or wanted him to be “punished” for that initial problem?
In either case, that’s where desire crosses the line into entitlement and disagreement becomes vindictiveness. And that really doesn’t do anything but hurt those who’re clearly thinking only of themselves.