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About Freaking Time

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Kyler Murray Press Conference Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Well, well, finally, after weeks of the Cardinals’ star QB and the Birdgang twisting in the wind, owner Michael Bidwill came out of his cocoon to issue this statement on Arizona Sports Radio 98.7:

“I’m not a big social media guy, I don’t know the nuances of some of this stuff, but I think there was a lot of interpretation around that that was inconsistent with the conversations that not just I have had but that Kliff (Kingsbury) and Steve (Keim) have had. There are positive conversations that are going in the right direction. We know we have to get better. I know Kyler put out the statement, “love me or hate me...I’m going to get better.” Well, put me in the category that I love him, and I know he’s going to get better.”

This is wonderful news for Kyler Murray fans like myself.

That is, if fans can believe it.

Sad to say, but the Cardinals’ owner, who prides himself in a covert style of leadership, is, as the Rolling Stones would say, “practiced in the art of deception.”

One needs to go back only as far as the Josh Rosen charade to remember that with the Cardinals’ front office the words and the music do not always match.

How and why it took Bidwill this long to pledge his allegiance to Kyler Murray is mind-boggling. He allowed this volatile, PR damaging and highly speculative situation to fester for weeks and days on end.

The cutting irony is that for all of the days that have gone by, the Cardinals’ owner allowed the Chris Mortensen report of someone inside the organization attaching the stigmas of immaturity and poor leadership on Kyler Murray —- while the Cardinals’ owner, by his own silence, continues to display a troubling lack of leadership.

Leaders get ahead of problems —- they don’t let them fester.

Furthermore, how mature is it of an NFL owner to be social media blind and deaf, particularly for an owner whose star players in recent years have been scrubbing their IG and Twitter accounts of all Cardinals’ related photos, with some calling the Cardinals’ front office “snakes in the grass”?

If you are an NFL owner, wouldn’t you want to stay on top of what your players are saying and doing on social media? Especially when social media outbursts and scrubbings have bitten you and the organization in the butt ad nauseum?

Social media is a significant factor in why the Cardinals year after year are considered “pretenders” and not “contenders”. That narrative has been allowed to perpetuate over and over —- by the Cardinals’ current and former players.

If players are alluding to their front office as “snakes in the grass,” then should it be a surprise that none of the top head coaching candidates over the years have shown any interest in interviewing with the Cardinals?

The morale of every organization comes down to whether the employees feel that they are being treated fairly and honestly. The top organizations are the ones who make direct communication between management and staff members a high priority.

This just in —- the Cardinals have a communications problem.

For right or for wrong, far too many of the Cardinals’ high profile players, the vast majority of whom have served as team captains, have felt dissed by the front office in one fashion or another. Not to say that some of those players brought trouble on themselves in one way or another. But, still...

When is this ever going to stop?

Well, it comes down to the Cardinals’ front office making some major changes to their modus operandi.

It comes down to making direct, honest communication a high priority.

It comes down to putting out social media fires either before they happen or immediately after they happen. Bad PR left to fester for weeks and days on end only perpetuate the Cardinals’ “pretender” branding.

Notice the word “immediately.”

Have you ever seen an organization so slow to react to adversity?

Have you ever seen an organization conduct itself with such a putrid level of urgency?

Have you ever rooted for a team where you had to question the validity of what you are being told every time the owner and the GM talk?

To be honest, I was delighted to hear Michael Bidwill say about Kyler Murray to put him “in the category of I love him.” That was clever of Bidwill to chime in on Kyler’s own words.

But, why in the world did it take so long for Michael Bidwill to say this?

With Bidwill, why does everything always feel like a “delay of game”? Like some sort of a stalling tactic?

When asked about working out a contract extension with Kyler Murray, Bidwill said “these things take time.”

When asked about giving the players and fans long overdue new uniforms, Bidwill said, “these things take time.”

Well, one of my funniest friends used to say, especially when we had to wait longer than usual for our drinks and food to arrive at the table, “Honey, I’ve got summer in my hair and I’ve got winter in my teeth, but if you don’t get some spring in your ass, we’ll be here to the fricking fall.”

When asked about re-signing Pro Bowl OLB/DE Chandler Jones, Bidwill said, “We love Chandler and would love to have him back, The devil is in the details and I’ll leave that up to Steve and Chandler’s representatives to work on.”

Was your reaction to “I’ll leave it up to Steve” the same as mine? “As in —- good luck with that?

Well, isn’t this the “we would love to re-sign him” the very pat statement that Bidwill makes every time the Cardinals are on the verge of seeing a popular player leave via free agency?

Bidwill and Keim said the same thing last year about Patrick Peterson, another team captain, like Chandler Jones, who scrubbed his socials and asked to be traded —- and, then, according to Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim never made one call to Peterson’s “representatives” during free agency.

Whether you like Patrick Peterson or not —- the saying of one thing and doing another is exactly why players do not trust Bidwill and Keim,

It’s an embarrassment.

The thing is —- pretty much every Cardinals’ fan knew it was time to move on from Patrick Peterson. So, when we were told that the team would like to re-sign him, we knew it was bold-faced lie. But for those who still harbored hope to see Pat P. stay with the team, the “we would love to re-sign Patrick” was a superfluous tease.

The truth about Chandler Jones is that at the money he is commanding and with the Cardinals very short of cap space, how can they afford to re-sign him?

Then there is the obvious question of whether Chandler Jones performed consistently well enough over the last two years of his contract to warrant another $15M+ a year contract.

One lesson that would be good for Michael Bidwill to learn is that when players ask to be traded, it’s a good idea to trade them. The Cardinals rejected an offer from the Eagles of their 2020 1st round pick and WR Nelson Agholor for Patrick Peterson at the trading deadline during Peterson’s suspension year. Yet, they rejected it. That 2020 1st round pick could have been WR Justin Jefferson, RB Jonathan Taylor or CB Trevon Diggs (3 2021 Pro Bowlers). Had the Cardinals traded Chandler Jones last year upon his request, they could have used the $15.5M cap money to re-sign OLB Haason Reddick ($9M), plus CB Mike Hilton ($6M). Reddick and Hilton are in their mid-20s and heading into their prime.

Perhaps the most honest thing that Bidwill said during his radio interview when he was asked if he and Kyler Murray can work out a contract extension: “ We also have other priorities. Free agency starts in a couple of weeks, and as well we have to get a couple of guys re-signed. The salary cap, it’s one big pie and you’re making room (with a QB extension) for a big new piece of the pie that will replace the rookie contract. The structure of it, the timing of it, it’s a complicated process. It takes some time.”

Easy Predictions (if Bidwill and Keim stay true to form):

  1. The Cardinals won’t have a deal done with Murray by May, so they will exercise Murray’s 5th year option (which won’t make Kyler happy) —- and thereby push the contract negotiations deep into the summer, where it will become more and more of a distraction and cause for media attention.
  2. The Cardinals will let Chandler Jones move on in free agency with the Cardinals not making any respectable offers.
  3. Deja vu all over again —- the Cardinals will ask captain T D.J. Humphries to take a pay cut in order to help the team with the cap. And even though D.J. regressed this past season (giving up 8 sacks, 45 QB pressures and 11 penalties —- as the 67th graded pass protector at tackle per PFF) , he was a Pro Bowl alternate who played in the game, and so he is most likely going to reject an offer to help the club. The question then becomes whether the Cardinals will offer D.J. a contract extension and whether it would be lucrative enough for D.J. and his agent to accept. Don’t bet on that. The Cardinals did not offer Chandler Jones an extension last year, so that could also be the case with D.J. Then what? Yet another scrubbing of socials and a trade request? The Cardinals, as was the case with Chandler Jones, could recover $15M of cap space by trading or releasing D.J. Like with Chandler, will the Cardinals do nothing and then let D.J. play out the last year of contract at $19.3M?

Kyler Murray has vowed that he is “going to get better.”

Michael Bidwill said to Arizona Sports Radio, “We know that we have to get better.”

But, are the “we” —- as in Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim —-going to get better?

Two days ag, NFL Network’s Jane Slater broke the news that an understanding has been reached between Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, claiming that now “everything is copacetic” between the franchise and Kyler Murray.

Tell us ROTB enthusiasts and valued members of the Birdgang, do you believe it?