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Sunday Morning Java Chat: MODS Squad

A week ago I wrote a thread asking whether the Cardinals were finished signing free agents. As it turns out, this past week MODS (Monti Ossenfort and Dave Sears) have been on bargain hunter’s shopping spree.

As signing after signing has been announced, an avalanche of Cardinals’ pundits and fans have taken to social media to express their scorn for what they consider to be “underwhelming” signings.

Yet, the further along we get into free agency, it is become more and more clear what the Cardinals’ plan is.

The plan is to create a MODS Squad of affordable free agents who have flashed at one time or another as starters or dynamic special teams’ players —- and who are now —- in their mid to late 20’s —-are heading into their prime —- with tons to prove.

Most recent case in point, LB Krys Barnes (GB):

To quote ROTB’s Andy Kwong:

Last season, he (Barnes) sustained an ankle injury in Week 1 that forced him to miss the next six weeks. Barnes returned in Week 9 but missed the following week’s game due to a concussion. He was active in only six games in the 2022 season.

Over the last three years, he made 24 total starts (35 games), 190 tackles, and three sacks.

After an injury plagued 2022 season, the Packers decided not to offer Barnes an RFA tender.

On Twitter, after the signing was posted the immediate outcry from indignant fans was: “What? Another freaking linebacker? Is Steve Keim still GM?”

Earlier in the week, the Cardinals signed LB Josh Woods (DET) who was the Lions’ special team’s captain in 2022. It was a superb signing for our special teams. However, Woods does not have anywhere near the starting LB experience that Barnes has. Nor has Woods flashed on tape at LB the way Barnes has.

There are contexts and puzzle-piece factors to these signings that should be heeded before anyone gets pissed.

Furthermore, the great irony is that many of the fans and pundits who are expressing their disdain for these MODS squad signings were the same ones last season who were saying week after week how “pathetic” the Cardinals depth was.

The MODS Squad plan is completely aligned with Jonathan Gannon’s philosophy of giving every player on the rosters a specific role and asking them to fulfill their role to the best of their abilities.

Fans might forget something that GMs and HCs don’t —- GMs and HCs not only want depth for the 54 man roster, they want to accumulate the best possible depth for the 14 man practice squad.

Some of the MODS Squad signees may not make the 54 roster at the outset, but they will have the chance to continue to make their case while moving their way up from the practice squad, the way RB Corey Clement did last year, for example.

MODS Squad Roles:

  • C/G Hayden Howerton, (NE/TEN) —- compete for C1 or C2 and swing C/G, excel on STs
  • DT/DE Kevin Strong (TEN) —- compete for spot on DL rotation as run stuffing 3 Tech, excel on STs
  • G/T Dennis Daley (TEN) —- compete for LG1 and swing G/T, excel on STs
  • QB David Blough (DET/ARI) —- compete for Q1 and Q2 (while Kyler is rehabbing)
  • LB Josh Woods (DET) —- compete as a STs ace and backup LB
  • TE Noah Togiai (PHI) —- compete for backup TE role, excel on STs
  • LB Kyzir White (PHI) —- bring energy, experience and leadership as a starting linebacker
  • WR Zach Pascal (PHI) —- emerge as a go-to WR in WR rotation, excel on STs
  • DE L.J. Collier (SEA) —- bring hunger and talent in competing to start at 4-3 DE
  • C/G Hjalte Froholdt (CLE) —- compete to win the C1 job or LG1 job or swing C/G role, excel on STs
  • WR Greg Dortch (AR) —- compete to win the slot WR1 job, excel on STs
  • G Will Hernandez —- nail down the RG1 job and take game to next level, excel on STs
  • RB Corey Clement —- compete for RB2 or RB3 role, excel on STs
  • CB Antonio Hamilton —- compete for staring CB job or CB3 role, excel on STs
  • LB Ezekiel Turner —- continue to excel on STs, compete for backup LB role
  • DT Jonathan Ledbetter —- continue to compete for DL rotation role as 3 Tech, excel on STs
  • LB Krys Barnes —- compete for starting, backup or situational LB role, excel on STs

Attitude is Everything

MODS Squad Quote of the Year:

“They could have gotten anybody, and they went with me. I am going to make sure they won’t regret that.” L.J. Collier

They Are Happy (Estan Felices):

But some fans are not happy —- not yet —- anyway.