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Op-Ed: Cardinals get a paucity of return value on three trades

Net return? Isaiah Simmons and Josh Jones for Josh Dobbs and a 7th round pick

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing the Cardinals’ organization is brilliant at, it is in under-developing, mis-managing and then devaluing their own players —- and then having lost valuable leverage —- trying to trade them.

Earlier this summer, as was the case not so long ago with Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins after three months of failing to trade him.

Perhaps failing to get even a 7th round pick for DeAndre Hopkins has put Cardinals’ new GM Monti Ossenfort in the mood for taking whatever compensation they can get for ill-fated high draft picks they want to jettison out of the state.

Case in point —- trading Isaiah Simmons to the Giants for a 7th round pick.

Trading Josh Jones and a 7th round pick to the Texans for a 5th round pick is equally unacceptable.

And perhaps, most egregiously, trading a 5th round pick to the Browns for journeyman backup QB Joshua Dobbs and a 7th round pick is egregious.

While the Cardinals tear their players down and then try to trade them —- look at how clever the Browns were.

On Wednesday they announced that Josh Dobbs would be their primary backup (aka QB2) to Deshaun Watson while relegating pre-season phenom Dorian Thompson-Robinson to third string.

Check out DTR’s pre-season stats:

  • 21-16 W over NYJ: 8/11, 82 yds., 7.5 ave., 1 TD 0 int, 124.1 rating
  • 15-17 L to WASH: 9/10, 102 yds., 10.2 ave. 1 TD 0 int. 142.5 rating
  • 18-18 T with PHI: 13/24, 164 yds., 6.6 ave., 0 TD ) int 72.5 rating

Check out Joshua Dobbs”:

  • 15-17 L WASH: 8/16, 72 yds., 4.8 ave., 0 TD 1 int, 37.8 rating

if push ever came to shove, would the Browns really have played Dobbs over Thompson-Robinson?

So, why then didn’t the Brown just release Joshua Dobbs and aptly designate DTR as QB2?

Because they didn’t want to get stuck having to eat Dobbs’ 1 year $2M fully guaranteed contract. A contract they had come to regret.

This gets even more significant —- because during free agency Josh Dobbs turned down a chance to possibly start for the Cardinals while Kyler Murray was going though rehab in order to stay with the Browns as a backup at a fully guaranteed $2M.

No one knows what kind of contract the Cardinals were offering Dobbs, but, hey, it looks pretty clear that the Browns’ deal eclipsed whatever package the Cardinals were offering him.

Someone in the Cardinals’ organization, most likely Michael Bidwill, must have convinced Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon to keep Colt McCoy, despite the fact that McCoy suffered through significant arm injuries and a season-ending concussion in 2022.

And now with Colt McCoy struggling to hold up physically, Monti Ossenfort enters the Browns’ mousetrap and takes the bait to the tune of agreeing to send a 5th round pick in order to seal the deal for Josh Dobbs.

Had they waited until early next week, chances are the Browns would have released Dobbs.

That actually would have been better for both Dobbs and the Cardinals because Dobbs would be making at least $1M more this season on top of the $2M guaranteed he received from the Browns —- and the Cardinals would have saved a 5th round pick.

But, the point is, the Browns knew how to maximize their player’s market value, while the Cardinals have been engaged in doing the polar opposite.

Some fans and the Cardinals themselves seem to have forgotten that despite some struggles in pass coverage last year while being asked to cover slot WRs, RBs and TEs, Isaiah Simmons had a very productive season in 2022.

On top of this, Isaiah had the highest pass rushing grade on the team at 82.5 —- in a mere 65 rushes, he recorded 9 QB pressures and 4 sacks. That’s a very good win ratio.

Sure, Simmons’ lack of hustle on a couple of plays versus the Chiefs was alarming —- but he started the game in intimidating fashion looking like a doberman in the deep middle—- helping to cause Justin Watson to drop a skinny post on Mahomes’ first pass of the game with Isaiah and Kyzir White bearing down on him —- and then the penalty for unnecessary roughing on Marquez Valdez-Scantling was more about MVS slipping than it was about Isiah‘s pad level. He did not lead with the helmet. In fact he turned his head away as he was supposed to.

Let’s not forget that even though Monti Ossenfort declined Isaiah’s 5th year option, Ossenfort agreed to pay Isaiah his $2.4M roster bonus three weeks ago as needed to do by the first day of training camp. All for what? A three week tryout? $2.4M for a 7th round pick?

That in itself is a major gaffe.

One might imagine that in light of the nightmare it has been for Isaiah Simmons in Arizona getting drafted into the COVID years where there were virtually OTAs, the team not appearing to have a coherent plan for him, getting yanked and benched for several games afterward after his very first mistake in game one, getting beached for the team’s only playoff game since 2015 shortly after what may have been his best game as a pro during the Cardinals 25-22 upset over the Cowboys, and being asked to cover a gamut of receivers last season so often at random and not being matched up on one receiver so as to get accustomed to defending the route tree as the game goes on —- yes one might begin to understand how Isaiah could be more than a tad paranoid about his status with the team —- to where it’s quite possible Isaiah has been asking to be traded.

If that was indeed the case, then why didn’t cooler heads prevail after the Chiefs’ game where the GM and the coaches could have said to him not after that performance —- how about we showcase you in pre-season game three. Go out there are play your best. Create your own trade market.

I think it’s quite possible that Josh Jones asked fo be traded a few weeks ago when it was clear that he was not being given a decent chance to complete with D.J. Humphries for the LT job —- and the GM and the coaches told him to go out there are create a market —- show your versatility by playing well at RT and LT.

If so, that’s indeed what Jones did.

  • Game 1: at RT —- 69.1 (highest grade for any Cardinals’ T that week)
  • Game 2: at LT —- 73.0 (highest grade for any Cardinals T that week)

Jones may have even known the Texans were interested and he could create his own return to Houston.

My problems with the Josh Jones trade are:

  • Josh Jones has been the highest graded tackle for over a year now and yet the GM and the coaches have been ignoring that.
  • Good left tackles don’t grow on trees. Josh Jones’ 75.8 PFFoverall grade for players taking over 600 snaps was 16th best in the NFL.
  • Jones’ run blocking grade of 74.0 was 15th best in the NFL and by far the Cardinals best run blocking grade on the team.
  • Jonss’ pass blocking grade of 75.9 was 25th best in the NFL.
  • His consistency was striking: 75.8 overall, 74.0 run blocking, 75.9 pass blocking.
  • He had the best offensive grade of anyone on the team last season.
  • His pre-season grade of 74.0 is again #1 for offensive players taking more than 30 snaps.
  • If Josh Jones kept this consistency going for the Cardinals this year, (a) they should re-sign him or (b) he could command a free agent salary that could net the Cardinals a 3rd round comp pick —- which is certainly better than what amounts to be a 6th round pick, given the Cardinals had to throw in a 7th for Jones and a 5th.

The Cardinals have under-valued Josh Jones.

To think that Josh Jones and Josh Dobbs would ever have equal trade value is mind-boggling. Yet, they each were traded with a 7th for a 5th.

In my opinion:

  • JG and Nick Rallis should have continued to take Isaiah under their wing and coached him up. I would have loved to have seen that. Three weeks of training camp with a gifted athlete like Isaiah while he is adjusting to a new position is not nearly long enough to make an accurate assessment. I worry now that Wink Martindale will make the Cardinals and Gannon look utterly foolish. Maybe as early as Week 2 when the Giants come to Arizona.
  • Josh Jones, plain and simple, should have been the Cardinals starting LT. He’s been durable and consistently productive.
  • I was bangiing the drum for Joshua Dobbs in free agency. When he decided to take $2M guaranteed from the Browns to be their backup, rather than sign with the Cardinals with a chance to have a Geno Smith type of renaissance as a journeyman QB turned into a viable starter, that spoke volumes as to where Dobbs’ priorities are at this point in his career.
  • I believe that Clayton Tune has more upside than Dobbs —- yet the Cardinals may hand over the starting role to Dobbs anyway —- as what will likely be giving up a 5th rounder for a one-year rental at $2M guaranteed. I would have had no problem with David Blough backing up Tune. Or the Cardinals putting in a claim for the Chiefs’ Chris Oladokun, if he’s waived.