Arizona Cardinals Rumors & News

NFL Grants Compensatory Picks To Teams

The NFL announced that they have awarded a total of 32 compensatory picks to 16 different teams. Compensatory draft picks are given to clubs who lose more or better compensatory free agents (CFAs) than it acquires in the previous year. Those picks are slotted within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the free agents lost.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that there are no more than 32 compensatory picks granted each year. Due to that wrinkle, the Rams (one pick), Packers (one pick), Steelers (two picks), and Cardinals (three picks) will not receive those picks in accordance with the formula. Each of those four clubs will receive compensatory selections for other CFAs lost whose final numerical values ranked within the top 32.

This year, there is one notable change to the compensatory draft selection rules: teams can now trade those picks.

Click below for the full rundown: 

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Cardinals Re-Sign Jeremy Ross

The Cardinals are re-signing kick returner Jeremy Ross to a one-year deal, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Ross appeared in two games for the Cardinals after joining the team late in the 2016 season. Jeremy Ross (vertical)

Ross was initially brought aboard for depth after the release of Michael Floyd. After returning eleven kicks for 224 yards, the Cardinals want to see more from him this offseason. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has bounced around quite a bit in the professional ranks, so he’s probably hoping to stick with Arizona for a while. Ross has previously appeared in games for the Packers, Lions, Raiders, Ravens, and Jets.

In other Cardinals news, linebacker Kevin Minter says he’d like to return to the team but is also intrigued by the idea of reuniting with Todd Bowles on the Jets. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are reportedly not interested in signing Jay Cutler as Carson Palmer‘s backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals LB Kevin Minter Interested In Jets

Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter is scheduled to become a free agent on March 9, and while he’s interested in returning to the desert, he’s “curious to see what’s out there,” Minter told SiriusXM NFL Radio today (Twitter link). Minter added he “wouldn’t mind” joining the Jets this offseason, especially given that they employ his former defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, as head coach.Kevin Minter (Vertical)

[RELATED: Darrelle Revis’ Hearing Postponed]

New York currently projects to have the second-least amount of cap space in the NFL, and while the club can release players and restructure contracts in order to create more room, it may have to find bargains on the free agent market. Minter could be one such cost-effective solution, as the 26-year-old graded as the league’s No. 25 linebacker among 87 qualifiers last season, according to Pro Football Focus. In New York, Minter would join David Harris and Darron Lee as linebacker options in Gang Green’s 3-4 scheme.

Minter, a 2013 second-round pick, didn’t become a full-time starter until his third season with the Cardinals, but he’s since started every contest for Arizona over the past two years. He’s a key part of the Cards’ defense, but general manager Steve Keim & Co. have other critical free agent defenders, including Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones, to worry about, meaning Minter could be the one that gets away.

Cardinals Not Interested In Jay Cutler

Earlier this week, Peter King of The MMQB.com mused that a deal between quarterback Jay Cutler and the Cardinals this offseason wouldn’t be “shocking.” Apparently, Cutler signing in Arizona would indeed be a surprise. The Cardinals have zero interest in Jay Cutler, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic tweetsJay Cutler (Vertical)

[RELATED: Cardinals To Be Aggressive In Free Agency]

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to take chances on veteran players and his offenses tend to take chances deep down the field. Still, Cutler apparently isn’t of interest to the Cardinals. While the Cardinals are looking for a quarterback who can take over after Carson Palmer retires, they’d probably prefer to groom a younger player instead of signing a QB on the wrong side of 30 who would rather be starting somewhere else.

Cutler and the Bears are likely to part ways this offseason. It’s not clear where Cutler might land after that point and that’s probably because he’s more of a Plan B or Plan C guy than anyone’s primary target. Cutler, 34 in April, may or may not be a fit for the Jets. The 49ers could also have interest in Cutler as a transitional QB.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Opinion: Cards, Jay Cutler Could Fit

An offseason union between quarterback Jay Cutler and the Cardinals wouldn’t be “shocking,” opines Peter King of TheMMQB.com, who adds that a multi-year deal with incentives would make some sense for both sides. At first glance, Cutler signing — and presumably becoming a backup to Carson Palmer — appears unlikely, but as King notes, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to take chances on certain veteran players. Still, King is probably speculating rather than reporting, and Cutler is likely to target a starting job after (almost assuredly) being released by the Bears.

Cardinals To Be Aggressive In Free Agency

The Cardinals entered the 2016 campaign as a popular Super Bowl pick, but they ultimately stumbled to a 7-8-1 record, easily the worst mark of the Bruce Arians era. Although their on-field performance was troubling enough, the fact that two of the franchise’s cornerstones, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, are approaching the ends of their careers has only intensified the concerns in the desert.

Oct 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim before a NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Although both Palmer and Fitzgerald will be back for the 2017 season, it is clear that Arizona needs to start planning for life without them. Nonetheless, the Cardinals still have a talented roster, so it makes sense for them to try and stay aggressive while their championship window is still open. And, as Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writes, GM Steve Keim plans to do exactly that.

During a recent interview, Keim discussed whether or not his club would make a “splash” move in free agency, saying, “I don’t know what you would consider ‘splash,’ but we’ll certainly be aggressive and keep our foot on the gas pedal, try to keep pushing this thing in the right direction. There’s no doubt we took a step back last year. We’ve got to pick up the pieces and make some good decisions this offseason.”

Arizona does have roughly $38MM in projected cap room, and Chandler Jones could eat up a chunk of that room if the Cardinals put the franchise tag on him or sign him to a long-term deal — Keim reiterated that the tag was a real possibility — but outside of him, the club does not have many of its own free agents that they must re-sign (Calais Campbell will get a lucrative payday, but given his age, he probably won’t be out of the Cardinals’ price range if they choose to bring him back).

In addition to being aggressive in free agency, Keim did note that the team has to carefully balance long- and short-term goals, as he never wants to enter a true rebuilding phase. He said, “It’s a tough double-edged sword for me. There are guys like [Palmer] and [Fitzgerald] where you know the end is sooner rather than later. So you have to try and build around them and, so to speak, go for it now.

“But that’s our mindset every year. We’re never in a rebuilding phase. To me, you owe it to your fanbase to go for it every year, to be aggressive either in free agency or the draft. But you also have to keep in mind that you are going to do the right thing for the organization for the long-term. That’s the biggest challenge.”

So who might the Cardinals pursue on the open market? Our Dallas Robinson recently took a look at the team’s top three offseason needs, and while it will be difficult to address two of those three needs — a true No. 1 receiver and a long-term quarterback solution — in free agency, the club will certainly be able to spend money on a cornerback or two to provide Patrick Peterson with a much-needed running mate.

But as Keim said, “There isn’t any position, if we feel we can significantly upgrade that spot, that we won’t either draft a player or sign a player in free agency.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots’ Michael Floyd Pleads Guilty To DUI

Wide receiver Michael Floyd has pleaded guilty to extreme DUI relating to his December arrest, Jonathan Roy of FOX 10 tweets. As part of the deal, six other charges against Floyd have been dropped. The Patriots receiver will serve 120 days in jail with 24 of those days in a Maricopa County facility. The other 96 days will be done under house arrest. He’ll also have to do 30 hours of community service and pay a $5K fine. Michael Floyd (vertical)

Floyd’s blood alcohol content level was remarkably high when he was arrested late last year in Arizona, putting him into the state’s “Super Extreme DUI” territory. That level of DUI typically calls for 180 days in jail. Soon after the incident, the Cardinals cut ties with Floyd. The Patriots, seeing an opportunity to add a once-promising receiver for relatively little, claimed Floyd. The Pats were 11-2 at the time and were tied for the best record in the NFL, meaning that just about every other team in the league passed on the troubled talent.

Next up for Floyd, in all likelihood, will be discipline from the league. Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets that Floyd will face a potential two-game suspension in 2017, or possibly longer. The smart money is on Floyd serving a longer ban given that this is his second arrest for driving under the influence.

Floyd will be eligible for free agency in March. There is mutual interest in a return to New England, but it’s noteworthy that Floyd was a healthy scratch for Super Bowl 51, meaning that the team opted to have just four receivers in uniform.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cards’ Tony Jefferson To Test Free Agency

The Cardinals have been in serious negotiations with the representative for safety Tony Jefferson, according to an NFL source who spoke with Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic. However, according to a pair of reports, it won’t be enough to keep Jefferson from exploring the free agent waters in March. Tony Jefferson (Vertical)

Jefferson will hit the free agent market, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears. League sources indicate to him that he’ll be in line for $7MM+ per season on his next deal. Furthermore, a return to Arizona is not in the cards, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). La Canfora speculates that Jefferson will be the second-highest paid safety in free agency after Eric Berry.

The timing of these reports does not seem coincidental. I would speculate that Somers was informed of the ongoing contract talks from Cardinals sources. Moments later (Note: still speculating), Jefferson’s reps likely got on the horn with a pair of national reporters to let them know that the two sides are still very far apart.

With that said, deadlines tend to spur action and things can always change between now and March 9.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

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Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.


Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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Cardinals Prez: We Won’t Let C. Jones Go

Back in January, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters point blank that the team is willing to place the franchise tag on the star defensive end if the two sides cannot agree on a long-term deal. If that wasn’t clear enough, we now have additional confirmation from team president Michael Bidwill. Chandler Jones

[RELATED: Zach Links’ 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings 2.0]

We’re not going to mess around with that,” Bidwill said (via the team website). “He’s a great pass rusher, but if we can’t agree to terms that work for us, we’re just going to franchise him. His people know that.”

This year, the non-exclusive tag for defensive ends is expected to come in at $16.955MM. Ideally, the Cardinals would like to sign Jones to a multi-year deal that will keep him in place through his prime, but the tag will be their fallback if they can’t achieve that.

Given Jones’ talent, position, and age (26), his reps will push for astronomical figures on a brand new deal with a favorable cashflow like Olivier Vernon‘s free agent pact with the Giants. The Cardinals were aware of the cost factor when they traded for Jones last season, but they’ll only go so far this spring given the leverage of the first-time tag.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.