Cardinals Rumors

Poll: Who Will Sign Kirk Cousins?

With less than a month until free agency begins, Kirk Cousins looks to be — barring an 11th-hour Redskins franchise tag he would fight — close to signing a long-term contract with the team of his choice.

It’s an incredibly unique situation, and teams with disparate profiles figure to make runs at signing the 29-year-old quarterback. Rebuilding teams, contending teams and operations that would seemingly be contenders if supplied a quarterback are going to pursue Cousins. So, where will he go?

The Jets and Browns are going to have the most money to chase Cousins, and the former makes sense as a destination. New York surprised many last season by winning five games and finishing well off the pace for the No. 1 pick, which many predicted the rebuilding team would secure. The Jets could have more than $90MM in cap space after a few sensible roster moves, and despite their troubles in recent years, could make a case they are a young team who could build a long-term foundation around Cousins.

Cousins has said repeatedly that after making more than $44MM the past two years he wants to play for a contending team. The Browns, though, have a staggering amount of cap space at $110MM-plus. They could sell a free agent QB on their ability to construct a foundation, but their past does not inspire much confidence. And this, by just about every indication to this point, seems like the year they draft a quarterback.

The Bills made a surprise run to the playoffs last season, but Brandon Beane said upon being hired he doesn’t plan to make many high-cost free agent signings. Considering this figures to be the most expensive free agent in NFL history, it’s difficult to envision a Bills push for Cousins. And Tyrod Taylor may not be completely out of the picture yet.

The Broncos and Cardinals are in similar positions as recent contenders who have fallen off the pace a bit, and neither will have the cap space to outflank the Jets or Browns. Both saw quarterback play lower their ceilings last season, and the Cardinals saw their longtime starter retire and his backups’ contracts expire. Denver has both Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian under contract but has made no secret about wanting to upgrade — via free agency or the draft — with that desire presumably being centered around complementing the core players remaining from the Super Bowl season.

Both the Broncos and Jets are rumored to be gearing up for entrances into the Cousins sweepstakes, and the Bovada sports book has these two as the early frontrunners. However, both the Vikings and Jaguars fit the profile of franchises that could use Cousins as a possible springboard to a Super Bowl. How serious are they about this, though?

The Jaguars may have complications because of Blake Bortles‘ wrist surgery. The embattled starter not being able to pass a physical come mid-March will guarantee his $19MM fifth-year option salary and cloud a potential Cousins pursuit. Jacksonville’s current plan is to keep Bortles, but is a chance at Cousins too tempting to avoid?

The Vikings would make sense as well but may opt to stick with Case Keenum via franchise tag. However, Cousins has proven more than Keenum, and although he would make for a costlier expense, Minnesota being on the doorstep of its first Super Bowl berth in 40-plus years may make ditching their 2017 setup for Cousins a worthwhile gamble. The Vikings do have several core players entering contract years, which could make a near-$30MM-AAV Cousins accord complicated. Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter are four who fit that profile. How much will that factor into a Cousins push?

So, where does Cousins end up?

Does he stick to his winning-situation statements and avoid teams who have struggled in recent years, or can the Browns or Jets submit an offer he can’t refuse? Can the Broncos make a sales pitch that their history surrounding a UFA QB with championship-caliber talent would be worth sacrificing a bit of cash, or is their nucleus’ window closing to the point Cousins looks elsewhere? How serious are the Cardinals and Bills in this derby? And how much would the Vikings or Jaguars entering the fray change the outlook of this high-stakes process? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald To Play In 2018

Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going anywhere. In a radio interview, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks told 98.7 FM in Arizona that the wide receiver will return for the 2018 season. Larry Fitzgerald (vertical)

It’s a very exciting time for all of us. To all the Arizona Cardinals fans around the world, it’s very exciting because Larry mentioned to me last night that he is coming back for the 2018 season,” Wilks said. “I’m extremely excited…You’re talking about a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. I couldn’t be more excited to have Larry coming back next year. He is totally committed — those are his words — so we’re ecstatic to have him be part of the Arizona Cardinals.”

The 11-time Pro Bowler is now set to take the field for his 15th NFL season. Even at his advanced age, Fitzgerald is still among the best at his position. After moving to the slot in 2015, the veteran has topped 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each season and has cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time greats. This past season, despite being the league’s oldest wideout, Fitzgerald caught a career-high 109 passes and tallied 1,156 receiving yards with six touchdowns.

Thanks to the one-year extension signed in November, the Cardinals have Fitzgerald under contract for $11MM in 2018. The deal includes a no-trade clause and incentives that can give him an extra $1MM if he reaches No. 2 on the league’s all-time receiving list. Fitzgerald can hit that marker with 92 catches to top tight end Tony Gonzalez’s 1,325 career catches. That’s very doable since Fitzgerald has averaged 108 grabs over the past three years. He also only needs 390 receiving yards to pass Terrell Owens’ 15,934 for No. 2 all-time.

This week, the Cardinals promoted assistant receivers coach Kevin Garver to WR coach, a move that reportedly pleased Fitzgerald and may have nudged him towards playing. Quarterback Carson Palmer and coach Bruce Arians are gone, but Garver will be among the familiar faces for Fitz in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Cowboys, Cards, Falcons

The Cowboys are expected to name Doug Nussmeier as tight ends coach, sources tell ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Nussmeier has a lengthy resume, including stints as the offensive coordinator for Florida, Michigan, and Alabama. The former NFL backup quarterback also served as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach under Scott Linehan, the Cowboys’ current OC.

More from the coaching ranks:

  • The Cardinals announced that they have promoted assistant receivers coach Kevin Garver to WR coach and inside linebackers coach Larry Foote to LB coach. The retention of Garver should be a plus for Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM tweets. The veteran is deliberating whether to play in 2018 or retire and the presence of Garver could push him towards continuing his career.
  • The Falcons announced three additions to their coaching staff: running backs coach Bernie Parmalee, offensive assistant Chad Walker, and assistant special teams coach Mayur Chaudhari. Parmalee served as the Raiders’ running backs coach from 2015-17. While the running game wasn’t always great in Oakland during that time, the Raiders did average 120.1 yards on the ground in 2016, the sixth-most in the league. Parmalee is best known for his days as an NFL running back for the Dolphins and Jets.
  • The Panthers hired former University of Michigan offensive graduate assistant coach Drew Terrell as an offensive quality control coach, per a team announcement. Terrell first made a name for himself as a wide receiver/punt returner at Stanford where he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a returner three times.

Cardinals Hire Assistant

  • The Cardinals have hired former University of Findlay offensive coordinator Troy Rothenbuhler as an offensive quality control coach, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Rothenbuhler had spent his entire coaching career in the collegiate ranks, and spent the past seven years as Findlay’s play-caller.

Cardinals Extend GM Steve Keim

The Cardinals announced that they have signed GM Steve Keim to an extension. The new deal will keep him in place through the 2022 season. Steve Keim (vertical)

[RELATED: Latest On Larry Fitzgerald]

Keim’s contract is roughly in line with that of newly-hired coach Steve Wilks. Wilks’ contract is a four-year deal with a team option for the ’22 campaign.

Keim took over as the Cardinals’ GM in 2013 and the results have been largely positive. In that span, Bill Belichick (Patriots), John Schneider (Seahawks), Kevin Colbert (Steelers), and John Elway (Broncos) have accumulated more wins. The Cardinals have missed the postseason for the last two seasons, but they still feel that Keim is the right man to help them retool and get back into the playoff picture.

Steve’s performance and accomplishments as Cardinals GM speak for themselves,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “His role in the team’s success over the last five seasons is undeniable. This new contract ensures that he will continue to shape our success going forward and we are thrilled about that.”

Keim will have his work cut out for him this offseason. Armed with just $22.7MM in cap room, the Cardinals will have to address their murky quarterback situation while filling other holes on both sides of the ball.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cards Want To Re-Sign CB Tramon Williams

The Cardinals aren’t expected to spend at the top of the cornerback market in order to bring in a defender such as Malcolm Butler or Trumaine Johnson, and will instead attempt to re-sign veteran defensive back Tramon Williams while drafting a corner, tweets Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com.Tramon Williams (Vertical)

Arizona has long struggled to find a corner to play opposite Patrick Peterson, but Williams filled that void in 2017, posting arguably the best season of his lengthy career while ranking as the NFL’s No. 9 cornerback, per Pro Football Focus. He also finished 23rd in Football Outsiders’ success rate and 18th in yards per pass allowed, while the Cardinals as a team ranked sixth in DVOA against opposing No. 2 wide receivers.

However, Williams will be 35 years old when the 2018 campaign gets underway, so it’s unclear if he’ll be able to land anything more than the one year, $2MM deal he inked with the Cardinals last summer. Coming off a far less productive campaign, Williams didn’t sign until the end of July in 2017. While he almost certainly won’t have to wait that long to find a new contract this offseason, his age will prevent him from truly cashing in.

If Williams signs elsewhere, Arizona will need to draft a cornerback early or add another free agent defensive back. Williams, Peterson, and Justin Bethel were the only Cardinals corners to play more than 7% of the club’s defensive snaps a season ago, and Bethel is now a free agent, as well. Other Arizona defenders such as Harlan Miller and C.J. Goodwin can’t be counted on to start, while 2016 third-round pick Brandon Williams was asked to play only a single defensive snap in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Hire Jason Michael

  • The Cardinals have hired former Titans quarterbacks coach Jason Michael as their new tight ends coach, as Marvez reports. The Cowboys also had interest in adding Michael to fill their vacant tight ends coach job, but Michael instead chose to head to the desert. Michael was previously Tennessee’s offensive coordinator from 2014-15, but was demoted when Mike Mularkey took over the Titans’ full-time head coach in 2016.

Cardinals Add Two To Coaching Staff

  • The Cardinals have hired a college coach to fill out their staff. Sporting News’ Alex Marvez reports that the team has hired Charlie Harbison as their new cornerbacks coach. The 59-year-old last served as the co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cardinals have also hired Kirby Wilson as their new running backs coach. Wilson spent the past two seasons in the same role with the Browns.

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Updated 2018 NFL Draft Order

With the Super Bowl in the books, we now know the draft order for the entire first round of the 2018 draft. Here’s the rundown:

1. Cleveland Browns (0-16)

2. New York Giants (3-13)

3. Indianapolis Colts (4-12)

4. Cleveland Browns (via the 4-12 Houston Texans)

5. Denver Broncos (5-11)

6. New York Jets (5-11)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

8. Chicago Bears (5-11)

T-9. Oakland Raiders (6-10)

T-9. San Francisco 49ers (6-10) (Note: The Raiders and 49ers have identical records and the same strength of schedule. The tie will be broken by a coin flip with the winner getting pick No. 9 and the other club receiving the No. 10 pick.)

11. Miami Dolphins (6-10)

12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)

13. Washington Redskins (7-9)

14. Green Bay Packers (7-9)

15. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

16. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

18. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)

19. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

20. Detroit Lions (9-7)

21. Buffalo Bills (9-7)

22. Buffalo Bills (via the 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs)

23. Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

24. Carolina Panthers (11-5)

25. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

26. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

30. Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

31. New England Patriots (13-3)

32. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)