Cardinals Rumors

COVID-19 Latest: Preseason, Travel, Arizona

As the NFL continues to prepare for training camps amid COVID-19, news on how the league will operate once players return emerges frequently. Here is the latest on the virus-NFL front:

  • A four-week preseason slate looks like the less realistic scenario, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). The NFL-NFLPA talks have not progressed to the point the early portion of the preseason can be ruled out, but signs are pointing in that direction. In addition to gaining some time to further prepare for playing games during the pandemic, the NFL canceling part of the preseason may be vital for conditioning. A multi-week acclimation period would push full-on contact work into mid-August, thus delaying teams’ game action. Players are pushing for the ramp-up period, Garafolo adds (video link). This would stand to better protect them against injuries that would arise from being thrust into team action after a virtual offseason.
  • NFLPA president J.C. Tretter sent a letter to players underlining some of the risks they will take by playing this season. Among the bullet points: the Browns center warns of the players who could be at higher risk of developing severe complications if they were to contract the virus — those with asthma, those at higher weights, etc. Additionally, players want multiple companies to perform different kinds of testing — due to state testing regulations varying. This represents one of the many issues the NFL and NFLPA are discussing before players return to team facilities. Players are scheduled for a conference call Thursday.
  • Two-plus months before the regular season is scheduled to begin, teams are already making travel adjustments. Multiple teams plan to take the unusual step of traveling on game days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. This does not indicate whether these plans will be in place throughout the season, with it being impractical for teams to make lengthy trips on game mornings. But teams even preparing to make day-of flights, to avoid hotel stays, is notable. Early returns do not point to players being on board (all Twitter links).
  • The Cardinals have some new hurdles to clear to host training camp. In light of coronavirus cases hitting record highs in Arizona — one of several states in which this is the case — Gov. Doug Ducey banned gatherings of 50 or more people. Ducey added that this policy is unlikely to affect sports — despite NFL training camps obviously housing far more than 50 people — but said attendance will be impacted (Twitter link via the Arizona Repulic’s Katherine Fitzgerald). Arizona was one of the first states to reopen and announce sports could return.

Cardinals Cut Jermiah Braswell After Arrest

5:07pm: Hours after news of this arrest surfaced, the Cardinals waived Braswell, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

1:53pm: Cardinals undrafted free agent wide receiver Jermiah Braswell was arrested for DUI on June 27 after he allegedly drove his Camaro into Lake Erie, per Corey Vallas of WFMJ.com. When the aptly-named Put-in-Bay police arrived at the scene, they found Braswell’s vehicle off the embankment and sitting in the water. Braswell was still in the driver’s seat attempting to move the car and could not explain what had happened.

Braswell subsequently failed a breath test and was arrested. Fortunately, no one else was in the vehicle and neither Braswell nor any bystanders were injured.

Braswell enjoyed a career year during his senior season at Youngstown State in 2019, recording 24 catches for 515 yards and seven TDs. The raw numbers are not flashy in and of themselves, but his outrageous 21.5 yards per reception clearly caught the eye of Arizona brass, who decided to take a flier on him when he went undrafted.

Of course, it’s difficult for any UDFA to make an NFL roster or even the taxi squad, and Braswell was one of five undrafted wideouts the Cardinals brought in this year. Given that, and considering the team’s WR depth chart was pretty strong to begin with, it would not be surprising to see the Cardinals cut bait in the coming days.

Former Chargers OL Max Tuerk Dead At 26

Former NFL offensive lineman Max Tuerk died on Sunday at the age of 26, per an announcement from USC’s athletics department. Tuerk, a third-round draft pick of the Chargers in 2016, was 26 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed. 

Tuerk made his name at USC, where he lined up at guard, tackle, and center and totaled 38 starts. Heading into his senior year, Tuerk looked the part of an early draft pick, but a knee injury capped his senior season at just five games. In the draft, the Chargers saw Tuerk as a potential steal, a versatile blocker who could bolster every part of the front five.

Unfortunately, suspensions and injuries plagued Tuerk’s pro career. The Chargers stashed him on the taxi squad in 2017, until he was plucked by Arizona. He played in just one game for the Cardinals before he was released outright in the offseason.

We here at PFR would like to express our condolences to Tuerk’s family and friends.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DeAndre Hopkins Leaves CAA

Newly-minted Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins is changing agents. Per Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, Hopkins is leaving Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and he will be eligible to sign with a new agent on Sunday (Twitter link).

The move is particularly notable because of Hopkins’ contract status. The star receiver, who went to the desert in a shocking trade between the Cardinals and Texans earlier this offseason, still has three years remaining on his current deal, but he has been negotiating a new pact with Arizona. He has indicated that he is not demanding a new contract, but the Cardinals are amenable to giving him one if the price is right.

Apparently, Hopkins was less than thrilled about how negotiations were going between CAA and the Cardinals. CAA is easily the top player agency in professional sports and counts Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford among its most notable NFL clients, but its reputation wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Recent rumors have suggested that Hopkins’ next deal could make him the highest-paid non-QB in the league. However, given that he remains under club control through 2022, and considering the league-wide concern in giving out massive extensions in the current financial climate, that could be a tough sell. We will see if his new agency — assuming he does not choose to represent himself — can make more headway in that regard.

Hopkins joins an Arizona offense that has the potential to be explosive in 2020. The three-time First Team All-Pro has averaged over 90 catches per season for roughly 1,230 yards and eight TDs over his first seven years in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals To Sign Dylan Cantrell

The Cardinals have agreed to sign Dylan Cantrell, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The wide receiver was a pupil of head coach Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, which may bode well for his chances of making the roster.

Cantrell, who stands at 6’3″, is expected to also see some work at tight end. He first entered the league as a sixth-round choice of the Chargers in 2018 and they had him ticketed as a WR. He didn’t see the field for the Bolts, but he did spend some time on the active roster.

In college, Cantrell managed 1,873 yards across four seasons. Much of that production came in his final year on campus when he hauled in 71 catches for 816 yards and seven touchdowns.

Now, Cantrell will push to make the team behind a wide receiver group headlined by Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins, and Christian Kirk. Or, if he gets work at tight end, he’ll be auditioning alongside Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels, Dan Arnold, and UDFA Ryan Becker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Talks Stall Between Cardinals, Patrick Peterson

There hasn’t been a lot of conversation between the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson on a new deal, the cornerback says (Twitter link via Darren Urban of the team website). Still, as he enters his walk year, P2 says he wants to continue and ultimately finish his career with the only team he’s ever known. 

Peterson is set to carry a $13.2MM charge against the 2020 salary cap. An extension could allow the Cardinals could tamp that number down a bit (though, probably not by much) while giving Peterson extra security as he enters his 30s.

Peterson, 30 in July, tallied 53 total tackles, two interceptions, and seven passes defensed in his shortened ten-game season. That marked the first campaign of his career without perfect attendance.

Last year, Peterson told the Cardinals that he wanted to be traded. Later, he was hit with a six-game ban for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. At that point, he changed course, telling the world that he wanted to spend the rest of his career in Arizona.

Despite all of the friction, Peterson has been phenomenal for the most part. Over the last nine years, he’s tallied 25 interceptions while blanketing some of the league’s most dangerous receivers. He didn’t deliver his finest work in 2019, but he believes that he can help launch the Cardinals into contention in 2020.

It’s going to come down to us to manage the locker room, manage the egos and make sure everybody is on the same page and understand that we have to commit to one another, believe in one another and trust one another,” Peterson said. “If we do those three things, we can be in Tampa (for the Super Bowl) ready to face whoever, and ready to hopefully bring that Lombardi trophy, the first Lombardi trophy, home to Arizona.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Kittle, Seahawks

The 49ers already know that they want to keep George Kittle for the long haul, but they also know that it won’t come cheap. Kittle is on course to become the league’s highest-paid tight end of all-time. As Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com explains, Kittle’s value goes beyond the gaudy yardage and touchdown totals.

In Kittle’s 14 games last year, the Niners averaged 4.83 yards per carry and tallied 23 TDs on the ground. Without him? They averaged just 2.63 yards per carry with zero rushing scores.

What’s amazing about him is what he does in the running game,” former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum said. “He’s a dominant blocker and he’s been dynamic in the passing game. He’s a rare weapon that I think is more valuable than just a regular tight end because he can block so effectively.”

Then, of course, there are the obvious drivers behind Kittle’s value. Since 2017, Kittle has amassed 2,945 receiving yards, the most of any TE inside of their first three pro campaigns. in NFL history. And, in the past two seasons, he’s totaled 1,464 yards after the catch, good for No. 2 in the league.

It’s pretty much a given that Kittle will top Hunter Henry‘s $10.6MM average annual value, as well as Austin Hooper‘s four-year, $42MM watermark for the largest total contract among TEs. How much further will it go? Wagoner expects Kittle and the Niners to settle for a four-year deal in the range of $68MM-$72MM with roughly $40MM in guarantees.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Cardinals Interested In Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen has spent two months in free agency, but the longtime Vikings defensive end does have a market. Strong interest has emerged, with the Cardinals being a new team in the mix for Griffen, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

Although a Vikings return cannot be ruled out, with the team not doing much to fill its need opposite Danielle Hunter, Griffen is not believed to be a good bet to return to Minnesota. While the 10-year Viking expressed interest in signing with the Seahawks, they may still be monitoring Jadeveon Clowney. Griffen is staying patient, Fowler indicates, and other teams are looking into the 32-year-old edge player.

The Cardinals did not draft an outside pass rusher this year. They signed Terrell Suggs to play opposite Chandler Jones last year but waived him late in the season. Arizona intended to give time to some of its younger edge defenders but may be eyeing a more proven option at this point. Griffen’s 74.5 career sacks are the fourth-most in Vikings history. He booked his fourth Pro Bowl invite last year after an eight-sack regular season.

Jones continued his dominance last season by registering 19.5 sacks. Suggs recorded 5.5 with the Cardinals. No other Cardinal recorded more than three sacks last year. The team did sign Jordan Phillips — who led the Bills with 9.5 sacks in 2019 — but he will operate as an interior pass rusher. The Cardinals have been busy fortifying their front seven this offseason, in also signing De’Vondre Campbell and then drafting Isaiah Simmons eighth overall, but are in the mix to continue adding to the group.

The Cards currently hold just less than $9MM in cap space — much of which will be needed to sign their draft class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.