Peyton Place Not Lone Destination for Arizona Cardinals in Free Agency

They lose out on one future Hall of Fame quarterback, and their fan base pushes the panic button. Relax, Arizona Cardinals fans.

ESPN.com recently wrote a report in which some fans on twitter were wondering what the Cardinals have been doing with their offseason while teams around them have been making moves.

Let us count the ways.

First, Arizona hung on to its best defensive lineman when it put the franchise tag on end Calais Campbell – without making him angry – and the move allows the team to continue long-term contract negotiations with the fifth-year player.

It renegotiated with left tackle Levi Brown, whose original $17 million salary would’ve put the Cardinals on the shelf in free agency for the rest of the offseason. True, Brown was awful the first half of 2011, but he played much better during the club’s 7-2 record to close the season. Most NFL analysts said despite his subpar year, he was the best free-agent left tackle on the market.

Financial terms were not disclosed on the Brown deal, but Arizona then went out and found its quarterback.

Not Peyton Manning, mind you, but a cheaper one with better long-range potential in Kevin Kolb; the Cards picked up his $7 million roster bonus. The $12 million in savings – if Manning gets all of his $96 million over five years, will give Arizona further negotiating power in free-agency.

Last season, Arizona drew rave reviews for signing Kolb away from the Philadelphia Eagles, and his confidence has to be on the rise after his organization signed his bonus with one of the most prolific QBs in NFL history available on the open market.

What if the Cardinals had let Kolb go and lost out on the Manning sweepstakes, anyway? They revealed they’re not yet ready to hand over the keys to the kingdom to quarterback John Skelton.

Kolb’s protection improved with Brown back in the fold, as well as the addition of guard Adam Snyder, who left the 49ers to sign a five-year deal to play in Glendale. Arizona was able to dump guard Rex Hadnot and wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, and re-signed wide receiver Early Doucet.

They still need a cornerback to fill the void left by Richard Marshall when he signed with the Miami Dolphins. The Cards made a run at free-agent Jarrett Bush, who ended up re-signing with the Green Bay Packers. But that can be addressed in next month’s NFL draft.

All the moves Arizona has made has given the team some freedom during the draft to get the best player, rather than having to reach for a lower-rated player just to fill a need. The Cardinals don’t necessarily have to go strictly for an offensive lineman or a wide receiver or a defensive back. They just have to improve their talent level.

So, the Cardinals didn’t make the big splash with Manning; but that doesn’t mean they’re stuck between a rock and a Peyton Place. They won’t know how much they’ve improved until after next season, but they know right now that they haven’t regressed.

Even if their fans can’t help but digress over the fact that No. 18 would rather play in the cold mountains rather than the desert sun.


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  • ries

    First off the cards offseason screw ups have nothing to do with Peyton Manning. Yes he would have been a plus but that aside lets take a look at what they have actually done this off season. Using the franchise tag on campbell was a definite plus possibly the only plus. I dont see how anyone (if you actually watch the cardinals play.) can think re signing Brown was a good thing. It was NOT! The guy has been horrible since the day they signed him. So how does having 5 or 6 good games in a row justify yrs of horrible play? It doesn’t! He played for a contract and the cards bit hook line and sinker. Second they release Richard Marshall? This is the same guy Ray Horton said was one of their top defenders and was going to be a huge huge plus for the orginization. Great Job! Ok now they sign a lineman from the 49ers? Go look at the guys stats. I truley hope he is good but he hasnt been on paper. I am a firm believer that Skelton os going to be the cards guy. He has never worked under a good veteran qb like most rookies and yet he continues to improve. He has all the tools he just needs time and a line. Which doesnt seem to be happening. I think Kolb could be good he just never will be in az unless they get him some protection. He is a pre madona and cant get hit and he doesnt have the size to be playing behind that line. I know this is very negative but believe it or not im a huge cards fan i have been my whole life. I just think we need to look at the obvious and improve on our line. I know there isnt a lot out there in free agency right now so we will have to hope for good things in the draft but re signing brown was a horrible move. Period! Go cards….and that will never change.

  • Aaron

    Brilliantly said. I’m not sure what fans were expecting this offseason, but I think they’ve done a good job focusing on the current roster. Besides going after manning, what else was there to go after? Vincent Jackson? Mario Williams? Let’s be serious, there was not enough cap space to make any kind of splash this offseason.

  • Bart

    Let us count the ways that the Cards haven’t done anything…

    They put the franchise tag on Campbell, they haven’t sealed the new contract yet. Basically, they filed paperwork.

    They renegotiated with one of the worst tackles in the league… Financial terms were not disclosed which tells me they paid him more than he deserves. Not good for the long run finances for a producing a winning team, when the money could be spent on other deserving players, and probably means we go with a defensive player with our first round pick this year. Payton Manning may have signed with the Cards if we had a line to protect him and his neck. He was definitely interested as he visited the Cardinals facilities. The fact he DID visit us showed me the team, it’s coaches, and management are improving, however slowly. At least it is going in the right direction since the elder Bidwell stepped away from day to day management.

    $12 million in savings by having Kolb over Manning… Manning is worth $12 million more than our current QB. While I am a Kolb fan and think the crazy start to the season last year doomed him with effectively leading the new offence in less than a months time, I’d gladly take Manning every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Did you see what the Colts did last year? Payton Manning had my vote for MVP and he didn’t even play. His streak of 10 win seasons with THAT team? Wow! Impressive. I’ve been a Cards fan since 1971 and I’d like to get back to the super bowl in my lifetime. Heck, I’d settle for jut making the playoffs consistently. Manning… Fitzgerald… This is one thing I truly would have believed was possible, even if only for 2-3 years. Not counting wins during the playoffs, but when was the last year the Cardinals won 10 games in the REGULAR season? Uh.. 1976! The comment that, “will give Arizona further negotiating power in free-agency” by going with Kolb over Manning… at some point you have to make a decision to win. You can sell potential all you want but I suspect some of this Manning money went to above mentioned “financial terms not disclosed” renegotiated contract. It’s not like we are in the NFC East anymore with the likes of New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Dallas. Ok, we could win consistently against Washington right now but the other teams know how to win… Give or take the current Dallas decline. Long story short, the NFC West is not the NFC East in terms of overall competition of ownership. $12 million in savings hasn’t brought in any game changers.

    “They still need a cornerback”… can we start with a pass rush please? Shortening the time to the QB will shorten how long our coverage needs to hold up. Shorter times mean even average DBs will look better. I do believe that Ray Horton knows what he’s doing. Even though it may come across that I’m a defensive guy, I’m all for having a potent and explosive offense first. It’s a QB driven league, just look at the change in rules over the last 10 years. How close you are to the QB dictates how much you get paid. You protect him, you catch his passes, you get him as fast as you can on defense… I’d rather have a top 5 offense and a bottom 5 defense than be a league average 16 on both sides of the ball. So “They just have to improve their talent level” is one of those non-ending treadmills. Every team in the league claims to be doing this every year. There are a few players who can truly make a difference and I believe that Payton Manning has showed that he may be the best player ever at the QB position. Perhaps the Cards Management had certain perceptions during their meeting with him that we don’t know or won’t ever know about. Maybe Denver was Manning’s preferred destination and he went with his plan A even if the Cardinals offered him the same contract? We’ll never know the true feelings behind his decision. But alas, what has the Cardinals management done this year to improve? Nothing yet. They haven’t added anyone worth noting. As mentioned in the story, “They won’t know how much they’ve improved until after next season, but they know right now that they haven’t regressed.” Is this what we’ve come to? Every single year? At least they haven’t regressed… sad. It’s like banking on let’s hope that Seattle gets worse, the Rams stay in the crapper even with the new staff, and that San Francisco implodes for some unknown reason. Passively hoping to get better… that makes perfect sense.