Arizona Cardinals: Jaron Brown

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Teams have less than a month to get their top 51 salaries under the 2015 salary cap, which has yet to be determined, by March 10, when the new league year begins.

The Arizona Cardinals' top 51 salaries are currently worth $148.9 million, with four players -- Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell and Carson Palmer -- eating up 45.4 percent of that sum.

Over the course of 11 days, the Cardinals’ salary-cap situation will be broken down here by position.

Larry Fitzgerald

Cap hit: $23.6 million

Final season under contract: 2018

Cash value: $16.25 million

Notes: Fitzgerald is due an $8 million signing bonus in March.

Ted Ginn

Cap hit: $4 million

Final season under contract: 2016

Cash value: $3.25 million

Notes: Ginn’s salary is guaranteed on the third day of the league year.

Michael Floyd

Cap hit: $3.2 million

Final season under contract: 2015

Cash value: $1.75 million

Notes: Floyd’s base salary of $1,749,750 is fully guaranteed.

John Brown

Cap hit: $657,725

Final season under contract: 2017

Cash value: $522,000

Jaron Brown

Cap hit: $588,000

Final season under contract: 2015

Cash value: $585,000

Notes: Brown will be a restricted free agent after 2015.

Brittan Golden

Cap hit: $510,000

Final season under contract: 2016

Cash value: $510,000

Notes: Golden’s salary will jump $90,000 in 2016.
With the Arizona Cardinals' loss in the playoffs still fresh in their memories, it’s time to review the 2014 season, while also previewing 2015. Over the next 11 installments, I’ll look back, and then ahead, at every position for the Cardinals.

[+] EnlargeLarry Fitzgerald
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsLarry Fitzgerald carries a $23.6 million cap hit next season, which means he may not be back in Arizona.
2014 Review: The momentum was already built heading into 2014. Larry Fitzgerald was coming off his best season since 2011. Michael Floyd had surpassed 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. And the receiving corps got a jolt when Arizona drafted speedy John Brown out of small Pittsburg State. But instead of building off 2013, Fitzgerald and Floyd regressed statistically because their roles were strictly defined -- Fitzgerald was the quarterback’s underneath option, when they decided to look his way, and Floyd was the deep sideline choice. Fitzgerald had 103 targets, his fewest since 2004. Brown was the most targeted receiver on third down with 42 catches compared to 36 for Fitzgerald and 24 for Floyd. Fitzgerald suffered a knee injury against Detroit and missed the next two games. Jaron Brown filled Fitzgerald’s role but dropped an easy touchdown in Seattle in Week 12 that could’ve changed the course of the game. Ted Ginn was seldom used, catching 14 of his 26 targets for 190 yards. But last season was a chance for Floyd to break out and prove he’s capable of being Fitzgerald’s replacement, should Fitzgerald not return next season. By not catching a touchdown without Fitzgerald on the field, Floyd just boosted Fitzgerald’s worth.

2015 Preview: Which leads the Cardinals into next season. The majority of the attention on the Cardinals this offseason will be focused on what happens to Fitzgerald, who’s due $16.25 million in 2015 and carries a $23.6 million cap hit. Both numbers are extremely high for a 31-year-old who’ll be 32 by kickoff in Week 1 and had his worst statistical season since his rookie year. The Cardinals appear committed to keeping Fitzgerald but does he want to take a pay cut? That’ll be answered in the next couple of months. Without Fitzgerald, Arizona will have to find a versatile No. 1 wide receiver, which Fitzgerald, despite the play-calling restraints on him, essentially was. Floyd could be that option, but Arizona may look for another receiver in the draft who’ll better fit Fitzgerald’s specifications. While Brown has the speed to be a productive receiver in the NFL, the Cardinals will need to find another bigger receiver to round out their trio, whether through free agency or the draft. All the receivers are under contract for next season. If Fitzgerald stays, his role will have to be addressed. He has the best hands on the roster and isn’t used as often early in game as he should be, nor is he the Cardinals' primary third-down receiver which may be a reason they’re 16th in third-down percentage.

Up next: Outside linebackers
TEMPE, Ariz. – Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown will miss the next four to six months as he recovers from fracturing his scapula, or shoulder blade, in Saturday’s 27-16 wild card loss to Carolina, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said.

Brown jogged off the field at Bank of America Stadium a few moments before halftime, beating his teammates to the locker room, with his left arm hanging low to his hip. Brown dropped his only target Saturday.

He finished the season with 22 receptions for 229 yards and touchdowns.

Brown was relied upon heavily when Larry Fitzgerald missed Weeks 12 and 13 with a knee injury, dropping a critical touchdown in the first half against Seattle. Brown found a role as Arizona’s fourth receiver behind Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown.
  • Arians said the Cardinals will “see what happens with [quarterback] Drew [Stanton]” in regards to him needing surgery on his right knee.
ATLANTA -- For the first time since 2006, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will miss two straight games in a season.

Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald was ruled inactive for Sunday’s game in Atlanta as he continues to recover from a sprained MCL in his left knee that he suffered in Week 11. Fitzgerald last missed consecutive games when he sat out three in a row in Weeks 6-8 in 2006.

After inactives were announced 90 minutes before kickoff, Fitzgerald was on the field at the Georgia Dome running routes and taking passes from third-string quarterback Logan Thomas.

Last week without Fitzgerald, the Cardinals managed just 140 net yards.

He’s Arizona’s leading receiver with 46 receptions for 658 yards.

As happened last week, Jaron Brown, who dropped a critical touchdown in the second quarter against Seattle, will move up the depth chart.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Welcome to #CardsMailbag, a weekly installment that allows you to ask me questions about the Arizona Cardinals throughout the week via Twitter @joshweinfuss:. I'll answer them every week during preseason. Make sure to use the hashtag #CardsMailbag.

@joshweinfuss: This is a tough question but I think in the long run, Kevin Minter will be the bigger loss because Arizona doesn’t have the depth at linebacker to replace him. With Darnell Dockett's season ending before it started because of his ACL injury, the Cards have a more-than-viable backup with Frostee Rucker and enough depth to keep fresh legs flowing on the defensive line, especially with all the fronts defensive coordinator Todd Bowles can throw out there. Behind Minter is Kenny Demens, who played in just two games last season. Lorenzo Alexander has been playing more outside linebacker recently but the Cardinals signed veteran Desmond Bishop, who has looked good but has played just four games in the last two season because of injury. If Minter is out for a long time with the pectoral injury, it'll be a devastating blow to the middle of the Cardinals’ defense.

@joshweinfuss: If Jaron Brown stays on the roster, I think you’ll see him over-perform because of his ability to get jump balls. There are also the mainstays such as Michael Floyd, who should top his 1,041 yards last season. I think John Abraham will underperform compared to last season because of how long it’ll take him to get into game shape as well as the fact that teams have plenty of tape on him in Arizona’s defense.

@joshweinfuss: The offense will be the reason Arizona wins the Super Bowl -- if it gets there, of course. The defense will take some time to find itself in the wake of not having Dockett, Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby, so the offense will have to put eat a lot of yards and score a lot of points early in the season to keep Arizona on a path to the playoffs.

@joshweinfuss: I know you meant third wide receiver duties and no I don’t. He won’t be the Cardinals third receiver, that’ll be Ted Ginn. I think John Brown has earned the fourth receiver spot, however. And to use him, the Cardinals will have to go to a lot of four- or five-receiver sets. When he’s on the field, expect him to be used as a slot receiver going across the middle or out wide to take the top off the defense.

@joshweinfuss: This is the toughest question heading into cuts, which start Tuesday. The Cardinals will easily keep four -- Larry Fitzgerald, Floyd, Ginn and John Brown -- but that fifth (possibly Jaron Brown) or sixth (possibly Walt Powell) will be tough unless Jaron Brown makes such an impact on the coaching staff and Powell emerges as a special teams option. The fifth receiver can easily be Powell because of his special teams play, and since Brown has played well and has put more than enough on tape, he could also be traded for a bigger need.

@joshweinfuss: I think Dockett’s injury will hurt the defense in the locker room as much as on the field. While he can be physically replaced, I think his ability off the ball, especially in Bowles’ single-gap scheme, will be missed. But he was the heart and soul of not just the defense but the locker room. That’s why head coach Bruce Arians said he’ll keep Dockett on the sideline during games, just so Cardinals can keep benefitting from his leadership and spirit.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Training camp 2014 is over and a lot was discovered during the past 27 days.

Jobs were established, roster spots were lost, dreams were dashed. Camp ended with a major injury and a few serious comebacks. But what else did we learn during the Arizona Cardinals' training camp? Glad you asked.

    [+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
    AP Photo/Rick ScuteriCarson Palmer and the Arizona offense is way ahead of where they were at this time last year.
  • The offense really is light years ahead of where it was last year. Just watch the first two preseason games. The Cardinals were as efficient as they’ve been in some time, but that wasn’t just a show for the cameras. During practice, Arizona moved the ball with ease despite a defense knowing exactly what was coming most of the time. When Carson Palmer faced the scout defense this week, he looked almost flawless, using his battery of weapons to his advantage. What stood out most, however, was that the formation issues that plagued them last year were gone. This was an offense that knew what it was doing.
  • John Brown is the real deal. He still hasn’t gone against a live defense for an entire game but from what we’ve seen out of Brown, he’s as fast with pads on than without them. The Cardinals are trying to temper their expectations of Brown, but it’s tough. He’s lived up to the hype.
  • Left guard is the biggest concern on the offensive line. Heading into camp, 80 percent of the line was supposed to be set in stone, with right tackle being the only question mark. But Jonathan Cooper struggled all camp to overcome the mental and physical hurdles he’s facing after a year away from football, and now he's hampered by turf toe. Earl Watford had a chance to win the job but couldn’t, so it's Ted Larsen turn.
  • Frostee Rucker can replace Darnell Dockett. Dockett is out for the season with a torn ACL but his replacement is more than suitable. Rucker had a very good camp and the veteran has looked strong off the ball this week.
  • Sam Acho and Alex Okafor are back. Both linebackers were injured in Week 3 of last season but both have come back looking quicker and stronger than in 2013. They’ll be part of the rotation at outside linebacker and have showed throughout camp that they can still get to the quarterback.
  • Antonio Cromartie's hip is just fine. He’s made some SportsCenter-worthy plays in camp, proving the hip flexor that hampered him last season won’t be an issue this season. He’s also been consistent in his coverage.
  • Inside linebacker will be a work in progress. It was already going to be a project to replace Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby with a second-year player who played one snap last year in Kevin Minter and a veteran free agent, Larry Foote. But with Minter’s pectoral injury having sidelined him for more than a week, Kenny Demens has been thrust into the starting lineup as his replacement, leaving a lack of depth which caused Arizona to sign veteran Desmond Bishop, who has played just four games in the last two seasons.
  • Jaron Brown has what it takes to make this team. He played in all 16 games last season and had 11 catches for 140 yards. He might top his 2013 yardage in a game or two this season if his performance in camp is any indication. He’s quicker and more explosive than he was last season, and Brown has been making tough jump-ball catches, which will always put him in good graces with the coaching staff.
  • Bobby Massie isn't an issue anymore. It doesn’t matter when everything clicked for Massie, but it did, and for that the Cardinals are grateful. He earned the starting right tackle job during offseason workouts and has held on to it throughout camp. When an offensive lineman’s name doesn’t come up in conversation that’s a good thing, and you’ve hardly heard about Massie.
  • Tony Jefferson won't give up his job easily. That chip on Jefferson’s shoulder from not being drafted last season is still firmly planted there. With Tyrann Mathieu returning from injury this week, Jefferson has been playing at a high-enough level that’ll make it tough for the Cardinals’ to simply cast him aside for Mathieu. He’s playing fast and has been getting his hands on a lot of passes during camp. While Mathieu continues to work toward playing again, Jefferson is a solid option for the Cards at free safety.
When Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer marched the Cardinals 93 yards on their opening drive Saturday in Minnesota, it was déjà vu all over again. For the second straight week, the offense looked smooth and consistent, except Palmer wasn't perfect on that first drive, going 3-for-6. But the offense ate up yards in a hurry, taking just 3 minutes, 26 seconds to score.

The rest of Saturday's game, however, wasn't a repeat of Week 1 against Houston. The defense struggled against Minnesota's pass rush and the second- and third-team offenses didn't tick at the rate Cardinals coach Bruce Arians would've hoped.

Here are five things we learned from Arizona's 30-28 loss to Minnesota on Saturday:
  • Tight ends are still one of the Cardinals' defensive vices. Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph caught four of his five targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. On his touchdown, Rudolph sliced through the Cards' secondary basically untouched for 51 yards. He would've scored on the drive before when he beat rookie safety Deone Bucannon in the back right corner of the end zone but the pass went off Rudolph's hands. That type of play was what the Cardinals were hoping to avoid by drafting Bucannon. Granted, it's his second NFL game. At 6-foot-6 and 259 pounds, Rudolph is the size of tight ends Bucannon will be facing all season.
  • Special teams will be working overtime this week because of four penalties, three of which will land the offenders on the mental error list. The Cardinals had two offside penalties on kickoffs, one of which was by Bucannon that extended a Minnesota return to its 44. On an extra point in the second quarter, Frostee Rucker was flagged for a false start. And in the first quarter, the Cardinals were flagged for an illegal block above the waist.
  • Alex Okafor is stronger than the he was in 2013, when he played five snaps in less than three games. He returned from a biceps injury bigger and stronger, and it showed in the second quarter Saturday when Vikings running back Matt Asiata took a handoff and tried to bounce around the right side. Okafor shed a block by Rhett Ellison and brought Asiata down in one fluid motion. Okafor's been showing enough during camp to be part of the outside linebacker rotation once the season begins.
  • While Feely needs to be more consistent on his kickoffs to win the job, special teams failed to make him look as good as they made Catanzaro look with their return coverage. All but one of Feely's kicks were returned at least 25 yards. Some of that was due to poor coverage and missed tackles, and some was due to low kicks by Feely -- one of Arians' points of emphasis. It's the preseason so coaches want to see what their returners and blockers can do, which is why the Vikings returned all five of Feely's kicks, including the two that were caught 4 yards deep in the end zone and the one that was fielded 8 yards deep. In the end, however, Feely's kicks need to be higher to allow the coverage to get down field.
  • Jaron Brown is doing everything he needs to make the 53-man roster. When he owns the two biggest plays for the Cardinals in a game, Brown is doing something right. Brown had a 51-yard catch and run and then a 35-yard catch.

Cardinals Camp Report: Day 13

August, 12, 2014
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Arizona Cardinals training camp:
  • On the day that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said safety Tyrann Mathieu was "pretty close" to being taken off the preseason physically unable to perform list, one of his replacements continued to make an impact. Free safety Rashad Johnson intercepted Carson Palmer about midway through practice. That makes three interceptions in two days by the players who have filled in for Mathieu during training camp. Jerraud Powers, who Arians called the defensive MVP of camp earlier Tuesday, picked off two passes Monday.
  • During a 7-on-7 drill later in camp, Palmer threw an interception right into the hands of safety Anthony Walters during a busted play.
  • It seems like it's becoming a daily habit for Jaron Brown to impress with his speed. He had another good catch-and-run through traffic and down the sideline. With the battle for the fifth receiver not sorting itself out yet, he's looking like the best candidate for that job.
  • Playing with the first team in place of Jonathan Cooper at left guard, Earl Watford has been holding his own and he brings a dynamic that Cooper still needs to improve on. Watford showed off his wheels getting downfield to block for running back Andre Ellington.
  • Tuesday was Jay Feely's day to kick and he took advantage of it. Feely went 7-for-8 on field goals, hitting 33 yards, 29, 39, 44, 47 and 50 twice. He missed wide left from 43.
  • Injury report: T Max Starks (ankle), OL Anthony Steen (neck), G Jonathan Cooper (toe), T Nate Potter(back), LB Kevin Minter (pec), WR Michael Floyd (groin), WR Ted Ginn(knee) and C Lyle Sendlein (calf) did not practice.
  • The Cardinals practice from 2-4:30 p.m. Wednesday local time at University of Phoenix Stadium. Admission and parking are free.

Browns deliver for Cardinals

August, 10, 2014
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals may want to ask UPS if they can borrow their slogan.

They found out that John Brown and Jaron Brown can do quite a bit.

The pair of receivers was thrust into the starting lineup when Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn were sidelined for Saturday's preseason opener against the Houston Texans with injuries, and they responded by playing like starters. Jaron didn't have a monster game but he was methodic and accurate with his receptions, one of which went for a touchdown.

John, however, played the role of star in his first NFL action.

He was targeted 10 times, catching five of them, for 87 yards, displaying his speed and quickness on nearly every one of them.

"I just knew I had to step up," John Brown said. "So, it's basically showing those guys in case anything happens I can be the person to fill those shoes."

John and Jaron will get to stay in their roles a little longer. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Floyd tweaked his groin late Thursday and will miss six to 10 days while Ginn, who banged knees with a gunner while returning punts early in Thurdsay's practice, will miss "maybe" three days.

It has been a while since he took the field for an actual game, John Brown said. He claimed he wasn't nervous Saturday night but once he saw the defensive back drop back on Carson Palmer's first pass attempt, he it was coming his way.

He may have bobbled his first NFL catch but John kept his eyes on it until he secured it, and the play went for 25 yards.

Palmer, who completed all five of his pass attempts in eight snaps Saturday night -- two of which went to the Browns -- was impressed with the composure of both receivers.

"It's great when the day before, they find out 'Oh, wait, I'm starting? I'm in there with Larry [Fitzgerald] and those guys?' And to see the way they handled the situation, they weren't scared, they weren't nervous, there was no, 'Man, this is the NFL.' There was none of that going on. To see those guys react to just being in the game and making plays and doing their jobs was really good. I'm very happy and excited to see that."

For the past week, Arians raved about Jaron Brown's rapport with backup quarterback Drew Stanton. It seemed like Stanton found Brown on every deep route he called during training camp.

When Stanton hit Jaron on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line late in the first quarter, it wasn't quite a deep ball but it resulted in a touchdown.

"I felt like we're finally starting to get some kind of rhythm with the quarterbacks," Jaron Brown said. "That's one thing we work in training camp.

"With camp that's one thing we try to work on and eliminate the mental errors."

Only if there was a reward for the opposite. On first down near midfield with 7:20 left in the first quarter, Stanton targeted the other Brown, John, on a deep route. But 39 yards later, Houston cornerback Brandon Harris got tangled with the receiver as he tried to come back for the pass, prohibiting him from making another big catch. Arizona got the ball at the Texans' 19 and scored six plays later.

To Arians, it was just John Brown doing what John Brown does.

It's one thing to come in as a rookie, play like a starter and start laying roots on your standing on the roster. It's another for the defense to start taking notice.

"Oh man, he's a beast," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said of John Brown. "He's good. He plays every day like he's hungry. He practices the same way. You can't expect him anything but greatness from him. He's been working his tail off and I'm very impressed with him. Real low key. Take some pressure off the other guys. He doesn't surprise me with his performance on the field because he does it in practice, too."
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With the Cardinals’ first preseason game approaching, the starters have been written about, dissected, and analyzed plenty during the first two weeks of camp. The coaching staff knows what they're capable of. It’s the guys behind them that will be fighting for jobs.

Here’s a breakdown of five offensive reserves to watch Saturday against Houston:
  • Logan Thomas, QB: Hailed as the future quarterback of the Cardinals, Thomas will get his first taste of the NFL game Saturday, beginning in either the late third quarter or early fourth. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians will give him plenty of time to put his game on tape, but coaches will be closely watching his accuracy and decision-making. It doesn’t matter that Thomas will be facing fellow third-teamers, he’ll need to go through his progressions without making quick, hastily-decided throws. The velocity that he puts on his passes will also be monitored in a game situation. He’ll likely be jacked early, but the question becomes whether he can calm down as the fourth quarter goes on.
  • Jaron Brown, WR: Brown has become one of Arizona’s best deep-ball receivers, especially off the hand of Drew Stanton. The pair will likely have a deep play or two on the call sheet for Saturday, and if Brown can haul it in and make a play after the catch, he may be slowly working his way into contention for the fifth receiver spot.
  • Robert Hughes, RB: Andre Ellington isn’t just the only versatile running back on this roster. Hughes has good hands and loves to hit, which is why Arians has played him at fullback throughout camp. He seems to have a stronghold on the fourth running back job but how he’ll do in pass protection can help solidify his spot in the roster. Hughes may have more roles than any other offensive player: He'll have to keep the quarterback he’s blocking for clean, be able to get a few yards on the ground or a first down on a swing pass.
  • Max Starks, RT: He barely played last season and was signed a week into camp, so it’ll be interesting to watch what kind of shape Starks is in. Being an 11-year veteran will give him the upper hand, but if he’s vying to be the swing tackle he’ll have to bring his experience and game against the Texans’ second team.
  • Darren Fells, TE: Maybe the most fortunate player on the roster because of the most unfortunate of circumstances. Because Jake Ballard decided to retire, Fells has a strong chance at making the 53-man roster, just a year after his first NFL tryout. He’s played in preseason games before but never under these conditions. He has a job riding on his performance starting today. His hands are among the best on the team and he’s improved his blocking, but that’s been in practice. If he can translate that to the field and use his basketball agility to shed a few blockers, Arians might be looking at his fourth tight end.

Cardinals Camp Report: Day 11

August, 7, 2014
GLENDALE, Ariz. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Arizona Cardinals training camp:
  • It didn’t take long for Darren Fells to start climbing the depth chart. Handed an opportunity in the wake of Jake Ballard’s retirement, Fells took a few snaps with the first team on Thursday and it looks like Arizona will take advantage of his athleticism by using him in various positions and formations, including sending him in motion. He showed off his sure hands on a touchdown catch from Drew Stanton that he hauled in between two defensive backs. When Fells wasn’t working with the first team, he was playing on Stanton’s second-team unit.
  • Wide receiver Ted Ginn appeared to hurt his right leg while working on punt returns early in practice. He walked off the field gingerly and spent the next few minutes stretching, but soon returned to practice.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians mentioned Thursday morning that Stanton and wide receiver Jaron Brown have been building a good rapport, especially on deep throws. It was on display Thursday afternoon when the two connected on two long passes.
  • Cornerback Antonio Cromartie did not practice Thursday.
  • Earl Watford worked at first-team left guard for a couple of series, but Jonathan Cooper took the majority of the snaps there.
  • After consecutive days of not being able to finish practice because of fatigue, John Brown’s energy looked strong early. He had a nice catch on a Stanton throw, beating Jerraud Powers to the pass by a split second. He later split coverage to catch a touchdown from Stanton.
  • The Cardinals have Friday off and will return to practice Monday from 2-4:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona hosts the Houston Texans on Saturday in its first preseason game.
  • Injury report: Lyle Sendlein (calf) did not practice.

Kiper breaks down Cards’ needs

April, 22, 2014
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With about two-and-a-half weeks until the NFL draft commences in New York City, ESPN NFL draft Insider Mel Kiper broke down the needs Insider for each team in the league.

Overall, his findings for the Cardinals won’t shock anyone, but Kiper placed the need for a quarterback among Arizona’s top priorities. He called the Cardinals’ two back-ups, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, “pretty uninspiring.”

“It'd be good to have a developmental option with at least the ceiling of a quality starter behind Palmer, and I don't think there's one on the current roster,” Kiper wrote.

Kiper also cited outside linebacker, safety and wide receiver as three other needs for the Cardinals to address.

While John Abraham is still able-bodied at 36, he won’t be able to play forever. With Arizona facing two mobile quarterbacks -- Seattle’s Russell Wilson and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick -- twice each this season, Kiper sees the need to draft a quick, athletic edge rusher early.

Safety has been a major concern for the Cardinals from Day 1 of the offseason, but Kiper doesn’t think Tyrann Mathieu is the right piece to complete the secondary’s puzzle, which I agree with. Mathieu needs to be able to roam and by having his nose in as many plays as possible, the odds of the ball landing in the Cardinals' favor go up. Because of Mathieu’s versatility, he’s not a true safety which Arizona can land in the draft.

When Kiper wrote about Arizona needing another wide receiver option, he tempered the importance of adding to the position with the possibility of drafting a tight end, which may be a smarter option in Arians’ two-tight end sets. The Cardinals have a bevy of fast No. 4 options, such as Jaron Brown, Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden, who are reliable and cheap.

The position Kiper didn’t address that -- in my opinion -- is also a priority is a right tackle. The Cardinals haven’t re-signed last year’s starter Eric Winston which means they will let Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter compete for the job until either one or none of them earn the starting nod.
Starter: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd

Backup: Andre Roberts, Jaron Brown

Under contract in 2014: Fitzgerald, Floyd, Brown

Cash committed in ‘13: $17.8 million

Cap committed in ‘13: $14.4 million

Recap: When the Cardinals traded for Carson Palmer, Fitzgerald became a new wide receiver. Having meddled among mediocre quarterbacks since Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season, Fitzgerald was rejuvenated with Palmer, catching 82 passes for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns. While Fitzgerald began a resurgence at 30, it was one of his protégés who really found his footing. Floyd showed the NFL what a first-round receiver should be capable of, breaking the 1,000-yard mark in his second year. Despite a lackluster couple of seasons, Fitzgerald still garnered the attention of a Pro Bowler, which allowed Floyd to roam free as double teams ascended on Fitz. Floyd's size and strength -- which he improved during the offseason -- made him a mismatch for almost every corner to cover him, as was evident in Seattle in Week 16. As good as 2013 treated Fitzgerald and Floyd, it wasn't very nice to Roberts, who was the third receiver in a two-receiver set. He was dropped to the third option in favor of Floyd and his numbers sunk with it, making it unlikely he'll return to Arizona in 2014. Brown, however, was a suitable fourth option for the Cardinals, catching 11 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown.

Cards Free Agency Look: Wide receiver

February, 26, 2014
If the Arizona Cardinals try to lure a free-agent wide receiver to the desert this offseason, showing them a tape of their 2013 offense may not be the way to get them there.

Under coach Bruce Arians, the roles of the receivers are clearly defined: The first two are set for at least 2014 with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The third, whoever it may be, doesn't play a significant role in the offense. That's a large reason why receiver Andre Roberts isn't expected to be re-signed by Arizona by time free agency starts. He earned more than a third receiver should have, especially one who played one-third fewer snaps than Fitzgerald and 40 percent fewer than Floyd did in 2013.

So trying to replace Roberts with a free agent may be easier said than done.

The Cardinals have a few options already on their roster with Jaron Brown, Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden. All are fast and cheap compared to who'll hit the market March 11 in what's widely considered one of the deepest free agency classes of receivers in recent memory.

But the Cardinals have strict criteria for that third receiver and the top priority is speed. Arians wants a receiver who can take the top off the defense and stretch the field, but he'll have to come for the right price. Last season, Roberts made $1.3 million in 2013, a price tag that's too high for someone who played just 576 snaps.

Of those on the roster, Brown is the most likely successor, having earned $414,000 in 2013 while playing 149 snaps. He caught 11 passes for 140 yards.

The Cardinals won't want to spend more than necessary on a third receiver, eliminating most options in free agency. Among the best receivers who could fit into the Cardinals offense for the right price are Carolina's Ted Ginn, Tampa Bay's Tiquan Underwood, Philadelphia's Riley Cooper and New Orleans' Robert Meachem. Only Ginn made more than $1 million last year and he would give the Cardinals a dynamic return option on kickoffs and a suitable backup on punt returns while Tyrann Mathieu continues his recovery.

One drawing point for a potential receiver, however, is that they could soon be the Cards' No. 2 receiver if Fitzgerald doesn't return in 2015 because of his contract.

Two other names that Arizona could get for the right price, who have solid speed are Detroit's Kevin Ogletree and Denver's Andre Caldwell.

Bethel questionable despite symptoms

November, 22, 2013
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even though he’s cleared to play, Arizona Cardinals gunner Justin Bethel is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, coach Bruce Arians said.

“He’s much, much better,” Arians said. “He’ll be a game-time decision.”

Bethel missed Thursday’s practice because of “a little headache” but was back on the field Friday. He’s still experiencing symptoms from the concussion he suffered against Jacksonville.

If Bethel can’t play Sunday, a committee of about four players will fill his roles on special teams. Based on who has played gunner earlier this season, among the committee will be Jaron Brown and Antoine Cason. Brittan Golden could also be used if he’s active Sunday. He’s back at 100 percent from a hamstring injury that’s hampered him for more than a month.

Golden, who practiced at gunner on Friday, is also questionable.

Recently re-acquired Bryan McCann, who the Cardinals signed this week to replace Teddy Williams, will be one gunner, Arians said.

“Looks great, like he never missed a beat,” he said. “He was probably our second-best gunner and special teams player in training camp.”