Arizona Cardinals: Karlos Dansby

Karlos DansbyGene Lower/Getty Images
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This is one of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. Previously, we featured Kurt Warner’s 64-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald during a loss in Super Bowl XLIII, and we will feature Tim Hightower’s fourth-down run in the NFC Championship Game of the 2008 season against Philadelphia. Please vote for your choice as the Cardinals’ most memorable play.

Score: Cardinals 51, Packers 45 OT
Date: Jan. 10, 2010 Site: University of Phoenix Stadium

It was Arizona’s first playoff game since Super Bowl XLIII, and the expectations were high.

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Which is the most memorable play in Cardinals' history?

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About 11 months earlier, the Cardinals made franchise history by playing in their first Super Bowl, and with mostly the same team returning, another run in the playoffs wasn't just expected, it seemed inevitable.

But standing in their way in the wild-card round of the 2009 playoffs were the Green Bay Packers, who were gearing up for a Super Bowl run of their own. In what was a memorable game that included overtime and nearly 100 points, the best play -- and one of the most memorable in franchise history -- was the final one of the game.

When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked by defensive back Michael Adams on third-and-6 from the Green Bay 24, the ball took a fortunate bounce right into linebacker Karlos Dansby's waiting hands. With nothing but green grass in front of him, Dansby returned the fumble 17 yards for the winning touchdown.

The play sent the Cardinals into the divisional round of the playoffs, where they eventually lost, but it showed the franchise wasn't just a one-hit wonder. This was a team that could win a big playoff game. Teams -- look at the Packers, for example -- win close playoff games and then fall later. But at least the Cardinals were able to get out of the first round after their Super Bowl season.

Arizona fans still remember where they were for Dansby’s fumble return because it was a moment that solidified the future of the franchise -- even if the franchise took a few steps back in future years.

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Free-agency primer: Cardinals

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: LB Karlos Dansby, RT Eric Winston, S Yeremiah Bell, K Jay Feely, LB Matt Shaughnessy

Where they stand: Arizona has talked to all of them, but it's unlikely the Cardinals re-sign any of the team's key free agents until after March 11. Dansby could be the trigger, however. If he re-signs for an affordable price or doesn't re-sign, Arizona may be able to re-sign some of their veteran free agents instead of opting for cheaper options. According to reports, Arizona has been negotiating with linebacker Shaughnessy. Bell has expressed his desire to return to Arizona mainly because of what the Cardinals' defense started last year. Winston may be the Cardinals' best option at right tackle for another season and his camp has begun talks with the Cardinals. Feely has said he talked to the Cardinals this week.

What to expect: Don't expect Dansby to re-sign before free agency begins. If it hasn't happened yet, it probably won't until he tests the market to see what his worth is. Then the Cardinals could come into play again. Winston could be whom Arizona needs to anchor the line for another year. He, along with the rest of the offensive line, matured together and were protecting quarterback Carson Palmer better in the second half of the season than the first, momentum that can only continue to grow. Bell isn't likely to return because his size and speed make him a liability against bigger, faster receivers and tight ends. Even though he was in Bruce Arians' dog house at the end of the season, Feely can return because of the limited number of good kickers available. Shaughnessy is also likely to re-sign because of his value at a low cost.
A week from now, the NFL universe will be in an (un)organized chaos when free agency begins at 2 p.m. MT. The Cardinals have their sights set on a few needs, namely offensive tackle, tight end and safety.

ESPN Stats & Info put together a list of the best available free agents. Three Cardinals made the list -- linebacker Karlos Dansby, right tackle Eric Winston and safety Yeremiah Bell.

Here they are for the positions Arizona is targeting in free agency:

Defensive tackle

Hatcher
Hatcher
Jason Hatcher

B.J. Raji

Randy Starks

Kevin Williams

Paul Soliai

Henry Melton

Defensive end

Jared Allen

Lamarr Houston

Michael Johnson

Justin Tuck

Michael Bennett

Cornerback

Verner
Alterraun Verner

Aqib Talib

Charles Tillman

Captain Munnerlyn

Vontae Davis

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Linebacker

Shaun Phillips

Jon Beason

Daryl Smith

Brandon Spikes

Karlos Dansby

Bell
Safety

Jairus Byrd

T.J. Ward

James Ihedigbo

Yeremiah Bell

Ryan Clark

Donte Whitner

Tight end

Scott Chandler

Brandon Pettigrew

Brandon Myers

Garrett Graham

Jermichael Finley

Winston
Offensive line

T – Branden Albert

T – Eric Winston

T – Eugene Monroe

T – Michael Oher

C – Ryan Wendell

C – Jonathan Goodwin

G – Zane Beadles

G – Richie Incognito

G – Charlie Johnson
Inside linebacker

Starter: Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington

Backups: Kevin Minter, Jasper Brinkley

Under contract in 2014: Washington, Minter and Brinkley.

Cash committed in ‘13: $7.7 million

Cap committed in ‘13: $7.2 million

Recap: Arizona didn’t let the first four games define its season at inside linebacker. Washington sat out the first quarter of the season because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, putting the Cardinals in a minor predicament. But the recently released Brinkley was a suitable replacement until Washington returned. When he did, however, Washington picked up where he left off in his 2012 Pro Bowl season, finishing with 81 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. While the early focus was on the right inside linebacker, Dansby slowly became one of the best linebackers in the NFL. At 32, he played at his lowest weight in years and it resulted in 114 tackles,6.5 sacks and four interceptions – two of which he returned for touchdowns. Neither made the Pro Bowl but both had a case, especially Dansby. As the season progressed, he became a significant cog in the Cards’ sixth-ranked defense because of his ability to play in all three layers – stuff the run, handle his linebacking duties as well as drop back into coverage. And his lower weight was on display when he went sideline to sideline.
As has been expected for some time, the Arizona Cardinals released backup inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley on Friday. The move saved Arizona $2.2 million in cap space. He was scheduled to earn $2 million next season.

Brinkley filled a much-needed role last season during the first four weeks, filling in for the suspended Daryl Washington. When Washington returned, however, Brinkley’s role shrunk dramatically. He played just 27 snaps in the final 12 games, not nearly enough to justify both his cap hit and his salary. Brinkley's release also shows that Arizona wasn't looking at him as a replacement in case Dansby isn't re-signed. He had 30 tackles on defense and five on special teams.

The move also opens the door for second-year linebacker Kevin Minter to be the primary backup to Washington and whoever is compatriot is at inside linebacker -- Dansby is a free agent and his future with the team is up in the air as of Friday. Minter spent last year on special teams while learning the tricks of inside linebacker from Washington, Dansby and Brinkley, but this moves shows that the Cards are ready to hand over the backup keys to the second-round pick.
When I saw ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweet that the Arizona Cardinals were interested in former Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, I wasn't surprised.

Jackson
Arizona can't sit around and wait for inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to decide if he'll take whatever the Cardinals offer him to return in 2014. They have to -- and always will -- keep the wheels churning on filling the roster. But Jackson would be a good fit for the Cardinals in almost every way -- but one.

At 30, Jackson brings a veteran presence on and off the field. He would fill Dansby's void in both aspects, maintaining order in the locker room, and he still has a skill set on the field that would complement Daryl Washington aside him, much like Dansby did last year.

Jackson, who had 75 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season, played in a 3-4 in Cleveland and played alongside a talented outside linebacker in Paul Kruger, as he'd do in Arizona with John Abraham. But unlike in Cleveland, Jackson wouldn't have the pressure of being an anchor of the defense. He'd have talent all around him, better talent than he had with the Browns -- whose defense was, coincidentally, led by former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. He'd have a role in Arizona and wouldn't be asked to do more than needed.

Last season, Dansby established himself as a versatile linebacker who played the run as well as he dropped back in coverage. Throughout his career, Jackson has shown he's able to produce big numbers, having career highs of 115 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions.

Jackson has a couple of years on Dansby, which, one would think, would be to his benefit when it comes to a longer-term deal. The former Brown told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that he wants to go to a team for which he can play more than a couple seasons.

But do the Cardinals want to commit serious money and a long-term deal to a 30-year-old?

The reason Jackson would not fit with the Cardinals, however, is because of how much money he could be asking for. He made $5 million last year, more than double what Dansby made in 2013. And according to reports, Jackson was expected to make about $7 million in each of the next two seasons.

Those numbers may be too high considering Arizona is already paying Washington about $8 million per year -- and he's 27.

Bringing in Jackson is worth it but Arizona may need to convince him to take less money to win -- something Jackson's never done. And at 30, winning may trump his back account.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When the Arizona Cardinals start free agency on March 11, they’ll be like a race car driver who’s being strategic with their gas.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from the NFL combine in Indianapolis that Arizona will approach free agency aggressively but they’ll still be smart with their money.

“Aggressive doesn’t mean overspend or being unwise with our money,” Keim said. “We have to budget. That’s why we run all the statistical analysis on the market, age of players, position, that sort of thing, and we have a great database to go off of.”

[+] EnlargeKarlos Dansby
AP Photo/Kevin TerrellArizona will have to determine if Karlos Dansby's price tag is an affordable one in the coming weeks.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the salary cap for 2014 is expected to be raised to $130 million, which gave the Cardinals about $11 million of cap space to work with, according to Keim. The majority of that sum came from Larry Fitzgerald restructuring his contract.

The extra money – about $9 million from Fitzgerald – will allow Arizona to be more aggressive once free agency kicks off.

“We’ll approach some of the top guys in free agency in positions in need but you have to be ready to move on to the next guy,” Keim said.

That patience has paid off for Keim, who signed a bevy of B-list free agents in 2013 that led the Cardinals to a 10-6 season. This year, however, one of the Cards' primary needs is on the offensive line. They want to strengthen left tackle, occupied last season by Bradley Sowell, and may need to restock right tackle if they can’t re-sign Eric Winston. Tops on the free-agency market is Kansas City left tackle Branden Albert, who made $9.8 million last season. But don't expect to see the Cardinals rushing to sign a tackle, or anyone for that matter, once the clock strikes 2 p.m. on March 11 in Arizona.

“It all depends on the market,” Keim said. “We’ll see where the market goes. After probably the first two to three hours of free agency, people will start to panic and things will settle in.”

But first, Arizona wants to take care of some in-house free agents.

Keim said Arizona recently concluded a series of meetings about its 15 unrestricted free agents, of which the Cardinals would like to “address several of our own players” – including linebacker Karlos Dansby. Dansby played under a $2.25 million contract in 2014 and could ask for as much as $10 million to potential suitors. But that’s the type of money Arizona may not want to pay for a 32-year-old inside linebacker, regardless of his career season in 2013.

“He's a big priority,” Keim said during his combine news conference. “Karlos is a guy we'd like to have back. He's a great leader. He's a good football player. Hopefully, we can get something done but you have to be prepared to move on, from any player. That's why we drafted Kevin Minter in the second round last year. We saw some good things out of Kevin in training camp, in preseason football.

“And that's how you have to build your team. You know, at times you are going to lose players. You have to have the right kind of depth. That's why on draft day you can never draft for need because needs are always changing.”

Cards' free-agency look: Inside LB

February, 18, 2014
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Looking at which inside linebackers the Arizona Cardinals could chase may in fact be a moot point if they re-sign Karlos Dansby.

But in case they don't, the Cardinals will have a few options at inside linebacker. Internally, they could promote either Kevin Minter or Jasper Brinkley to a starting role, although I don't see the latter occurring. Arizona used their second-round pick on Minter last season and although he had just one snap at linebacker all season, he's the future inside alongside Daryl Washington. That is why Brinkley could be a cap casualty this offseason depending on what happens with Dansby.

Brinkley is scheduled to make $2 million next season while his cap number goes up to $2.2 million -- a lot on both accounts for a player who didn't play in the final five games.

So, if the Cardinals need to fill an inside linebacker position -- either starting or backup -- who could they go after when free agency starts March 11?

There's a few intriguing names, and a few who could make for solid backups.

If Arizona needed a starter, linebackers such as Minnesota's Erin Henderson, San Diego's Donald Butler, Houston's Joe Mays, Washington's Perry Riley, Indianapolis' Pat Angerer or the New York Giants' Jon Beason could be potential additions.

Henderson earned $2 million in 2013, so he'd only be considered as a starter, as would Butler, who earned $1.3 million last year. If the Cardinals want to stock their reserves, head coach Bruce Arians is familiar with Angerer from his year in Indianapolis and he may come at the right price.

Then there's a group of inside backers such as Baltimore's Daryl Smith, Houston's Darryl Sharpton and New England's Dane Fletcher who are affordable backups.

One of the most intriguing names in this year's inside linebacker crop is New England's Brandon Spikes. His tenure with the Patriots ended tumultuously with him being placed on IR as the season ended, but he's still one of the better inside backers in the league. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the sixth best inside backer in 2013, one spot below Dansby. Where Spikes excels is stuffing the run. According to PFF, he's the top-ranked ILB against the run, which would be a solid complement to Washington's speed.

But the one thing Dansby did well was he cover the pass, second best in the league according to PFF. Spikes struggled in that department, according to PFF.

Arizona has options at inside linebacker should it come down to it, and they're all within the Cardinals' price range but any decision hinges on whether they re-sign Dansby.

Dansby wants his worth in free agency

February, 17, 2014
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Karlos DansbyMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsArizona Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby believe he belongs in the conversation of greatest linebackers of the last decade.

To Karlos Dansby, home in 2014 will be wherever he gets paid the highest salary, regardless of where is heart is.

But if all goes according to plan, that’ll be back in Arizona.

The 32-year-old inside linebacker will be an unrestricted free agent come March 11 but Dansby said his agent hasn’t entered into talks with the Cardinals. He expects them to begin at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, which starts Wednesday.

Dansby wants to return next season and build on what the Cardinals’ defense started under first-year defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, finishing the season ranked No. 1 against the run and sixth overall, but he wouldn’t commit to taking a hometown discount for that to happen. He’s “playing for what I’m worth.”

“Did you see what we did last year?” Dansby said. “We’re just getting started. It was our first time together and by the end of the season, we had it really going.”

Dansby didn’t have a specific amount or length he wanted his contract to be worth, but he said he’s worth as much as the highest paid linebacker in the NFL -- Kansas City’s Tamba Hali, whose $12.5 million base salary was the highest for a linebacker the league.

Green Bay’s Clay Matthews ($22 million) and Cleveland’s Paul Kruger ($13 million) had higher overall contract values in 2013 because of signing and roster bonuses.

Last season, Dansby made $2.25 million after making more than $8 million for the five previous seasons, including $9 million in 2012, his last with the Miami Dolphins. Dansby won’t mind if the Cardinals don’t franchise him this season, which is unlikely, because that means he’ll get a long-term deal. If by some chance Arizona does franchise him for the third time in his career and pays him an estimated $10.8 million in 2014, “I’ll go prove myself one more season,” Dansby said.

Compared to Hali, who, at 30 years old, had 39 tackles, 11 sacks, one interception, one touchdown and five forced fumbles in 15 games, Dansby had a better year. Dansby finished with 114 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, two touchdowns and one forced fumble in all 16 games.

With the exception of one fewer sack than Matthews, who played in only 11 games because of injury, Dansby’s overall numbers were better than Matthews and Kruger’s.

But Dansby wasn’t done.

“If you want to go for career, I don’t see anybody touching me right now,” Dansby said. “Only guy that had a shot was (former Washington Redskins linebacker London) Fletcher. That’s the only guy that had me beat. You see all the guys that came in with me you have nobody on my level with me right now.

“I want to be one of the best to every do it and I’m on track. It was (former Baltimore Ravens linebacker) Ray Lewis. (Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian) Urlacher. Numbers don’t lie. Fletcher. Then it’s me. That’s a big gap. And I’m filling that void. Ain’t nobody else filling that void. Put the numbers to the numbers and let the chips fall where they may.”

By comparing Dansby’s career stats with those of Urlacher, Lewis and Fletcher, the Cardinals’ linebacker has a point.


Dansby is on pace to catch everyone he’s chasing in those respective categories. His next goal is reach the 20 sack/20 interception club, then he wants to join the elite 30/30 club. Dansby said give him three years and he can get the 15 interceptions.

So what happens if Dansby is signed to a multi-year deal and plays up to -- or better than -- the level he was at in 2013? Does Dansby enter the conversation for a yellow jacket?

It’s been his goal since Dennis Green first interviewed him coming out of Auburn University in 2004.

“First one ever without a Pro Bowl,” Dansby said. “You can’t argue with it because the numbers speak for itself.”

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, there hasn’t been a single player enshrined whose careers took place while a Pro Bowl was played, which was from 1939 to 1942 and then from 1951 on, to never play in the game.

Ten years into his career, Dansby has yet to be a Pro Bowler. Granted, he has as many years left to make the Pro Bowl as teams will keep signing him and the Hall of Fame is a discussion for after he retires, but Dansby said he’ll come back in 2014 in even better shape than he was in 2013.

He’s already down to 229 pounds working with trainers in Florida and Arizona, but he said he’ll still have the strength to squat 415 and power clean 315. He’s narrowed his focus on specific areas that he wants to improve -- such as his speed.

“People talk about I can’t run,” Dansby said. “Have you been watching film? I don’t know if people been watching film?"

“I’m on a mission. I’m on a mission. I’m a mission. That’s all I can tell you.”

Franchise/transition tags: Cardinals

February, 17, 2014
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Karlos Dansby is all too familiar with the franchise tag.

Dansby
The Arizona Cardinals slapped the label on him during for the 2008 and '09 seasons, his last two during his first stint with Arizona. It's highly unlikely he'll be franchised -- either exclusive, non-exclusive or even labeled a transition player -- a third time.

If there was one player the Cardinals were to franchise, however, it'd be Dansby, who resurrected his reputation as one of the top inside linebackers with a career season in 2013. But they won't. They don't need to.

Dansby made $2.25 million last season, a season after bringing home $9 million with the Miami Dolphins. If the Cardinals were to franchise Dansby, he'd earn about $10.8 million in 2014 -- and the Cardinals won't pay that. If they bring him back, it'll most likely be a two- or three-year deal worth about half that.

At $10.8 million, Dansby would be the third highest-paid Cardinal at age 32. It's just not financially feasible for Arizona to commit that much money to him for one season, although, if you ask Dansby, he believes he's worth it.

Among the other free agents, there isn't one player the Cardinals couldn't do without. Most of the valuable free agents are in their late 20s or early 30s, and Arizona won't pay the franchise fee to keep them around.

There are two free agents who are in their mid 20s -- wide receiver Andre Roberts and running back Rashard Mendenhall, but neither would command a franchise tag.

This will be another offseason in which the franchise tag remains on the shelf.
Some NFL locker rooms may not be ready for an openly gay player, but there’s nothing players can do about it if their team drafts Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby said.

“If it happens, it happens,” Dansby said. “You have to adjust to that. We’re all related to football. Everything is related to football. If he leaves that outside the locker room, then that’s good.”

Sam publicly shared he is gay on Feb. 9, becoming the first openly gay NFL prospect. For the past week, players around the league have come out for and against having an openly gay player in an NFL locker room.

To Dansby, who said he hasn't knowingly had a gay teammate, it was just a matter of time until an openly gay player joined the NFL ranks.

“Everybody knew it was coming sooner or later,” Dansby said.

“So Sam coming out, hey, it’s OK. We know where you stand. Can the man play ball? He was the defensive player of the year in the SEC. Do you know how hard that is? That’s so hard to get. That shows he can play the game.”

Dansby agrees with many other players who have said Sam’s sexuality won’t determine if he makes an NFL roster. His performance on the field will determine that outcome.

“If you’re not a good football player, you won’t be on this level,” Dansby said. “It’s the cream of the crop. Every player in this league is a cream of the crop. In order to keep your job, you have to be the best.”

Dansby’s teammate, right tackle Eric Winston, boiled down Sam’s success in the NFL to one simple factor.

“I think at the end of the day, it’ll be can he get to the quarterback?” Winston said. “Is he going to be making the plays?”

Dansby said Sam's performance in the SEC speaks for itself. Dansby played linebacker in the SEC and saw firsthand how tough the competition is on a weekly basis. He also learned how difficult it was to win the conference’s defensive player of the year award.

“You really have to be balling,” Dansby said.

Whichever team drafts Sam, it will be his play on the field which bonds Sam and his new teammates, Dansby said.

“That’s the only way you can really relate because that man lives an entirely different life outside of football,” Dansby said. “I don’t think he’ll be the distraction. I think the media will be the distraction.

“Let the man be. Let the man live his life. You can’t judge people, man. We’re not God.”

MVP replacements: Arizona Cardinals 

February, 7, 2014
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Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.

So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.

Dansby
The clear-cut MVP this season was linebacker Karlos Dansby, and the possibility of him leaving the Cardinals this offseason is quite good. He is a free agent, and Dansby wants more than the $2.25 million he made in 2013, but at 32, whether he’s worth that to Arizona will determine if he returns.

If Dansby is not back next season, how Arizona fills that inside linebacker position next to Daryl Washington will be telling. The Cardinals drafted inside backer Kevin Minter, in 2013 but with the rejuvenation of Dansby, Minter spent the season watching the defense and playing special teams. After a year learning defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ system, one would expect Minter to be ready. He’s a “thumper” according to coach Bruce Arians, and would be a powerful complement to Washington’s speed.

But it’s not that easy. Minter would have to compete with Jasper Brinkley, who’s under contract for through 2014. Brinkley got the nod at starting inside linebacker when Washington was suspended for four games to start the season. But he’s not the future for Arizona. And if a weird twist of fate occurs this offseason and Arizona chooses not to pay Washington his $10 million roster bonus -- and Dansby doesn’t return -- the Cardinals would be without their starting inside backers. Then Arizona's priorities could shift in free agency and the draft.

Ranking the Cardinals' free agents

February, 5, 2014
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- With the ink on Larry Fitzgerald's restructured contracted barely dry, it's time to look at what Arizona may do with the extra cap room the Pro Bowl receiver provided them. Arizona has 15 free agents left to sign after securing punter Dave Zastudil last month, but they won't bring them all back.

I ranked all 15 from highest priority to lowest and told you why:
  1. Karlos Dansby -- He's coming off a career season and was a main cog in a defense that kept getting better. Arizona would take a step back without him.
  2. Matt Shaughnessy -- He filled in better than expected at outside linebacker after injuries decimated the unit, and his length and power coupled with his speed make him a threat from the outside in Todd Bowles' defense.
  3. Andre Roberts -- The Cardinals need a speed receiver to take the top off defenses, but then again, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had Roberts last year and barely used him.
  4. Antoine Cason -- He proved himself as a tough corner and nickel back after Tyrann Mathieu went down late last season. That could be valuable tape come time to prove his worth to the powers that be.
  5. Eric Winston -- As the season went on, Winston got better, allowing just one sack in the final nine games, according to Pro Football Focus. While left tackle is more important for the Cards, Winston could be the right fit to return at right tackle.
  6. Rashard Mendenhall -- Bringing back Mendenhall isn't a huge priority because it's likely that Andre Ellington takes over the every-down role, but Mendenhall can return in his previous role and continue to mentor Ellington.
  7. Frostee Rucker -- Rucker was the perfect kind of backup for the Cardinals' vaunted defensive line, and at the right price, he could be continue in that role and be a good mentor as the defense continues to grow.
  8. Jay Feely -- Feely was consistent last season, even clutch at times, but a few late season misses left his future with the team in question.
  9. Yeremiah Bell -- Bell provides veteran leadership in a very young secondary but at 35, he's slowing down.
  10. Javier Arenas -- Arenas saw the field most on special teams as a kick returner but was only able to return 23 kicks this year and often frustrated Arians with his decision making. He's a defensive back, too but hasn't impressed in either role.
  11. Jim Dray -- A starter in 2013 Dray was a run blocker but never blossomed into an offense weapon. The Cardinals could find another option who's a combination of both.
  12. Bryan McCann -- McCann filled a much needed role as a gunner across from Justin Bethel when Teddy Williams went down. McCann's role next year will depend on if Williams is brought back.
  13. Mike Gibson -- Gibson was a steady backup on the offensive line and a special teams player in all 16 games, but his return in 2014 will depend on if his $715,000 is worth it for a backup.
  14. Kory Sperry -- Active for just eight of 16 games, Sperry saw most of his playing time on special teams.
  15. Jeff King -- Injured all of last season, King's role was filled by Jake Ballard, a restricted free agent this year.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Late last week, Pro Football Focus unveiled its All-NFC West team, very similar to what we at ESPN.com’s NFL Nation did a few weeks back.

But one selection stood out.

Ellington
Not surprising, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch was named one of the two running backs chosen. The other? Arizona rookie Andre Ellington. PFF chose him because he “is a special weapon and that’s how this team fit him in.” Ellington led the NFL with 5.5 yards per carry, almost a full yard more than the next best rookie back. His versatility caught PFF’s attention because of his ability to gain positive yards.

“Capable of lining up all over the formation he added an element of unpredictability that has been sorely missing from recent Arizona offenses,” PFF wrote about Ellington.

Joining him on the All-NFC West team was wide receiver Michael Floyd, who had his first 1,000-yard season. Calais Campbell was honored as a defensive tackle, despite lining up out wide most of the season.

Karlos Dansby was named one of three linebackers, joining a pair of 49ers.

PFF said Dansby had something to prove after Miami let him go and what he did with a career season.

And in the not-shocking department, Patrick Peterson was named one of two cornerbacks while Justin Bethel was named the West’s special teamer.

“There isn’t another special teamer in the league like Bethel,” PFF wrote.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- They might not be winning as many postseason awards as they had hoped, but Karlos Dansby and Calais Campbell were honored Friday by USA Today.

Alford
Campbell
Dansby
The newspaper named both Dansby and Campbell to their All-Joe team, a collection of players who are relatively "unsung" around the league.

Dansby, who was snubbed by the Pro Bowl despite having a 2013 resume that was worthy of inclusion, was one of five inside linebackers chose. The paper wrote: "Returned to the desert after three years in Miami and turned in his best season. His career-high 114 solo tackles complemented 6.5 sacks. He also picked off four passes [returning two for scores] and broke up 19 passes, tied for most among linebackers."

For Campbell, who was one of eight defensive lineman selected, USA Today described him as: "The best 3-4 end in the NFL not named J.J. Watt, Campbell posted a career-best nine sacks while crushing tailbacks for the NFL's top run defense. He also excels at blocking kicks with his 6-8 frame."

This was the 22nd year of the All-Joe team, and despite neither being a Pro Bowler, this team provided some consolation and recognition.

SI REDRAFTED 2013 DRAFT: Sports Illustrated's Don Banks redrafted the first round of last April's NFL draft based on how the rookies performed during the season. Interesting idea and even more interesting results.

Instead of choosing left guard Jonathan Cooper at No. 7, the Cardinals chose tackle Lane Johnson, according to Banks. Because of his season-ending injury during training camp, Cooper wasn't part of the first round.

And Arizona's third-round pick, Tyrann Mathieu, was a first-round pick in Banks' redraft, going 14th to the Carolina Panthers. Mathieu's issues coming out of college have been well documented and yes, hindsight is 20/20, so most teams would've taken him higher than 69th but if the real NFL draft had taken place after the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Mathieu would've been a top 5 pick.

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