Sorting through Cardinals' moves so far
March, 13, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
A few thoughts after the Arizona Cardinals announced releasing safety Kerry Rhodes and adding Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Drew Stanton, Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers, Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and New York Jets safety Yeremiah Bell:
- Familiarity: Mendenhall, Stanton and Powers have played for first-year Cardinals coach Bruce Arians on other teams. Bell played for first-year Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles in Miami. Only the best players make it to the NFL, at least in theory, but these associations consistently come into play when teams assemble coaching staffs and rosters. Organizations like to know what they are getting. The Cardinals know what they are getting for the most part with these moves.
- Age at safety: Bell hasn't missed a game over the past five seasons. He'll come to Arizona familiar with Bowles' defense, most likely. That will be an asset. However, Bell turned 35 this month. He is older than Rhodes and Adrian Wilson, the safeties Arizona released this week. Bell's addition looks like a short-term move designed to speed the transition to a new defense.
- Secondary switch: Bowles played safety in the NFL. He should have strong opinions about the type of secondary he wants. Salary-cap concerns are a driving force, too. The team gained cap flexibility by dumping Wilson and Rhodes. Powers has started each of the 42 games he has played in four NFL seasons, but he has never played in more than 12 games in a season. The team signed Powers to a three-year deal after letting Greg Toler leave in free agency. Cornerback Patrick Peterson is the only incumbent starter from the secondary still on Arizona's roster. Powers has been an aggressive tackler and that probably hasn't helped his durability.
- Alexander's role: Alexander, who signed a three-year deal, has generally played less than one-third of the Redskins' defensive snaps in recent seasons. He did start 10 games and play 58 percent during the 2010 season. That was more because of injuries than by design. Alexander, 29, projects as a high-impact player on special teams. He should be a tone setter for Arians and the new staff.
- QB situation: Stanton reportedly got a three-year deal with $3 million in guarantees. That is backup money, but the situation in Arizona could allow Stanton to compete for the starting job. He'll presumably have a chance to earn more through incentives. The team still hasn't made a move with incumbent starter Kevin Kolb, but the status quo is not an option with Kolb set to earn $9 million in salary. Arizona recently made a $2 million commitment to quarterback Brian Hoyer. The draft provides another option. This situation is still taking shape. Stanton is part of the mix and he'll come to Arizona with the advantage of knowing Arians' offense from their time together in Indianapolis. That's what we know for now.