NFC West: Monty Beisel

Kevin KolbChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesSigning Kevin Kolb signals that the Cardinals are ready to bounce back after a transition season.

Kevin Kolb's arrival from Philadelphia gives the Arizona Cardinals renewed hope at quarterback and clear direction following Kurt Warner's retirement.

It provides a fresh start after a forgettable 2010 transition season for Arizona.

So much has changed for the Cardinals since their Super Bowl appearance following the 2008 season. Other rosters around the league have turned over since then, of course, but not every team was coming off a Super Bowl appearance.

Quite a few teams have sought change. For the Cardinals, it just happened.

Warner's departure, while easily the biggest change, was far from the only one. Between five and eight starters from that Super Bowl game project as starters in 2011, depending upon how many of the team's unrestricted free agents re-sign.

When Steve Breaston left the Cardinals for Kansas City this week, drawing attention to the cumulative effect of Arizona's roster upheaval, a Seahawks fan drew parallels between Seattle's post-Super Bowl decline and the Cardinals' plight last season.

"Don't misunderstand," Ricky Frey wrote on my Facebook wall, "I'm a Hawks fan, but it seems eerily familiar to watch this happen and know what happened to Holmgren/Mora. Writing on the wall?"

Not if Kolb has anything to say about it. Acquiring a relatively young, potentially ascending quarterback puts Arizona in position to avoid the decline Seattle experienced as a Matt Hasselbeck struggled with injuries while the roster around him withered away. The NFC West remains in transition overall, and the Cardinals know it.

"It’s obviously winnable, but it’s funny to think that everybody thinks you can just step in and win it," Kolb told reporters Friday. "You’re talking about NFL football teams here. I know last year 7-9 is what won it, but it doesn’t matter. ... The door is open, we know, and we’ll be ready to kick it in when it’s time, but it’s not going to be an easy task."

Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and the recently re-signed Lyle Sendlein started for Arizona in the Super Bowl and remain starters in 2011. Another starter from that Super Bowl game, Gerald Hayes, was released this week. Three more are becoming unrestricted free agents: Deuce Lutui, Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson.

Six Arizona starters from that game are retired or did not play last season: Mike Gandy, Warner, Edgerrin James, Terrelle Smith, Chike Okeafor and Monty Beisel. Seven more play for other teams: Reggie Wells, Leonard Pope, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Smith, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and the recently traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Some were role players. Others were tougher to replace.

Breaston was a backup on that team, but he played extensively as the third receiver and finished the season with more than 1,000 yards.

Kolb's addition headlined a flurry of transactions the Cardinals announced Thursday and Friday.

Sendlein, safety Hamza Abdullah, cornerback Michael Adams, tackle D'Anthony Batiste, center Ben Claxton, punter Ben Graham, fullback Reagan Maui'a and tight end Stephen Spach re-signed.

Five draft choices have signed. Guard Daryn Colledge, defensive end Nick Eason, tight end Jeff King, receiver Chansi Stuckey and linebacker Stewart Bradley have signed as free agents from other teams.

Re-signing Sendlein while adding Kolb, Colledge and Bradley suggests the 2011 team is still coming together, not necessarily falling apart.
DALLAS -- The Arizona Cardinals experienced more roster turnover than most from 2009 to 2010.

They felt it, too.

Arizona finished with a 5-11 record largely because quarterback Kurt Warner retired. The team hoped it had enough veteran strength throughout its roster to keep the Cardinals competitive. A favorable schedule and division in transition made it seem possible.

Looking back, the roster turnover played a leading role in the Cardinals' fall, coach Ken Whisenhunt said from the Super Bowl media center Friday.

"What you lose more than anything is that equity buildup that you have had for a couple years," Whisenhunt said.

Specifically, Whisenhunt said the Cardinals too often couldn't draw on shared experiences -- say, adjustment that worked against an opponent the previous season.

"Even though you have a Kerry Rhodes, you have Paris Lenon, you have guys you are comfortable with that are good players in the league, they don't know what you have gone through to get to that point," Whisenhunt said. "To have those guys step up and say, 'Listen, we are not practicing the right way, we are not making these plays like we should be,' you don't have that history with them. You can get away with that if it is one or two, but if you have five or six -- especially if they are good football players -- that is hard to overcome."

The Cardinals parted with a long list of players featuring Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Bryant McFadden, Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor, Mike Gandy, Reggie Wells, Neil Rackers, Anthony Becht, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban, Matt Leinart, Ralph Brown, Monty Beisel and Dan Kreider.

"You can never go in and say, 'Gosh, woe is me because we lost those guys,' because you are counting on the other guys to step in and you always want to be positive," Whisenhunt said. "But you have to recognize it's a pretty big blow to lose [key] guys."

Whisenhunt called the situation a "perfect storm" with Warner retiring, key players hitting the market and the NFL heading toward an uncertain labor situation.

"There is no operating plan for what you do or how you do it," he said. "It doesn't really matter at this point. You just have to move forward."

Quite a few younger players gained more experience than anticipated. That could help Arizona build back some of that equity Whisenhunt said was missing. But so much comes back to the quarterback situation. An upgrade at that position would cover for imperfections elsewhere on the roster.

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
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Roster turnover is a leading topic for discussion in Seattle following the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in particular.

I've addressed the subject in depth across the division -- first May 26 and again July 30 -- and it's worth another look now that teams have reduced to 53 players for the regular season.

This time, I'm going to break down the changes by position, listing players no longer on the active roster at each main position group (with new players in parenthesis). Departures outnumber replacements because some players finished last season on injured reserve, meaning they were not part of the 53-man roster.

Some players no longer on the active roster remain with the team (they could be suspended, deemed physically unable to perform or part of the practice squad).

St. Louis Rams (34 off roster)

Defensive back: Eric Bassey, Quincy Butler, Danny Gorrer, Clinton Hart, Cordelius Parks, David Roach, Jonathan Wade (added Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Darian Stewart)

Defensive line: Victor Adeyanju, Adam Carriker, Leger Douzable, Leonard Little, LaJuan Ramsey, James Wyche (added Jermelle Cudjo, Fred Robbins, George Selvie, Eugene Sims)

Linebacker: K.C. Asiodu, Paris Lenon (added Na'il Diggs, Josh Hull)

Offensive line: Roger Allen, Alex Barron, Ryan McKee, Mark Setterstrom, Phillip Trautwein, Eric Young (added Renardo Foster, Hank Fraley, Rodger Saffold)

Quarterback: Kyle Boller, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, Mike Reilly (added Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis)

Running back: Samkon Gado, Chris Ogbonnaya (added Keith Toston)

Special teams: Ryan Neill

Tight end: Randy McMichael (added Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun)

Wide receiver: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Brooks Foster, Jordan Kent, Ruvell Martin (added Mark Clayton, Dominique Curry, Mardy Gilyard)


Seattle Seahawks (33 off roster)

Defensive back: Jamar Adams, Deon Grant, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson (added Kam Chancellor, Kennard Cox, Nate Ness, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond)

Defensive line: Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding, Nick Reed, Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill (added Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii, E.J. Wilson)

Linebacker: Leroy Hill, Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis (added Matt McCoy; note that Hill is suspended for the first regular-season game)

Offensive line: Trevor Canfield, Brandon Frye, Walter Jones, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Steve Vallos, Ray Willis, Mansfield Wrotto (added Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Tyler Polumbus)

Quarterback: Mike Teel, Seneca Wallace (added Charlie Whitehurst)

Running back: Justin Griffith, Louis Rankin, Tyler Roehl, Owen Schmitt (added Quinton Ganther, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington)

Special teams: Kevin Houser, Jeff Robinson (added Clint Gresham)

Tight end: John Owens (added Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy)

Wide receiver: Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (added Golden Tate, Mike Williams)


Arizona Cardinals (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Ralph Brown, Bryant McFadden, Antrel Rolle (added A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Brandon McDonald, Kerry Rhodes)

Defensive line: Jason Banks (added Dan Williams)

Linebacker: Monty Beisel, Bertrand Berry, Cody Brown, Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor, Pago Togafau (added Paris Lenon, Cyril Obiozor, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington; Hayes can return from the physically unable to perform list after six games)

Offensive line: Mike Gandy, Herman Johnson, Reggie Wells (added Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot)

Quarterback: Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Warner (added Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton)

Running back: Justin Green, Dan Kreider (added Jerome Johnson)

Special teams: Neil Rackers (added Jay Feely)

Tight end: Anthony Becht (added Jim Dray)

Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban (added Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams)


San Francisco 49ers (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Dre' Bly, Walt Harris, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman (added Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, William James, Taylor Mays)

Defensive line: Kentwan Balmer, Derek Walker

Linebacker: Scott McKillop, Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Wilhelm (added NaVorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy)

Offensive line: Tony Pashos, Chris Patrick, Cody Wallace (added Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati)

Quarterback: Nate Davis, Shaun Hill (added David Carr, Troy Smith)

Running back: Thomas Clayton, Glen Coffee, Brit Miller, Michael Robinson (added Anthony Dixon, Brian Westbrook)

Special teams: Shane Andrus, Ricky Schmitt

Wide receiver: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (added Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler)


The first chart shows how many players are back -- at least for now -- from Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists. Seattle has the fewest number back with 26.

The second chart shows how many players each team has shed since Week 17 last season. This counts players who were on injured reserve. Teams with lots of players on injured reserve had more players to lose.
Tags:

San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Leonard Little, Jerheme Urban, Isaac bruce, Owen Schmitt, Josh Wilson, Justin Green, Derek Anderson, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Brian St.Pierre, Darryl Tapp, Sam Bradford, Mark Roman, Dan Kreider, Steve Vallos, David Carr, Randy McMIchael, Ralph Brown, Lawrence Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Shaun HIll, Leroy HIll, Chris Patrick, Matt Leinart, Chike Okeafor, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Westbrook, Bertrand Berry, Dominique Zeigler, Ricky Schmitt, Eric Bassey, Eric Young, D.D. Lewis, Nate Burleson, Alex Barron, Samkon Gado, Kyle Boller, Brit Miller, Patrick Kerney, Quincy Butler, Michael Robinson, Arnaz Battle, Ray Willis, Jerome Johnson, Derek Walker, Glen Coffee, Brooks Foster, Monty Beisel, Renardo Foster, Mansfield Wrotto, Seneca Wallace, Donnie Avery, Karlos Dansby, Alex Boone, Marcus Hudson, Adam Carriker, Cody Brown, Kurt Warner, Cordelius Parks, Jeff Ulbrich, Chris Ogbonnaya, Neil Rackers, Pago Togafau, Scott McKillop, Kentwan Balmer, Lance Laury, Sean Morey, Mike Gandy, Mike Reilly, Anquan Boldin, Trevor Canfield, Marc Bulger, Nate Davis, Cory Redding, Antrel Rolle, Matt McCoy, Brandon Jones, Alan Faneca, Anthony Davis, Keenan Burton, Jason HIll, Joey Porter, David Roach, Phillip Trautwein, Tyler Roehl, Taylor Mays, Mark Setterstrom, Travis LaBoy, A.J. Feeley, Craig Terrill, Keith Null, Cody Wallace, K.C. Asiodu, Jordan Kent, Kyle Williams, Stacy Andrews, James Wyche, Reggie Wells, Victor Adeyanju, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Clayton, Deon Grant, LaJuan Ramsey, John Owens, Bryant McFadden, Matt Wilhelm, Gerald Hayes, Jeff Robinson, Herman Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Williams, Justin Griffith, Jason Banks, Jamar Adams, Kevin Houser, Anthony Becht, Damion McIntosh, Louis Rankin, Brandon Frye, Ruvell Martin, Paris Lenon, Leger Douzable, Ryan Neill, Danny Gorrer, Russell Okung, Anthony McCoy, Clinton Hart, Earl Thomas, Leon Washington, Andre Roberts, Chester Pitts, Dan Williams, Mike Iupati, Ben Hamilton, Ryan McKee, Kennard Cox, Kerry Rhodes, Fred Robbins, Chris Baker, William James, Rex Hadnot, Hank Fraley, Mark Clayton, Quinton Ganther, Na'il Diggs, Chris Clemons, John Skelton, Mardy Gilyard, Rodger Saffold, Daryl Washington, Golden Tate, Jerome Murphy, Navorro Bowman, Walter Thurmond, E.J. Wilson, Mike Hoomanawanui, Nate Byham, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie, Thaddeus Lewis, Stephen Williams, A.J. Jefferson, Anthony Dixon, Eugene Sims, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Jermelle Cudjo, Darian Stewart, Keith Toston, Tramaine Brock, Dominique Curry, Phillip Adams, Trumaine McBride, Kevin Dockery, Shane Andrus, Tyler Polumbus, Clint Gresham, Roger III Allen, Cyril Obiozor, Brandon McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Junior Siavii, Troy Smith, Ted Jr. Ginn, Raheem Brock

Arizona Cardinals cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2010
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Biggest surprise: The Cardinals parted with tight end Anthony Becht even though rookie Jim Dray didn't seem to show a great deal through most of camp. Becht became a valuable blocker in the Cardinals' two-tight end sets last season. Stephen Spach's improved health this offseason lets him step into the role. Dray's ability to contribute on special teams also gave him an edge over Becht. Releasing outside linebacker Cody Brown stands as a surprise only because Brown was a second-round choice in 2009. Every other second-round choice from last season was still with his original team as of Friday morning. The move was less surprising based on Brown's contributions. I once thought Herman Johnson might develop into a starting offensive lineman, but he reported to camp overweight and the Cardinals let him go. Their depth on the line gave Johnson less margin for error.

No-brainers: Veteran insider linebacker Monty Beisel had started during part of preseason and the Cardinals are lean at the position after placing Gerald Hayes on reserve/physically unable to perform. But Beisel wasn't the answer at the position and keeping him on the roster for Week 1 would have guaranteed his salary. Rookie Daryl Washington looks like he'll be starting at linebacker sooner rather than later. The Cardinals have also been pleased with veteran Paris Lenon. Reggie Walker also survived the first wave of cuts.

What’s next: The Cardinals still must release three players to conform with the 53-man limit. Matt Leinart's future remains in limbo. Coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters Friday that he wasn't prepared to make a decision on that front just yet. The Cardinals have four quarterbacks on their roster: Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton and Leinart. That situation should shake out in the coming days. Whisenhunt said he needs to figure out whether Leinart could fit as a backup if the team decided to name Anderson its starter. "It's not so much a question of Matt and his ability to play football as it his how he fits with our team," Whisenhunt said. Update: Here's my take on Leinart, who was released Saturday.

Cardinals players cut:
QB Matt Leinart
LB Stevie Baggs
TE Anthony Becht
LB Monty Beisel
LB Cody Brown
DE Jeremy Clark
DE John Fletcher
CB Trevor Ford
WR Ed Gant
OL Herman Johnson
WR Mike Jones
WR Onrea Jones
CB Justin Miller
OL Jonathan Palmer
OL Tom Pestock
FB Charles Scott
WR Isaiah Williams

Rounding up known NFC West moves

September, 3, 2010
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I'll provide a separate file breaking down each NFC West team's roster moves once they meet the 53-man limit.

In the meantime, a few odds and ends:

Arizona Cardinals

Traded guard Reggie Wells to Philadelphia; released tight end Anthony Becht; released linebacker Steve Baggs; released linebacker Monty Beisel; apparently informed receiver Max Komar he made the initial 53-man roster; apparently did not tell quarterback Matt Leinart about his status to this point; scheduled a news conference for 6 p.m. ET (but nothing significant on Leinart is expected at that time).

San Francisco 49ers

Released running back Michael Robinson, released fullback Brit Miller; released fullback Jehuu Caulcrick; released receiver Jason Hill; released receiver Kevin Jurovich; released offensive lineman Cody Wallace; released defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell; released tight ends Tony Curtis and J.J. Finley; released linebacker Bruce Davis; released cornerback Karl Paymah.

Seattle Seahawks

No known moves to this point; Seattle waited until Saturday to announce its cuts last season.

St. Louis Rams

No known moves to this point; the Rams also waited until Saturday last season.

Post-camp roster analysis: Cardinals

August, 30, 2010
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Matt Leinart apparently has no idea where he stands with the Arizona Cardinals. That makes it tough for the rest of us to predict exactly what might happen.

Will Leinart start at quarterback for the Cardinals in Week 1? Will he serve as the backup? Will the Cardinals release him? Might they trade him?

The next week to 10 days should provide answers. NFL teams have until Saturday to reduce their rosters to 53-man limits, with the 75-man deadline passing Tuesday.

After looking at the Seahawks' roster earlier Monday, here's a quick run through the Cardinals:

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.0

Keepers: Derek Anderson

Looking safe: Max Hall

On the bubble: Leinart, John Skelton

Comment: Coach Ken Whisenhunt's handling of Leinart suggests there's more than tough love at work here. It's fair to question whether Leinart fits into the team's plans at all this season. The smart move, it seems, would be to keep Anderson, Leinart and the winner of the Hall-Skelton competition. But it's clear Whisenhunt isn't convinced Leinart has what it takes to be a starting quarterback.

Running backs (8)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Jason Wright

On the bubble: Reagan Maui'a, Charles Scott

Also: Alfonso Smith, Nehemiah Broughton

Comment: Scott arrived via trade this week after Broughton suffered a season-ending knee injury. Maui'a could be the choice heading into the regular season. Scott provides depth for the final exhibition game, but it's unlikely he would be refined enough as a blocker to factor into the offense in a meaningful way. Smith's speed caught my attention early in camp.

Wide receivers (11)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.1

Keepers: Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet

Looking safe: Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams

On the bubble: Onrea Jones, Max Komar

Also: Isaiah Williams, Darren Mougey, Mike Jones, Ed Gant

Comment: Gant serves a suspension to open the season. Roberts will make the team as a third-round pick. Williams pretty much wrapped up a spot with his latest strong performance (at Chicago). Jones and Komar could be competing for a sixth and final spot at the position.

Tight ends (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Keepers: Ben Patrick, Anthony Becht, Stephen Spach

Also: Jim Dray

Comment: The team released Dominique Byrd on Monday. The top three appear set. Not much drama here. Dray looks like practice-squad material.

Offensive linemen (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.9

Keepers: Lyle Sendlein, Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith, Reggie Wells, Levi Brown, Deuce Lutui, Rex Hadnot, Jeremy Bridges

Looking safe: Herman Johnson

Also: Ben Claxton, Tom Pestock, Jonathan Palmer

Comment: Lutui could be trending toward a spot back in the starting lineup despite reporting to camp overweight. Johnson also reported overweight. He isn't a starter, and that's why I listed him separately from the keepers (even though it's an upset, most likely, if Johnson does not stick).

Defensive line (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.4

Keepers: Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Bryan Robinson

Looking safe: Alan Branch, Gabe Watson, Kenny Iwebema

Also: John Fletcher, Jeremy Clark

Comment: This position appears pretty much set. I would expect seven to earn roster spots.

Linebackers (14)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.1

Keepers: Gerald Hayes, Paris Lenon, Clark Haggans, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington

Looking safe: Will Davis, Cody Brown

Bubble: Monty Beisel, Reggie Walker

Also: O'Brien Schofield, Steve Baggs, Mark Washington, Chris Johnson, Pago Togafau

Comment: Hayes and Schofield could open the season on reserve/physically unable to perform, opening two roster spots. Beisel and Walker could be competing for the final spot at this position.

Defensive backs (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.9

Keepers: Adrian Wilson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kerry Rhodes, Greg Toler, Trumaine McBride, Matt Ware

Looking safe: Michael Adams, Hamza Abdullah, Rashad Johnson

On the bubble: Marshay Green

Also: A.J. Jefferson, Trevor Ford, Justin Miller

Comment: Toler could be passing McBride on the depth chart as the starting right cornerback, fulfilling expectations. Johnson appeared more physical early in camp. Haven't heard much about him lately, though.

Specialists (3)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Keepers: Jay Feely, Ben Graham, Mike Leach

Comment: Arizona has three on the roster and that's how many the team will keep. Simple enough.

Valuing that veteran seasoning

August, 11, 2010
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Age can be a sensitive subject, even in the NFL. Especially in the NFL, where a couple down seasons past age 30 can leave even accomplished players on the outside.

Teams try to find the right mix of youth, players in their primes and older veterans.

The St. Louis Rams, one of the NFL's youngest teams last season, signed a few players well in their 30s this offseason as they tried to add seasoning. Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed to veteran leadership as one of the things he likes about his roster.

I've gone through NFC West rosters to see how many players in their 30s each team employs. The numbers were about what I would have expected.
Arizona (13): punter Ben Graham 36, defensive tackle Bryan Robinson 36, kicker Jay Feely 34, snapper Mike Leach 33, guard Alan Faneca 33, linebacker Clark Haggans 33, linebacker Joey Porter 33, tight end Anthony Becht 33, linebacker Paris Lenon 32, linebacker Monty Beisel 31, safety Adrian Wilson 30, tackle Jeremy Bridges 30, center Ben Claxton 30.

San Francisco (13): kicker Joe Nedney 37, tackle Barry Sims 35, snapper Brian Jennings 33, linebacker Takeo Spikes 33, fullback Moran Norris 32, cornerback William James 31, quarterback David Carr 31, guard Tony Wragge 30, defensive end Demetric Evans 30, defensive end Justin Smith 30, cornerback Nate Clements 30, center Eric Heitmann 30, safety Michael Lewis 30.

Seattle (10): kicker Olindo Mare 37, safety Lawyer Milloy 36, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck 34, guard Ben Hamilton 32, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh 32, guard Chester Pitts 31, receiver Deion Branch 31, tight end Chris Baker 30, defensive tackle Craig Terrill 30, defensive tackle Colin Cole 30.

St. Louis (8): defensive end James Hall 33, defensive tackle Fred Robbins 33, quarterback A.J. Feeley 33, center Hank Fraley 32, linebacker Na'il Diggs 32, kicker Josh Brown 31, snapper Chris Massey 30 and punter Donnie Jones 30.

Several other players turn 30 this season: nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (49ers), guard Adam Goldberg (Rams), linebacker Gerald Hayes (Cardinals), kicker Shane Andrus (49ers), guard Reggie Wells (Cardinals) and cornerback Marcus Trufant (Seahawks).

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks are minutes away from beginning their first training camp practice under coach Pete Carroll.

Veteran receiver Sean Morey will not join them. Morey, 34, has told the team he plans to retire. He'll be remembered by NFC West fans for his years as a special-teams standout and occasional fourth receiver for the Arizona Cardinals during their most successful seasons.

Morey suffered from multiple concussions during his career. He has become a spokesman for concussion awareness and agreed to donate his brain to science upon his death. Stepping away now ensures Morey will not suffer additional damage as an NFL player. It also reflects a youth movement in Seattle and the potential realization that Morey was going to have a hard time earning a roster spot.

I'll remember Morey's career for the punt he blocked in overtime against the Dallas Cowboys. Teammate Monty Beisel recovered and scored a touchdown for a 30-24 victory -- part of what would become a Super Bowl season for the Cardinals.

Around the NFC West: Waiting games

July, 31, 2010
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Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sees no signs of protracted contract disputes involving the Seahawks' remaining unsigned draft choices. O'Neil: "In fact, just the opposite. Friday's slew of signings started with left tackle Trent Williams, who plays the same position as (Russell) Okung and was chosen two picks earlier. Eric Berry, the safety chosen fifth by Kansas City, one spot ahead of Okung, also signed. That gives the Seahawks and Okung's agent a good idea for establishing the ceiling for Okung's deal. Similarly, the player picked ahead of (Earl) Thomas in the draft -- defensive end Brandon Graham -- reached a five-year agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. Those deals will help set the parameters in negotiations between Seattle and its two remaining unsigned rookies."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com asks 10 questions heading into Seahawks training camp. Johns: "The Seahawks ranked 30th in the league in pass defense last year, largely because of the lack of rush (see No. 3 earlier), but also because of some injury woes. That's why two of the most critical players to watch this preseason are cornerback Marcus Trufant and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says during a chat he doesn't think Justin Forsett will reach 1,000 yards this season. Williams: "I don't think Forsett is going to get enough touches to rush for a 1,000. I expect Forsett and (Julius) Jones to split the carries down the middle, with a sprinkling of (Leon) Washington, who likely will contribute more on special teams. But we'll see. If Forsett can stay healthy and get 15-18 rushes a game, it's possible."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects the Cardinals to sign first-round choice Dan Williams sooner rather than later. He also says the Cardinals placed inside linebacker Gerald Hayes on the physically unable to perform list. Rookie O'Brien Schofield landed on the non-football injury list. Also, the Cardinals signed a contract to keep their training camp at Northern Arizona University for the next three summers.

Also from Somers: a look at the Cardinals' roster heading into camp. Whisenhunt: "There's going to be a lot of interesting things going on this training camp. There are going to be battles for positions. There are going to be battles for playing time. We're going to get an opportunity to see if some of the young players are ready to step up."

More from Somers: The Cardinals' conditioning test holds special appeal this year. Somers: "Saturday morning's conditioning run usually holds little interest. But guard Deuce Lutui will be on center stage. If he completes the runs in the prescribed time, Deuce can tell everyone that he knew he had things under control at all times. If he doesn't, well, coach Ken Whisenhunt won't be happy. No word on what Deuce is weighing. He's under 396, which he weighed in mid-June, but more than the 340-or so he weighed in December."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the surgery Hayes underwent earlier this offseason was similar to the procedure Monty Beisel underwent a year ago.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Rams executive Kevin Demoff this way after the team signed rookie Sam Bradford: "I kept hearing during this process, especially early in the process, that maybe Sam didn't want to be here. But I've never heard Sam say anything but how excited he was to be in St. Louis, and how excited he is about the opportunity to help make this team successful again. I talked to Sam earlier tonight, and he's very excited. I'm excited that every fan will want to see the beginning of a new era with him and the Rams and our other new players."

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Donnie Avery showed up to Rams camp at 193 pounds, reflecting an effort to become stronger and more durable.

Also from Nelson: Rams tight end Fendi Onobun appealed to the team for his natural ability. He needs seasoning.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams guard Roger Allen III, who is back from knee surgery.

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch polls colleagues for their thoughts on camp battles for the Rams. Thomas: "As of Thursday, it became clear that the left tackle position was up for grabs between last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Jason Smith, and this year’s second-round pick, Rodger Saffold. The coaching staff likes Saffold’s athleticism as a pass blocker, and Smith isn’t even practicing fully as he comes back from a June fractured toe. At right guard, versatile vet Adam Goldberg enters camp as the favorite, but Hank Fraley and John Greco are in the mix as well. And of course, the No. 1 question entering camp is when does Sam Bradford take the reins from A.J. Feeley at quarterback?" The Rams previously said Saffold projects at right tackle. The team subsequently said Saffold could wind up on the left side. I would think the basic plan remains in place, however. Smith projects as the left tackle unless Saffold appears better suited to the position -- in which case St. Louis used the second overall choice for a right tackle.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says it's only a matter of time before Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati crack the 49ers' starting lineup. Maiocco: "Although coach Mike Singletary said he expects the incumbents to continue to work with the first team at the outset of camp, the rookies will clearly be given their chances to prove themselves. And it's clear both Davis and Iupati have designs on earning their way into the starting lineup sooner than later."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee updates the 49ers' rookie signings and says Kyle Williams spent his offseason fielding punts from former NFL mainstay Tom Rouen, 42. Williams: "He's been in the league forever. He told me a lot about what punters are going to do. He's about 100 years old, but he can still do it."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat explains why the 49ers' Taylor Mays waited before signing his rookie deal. Mays didn't want to sign until Jimmy Clausen's deal was done. Barber: "Me and Jimmy actually have the same agent, so it was kind of waiting for Jimmy to get his contract done (with Carolina), so it would kind of be based upon what Jimmy did. That was kind of a little bit of in-house stuff ... I know my agent Gary (Wichard) had to get Jimmy taken care of first."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says it's time to update the 49ers' roster to reflect the true form of a certain third-round pick's first name. Remember Navorro Bowman? Well, forget about him. Brown: "Bowman clarified that his first name is spelled with a capital V -- as in, NaVorro -- even though it's been written repeatedly in lowercase, including on the 49ers' roster."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers weren't sure whether franchise player Aubrayo Franklin would report to camp on time.
One of the questions heading into an uncapped year was whether some players previously scheduled to become unrestricted free agents might stay away all offseason after qualifying only at the restricted level.

The Cardinals apparently have the answers they wanted after receiver Steve Breaston, nose tackle Gabe Watson and center Lyle Sendlein signed their RFA tenders (the team announced those moves, plus the signing of veteran linebacker Monty Beisel).

Guard Deuce Lutui is the Cardinals' remaining unsigned RFA. Arizona bought insurance for Lutui by signing Rex Hadnot in free agency.

The 49ers, meanwhile, opened their organized team activities with unsigned RFA guard David Baas participating after signing a waiver, a relatively common practice.

The Rams will be without RFA safety Oshiomogho Atogwe for the time being after the team offered him the lower of two tender options. One of the Seahawks' higher-profile RFAs, guard Rob Sims, also remains in limbo. Seattle might trade him after determining Sims isn't an ideal fit for its new zone blocking scheme.

Cardinals' linebackers minus Foote

March, 15, 2010
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The Cardinals' pursuit of Larry Foote ended Monday when the free-agent linebacker agreed to terms with the Steelers.

The list of available inside linebackers with experience in 3-4 schemes appears weak.

I see none worth strong consideration on the updated list of unrestricted free agents, which I'll make available shortly.

Updated: NFC West UFA list

March, 12, 2010
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The Cardinals remain the only NFC West team to re-sign any of their unrestricted free agents this offseason.

That is mostly by design.

Twenty-seven of 31 remaining unrestricted free agents from NFC West teams are at least 30 years old. Two are retiring. Two of the four still in their 20s are 29.

The chart shows remaining UFAs from the NFC West, arranged by team and by age.

NFC West: Free-agency primer

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Arizona Cardinals

Unrestricted free agents: TE Anthony Becht, LB Monty Beisel, LB Bertrand Berry (retired), LT Jeremy Bridges, CB Ralph Brown, LB Karlos Dansby, LT Mike Gandy, FB Dan Kreider, WR Sean Morey, LB Chike Okeafor, K Neil Rackers, NT Bryan Robinson, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware.

Restricted free agents: SS Hamza Abdullah, WR Steve Breaston, G Ben Claxton, FB Justin Green, LG Deuce Lutui, TE Ben Patrick, C Lyle Sendlein, TE Stephen Spach, WR Jerheme Urban, NT Gabe Watson.

Franchise player: none

What to expect: The Cardinals generally do not pursue marquee free agents from other teams. That trend figures to continue. The Cardinals have too many of their own free agents to re-sign for them to worry about chasing other teams' castoffs. We might see Arizona plug the roster with a few lower-tier free agents. They had success doing that last offseason, particularly with Becht at tight end. Dansby leads the list of 2009 starters expected to depart. Arizona is reportedly interested in quarterback David Carr.

St. Louis Rams

Unrestricted free agents: QB Kyle Boller, DE James Hall, SS Clinton Hart, LB Paris Lenon, DE Leonard Little, LS Chris Massey, TE Randy McMichael.

Restricted free agents: S Eric Bassey, S Craig Dahl, TE Daniel Fells, LS Ryan Neill, DT Clifton Ryan, CB Jonathan Wade, DE Victory Adeyanju, FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, T Alex Barron, RB Sam Gado, DT Gary Gibson, WR Ruvell Martin, G Mark Setterstrom.

Franchise player: none

What to expect: The Rams could be in the market for a veteran quarterback such as Chad Pennington. Beyond quarterback, coach Steve Spagnuolo said the Rams could use a little more seasoning in the form of veteran role players. The Rams will remain a young team, but they could add some experience. The team parted with players fitting that profile last offseason, but most had inflated salaries. The ones St. Louis adds this year figure to carry lower price tags in most cases. The Rams have said they want Little and Hall back. McMichael figures to be gone.

Seattle Seahawks

Unrestricted free agents: WR Nate Burleson, FB Justin Griffith, LS Kevin Houser, LB D.D. Lewis, CB Ken Lucas, T Damion McIntosh, S Lawyer Milloy, DE Cory Redding, LS Jeff Robinson.

Restricted free agents: T Brandon Frye, WR Ben Obomanu, LB Lance Laury, G Rob Sims, G Chris Spencer, DE Darryl Tapp.

Franchise player: K Olindo Mare

What to expect: The Seahawks are a little difficult to figure. Their owner has the money to bankroll aggressive spending if Seattle chooses to go that route. Coach Pete Carroll surely realizes the team could use talent upgrades. The new general manager, John Schneider, comes from the Ted Thompson school of personnel. Thompson's aversion for free agency is well established, although Schneider has characterized himself as slightly more aggressive. The problem, of course, is finding good players on the market. Burleson will hit the market. He could return if the price is right. Carroll has said nice things about Redding, who should be affordable.

San Francisco 49ers

Unrestricted free agents: WR Arnaz Battle, CB Dre Bly, CB Walt Harris, T Tony Pashos, FS Mark Roman, T Barry Sims, LB Jeff Ulbrich (retired), LB Matt Wilhelm.

Restricted free agents: LG David Baas, LB Ahmad Brooks, CB Marcus Hudson.

Franchise player: NT Aubrayo Franklin

What to expect: The 49ers have largely turned their back on free agency now that they feel better about their roster. I would expect the team to lay low again when the signing period begins late Thursday night on the West Coast.

Free agency: NFC West

February, 16, 2010
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AFC Free Agency: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

An early look at the free-agent situation in the NFC West.

Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.

Arizona Cardinals

[+] EnlargeKarlos Dansby
Tony Medina/Icon SMIKarlos Dansby has led the Cardinals in tackles in each of the past two seasons.
Unrestricted free agents: LB Karlos Dansby, LT Mike Gandy, OLB Chike Okeafor, K Neil Rackers, NT Bryan Robinson, WR Sean Morey, TE Anthony Becht, DE Bertrand Berry, LT Jeremy Bridges, CB Ralph Brown, FB Dan Kreider, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware, LB Monty Beisel.

Key figures: The more than $17.7 million Arizona has paid to Dansby over the past two seasons should suffice as a parting gift if, as expected, the linebacker leaves in free agency. Dansby could be leading an exodus. Okeafor turns 34 in March and could be on his way out. Berry announced his retirement. Morey has had concussion problems. Gandy's return probably depends on whether he's willing to stay for less than the $5 million he earned last season. Safety Antrel Rolle does not appear on the list, but he would hit the market when free agency begins if the Cardinals decline to pay a $4 million roster bonus.

San Francisco 49ers

Unrestricted free agents: WR Arnaz Battle, CB Dre' Bly, NT Aubrayo Franklin, CB Walt Harris, RT Tony Pashos, FS Mark Roman, LT Barry Sims, LB Jeff Ulbrich, LB Matt Wilhelm, CB Keith Smith.

Key figures: The 49ers have been proactive in re-signing their own players. That explains why relatively few big names appear on this list. The franchise tag appears well suited for Franklin, the only marquee UFA on the 49ers' list this offseason. Tagging Franklin at the $7 million franchise rate makes sense heading into labor uncertainty. Why spend lavishly on a long-term deal? Franklin has played at a high level consistently for only one season, and a lockout could keep him off the field in 2011. Re-signing Sims for depth would make sense. Ulbrich, meanwhile, has retired and joined the Seahawks' coaching staff.

Seattle Seahawks

Unrestricted free agents: WR Nate Burleson, DE Cory Redding, CB Ken Lucas, K Olindo Mare, LB D.D. Lewis, FB Justin Griffith, LT Damion McIntosh, SS Lawyer Milloy, LS Kevin Houser, LS Jeff Robinson.

Key figures: New coach Pete Carroll is on the record saying he likes what he's seen from Redding. Mare is coming off an outstanding season. Lucas has the size Seattle's new leadership wants in its cornerbacks. Milloy played for Carroll in New England. There isn't much more to say about this relatively nondescript group, and it's unclear how much the new regime will value these UFAs. Unrestricted free agency isn't the only road out of Seattle this offseason. The team will probably part with a few established players who haven't lived up to their salaries because of injuries and other factors. Patrick Kerney and Deion Branch come to mind. Update: I've added Nate Burleson to the list of free agents. He has a contract for 2010, but it voids. Thanks to CowboyP893 for the assist.

St. Louis Rams

Unrestricted free agents: DE Leonard Little, DE James Hall, LB Paris Lenon, QB Kyle Boller, S Clinton Hart, LS Chris Massey, TE Randy McMichael.

Key figures: Boller, 28, is the only player on the Rams' list younger than 30. Franchise player Oshiomogho Atogwe and starting tackle Alex Barron become only restricted free agents under rules governing the uncapped year, explaining their absence from the Rams' UFA list. It's unclear how seriously Little and Hall figure into the team's plans for 2010. Chris Long's emergence late last season should make it easier for the team to move on without them, but the aging defensive ends did combine for 27 starts and 11 sacks last season.
Darren Urban's item on the "final eight" rules provides a good opening to discuss what an uncapped year means for the Cardinals.

Basically, the final eight teams alive in the playoffs, including Arizona, will have a harder time signing free agents from other teams if the NFL and its players fail to extend the collective bargaining agreement. I don't think this is a huge deal, though, because rules will also dramatically reduce the number of players available in free agency. And remember, there haven't been many good players hitting the market, anyway.

Without a new CBA, players must have six years in the league, not four, to become free agents. Teams will also be able to use one franchise tag and two transition tags to restrict veteran players.

Pat Kirwan of NFL.com has done a good job explaining some of the implications here and here.

Last offseason, Arizona lost (and in some cases did not want back) Terrelle Smith, Eric Green, J.J. Arrington, Antonio Smith and the since-re-signed Monty Beisel in unrestricted free agency. The Cardinals added Bryant McFadden and Jason Wright as unrestricted free agents. The team re-signed unrestricted free agents Brian St. Pierre, Ben Graham, Kurt Warner, Ralph Brown, Clark Haggans, Bertrand Berry and the since-released Elton Brown, with Karlos Dansby re-signing as a franchise player.

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