NFC West: Oliver Celestin

Free-agency recap: How Cardinals fared

February, 12, 2009
2/12/09
3:11
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando 

Cardinals Player
How Acquired/ Lost Bad move?
Clark Haggans
UFA Addition
No
Travis LaBoy UFA Addition
No
Bryan Robinson UFA Addition
No
Brian St. Pierre
UFA Addition
No
Matt Stewart
UFA Addition
No
Ralph Brown
UFA Re-sign No
Matt Ware
UFA Re-sign
No
Oliver Celestin
UFA Re-sign No
Nathan Hodel
UFA Re-sign
No
Joe Tafoya
UFA Re-sign
No
Antonio Smith
RFA Re-sign
No
Elton Brown
RFA Re-sign
No
Eric Green
RFA Re-sign
Maybe
Karlos Dansby
Franchise Player No
Bryant Johnson
UFA Lost
No
Keydrick Vincent
UFA Lost
No
Calvin Pace
UFA Lost
Maybe

General managers hoping to keep their jobs tell us we need several years to fully evaluate a draft class.

They are often correct.

Evaluating free-agent decisions takes less time. Some of them are obviously flawed from the beginning.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back at the decisions each NFC West team made in free agency one year ago.

We'll start with the Cardinals because they won the the division title.

The chart shows each of the 17 free agents Arizona added, re
-signed or lost to other teams, based on the records I keep. These included unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and franchise players. If you have questions or see potential omissions, let me know in the comments.

I've added a third column to flag decisions that worked out poorly. I did not downgrade the Cardinals for re-signing Oliver Celestin or Joe Tafoya -- players the team later released -- because players such as them served the intended purposes during camp. The provided depth and they competed, but they lost out to players the organization valued more.

I flagged only two of the Cardinals' decisions for review. Cornerback Eric Green was a significant disappointment, but the Cardinals protected themselves by drafting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They also did not invest heavily in Green. They gave him one year to prove his worth, and they moved on once they determined he wasn't meeting expectations.

Letting Calvin Pace leave in free agency hurt the talent level on defense, but the Jets probably overpaid for him. Did the Cardinals err on Pace? Reasonable people could probably disagree.

Overall, however, the Cardinals avoided serious mistakes in free agency. Salary-cap limitations prevented them from spending more aggressively. They'll have more cap flexibility when the next signing period begins Feb. 27.

Cardinals beef up tight end spot

October, 28, 2008
10/28/08
3:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals' addressed their injury situation at tight end by signing Stephen Spach at the expense of veteran safety Oliver Celestin.

Fullback Tim Castille played tight end during the Cardinals' 27-23 defeat at Carolina in Week 8. The arrangement helped Arizona get through the game, but Castille wasn't going to provide any favorable matchups in the passing game. That made the Cardinals easier to defend, at least in theory.

Spach opened the season with New England. He played 13 games with the Eagles, starting one, in 2005. He signed with the Patriots last season after going to camp with Minnesota.

Castille and Jerame Tuman were the only healthy tight ends for the Cardinals in Week 8. Starter Leonard Pope and regular contributor Ben Patrick continue to recover from injuries. The Cardinals ran 10 plays from traditional double-tight end sets, averaging 1.0 yard per carry on three rushes while gaining only one first down on seven pass attempts.

The Cardinals also released receiver Onrea Jones from the practice squad. That makes sense now that Anquan Boldin is back from injury and ready to practice full time.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Gabe Watson's return from injury has let 2007 second-round choice Alan Branch know where he stands with the Cardinals.

Arizona listed Branch among its inactive players for the second week in a row since Watson returned from a knee injury. Other Cardinals named inactive against the Cowboys in Week 6: safety Oliver Celestin, fullback Tim Castille, tackle Elliot Vallejo, tackle Brandon Keith, receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Ben Patrick.

Boldin continues to recover from injuries suffered against the Jets in Week 4. Patrick's injury leaves the Cardinals light at tight end, another reason to expect more of the three- and four-receiver looks Arizona showed on 70 percent of snaps against Buffalo in Week 5.

Inactive for the Cowboys: safety Patrick Watkins, safety Roy Williams, cornerback Terence Newman, guard Kyle Kosier, guard Joe Berger, tackle Doug Free, receiver Isaiah Stanback.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The NFL has levied a $25,000 fine against Saints free safety Kevin Kaesviharn for his hit on 49ers receiver Josh Morgan during the Saints' 31-17 victory in Week 4.

Referee Jeff Triplette and crew did not penalize Kaesviharn for the helmet-to-helmet hit.

Morgan appeared to escape injury on the play. The league is cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits.

Jets safety Eric Smith drew a $50,000 fine for his hit on Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, also in Week 4. Meanwhile, Cardinals safety Oliver Celestin drew a $5,000 fine for a facemask penalty, also in the Jets game.

Week 3 inactives

September, 21, 2008
9/21/08
12:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Here are today's inactives from around the league.

Arizona, the only NFC West team with an early game today, listed nose tackle Gabe Watson among its inactive players for a third consecutive game to open the season. Watson practiced during the week, but his knee apparently wasn't ready.

Also inactive for the Cardinals today: receiver Early Doucet, linebacker Ali Highsmith, tackle Brandon Keith, running back J.J. Arrington, tight end Jerame Tuman and safety Oliver Celestin. Brian St. Pierre is the third quarterback.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals finished two games behind Seattle in the division last season. The Seahawks were one game better at home (7-1 vs. 6-2) and one game better on the road (3-5 vs. 2-6).

But check this out: 700 penalty yards separated the teams. How many games was that worth?

NFL rank, most penalties (2007)NFC West TeamTotal PenaltiesPenalty Yards
1Cardinals1371,128
1249ers97702
14Rams94794
32Seahawks59428
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt keeps stressing the importance of reducing penalties. At some point it's on the players to make it happen.

Defensive end Darnell Dockett committed a 15-yard facemask penalty on the Cardinals' first play of the exhibition season Thursday night.

Officials flagged rookie defensive end Calais Campbell for roughing the passer later in the game, another 15-yard penalty. Safety Oliver Celestin committed another personal foul.

Three Arizona players finished last season with three personal fouls apiece, tied for third-most in the league. They were: Dockett, safety Adrian Wilson and linebacker Calvin Pace, now with the Jets. Wilson led the NFL with three fouls for unnecessary roughness. He leads the NFL in personal fouls with 17 since entering the league in 2001. Also since 2001, Cardinals linebacker Chike Okeafor leads the league in penalties for roughing the passer (eight).

While Arizona led the NFL in penalties with 137 last season, the problem predates Whisenhunt. The Cardinals have committed 124 personal-foul penalties since 2001, three fewer than league-leading Tampa Bay and 67 more than Seattle. That type of disparity would not seem to happen by chance.

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