Arizona keeps adding players, from quarterback Kevin Kolb to guard Daryn Colledge to tight end Todd Heap and others. San Francisco keeps subtracting them, from linebacker Takeo Spikes to nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, center David Baas, outside linebacker Manny Lawson, cornerback Nate Clements and possibly free safety Dashon Goldson.
Both teams could be operating in the best interests of their organizations, but fans usually feel better when their teams are active in the market. Those wishing their favorite teams were as active as Arizona has been can pretend the following quote came from their teams' general managers, and not from Cardinals president Michael Bidwill.
"We knew we wanted to step in and be very aggressive, and we weren’t going to let the market settle or anything like that," Bidwill told reporters at Cardinals training camp. "We just wanted to go out there and put our best foot forward, really go out there and take a shot at some of the best players across the league."
Cardinals fans know what 49ers fans are going through. Last offseason, they watched their team wave goodbye to high-profile players such as Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and Anquan Boldin. But after finishing 5-11 in 2010, the Cardinals felt as though they needed to act decisively.
"I think we really improved the team over the last several days," Bidwill said.
The Cardinals wanted to add a quarterback quickly, but several days passed before the trade for Kolb went through. Fans and analysts, including former Cardinals tight end Anthony Becht, questioned whether the organization was being sufficiently proactive in upgrading the one position Arizona had to address.
"We felt like there was a lot of aggressiveness that people would eventually see, in terms of seeing how we executed the plan," Bidwill said. "We had a lot of (salary-cap) space to work, we intended to use it, and to go out there and not only take care of the free agency market and executing a couple of trades, but also leave space so that we could extend some key veterans later this training camp."
The Cardinals went though last season with significant cap space. Their payroll plummeted. Some other teams also cut back as a potential lockout loomed. Holding back again this offseason would have carried additional risk for the Cardinals. Sitting back and suffering through another down season would have fed perceptions that gains made during coach Ken Whisenhunt's initial years would be fleeting.
This offseason, no one can fault the Cardinals for a lack of trying.