2010 NFL Offseason: Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals (Last Year: 10-6) Buy Tickets

2010 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Derek Anderson, G Rex Hadnot, G Alan Faneca, DE/OLB Joey Porter, ILB Paris Lenon, CB/KR Justin Miller, FS Kerry Rhodes, K Jay Feely.
Early Draft Picks:
NT Dan Williams, ILB Daryl Washington, WR Andre Roberts, DE/OLB O’Brien Schofield, QB John Skelton.
Offseason Losses:
QB Kurt Warner, WR Anquan Boldin, WR Jerheme Urban, OT Mike Gandy, ILB Karlos Dansby, CB Bryant McFadden, FS Antrel Rolle, K Neil Rackers.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Offense:
It’s really odd that the Cardinals didn’t entertain the prospect of trading for Donovan McNabb. The move would have made so much sense; McNabb’s great deep accuracy makes him a tremendous fit in this offense, and Arizona is ready to win now. It needs a veteran quarterback who knows what he’s doing.

Instead, Arizona is putting all of its faith into Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson. This regime deserves the benefit of the doubt based on how they turned this franchise around, but it’s still really puzzling. Leinart cares more about being a superstar than a football player, and puts little time and effort into watching film. His arm strength is also lacking, which is why he checks the ball down often.

Leinart has drawn mixed reviews in minicamp thus far. The only other experienced option is Anderson, who shined in 2007 by compiling 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. However, Anderson has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the two years since. His accuracy is abysmal, but he may be the better option.

The quarterback conundrum isn’t the only issue on offense. The line had to be upgraded this offseason, but this was yet another area that largely went ignored. Offensive tackles Mike Gandy and Levi Brown were guilty of a combined 18 sacks and 18 penalties in 2009. Gandy suffered a season-ending injury in December, and is no longer with the team. His replacement will be either Jeremy Bridges, who didn’t impress last year, or Brandon Keith, who has played in only one NFL game.

The interior of the offensive front is a bit better. Right guard Deuce Lutui is a decent lineman, while center Lyle Sendlein has shown some improvement. Left guard, manned by Reggie Wells, is a big issue. Alan Faneca, 33, was brought in to challenge at that position, but he didn’t perform very well with the Jets last year despite his Pro Bowl appearance. Rex Hadnot will also be in the mix, but he has major injury issues.

Aside from Kurt Warner, the other major offensive departure this spring was Anquan Boldin, who was traded to the Ravens. Boldin is a premier talent, but this loss won’t effect Arizona as much in the passing game because the team has Earl Doucet and rookie Andre Roberts waiting in the wings. Plus, Larry Fitzgerald and slot receiver Steve Breaston are both very good.

Boldin will likely be missed most in the run-blocking department. This is significant because Arizona now has a much more ground-based attack. Chris Wells, who rushed for 793 yards and seven touchdowns on a 4.5 average as a rookie, will be asked to carry the ball more than 250 times this season. Wells will struggle to match his 4.5 figure; opposing defenses won’t respect Leinart nearly as much as Warner, so Wells will have to deal with constant eight man fronts unless Leinart can show the NFL something he hasn’t during his disappointing career.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Defense:
If losing Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin wasn’t bad enough, the Cardinals will also have to endure the departure of Karlos Dansby, who signed a 5-year, $43 million contract with the Dolphins. An elite inside linebacker who excelled in both run support and coverage, Dansby was arguably Arizona’s top defensive player the past few years. Life will be difficult without Dansby, especially considering that the maligned Paris Lenon is due to take Dansby’s old spot next to Gerald Hayes unless talented, but undersized second-round rookie Daryl Washington can step in right away.

The other big-name loss on Arizona’s defense was Antrel Rolle, who inked a 5-year, $37 million deal with the Giants. Rolle’s defection isn’t as serious. In fact, the Cardinals are probably better off without him because he habitually blew coverages. Arizona brought in Kerry Rhodes to take Rolle’s spot. Rhodes was once regarded one of the top safeties in the NFL, but has dropped off recently because a waning interest in pro football. A change of scenery and a new coaching staff can’t hurt, but no one should expect Rhodes’ attitude to improve.

Everything else is pretty much status quo. Like last year, Arizona’s two biggest defensive issues are its pass rush and secondary. The team’s top outside rusher (Bert Berry, six sacks) is no longer on the roster. The Cardinals signed Joey Porter to take his spot, but Porter is a 33-year-old in decline. Second-year Cody Brown, who missed his entire rookie campaign with a wrist injury, may also contribute. However, Arizona can’t rely on him or Porter to get to the quarterback consistently.

The Cardinals’ top pass rushers are on the defensive line; elite 3-4 ends Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell notched seven sacks each in 2009. They’ll be joined by first-round rookie nose tackle Dan Williams, who is fully expected to be in the starting lineup on kickoff weekend despite his inexperience.

As mentioned earlier, the secondary is an issue. The Cardinals are fine with strong safety Adrian Wilson and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; the latter played very well last year until the very end when he suffered head and leg injuries. Rhodes is a huge question mark, as is No. 2 corner Greg Toler. Toler performed admirably toward the conclusion of the 2009 season, but that was in very limited action. Toler could easily bust as a starter, leaving the Cardinals with no other options; corner depth is a huge weakness.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Schedule and Intangibles:
Something that was apparent during Arizona’s postseason run in 2008 was the homefield advantage the team unceremoniously established. Including the playoffs, the Cardinals are 19-8 as hosts the past three years.

Since 1999, Arizona has surrendered 11 punt or kickoffs for touchdowns, while scoring only five of its own. On the bright side, the 2009 season featured one Cardinals special-teams score (LaRod Stephens-Howling) and none for the opponents. Credit Arizona’s front office for turning this dubious trend around.

Neil Rackers has moved on to Houston. The new kicker is Jay Feely, who has hit at least 83 percent of his field goals in every season since 2005. Feely was 30-of-36 last year, including 12-of-15 from 40-plus.

Punter Ben Graham struggled in 2008, but rebounded with a strong 2009 campaign, maintaining a 47-yard average with 42-of-86 kicks inside the 20.

Playing in the NFC West, the Cardinals have their share of easy opponents. In addition to the Rams and Seahawks twice, they also get the Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders and Buccaneers.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2010 Arizona Cardinals Analysis: The fate of the 2010 Arizona Cardinals rests on the shoulders of Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson. If either quarterback succeeds and can lead the team back into the postseason, it won’t be the first time this current Cardinals regime has made the media and the general public look foolish. However, if Leinart and Anderson both bomb, and Arizona doesn’t win the NFC West, the fans will really have to wonder why the Cardinals didn’t trade for Donovan McNabb, when it was such a logical move that would have benefited both the team and the player.

No one should have high expectations. There’s no reason to have faith in Leinart or Anderson. The latter isn’t very good, while the former isn’t fully dedicated to becoming a good NFL quarterback.

Projection: 6-10 (TBA in NFC West)

2011 NFL Free Agents: Arizona Cardinals

2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Arizona Cardinals

More 2010 NFL Season Previews

2010 NFL Draft Grades:

The Cardinals lost three significant players this offseason: Kurt Warner, Karlos Dansby and Anquan Boldin. They were tasked with replacing them in the draft in addition to filling some of their prominent needs, including offensive tackle, rush linebacker and nose tackle.

Arizona did a great job for the most part. Talented second-round pick Daryl Washington, though not an ideal fit in the 3-4, will take Dansby’s spot. Underrated Andre Roberts, a great route-runner who barely dropped any passes in college, will challenge Early Doucet for the starting gig across from Larry Fitzgerald. Dan Williams was a steal at No. 26 (he was widely projected to go No. 9) and if O’Brien Schofield can recover from his torn ACL, he’ll be an impact pass-rusher in 2011 and beyond.

My problem with Arizona’s draft is that the team essentially passed on two quarterbacks: Donovan McNabb and Jimmy Clausen. The Cardinals’ reluctance to trade for McNabb or draft Clausen says that they’re comfortable with Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson as replacements for Warner. I’m not as confident, but we’ll see what happens.

Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: B+

2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

26. Dan Williams, NT, Tennessee
I find it absurd that the top nose tackle in the draft, a popular top-10 pick (even by the ESPN guys), can fall to No. 26. Unlike many teams drafting in the top 12 every year, the Cardinals have a plan. (Pick Grade: A)

47. Daryl Washington, ILB, TCU
The Cardinals find a very talented prospect to replace Karlos Dansby. I love the player, but how can the Cardinals justify putting a lot of faith in Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson? If both quarterbacks struggle in 2010, Arizona will really regret passing on Jimmy Clausen. (Pick Grade: C)

88. Andre Roberts, WR, The Citadel
Matt McGuire’s sleeper receiver goes to the Cardinals. I really like Andre Roberts; he’s a great route-runner who doesn’t drop any passes. However, Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, who came on during the playoffs. Why not address a bigger need? (Pick Grade: B)

130. O’Brien Schofield, DE/OLB, Wisconsin
I love this pick. O’Brien Schofield was seen as a second-round pick until he tore his ACL in the Senior Bowl practices. The Cardinals won’t need him this year with Joey Porter on the roster. Come 2011, Schofield could be a big factor for this defense. (Pick Grade: A)

155. John Skelton, QB, Fordham
John Skelton has all the physical tools to become a starting NFL quarterback. He’s raw and will have to sit for a year or two, but don’t be surprised if he’s starting for the Cardinals in the future. (Pick Grade: A)

201. Jorrick Calvin, CB, Troy
Who? I can’t slam a team for taking a UDFA prospect late in Round 6, but I actually had to look this guy up. (Pick Grade: C)

233. Jim Dray, TE, Stanford
I thought the Cardinals would look at a tight end earlier. Jim Dray’s not a bad option in Round 7. (Pick Grade: B)

Season Summary:
The Cardinals were determined to prove that 2008 was no fluke. Things looked a bit troublesome early in the year when Kurt Warner struggled to recover from his hip surgery, but Arizona caught fire and easily won the NFC West again. Unfortunately, the Cardinals ran into a Saints buzzsaw in the second round of the playoffs. A few weeks later, Kurt Warner announced his retirement.

Offseason Moves:
  • Cardinals re-sign G Deuce Lutui
  • Cardinals sign CB/KR Justin Miller
  • Cardinals sign G Alan Faneca
  • Steelers acquire CB Bryan McFadden from Cardinals for 5th-round pick
  • Bengals sign K Mike Nugent
  • Texans sign K Neil Rackers
  • Cardinals sign K Jay Feely
  • Cardinals re-sign C Lyle Sendlein
  • Cardinals re-sign CB Michael Adams
  • Cardinals re-sign WR Steve Breaston
  • Cardinals re-sign NT Gabe Watson
  • Cardinals re-sign TE Ben Patrick
  • Cardinals re-sign S Hamza Abdullah
  • Cardinals sign DE/OLB Joey Porter
  • Cardinals sign QB Derek Anderson
  • Cardinals sign ILB Paris Lenon
  • Cardinals sign G Rex Hadnot
  • Cardinals re-sign C Ben Claxton
  • Cardinals re-sign OT Jeremy Bridges
  • Chiefs sign WR Jerheme Urban
  • Cardinals re-sign TE Stephen Spach
  • Cardinals re-sign TE Anthony Becht
  • Cardinals acquire FS Kerry Rhodes from Jets for 2010 4th-rounder and 2011 7th-rounder
  • Giants sign FS Antrel Rolle
  • Dolphins sign ILB Karlos Dansby
  • Ravens acquire WR Anquan Boldin and 2010 5th-rounder from Cardinals for 2010 3rd-, 4th-rounders
  • Cardinals cut FS Antrel Rolle
  • Cardinals tender TE Ben Patrick

    Offseason Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Kurt Warner has retired, and now the Cardinals have to rely on Matt Leinart to carry them deep into the playoffs again. Arizona’s front office can’t be too confident. A trade for Donovan McNabb would make sense for both the Cardinals and Eagles. McNabb for Arizona’s first-rounder and Antrel Rolle makes sense. Signed Derek Anderson; drafted John Skelton

    2. Left Tackle: Mike Gandy struggled immensely before being thrown on IR. Arizona needs a premier blind-side protector. The team will consider Bryan Bulaga, Anthony Davis or Trent Williams in the first round (though the first two are unlikely to fall that far).

    3. Rush Linebacker: Arizona compiled 43 sacks on the year, but only a few came from the rush linebackers. The leader in that department was Bert Berry, a 35-year-old free agent who had six sacks. After that, 33-year-old Clark Haggans notched five sacks, followed by Chike Okeafor’s 4.5. Okeafor, 34, is also a free agent. Brandon Graham, Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle are among the options the Cardinals will have in the first two rounds. Signed Joey Porter; drafted O’Brien Schofield

    4. Inside Linebacker: After being franchised twice, Karlos Dansby probably won’t be back with the Cardinals. If he leaves, a replacement will have to be found. Drafted Daryl Washington; signed Paris Lenon

    5. Free Safety: With Antrel Rolle gone, the Cardinals need help at free safety. Traded for Kerry Rhodes

    6. Nose Tackle: Arizona’s defense is missing a stout nose tackle. It’s amazing Karlos Dansby has been so productive with the likes of Bryan Robinson and Alan Branch playing in front of him. Drafted Dan Williams

    7. Center: Lyle Sendlein should have been upgraded last offseason. He was better this year, but still struggled at times. An upgrade can be found in Rounds 3-5. Signed Rex Hadnot

    8. Fullback: Dan Kreider is a free agent, but the Cardinals need a new lead blocker for Chris Wells anyway. A late-round pick can be used on this position.

    2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Jay Feely, K, Jets. Age: 34.
      Signed with Cardinals (2 years)

      Jay Feely was 27-of-33 in 2009 and has hit 4-of-4 in his last 50-yarders in the regular season, but missed two kicks in the AFC Championship.

    2. Derek Anderson, QB, Browns. Age: 27.
      Signed with Cardinals (2 years, $7.25 million; $3.2 million guaranteed)

      And to think, the Browns could have traded Derek Anderson for a first-round pick two years ago… Anyway, Anderson has tremendous upside because he has nice size, experience and very good arm strength. He’s also just 27 years old. Unfortunately, his work ethic and accuracy are huge negatives. Still, he could perform well with a decent supporting cast; he proved that in 2007.

    3. Rex Hadnot, G, Browns. Age: 28.
      Signed with Cardinals (3 years, $9 million)

      A sound run-blocker, Rex Hadnot helped Jerome Harrison finish the year on a strong note.

    4. Joey Porter, DE/OLB, Dolphins. Age: 33.
      Signed with Cardinals (3 years, $17.5 million)

      Joey Porter had nine sacks in 2008, but at 33, he’s not a consistent pass-rusher anymore. He can still be a rotational/nickel rusher in a 3-4 scheme, but he shouldn’t be a starter any longer.

    5. Alan Faneca, G, Jets. Age: 33.
      Signed with Cardinals (1 year, $2.5 million)

      It’s not often you see a Pro Bowler cut a couple of months later. Alan Faneca can still run block somewhat well, but he’s completely lost in pass protection.

    6. Paris Lenon, OLB, Rams. Age: 32.
      Signed with Cardinals (3 years)

      Should have never been a starter in this league. Could be a solid backup.

    7. Justin Miller, CB/KR, Jets. Age: 26.
      Signed with Cardinals (1 year)

      Not much of a cornerback, but Justin Miller had two kickoff returns for touchdowns in seven games with Oakland in 2008.

    Arizona Cardinals Free Agents:

    Salary Cap (As of Feb. 13): No cap.
    1. Karlos Dansby, ILB, Cardinals. Age: 28.
      Signed with Dolphins (5 years, $43 million; $22 million guaranteed)

      One of the top linebackers in the league, Karlos Dansby can play in any scheme. In a shallow market, teams will throw truckloads of cash at Dansby. Al Davis may even offer some of his virgins.

    2. Neil Rackers, K, Cardinals. Age: 34.
      Signed with Texans (2 years, $4.1 million)

      Neil Rackers missed a big kick in the playoffs, but he’s 41-of-45 the past two seasons, He’s one of the top place-kickers in the NFL.

    3. Steve Breaston (RFA), WR/PR, Cardinals. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year, $2.3 million)

      Steve Breaston has proven that he’s more than capable of replacing Anquan Boldin in the lineup. Breaston isn’t as talented as Boldin, but he still managed to generate 1,000 receiving yards in 2008.

    4. Antrel Rolle, FS, Cardinals. Age: 27.
      Signed with Giants (5 years, $37 million; $15 million guaranteed)

      Antrel Rolle gets interceptions, but he can be a liability in coverage sometimes. He’ll be overpaid in this thin free-agent market.

    5. Deuce Lutui, G, Cardinals. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year, $1.7 million)

      Pretty mediocre in pass protection, but a solid run-blocker.

    6. Mike Gandy, OT, Cardinals. Age: 31.
      Mike Gandy surrendered eight sacks and was whistled for eight penalties in 12 games. His starting days are over.

    7. Jeremy Bridges, OT, Cardinals. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Cardinals (3 years)

      Jeremy Bridges played relatively well at left tackle in place of injured Mike Gandy.

    8. Lyle Sendlein (ERFA), C, Cardinals. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year, $1.6 million)

      Not a very good starting center.

    9. Gabe Watson (RFA), NT, Cardinals. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year, $1.8 million)
    10. Jerheme Urban (RFA), WR, Cardinals. Age: 29. — Signed with Chiefs
    11. Hamza Abdullah (RFA), S, Cardinals. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Cardinals
    12. Ben Patrick (RFA), TE, Cardinals. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year, $1.6 million)
    13. Michael Adams (ERFA), CB, Cardinals. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year)
    14. Jason Banks (ERFA), DE/DT, Cardinals. Age: 25.
    15. Stephen Spach (RFA), TE, Cardinals. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year)
    16. Keilen Dykes (ERFA), DE/DT, Cardinals. Age: 25.
    17. Ben Claxton (RFA), C, Cardinals. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year)
    18. Justin Green (RFA), FB, Cardinals. Age: 28.

    2010 NFL Free Agent Rankings

    Divisional Rival History:
    San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers get up for these games; they’ve taken four of the past six in this rivalry.
    Seattle Seahawks: Arizona dominates the Seahawks, having won six of the past seven meetings. This will probably change now that Kurt Warner has retired.
    St. Louis Rams: Arizona has won the past seven matchups in this series. Its last five victories have been by a combined score of 168-65.

    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well – Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings

    MISSING 2010 NFL Offseason Pages

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 22

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12