Thoughts on Larry Fitzgerald Possibly Being Traded


Adam Schefter today shared some insight into the situation between the Arizona Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald, which could lead to Fitzgerald being traded either by Tuesday or at some point next season.

Fitzgerald’s record setting contract extension has more or less become unsustainable for the Cardinals. Fitzgerald’s salary cap hit in 2014 is $18,000,000 and he is set to earn $13 million in cash. In 2015 the salary cap charge jumps to $21.25 million with $16.25 million actually paid in cash. The cost to trading Fitzgerald will not be cheap for Arizona. Due to a signing bonus and option bonus paid to Fitzgerald his 2014 “dead money” is $10,000,000. That represents a $8 million cap savings for Arizona.

Arizona has to look at this with a sense of realism about Fitzgerald and his long term price. In the first year of his contract extension, 2011, Fitzgerald caught 80 passes for 1411 yards, despite having Kevin Kolb and John Skelton as his Quarterback. Those numbers represented about 26% of the teams receptions and 35% of the teams passing yards. His numbers crashed in 2012 to just 798 yards on 71 receptions, with similar suspect QB play. The Cardinals felt that they upgraded the QB position this year with the addition of Carson Palmer, but Fitzgerald is on pace for just 964 yards on 73 receptions. He now makes up just 20% of the teams receptions and 24% of their yards. For the most part in four of his last five years he is averaging right around 1,000 yards a season.

Though nobody will ever consider any of the players he has played with over this time to be Aaron Rodgers, there are enough Quarterbacks to where people will begin to at least consider the thought that at 30 years of age and a decade in the NFL that maybe he is not the player he once was. The longer the Cardinals wait on a trade the more people may consider that it’s not just the QB keeping Fitzgerald from producing those 1,400 yard seasons he seemed to have with regularity in his prime. Once you hit $16.25 million cash salary due in 2015 his value will likely plummet in a trade, especially if he has another 1,000 yard or less type year in 2014. It’s just too much money for a team to part with a decent pick. That makes 2014 a must trade year if that is the end-game for Arizona and they want value back from him.

In terms of negotiating leverage the Cardinals may never find a better time to trade him that before Tuesday. If Fitzgerald were to be traded before the deadline a team would require just $2.65 million in cap room to have Fitzgerald for their stretch run. That has to make him extremely attractive to a number of playoff teams. That would give the team Fitzgerald for 24 weeks over the next two years at just $15.65 million in cash and cap commitments. Because no prorated money would be included in the deal Fitzgerald could be cut with no damages in 2015 if his play did not increase to justify the huge salary investment.  If Arizona traded him before the deadline they would save the $2.65 million which would be carried over to help offset the dead money charge the following season.

The contract of Fitzgerald brings up another point that I’ve touched on a few times which is the general view on paying certain players in the QB realm. The average veteran QB earns around $15 million and there are only 6 non-QB’s in the NFL that earn in the ballpark of the starting veteran QB- Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Mario Williams, Adrian Peterson, and Julius Peppers. Fitzgerald’s team is just 16-23 since he signed his extension and the combined records of those players is just 69-100 with Peterson’s Vikings being the lone team to make a playoff appearance. These players can be salary drivers for others in the NFL, but if the lack of success continues the League will likely continue the pullbacks in salary to all positions except Quarterback.




Could Signing of Dan Carpenter Spell End For Jay Feely?


We don’t talk too much about kickers, but the numbers came in today on Dan Carpenter’s contract with the Cardinals and it would sure seem that the odds are stacked against Feely from returning to Arizona this year. From a performance standpoint Carpenter has had a better two year stretch than Feely in terms of FG accuracy in the 30-50 yard categories which are often the big kicks teams want to see go through the uprights


Carpenter had many more chances than Feely from 50 yards so I’m not sure how much that number really matters unless we break things down kick by kick, which I am not doing here. Looking further into the stats there was a decline in Feely’s play outside of Arizona while Carpenter actually fared better away from Miami. I know that there were reports that the Cardinals were concerned with kickoff depth but the two are actually relatively close in that regard, though Carpenter does have more bad weather type games playing in the AFC East compared to the NFC West, but I think its the road kicks that are a big deal to teams. Giving up points on the road is looked upon as a major negative. Here are the road statistics of the two players.



Carpenter has more or less been automatic inside 50, while Feely has been anything but.

While the Cardinals have enough cap room to get by- they are around $6.9 million which will put them around $5 million at the start of the season- they could look for savings and Carpenter clearly gives them savings. Feely will earn $1.5 million in salary for the season. Carpenter, if healthy for 16 games, only receives $830,000. At $670,000 in cash and slightly more in cap savings Carpenter not only looks to have a major performance edge but also a financial one. I’m not really sure what Arizona plans on seeing from Carpenter over the next 8 days that would make them release him rather than Feely.


Cardinals Sign John Abraham for $4.6 Million; Eric Winston for $1.25 Million


Numbers are slowly trickling in on the signings from the past few days and we were able to track down a few of them from a league source.  John Abraham officially signed a two year contract worth $4.6 million with the Arizona Cardinals.  The only guaranteed portion of the contract is a $1 million dollar signing bonus that is prorated for two years for salary cap purposes. Abraham is also due a $100,000 roster bonus which I would assume is for games active. Abraham’s 2013 salary is $1 million, making his cash takehome in 2013 just $2.1 million.

In 2014 Abraham will carry a non guaranteed base salary of $2.5 million. He also has an escalator available plus incentives. As Abraham learned last season season achieving an escalator could lead to release, as escalators are often not guaranteed once earned for prior years performance.

This is a tremendous deal for the Cardinals as Abraham was an effective situational pass rusher for the Falcons last season and at the most will be a $2.1 million dollar one year rental. Dwight Freeney will cost the Chargers over $5 million dollars in 2013 while Osi Umenyiora will cost Abraham’s former team $5 million.

In addition the Cardinals also signed RT Eric Winston to a contract worth just $1.25 million. The only guarantee for Winston is a $160,000 signing bonus. His base salary for the season is $840,000 and he also has a roster bonus worth up to $250,000. The contract contains $750,000 in incentives, which are valued as “Likely To Be Earned” and thus count towards the cap in 2013, pushing Winston’s 2013 cap charge to $2 million. If Winston does not actually earn the incentive during the year the Cardinals salary cap will be credited for the difference in 2014.

Winston started 16 games for Kansas City in 2012 and has not missed a game since 2006, which should give him a strong chance to earn the extra $750,000.  This is another low risk and potentially high reward contract for the Cardinals.

View John Abraham’s Salary Cap Page

View Eric Winston’s Salary Cap Page



Best & Worst Contracts: Arizona Cardinals


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

daryl washingtonBest Contract: Daryl Washington

This is another difficult team to find contracts that stand out in a positive manner. The Cardinals have overpaid a number of players for years and have not gotten great results from those players.  Calais Campbell would be an example of a player who has lived up to the price tag, but can you call a contract with high cap charges and very high dead money throughout the deal a good contract? Probably not.

Suspension notwithstanding, Daryl Washington has been a good player for the Cardinals and the Cardinals acted early and extended him after just two seasons in the NFL. This allowed them to give Washington a fair value contract while lessening the cap charges that would have hit the team had they waited until his rookie contract was up. The contract also left the Cardinals a very quick out in the event that  Washington was injured or regressed terribly in 2012.

The Cardinals only paid him a $2.5 million dollar signing bonus in 2012 with the larger bonus coming in 2013 in the form of an option bonus. The option was worth $10 million but was unprotected , meaning there was no fee attached if they failed to execute the option. He also had no guaranteed salary in 2013 meaning the Cardinals could have walked away with just an additional $2 million in dead money if they needed to cut ties with him. This was in stark contrast to the contract signed by Aaron Hernandez in 2012, which was for less total money and represented a player signing after just two seasons, where there was no protection and after 1 year the Patriots were hit with a $10 million dollar cap charge for walking away.

The Cardinals had until the end of the 2013 season to invoke the option but decided to move the decision date for salary cap purposes to the first day in 2014. While that can save Washington some money, since option bonuses can be attacked if a suspension occurs in the year the option is invoked, the Cardinals have maintained a two year evaluation period for a young player with potential. It is a much more cautious approach than most teams have taken when they extend their younger players. With rookie players under the new CBA able to renegotiate their contracts following this season I tend to think more teams will look at the Washington contract construction as  a method to extend their talent and avoid holdouts while also keeping many financial options open to themselves if the player fails to develop once shown the big money.

Larry FitzgeraldWorst Contract: Larry Fitzgerald

I guess it’s worth pointing out right away that worst contract doesn’t always mean a bad player. Fitzgerald is an exceptional talent that is completely wasted because the team has failed to find a Quarterback after Kurt Warner retired from the NFL. This really should be exhibit A as to why a team should never overspend on a WR thinking it will fix a QB. For as great as Fitzgerald is he couldn’t fix Kevin Kolb or make the other folks, who didn’t belong in the NFL in the first place,  even look passable.

Fitzgerald’s series of contracts with Arizona are arguably the finest player friendly deals ever negotiated by an agent. Fitzgerald was drafted in 2004 with the 3rd overall pick in the draft and received a contract that was essentially worthy of the 1st pick in the draft. The contract was  a masterpiece as most highly drafted rookies were going to be tied to their rookie contracts through the 5th season and many through the 6th. Fitzgerald has excessive balloon payments in those last two years, with cap charges over $16 and $19 million that essentially made his contract a 4 year contract. By 2008 Fitzgerald had signed his first extension at the age of just 25.

The extension was more of the same carrying a void year and high enough cap charges to make the team consider extending again. After just three seasons the Cardinals gave Fitzgerald his third contract, an almost unheard of occurrence for a player just 28 years of age. The next deal was a complete game changer- 7 years and $113 million dollars for a Wide Receiver at a time when the top of the market was in the realm of $10 million dollars. Over $50 million in new money would be paid to Fitzgerald over the first three years of the extension, with significant bonuses being placed into the contract that would lead to excessive amounts of dead money in the contract.

Though Arizona added de-escalator clauses to the contract in 2017 and 2018, the deal was structured to include cap charges of $18 million in 2014 and $21.25 million in 2015, making the 2016 through 2018 seasons virtually meaningless. What that means is that Fitzgerald will likely be in a position to receive his 4th contract in 2014 or 2015 when he will be 31 or 32. If Fitzgerald plays his contract thru 2014 he will have earned about $115 million dollars from the Cardinals. Eli Manning, who was selected first overall in that same draft, is a two time Super Bowl MVP and plays a premier position in one of the biggest media markets in the country, will have earned just $18.4 million more.   For a WR to earn that kind of money is almost unheard of. It’s a series of bad deals for the Cardinals but an absolute masterpiece of a contract for Fitzgerald.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans

AFC West: Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersSan Diego Chargers

NFC East: Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsPhiladelphia EaglesWashington Redskins

NFC North: Chicago BearsDetroit LionsGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina PanthersNew Orleans SaintsTampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams(July 30)


Raiders, Seahwaks, and Cardinals Make Some Moves with Flynn and Palmer


With accurate news of Quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Carson Palmer’s restructures in hand, I figured now would be a good time to look at the set of moves that landed Flynn in Oakland, Palmer in Arizona, and what it all means for the teams involved.

First the Seahawks, who shipped out last year’s usurped before he held the throne starter Matt Flynn. As well know by now, the Seahawks netted a 5th in 2014, and a conditional pick in the 2015 draft. Considering all the circumstances, I can’t imagine that pick being high at all. Still, it’s a decent get for the Seahawks for a disposed starter making decent money. It does, however, also leave Seattle without a capable backup, with all due respect to Josh Portis. The Seahawks will incur 4 million in dead money, the acceleration of Flynn’s signing bonus, but are off the hook for the guaranteed portion of his salary (the Raiders will cover that) and will gain 3.25 million in space, along with Flynn’s would have been salary of 5.25 million. The Seahawks, with more than enough comfort as it pertains to the cap, I imagine will use the savings to find a backup quarterback, and work on extending their own.

Next, the Cardinals, who gain Carson Palmer for a swap of a 6th for a 7th and a conditional 7th the next season. Palmer was never going to see his 13 million salary, and sure enough isn’t going to see it in Arizona either. If the recently reported numbers are correct (and considering Mr. Brian McIntyre’s usual excellent work, they should be), Palmer will not only give the Cardinals something more than a warm body at quarterback (apologies to another deposed not quite the starter Drew Stanton) but something at least league average from the position. Palmer should be a good fit for Arians downfield attack as his arm has looked much better than the last of his Bengal days. Part of that though also assumes they keep him upright, and in that vein it would not be surprising to see the Cardinals and Raiders connect on another trade for the #3 pick come draft night. For now though, Palmer sees his salary reduced to 2 million this year, and along with the proration of his new 6 million signing bonus, gives him a cap number of 4 million for 2013. For 2014, his cap number is 10 million, though if he flops, or wants to leave, or for whatever reason is no longer in the team’s plans, the Cardinals could release him and save 4 million against the cap once Palmer’s acceleration and guaranteed portion of his salary is accounted for. Palmer’s contract will void after 2014 currently, though there’s plenty of time before then. The Cardinals overall cap health isn’t drastically affected by the Palmer acquisition and remain in decent shape.

Finally, the Raiders. The Raiders give up a 5th rounder in the 2014 draft (which according to more than a few essentially equates to a 6th rounder in this draft) along with a still unknown conditional pick. Some may pan this move for the Raiders, but I think it’s a decent fit. The quarterback class has been viewed with skepticism this year, and Flynn still has some upside. General Manager Reggie McKenzie also is obviously familiar with Flynn from their Green Bay days. Flynn can come in and compete with Terrelle Pryor (I’d expect him to win based on contracts and reports, but one never knows) and either serve as a veteran backup, a stop gap starter, or flourish into something more. Considering the way some 3rd day picks are thrown away, I think it’s a worthwhile gamble. Reports has Flynn originally getting an increase in base pay this season along with a reduction next season, but this is not the case and never did make much sense as Jason noted. New numbers finally released today have him reducing his former base salary of 5.25 million down to 3.25 million, and in return he gets the additional 1.25 million guaranteed (originally 2 million from Seattle already was) and a 3.25 million signing bonus spread over 2 years. Flynn’s 2014 base salary also reportedly has been reduced from 6.25 million down to 5 million, putting his cap hit that season at 6.625 million. Essentially McKenzie took 2 million from Flynn’s salary this season, and 1.25 million next season and combined it into a signing bonus. This will save the Raiders only 375,000 against the cap this year, but they maintain future flexibility if Flynn doesn’t work out saving 5 million next season if they release him, being on the hook for only 1.625 million.

The other part of this trade for the Raiders was dumping Carson Palmer’s contract. Conflicting reports makes it unclear who exactly wanted out, but it’s safe to say both sides had likely grown tired of each other. Palmer was not going to be around if and when the Raiders had successfully rebuilt the team and reportedly wanted to play for a team closer to contention. Palmer will leave the Raiders with 9.34 million in dead money, though the Raiders will save a hair short of 6 million in cap space and 13 million in cash by trading him. The Raiders also managed to secure a higher pick in this draft, moving up from the 7th into the 6th, along with potentially getting an additional 7th next draft. It’s not much, but it’s better than the nothing that was due with an expected release. These moves put the Raiders roughly 9.8 million under the cap, which while I won’t expand on in this post, currently gives them more than enough flexibility to eat all of Rolando McClain’s contract this offseason if they so choose.

It’s safe to say I think everyone is mostly happy with the returns. Arizona gets a quarterback who fits their direction without giving up a ransom, the Raiders get one who fits their team and save cap space and money, and Seattle unloads a player who was not in their long term plans though I’m sure Seattle would like a set backup quarterback, though the team is in amazing shape. In the end though, only time will tell how these trades fare.

Jim can be reached by angry Seahawks and Cardinals fans who know more about their teams than he does at

Cardinals Will Save $7.5 million in Cap Space by Releasing Kolb


Much to the delight of many Cardinals fans, it sounds as if the Kevin Kolb era is coming to an end in Arizona. Reports are circulating that the team plans to cut Kolb in the next few days, and coupled with the Drew Stanton signing, this would certainly seem to be the case.

As it stands today, Kolb’s $13.5 million salary cap hit is the highest on the Cardinals in 2013 (the second-highest is Larry Fitzgerald with a $10.25 million). It should also be noted that Kolb’s cap hit this year is the largest in any of the six years on his contract. Kolb’s 2013 cap hit is broken down as follows:

Base salary: $9 million

Prorated signing bonus: $2 million

Roster Bonus: $2 million

Workout Bonus: $500k

The key thing here is the $2 million roster bonus. This bonus is due on Saturday and so Kolb needs to be cut by then to avoid an increase in dead money charges. Right now, Kolb’s release would result in $6 million in dead money on Arizona’s 2013 cap. This dead money is comprised of the remaining signing bonus prorations ($2 million in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015), which by rule accelerates to the current year’s cap if the player is released. As such, if Kolb was released after this upcoming Saturday, that $6 million in dead money would increase to $8 million due to the roster bonus due. Seeing as there’s no way the Cardinals would let that happen, Kolb’s dead money will remain at $6 million and the team will realize a net cap savings of $7.5 million upon his release.

As reported by numerous beat writers, early rumors for Kolb’s next destination include the New York Jets, who have a connection here due to new offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg. Morhinweg was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia while Kolb was an Eagle from 2007 – 2010, so there may be some interest. Whether or not the interest is strong enough to reach an agreement on monetary terms with the way the Jets are (or should I say, aren’t) spending money this offseason remains to be seen.

Check out the Cardinals salary cap page here

Twitter: @AndrewOTC


An Offseason Look at the Arizona Cardinals

After a nice start to the season the Arizona Cardinals quickly fell apart and out of the playoff race. It’s a team with a terrific defense that was completely wasted by the failures at the QB position. If there was one team last season that would gone from being a bottom 10 team to a Super Bowl contender just by having a passable QB it was the Cardinals.

Cap Positions

Right now I have the Cardinals around $2.5 million over the 2013 NFL Salary Cap, but I have not accrued any dead money from last season for Arizona yet so their situation may be a bit worse than I have listed. The most likely candidate for a release or a restructure is QB Kevin Kolb, who the Cardinals traded for a few years ago and never panned out as a viable starter. Kolb has a salary cap charge of $13.5 million in 2013, $2 million of which is due in early March in the form of a roster bonus. The only reason for him to remain on the roster is because he is the best option they currently have at QB if he could stay healthy, but with a cap savings of $7.5 million if released and cash savings of $11.5 million they should turn elsewhere.

S Kerry Rhodes has been a solid player for the Cardinals since coming over in a 2010 trade with the New York Jets, but will need to rework his contract if he wants to stay. Rhodes has a $6 million dollar cap charge in 2013, all of which would be saved if he was released. I would think that it’s more likely that Rhodes receives a contract extension to bring his cap number down this year.

Releasing CB William Gay should save the team over $3 million which makes him as good as gone. WR Early Doucet saves the team $2 million in cap with his release and with so much investment in high level wide receivers it doesn’t see realistic to keep him in 2013. Moving TE Jeff King will free up $1.55 million and he could be one of a number of small cap savings moves, such as releasing RB Beanie Wells, and replacing them with low cost rookies that the team needs to make to gain enough cap room to improve their offense.

Notable Free Agents

The Cardinals more or less signed most of the guys they want to keep for the future last season and thus have limited free agents this year. LB Paris Lenon is the biggest name but its doubtful the team would want him back. CB Greg Toler is probably the one person that they need to keep but he should be able to come back at a reasonable price.

Rookie Pool

Arizona should have one of the higher rookie pools in the NFL with just over $6.4 million estimated to jump onto the 2013 salary cap. As their roster stands now that would mean close to $3.2 million in net cap room. Based on that plus minimum workouts that are soon to accrue the Cardinals will need to shave off about $7 million just to stay even with the cap these next few months.

RoundPickSigning Bonus2013 Cap2014 Cap2015 Cap2016 CapTotal Value