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Tag:Arizona Cardinals
Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:48 am
 

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

Anyone else see what stadium they're in? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

This is the season of Peyton Manning rumors. We hear he has "a noodle arm." We hear he cannot "throw the ball to the left." We think there's no way he could play for the Colts again after all the drama leading up to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. But what do we know?

Nothing, at least when it comes to Manning's future. In the interest of trying to figure out what uniform -- if any -- Peyton will play, let's handicap the race for one of the all-time greats in 2012.

Anything and everything is in play, except for teams that already have what we'll loosely term a "franchise quarterback." The Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Lions, Bears, Saints, Falcons, Panthers and Rams all have their guy.

The Jaguars, Raiders, Vikings, Buccaneers and Broncos have very recent first-round investments in quarterbacks and aren't likely to pursue Manning. The Bills have a lot invested in Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Peyton Manning isn't going to play in Buffalo. It's like Cleveland. Ain't happening.

That leaves the 49ers, Titans, Chiefs, Jets, Seahawks, Colts, Redskins, Cardinals and Dolphins as possible landing spots. We'll break down the scenarios in our order of likelihood and provide actual available odds from Bovada.lv and/or the Vegas percentages from RJ Bell of Pregame.com.

Longshots

49ers: The Niners could perceive Manning as the guy to put them over the top. But Jim Harbaugh says he's got "their guy" in incumbent-but-still-free-agent quarterback Alex Smith. Maybe he means it. Or maybe he's just doing good public relations. It would be a fascinating fit for a number of reasons (Andrew Luck's old coach anyone?) though.
Vegas Odds: 2%


Chiefs: Matt Cassel isn't the long-term answer for anyone, but he did make a Pro Bowl (thanks, schedule-makers!) and he is Scott Pioli's guy. Plus, Romeo Crennel -- a defensive coordinator -- is from the previous regime as well. Oh, and this is Patriots Midwest. Makes no sense.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%


Titans: This would make sense ... except the Titans have already invested in a veteran (Matt Hasselbeck, three-year deal) and a rookie (Jake Locker, first round in 2011). Plus, they came out and said they're not chasing him.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%

Jets

Vegas Odds: 11%
Actual Line: 5/1
Everyone will tell you the Jets are the perfect fit, as they're "just one piece away." This couldn't be further from the truth: the Jets are "several pieces away" at least. Some of those pieces are on defense and some of those piece are on offense. Quarterback is one of the pieces they need, but plugging Peyton onto Rex Ryan's roster wouldn't even make them the favorite to win the AFC East, unless he was 100 percent healthy.

There are also people that will tell Eli vs. Peyton in New York is the ultimate storyline. While that's true, that doesn't mean it's something either of those guys want to deal with for the length of their current contracts. You saw what happened at the Super Bowl, right? Every question pointed to Eli was about Peyton's neck and his recovery ... even though Eli was playing for a Super Bowl. It would be magnified in the Big Apple.

And don't think Manning doesn't see a parallel to Brett Favre with the Jets option either. Look at the way he's handled his business thus far; looking like Favre is the last thing he wants.

Seahawks

Vegas Odds: N/A
Actual Line: N/A
Everyone's sleeping on Pete Carroll! That terrifies me to no end. Look, there are plenty of reasons why this doesn't make sense. There's no guaranteed running game (Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are both free agents), the offensive line's young and injury-prone thus far and Sidney Rice is the best receiving option.

But the defense is good in Seattle, the coach is enthusiastic, and as we note with the Cardinals below, the NFC West is a much better path to the Super Bowl than a lot of other spots. There are also plenty of offensive skill-position guys available in free agency, so it's possible the Seahawks could convince Peyton to take snaps in Seattle and then let him play pied piper for other talented players.

Retirement

Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: N/A
We have to talk about it, you know? Bovada's not offering a betting line on this, but this is the most-likely scenario according to RJ Bell, as Vegas' odds give it a 20 percent chance.

I don't buy it ... but only for this year. Even if -- hypothetically speaking -- there are still reports about Manning only being able to sling his noodle to the right side of the field when March 13 comes around and -- somehow -- no one signs him, he'll keep rehabbing the entire season, getting healthy and will get a call from someone with an injured quarterback midway through the year. Last year there was a waiver scramble for Kyle Orton and the Bears actually considering calling Favre.

Manning would get a job, worst case, by November. Which is precisely why someone like the Redskins would go ahead sign him anyway, regardless of how healthy he is.

Colts

Vegas Odds: 14%
Actual Line: 3/1
Here's a theory I meant to throw out there during Super Bowl week: Jim Irsay and Peyton are punking everyone. They're having fun with everyone by acting like they hate each other, even though they have a master plan in place. Irsay will not pick up Manning's option on March 8, allowing him to become a free agent. But then Manning will re-sign with the Colts as a free agent, allowing them to limit the cap damage his contract does. He would still have $10.4 million in dead cap space if they don't pick up the option, which still gives them something like $18 million to work with.

The Colts can make his new contract cap-friendly and incentive-laden, and let Peyton finish his career as a Colt. They can also draft Andrew Luck or, if Luck decides to make a stink about playing behind Peyton, trade the pick or draft Robert Griffin, III.

There are reasons why this makes no sense: the actual disdain between Irsay and Peyton, the distraction that Peyton's situation was to Eli in the Super Bowl, Peyton's unwillingness to take less money to play for the same team and the Colts need to rebuild all the way, to name a few. But we're still throwing it out there.

Cardinals

Vegas Odds: 3%
Actual Line: 2.5/1

Vegas doesn't like this option, but it makes a lot of sense to me. They need to do work on the offensive line, but those problems can be addressed through free agency and the draft. Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald, a top-five wideout in the NFL, who somehow managed to catch 170 passes for 2,548 yards with John Skelton, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb under center the last two years. They have Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in the backfield and a defense that came on strong at the end of 2011.

The Cardinals also play in a division that's conquerable right away; the NFC West might pose the path of least resistance when it comes to obtaining a Super Bowl. Arizona's lacked a franchise quarterback since Kurt Warner retired two years ago, and don't think Fitzgerald wouldn't welcome this move with open arms.

The Kurt Warner parallel here is perfect for Manning, even if Warner's path to Arizona was much different than Manning's would be.

Shanahan and Peyton together: What could go wrong? (Getty Images)

Redskins

Vegas Odds: 17%
Actual Line: 2.5/1
No surprise here, but Vegas likes the Redskins a lot. After all, it's the Redskins. They throw big money at the biggest names, and no name in the history of free agency would be bigger than Peyton Manning. (I agree with Mike Freeman that Reggie White was a bigger free agent, but only because he wasn't an unknown. But Peyton's a bigger "name.")

The Redskins also think they're one piece away from making a run in the NFC East, even though they lack a lot more than just a quarterback. Who's Peyton throwing to? Who's running the ball behind Peyton? Who's protecting Peyton? WHY IS KYLE SHANAHAN ROLLING HIM OUT TO THE RIGHT?

But seriously: Mike and Kyle Shanahan have an offensive system that is absolutely tailored to a guy like RG3. They should make their all-in move on draft day, hop the Browns and grab the Baylor quarterback. He would be an instant superstar in Shanny's system and, in my opinion, more effective than Peyton for Washington in 2012. Of course, having said all that, this is Dan Snyder's team. Don't count them out to grab Peyton.

Dolphins

Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: 3/1
The Dolphins are everyone's favorite, and it makes good sense. They have a blossoming running game and with Manning under center, Reggie Bush would only be more effective. They have talented wide receivers, with Brandon Marshall holding No. 1 potential. (Davonne Bess ain't no slouch, and Bush is a fantastic receiving option as well.)

They have a franchise left tackle in Jake Long. They have a talented defense, with only a limited number of free agents that need re-signing. They have an owner who wants to sexy-up the offense and bring in celebrities to the stadium. No one is, um, sexier than Peyton Manning. (And Stephen Ross is "infatuated" with him, reportedly. Me-ow.)

Manning owns a condo in South Beach. He'd get to play his top rival, Tom Brady, twice a year. He'd also get a ridiculously easy schedule in 2012, as outside the AFC East the Dolphins play the Jaguars, Titans, Rams, Seahawks, Raiders, Texans, 49ers, Cardinals and Bengals.

Oh right, one more team: the Colts. In Indy. It's all a little too perfect.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 7:21 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Steelers hire Todd Haley as OC

Haley's taking his old boss' old job in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Todd Haley's going to have a new gig in 2012 and it's a pretty good one: he's headed to Pittsburgh to take over as offensive coordinator after Bruce Arians recently "retired" to take the Colts job.

“I am excited about the opportunity to come back home and work for a tremendous organization,” Haley said in a statement. “It is an honor to work with the Rooney family and Coach Tomlin and continue the success that has become synonymous with the Steelers. My father has so many fond memories both from his playing days and his time in the personnel department with the team, and I look forward to helping bring more championships to Pittsburgh and to being a part of one of the storied franchises in the NFL.”

When Haley was head coach of the Chiefs, his team never finished with a passing offense ranked any higher than 25th. And Haley topped out at ranking 18th in passing attempts in his first year in KC.

But while he was with the Cardinals, under former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Haley slung the ball around like crazy. Arizona, at the time with Kurt Warner, finished second in passing attempts both seasons and was top 10 in the league in points scored both seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders provide a much closer approximation to those Warner teams than Matt Cassell and Dwayne Bowe do.

We'd heard word that Haley was interviewing with the Cards, but also that Haley didn't want to take anything less than a coordinator job. Pittsburgh gives him a fantastically soft landing spot after a rough tenure with KC.

It also means that both Roethlisberger (unhappy with Arians departure) and Art Rooney (wanting more points) should be happy. So it's a great fit, as long as there aren't any big ego clashes and the Steelers don't bug Haley's cell phone. Allegedly.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:22 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:23 pm
 

Report: Todd Haley interviewing with Cards

By Josh Katzowitz

Last week, it appeared that former Chiefs coach Todd Haley was not going to find a job with his former team, the Cardinals, even though both sides apparently wanted it to happen. That’s because Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t want to remove offensive coordinator Mike Miller, and though there was an open quarterback coach position, Haley apparently didn’t want to take anything less than a coordinator job.

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Things apparently have changed.

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reports that Haley is in Arizona today for an interview and writes, “Based off what I'm hearing now, sounds like they may be able to find common ground this time and make it work.”

Haley spent 2007-08 in Arizona as the offensive coordinator, and in his final season before getting the Kansas City job, the Cardinals were a top-five offense.

With Miller in his first season as coordinator this year, Arizona ranked 19th in yards gained and 24th in points scored, but Arizona finished 8-8, somewhat surprising since franchise quarterback Kevin Kolb was out for about half the season and the team lost second-round pick Ryan Williams before the year began.

As for what kind of job Haley and Whisenhunt have been talking about? I have no idea. Maybe we should ask Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Arians retired after not getting new contract

Yes, Bruce Arians retired but only after Pittsburgh didn't offer him a new contract. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

First, there was speculation that Bruce Arians might not return as the Steelers' offensive coordinator. Then the word on the street was that he would retire. A day later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that he would've been fired if he didn't leave.

Today, we finally hear from Arians, who spoke to the York Daily Record (Pa.) about his final days with the organization. He said he retired when he "wasn't offered a contract." After that, "it was an easy decision for me."

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Arians added that team president Art Rooney II didn't give him a reason. "I can't answer that question," he said. "Only the people there can. That's the business. I know the job we did as a staff. I don't have any regrets."

Arians was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, head coach Mike Tomlin's first year with the Steelers. In four of five seasons, Pittsburgh was a top-10 offense, according to Football Outsiders (and the only year they weren't, 2008, they won the Super Bowl). Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger flourished under Arians, but the Steelers got away from what they had previously been known for: running the ball.

Last week, Rooney was asked if he wanted Arians back in 2012.

“Well, that’s really Mike (Tomlin's) decision," he told KDKA's Bob Pompeani. "I mean, and that’s the process Mike’s involved in right now is talking to all of the coaches about where they are and where they are with their contracts, so I think that’s something – I’ll leave it to those guys to kind of work out where we’re going on that front.”

Rooney was also asked about the perception that Roethlisberger and Arians' had more a "father-son relationship instead of a boss-employer relationship." (No idea why this matters but apparently it does.)

“Well, I think first you have to look at the success that they’ve had," he said. "With Bruce and Ben, we’ve had a pretty good run here, so I’m not sure that I would complain too much about what the relationship has been and it’s been a productive one and that’s the key part of the puzzle.”

It was Roethlisberger who helped save Arians' job several years ago when there were first discussions of letting him ago. Big Ben reportedly tried again this time with no success.

"He's not happy," Arians said, "but that's part of the business."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac wrote over the weekend that the decision to part ways with Arians seemed to come from Rooney, and Tomlin told Arians several times that he wanted him back in 2012.

Arians told the Daily Record that he has already been contacted by five or six teams but didn't go into specifics.

The most obvious choice? Steelers West: the Arizona Cardinals. CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Craig Morton writes that "Arians does have Steelers ties to multiple Cards coaches (including Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, Ray Horton and former Steelers player-turned-assistant Deshea Townsend). Arizona has a vacant QBs coach position."

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:05 pm
 

Much has to happen for Manning to land with Cards

Could Whisenhunt and Manning share the same sideline in 2012? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Kevin Kolb was traded to the Cardinals almost six months ago. The team was in desperate need of something resembling a quarterback after Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season, and Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton took turns looking completely lost in that capacity in 2010. At the time, we thought that Arizona gave up too much for Kolb. (They sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to Philly, then signed Kolb to a five-year, $63 million -- $20 million guaranteed -- contract extension.) As the regular-season progressed and Kolb struggled with consistency and injuries, Arizona came to the same conclusion.

Neither coaches nor front-office types came out and admitted it, but they didn't need to. Kolb played in nine games, missed seven more with injuries, and finished the season throwing for 1,955 yards (57.7 completion percentage), 9 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and taking 30 sacks.

By comparison, Skelton, the second-year backup made seven starts, threw for 1,913 yards (54.9 completion percentage), 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and took 24 sacks.

Statistically, not much difference between the starter and the guy behind him on the depth chart -- until you compare their salaries. According to Sportrac.com, Kolb counted $4,000,000 against the Cardinals' 2011 cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13); Skelton came in slightly less than that at $450,500.

It's understandable that the Cardinals might a) have reservations about Kolb's future and b) consider other options starting, well, now.

Arizona Republic beat reporter Kent Somers wrote Monday about the recent speculation that the Cardinals would have great interest in Peyton Manning should the Colts decide to move forward without him. CBS Sports' Charley Casserly mentioned this two weeks ago.

"One team to watch (should Manning become available)? The Arizona Cardinals," Casserly said at the time. "They can get out of the Kevin Kolb contract and also Ken Whisenhunt's been down this road before. A veteran quarterback coming in at the end of his career? Kurt Warner."

Somers is quite certain the Cards would be interested in Manning because "The entire NFL, minus the obvious few, will go after Peyton if the Colts dump him."

Fair point. Somers then went through the logistical gymnastics that would be required before an Arizona-Manning marriage could take place:
No. 1. Manning has to be healthy enough to play after missing 2011 with a neck problem. That's no small hurdle.

No. 2. The Colts must decide to release Manning. As Darren Urban of azcardinals.com wrote, Manning is due a roster bonus of $28 million on March 8. Kevin Kolb is due a $7 million roster bonus on March 17. For obvious reasons, releasing Manning would not be an easy decision for Colts owner Jim Irsay.

No. 3. If Manning is released, numerous teams will express interest. But how many of those places will be attractive to Manning. This is, I think, where the Cardinals could have an advantage. Throwing to Larry Fitzgerald has to be an attractive prospect. With Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, the Cardinals have two talented young running backs. There are questions on the offensive line, however. The Cardinals' defense was stout over the last half of the season. Under Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have proven they are willing to throw the ball and to mold their offense around the strengths of an older quarterback.
In general, investing heavily in guys on the downside of great careers isn't the most efficient way to sustain organizational success from one year to the next. But Whisenhunt had Warner fall into his lap and they were one play away from a Lombardi Trophy. If Arizona has the chance to land Manning, they have to dump Kolb and do it, right? Because based on what we saw in 2011, the alternative, in all likelihood, is neither efficient nor successful.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 4:50 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 5:29 pm
 

Casserly: Cards a darkhorse for Peyton Manning?

Are the Cards a sleeper to make Peyton the next Warner? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The status of Peyton Manning with the Colts is absolutely up in the air, and a lot depends on the March 8 deadline for Indy to pick up his $28 million option.

While there's been some chatter that the Colts and Manning's camp discussed an extension of that deadline recently, CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday's The NFL Today that it's not the case. He also reported that the decision on Manning's option will be made by owner Jim Irsay (not the new general manager) and that there's a darkhorse possibility to land Manning if he doesn't end up back with the Colts: the Arizona Cardinals.

"Jim Irsay in interviewing general manager candidates has told them he will make the decision whether Peyton Manning is back," Casserly reported Sunday. "He will not put that on the new general manager. Right now there have been absolutely no discussions according to the Manning camp between Manning and Irsay about extending that deadline. In fact, it would make no sense to me for Manning to agree to that. Why give up the opportunity to talk to other teams?

"One team to watch? The Arizona Cardinals. They can get out of the Kevin Kolb contract and also Ken Whisenhunt's been down this road before. A veteran quarterback coming in at the end of his career? Kurt Warner."


The Cardinals would be a shock to land Manning, if only because they haven't been discussed as a landing spot. But a healthy Manning would be an instant upgrade for Arizona and probably let them leapfrog the 49ers as NFC West favorites in 2012.

As for the extension talks, there's some thought that language in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement wouldn't even allow an extension of the option deadline.

Beside that point, Casserly's spot on: there's really no benefit for Manning to give the Colts a deadline, especially if they're set on selecting Andrew Luck in April's draft anyway.

The long and short of it is this: Manning's situation isn't going to simply go away between now and the deadline for the Colts to make a decision on his future in Indianapolis and even with the playoffs going on, it's going to remain a dominant NFL storyline.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:20 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 11:58 pm
 

Report: Haley close to rejoining Cardinals

Could Todd Haley pull a Josh McDaniels and return to his old job? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

So much for Todd Haley and Tony Sparano "joining forces" as an offensive coordinating powerhouse. Despite an ESPN report Saturday, Haley, who was fired as the Chiefs head coach in December, is "nearing a deal to return to the Arizona Cardinals," a source told NFL Network's Jason La Canfora.

On Thursday, the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers reported that Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was expected to meet with Haley, who served as Arizona's offensive coordinator in 2007-2008, including the team that lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl following in February '09.

A contract could be completed by next week.

The Cards' offense has struggled the last two seasons, finishing 28th in 2011 and 31st in 2010. But the lack of productivity isn't becauase of Haley's departure but due to Kurt Warner's retirement after the 2009 campaign (Arizona's offense ranked 13th that year). Also not helping: trying to consistently score points with some combination of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton or Kevin Kolb under center.

Some of Haley's critics might point out that he didn't magically revitalize the Chiefs' offense upon arrival, either. The team ranked 25th in the league in 2009, rose to 13th in '10 when the team won the division, but fell to 20th in '11 after Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel landed on injured reserve.

When Haley left the first time, Whisenhunt promoted then-wide receivers coach Mike Miller to offensive coordinator. Somers writes that Whisenhunt "would have to create a position for Haley, which would mean either re-organizing his existing coaching staff or adding a coach," which indicates that Miller won't be relieved of his duties.

Now all the Cards need to do is talk Warner out of retirement.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 11:05 am
 

Report: Ray Horton interviewing for Rams job

By Will Brinson

Jeff Fisher is the primary target for the Rams in their current coaching search, but another name has hopped onto St. Louis' list.

The Rams received permission to interview Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and will talk with Horton on Friday.

Horton was previously the Steelers defensive backs coach before being hired by Ken Wisenhunt in the offseason to take over as DC in 2011. (Aside: here's a great story about him giving a cafeteria worker in Pittsburgh his Mercedes for $20 on his way out of town.)

Horton's aggressive blitzing style was a welcome change for the Cards, but the team struggled to pick up on his new scheme early on; the team struggled out to a 1-6 start and looked like they might have one of the worst defenses in the NFL early on.

But from November on, the Cardinals went 7-2 down the stretch and never gave up more than 23 points in a single game, limiting better offenses like the Eagles, Cowboys and 49ers to less than 20 in upset wins.

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In 2010 the Cardinals ranked 29th in yards allowed per game and 30th in points allowed per game. This year, despite dealing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philly and drafting Patrick Peterson, they improved to 18th in yards allowed per game and 16th in points allowed per game.

One thing to watch here: Horton satisfies the Rooney Rule (minority candidates) for the Rams.

If St. Louis interviews Horton and quickly moves on to hiring Jeff Fisher (which is well within their right to do), it's also a bit disingenuous to the spirit of the rule, because Horton won't actually have been given a fair shot at landing the job.

It's good for him that he'll continue to be a hot name as a potential candidate for head coaching jobs but it's a reminder that the NFL needs to fix a rule that only gives lip service to providing opportunities for minorities.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com