Linebacker Karlos Dansby signed a 1-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals on March 10, 2017 at the Cardinals training facility in Tempe.
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Shot Clock: NFL free agency moves, including Chandler Jones staying and Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson likely leaving the Arizona Cardinals. Video: azcentral sports
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The Texans have traded quarterback Brock Osweiler and a 2018 second-round draft pick to the Browns, according to multiple reports. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news.
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Quarterback Tony Romo posted a message on Instagram to say goodbye to all the Dallas Cowboys fans who supported him during the course of his 13-year career.
USA TODAY Sports
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Washington Quarterback Kirk Cousins reportedly asked Dan Snyder to trade him, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting Snyder told Cousins not to get his hopes up.
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Shot Clock: The beginning of the new NFL year, what the Cardinals’ chances are for keeping Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson and who might make an impact around the league. Video: azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Pelissero fills you in on how the top quarterback prospects fared during Day 4 of the NFL Scouting Combine.
USA TODAY Sports
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Clemson QB Deshaun Watson said he could benefit from backing up a veteran when he enters the NFL. Video: Kent Somers/azcentral sports
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Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 5,052 total and 41 TDs with 10 INTs in 2016 at Texas Tech. Video: Kent Somers/azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes gives insight as to which teams will be searching for a quarterback at the NFL Scouting Combine.
USA TODAY Sports
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John Ross, former wide receiver from the University of Washington, broke Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record at the NFL Combine.
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Washington receiver John Ross in 2016 was a second-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 standout with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 TDs . Video: Kent Somers/azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Lindsay H. Jones says that San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch spoke very highly of a number of high-profile quarterback prospects.
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley break down the NBA MVP race and a possible reunion in the Cardinals defensive backfield.
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Cardinals insider Kent Somers talks with GM Steve Keim about how the Cardinals conduct business at the NFL combine and how they will handle their free agents.
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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians discusses finding the team’s future quarterback in the draft.
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Kent Somers discuss Cardinals free agency and Larry Fitzgerald’s reaction to an extra NFL preseason game. Video: azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis gives us his top five picks of the 2017 NFL draft.
USA TODAY Sports
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Not everyone is happy that ex-Cardinals WR Michael Floyd, who was waived by the Cardinals three days after an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, is a Super Bowl champion. Video: azcentral sports
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Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Arizona Coyotes’ Shane Doan. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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Third time is the charm for former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, as he and four others were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 4, 2017. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Atlanta and New England will face off in Houston after winning the NFC and AFC championships, respectively.
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Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Mike Iupati talks about his experiences of growing up fishing on a small island. Video: Michael Chow and David Wallace/azcentral sports
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Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson is also an impersonator, and, was once haunted by a ghost. Video: Michael Chow and David Wallace/azcentral sports
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Arizona Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter sits down with Steve Benson of The Republic, and admits a weak spot for good food. Video: Michael Chow and David Wallace/azcentral sports
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Cardinals players reflect on the 2016 season as they clear out their lockers on Monday. Nick Oza/ azcentral sports
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Cardinals Insider Kent Somers says Bruce Arians is high on younger backups who got a chance to play last week. Michael Chow/azcentral sports
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Here’s a look at some of the top underclassmen planning on entering the 2017 NFL Draft.
USA TODAY Sports
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A time-lapse view from field level during the pre-game introductions for the Arizona Cardinals: Video: David Kadlubowski/azcentral sports
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Watch video of the Cardinals field rolling into University of Phoenix Stadium before the start of the first practice of the 2016 training camp. Video by Patrick Breen/azcentral sports
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Karlos Dansby discusses return to Cardinals
NFL free agency and how it affects the Arizona Cardinals
Reports: Texans trade QB Brock Osweiler to Browns with second-round pick
Tony Romo says goodbye to Cowboys fans
Report: Kirk Cousins asked Dan Snyder to trade him
Shot Clock: Key issues for Cardinals in NFL free agency
NFL Scouting Combine: Quarterbacks show off their skills
Deshaun Watson says it’d be awesome to learn from a veteran NFL quarterback
Patrick Mahomes: I’m a competitor and I want to play
NFL Scouting Combine: Teams looking for quarterbacks
John Ross runs fastest 40-yard dash ever at NFL Combine
Washington Huskies receiver John Ross on his versatility
NFL scouting combine: 49ers high on Kizer
Shot Clock: NBA MVP debate, Cardinals DBs
Cardinals GM Steve Keim on combine process, free agency
Arians on finding quarterback of the future
Shot Clock: Tough free agency decisions looming for Cardinals
NFL mock draft: How will top 5 picks shake out?
Michael Floyd’s message for his critics
Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Shane Doan
Kurt Warner inducted to Pro Football Hall of Fame
Falcons and Patriots advance to Super Bowl LI
On the drawing board: Cardinals lineman Mike Iupati
On the drawing board: Tony Jefferson of the Arizona Cardinals
On the drawing board: Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter
Cardinals players clear out lockers, reflect on season
Cardinals looking to play several younger backups
Top underclassmen entering the NFL draft early
Time-lapse: On the field during pre-game festivities
Grass field rolls in at University of Phoenix Stadium
Freedom is a fork in the road, where the luckiest professional athletes are presented with two choices. They can take the money. Or they can chase the ring.
Football players are a bit different. They must also confront their mortality. Most choose the greener path. And the ones that don’t usually end up in New England.
The Cardinals know better than anyone. They lost Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson, two key members of their defense in 2016. They welcomed back Karlos Dansby, who left the organization twice, once bolting a 10-win team for the NFL wasteland in Cleveland.
Their next counterstrike should be obvious given the team’s short-term obsession with the Lombardi Trophy. The Cardinals should convince Anquan Boldin to come back for one more season, importing more of the fire and leadership so vacant from the team’s downfall in 2016.
After all, the Valley loves sentimental journeys. And smart NFL teams have realized that competitive spirit matters more than natural talent.
The Cardinals have learned the hard way. Shortly after Bruce Arians arrived as head coach in 2013, the team cultivated a new reputation. They were a destination franchise, a team that offered great weather and 34 victories over a three-year period. Some like Chris Johnson and Jermaine Gresham once accepted less money to be part of the program.
That’s changed a bit. The Cardinals are coming off a losing season and are perceived as a team with a closing window of opportunity; where the bulk of the offensive statistics are gobbled up by the star running back, David Johnson; where no one is really certain how long the highly popular Arians will be around as head coach; where salary-cap limitations have lowered the ceiling.
So far, the Cardinals have reacted well to their personnel losses. But it’s highly debatable as to whether they’re better or just older.
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They’ve attempted to upgrade their special teams by adding a 42-year-old kicker, Phil Dawson. They scrambled to keep a playoff-caliber defense intact by signing a 35-year old Dansby, and a 32-year old safety (Antoine Bethea) who was part of Peyton Manning’s first Super Bowl victory. They still have holes on offense, and you wonder if Steve Keim is trying to craft some really bold maneuver that has marked his tenure as general manager in Arizona, where he has executed blockbuster trades for Carson Palmer and Chandler Jones.
The acquisition of Dansby might appear to be going backward, as would any pursuit of Boldin, who is also said to be pondering retirement. But the Cardinals need to find a better blend of winning players, not just guys who want to play football in Arizona. They were mostly a congenial, happy group in 2016, refusing to point fingers when their title hopes began slipping away in 2016. But they need stronger internal fortitude going forward. Maybe they need someone to point fingers. To wit:
Campbell was an unstoppable force over the back half of 2016, a player spurred to greatness by his impending freedom. But some of his leadership was viewed as posturing, a player who did his best locker-room work when the cameras were rolling.
Dansby is just as likeable, a player with natural swagger and real force of personality. He’s similar to former Suns star Shawn Marion, utterly convinced of his own greatness. The best leaders are legends in their own mind, and Dansby will give the Cardinals more intangibles than Campbell ever could.
If Dansby’s athleticism hasn’t slipped, he might offset the loss of a 31-year old Campbell, especially since the team has depth on the defensive line.
You can’t blame any football star for leaving your favorite team. Unlike the current trend sweeping the NBA, where the best players are choosing to join forces on the best teams, NFL players are schooled to be mercenaries. The game takes too much of your body, too much of your life. The smart professionals learn to maximize their income, aware their earning power can disappear overnight.
Play the system right, and you can be like Ted Ginn Jr., a perennial disappointment who has now earned over $30 million in his career, despite never catching more than 56 passes in a single season.
This is where free agency becomes a risky proposition in the NFL. Not every professional football player loves the sport or feeds off the pain. Some talk a better game than the one they play on any given Sunday. The guys who want to get paid the most are usually the ones who win the least.
This is where a championship team must find its own path. The Patriots own the blueprint, a team that puts a premium on passion and football intelligence, a team that entered the offseason with the championship trophy and over $60 million in salary-cap room.
The Cardinals have to follow suit. They need to win this offseason by accumulating a different type of player, the kind that breathes fire and yearns for a confetti shower. Nothing else fits their ticking timeline.
Reach Bickley at [email protected] or 602-444-8253. Follow him on twitter.com/dan.bickley. Listen to “Bickley and Marotta” weekdays from 12-2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.