The Arizona Cardinals' Best and Worst Moves of the Offseason
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The Arizona Cardinals opening training camp in just two months in Flagstaff. Five months into the seven-month offseason, let's take a look at the three best and two worst moves by the organization since the end of last season.
On balance, the Cardinals had a very positive offseason. The team is getting healthier and most of the coaching staff is back for 2012.
But there are a couple of dark clouds on the horizon.
Good: The Cardinals Were a Finalist in the Peyton Manning Derby
The Cardinals almost landed Manning in free agency.
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Arizona was one of 12 teams to place calls to Manning and one of just three teams visited by Manning.
There certainly were questions about Manning's health following multiple neck surgeries, but Arizona was still very interested in the 11-time Pro Bowler.
The dream of having a first-ballot Hall of Famer under center didn't come to fruition, as Manning signed with Denver. But in the process, the Cardinals let the league know that they too can be a player in the free-agent market.
Their aggressive pursuit of Manning demonstrated that the Cardinals are willing to go after top-tier talent in free agency, and that's always a good thing.
Bad: Kevin Kolb Was Given a $7 Million Roster Bonus
Kolb's bank account got fatter in March.
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Kolb is in the second year of his five-year, $63 million deal and is a large cap hit this season. Since he was paid the roster bonus, Kolb's cap number is $10.5 million. That includes a $2 million installment on his signing bonus, $1 million in actual salary and $500,000 for a workout bonus.
All this money and a big cap number was given to a player who twice was sidelined by injuries last season.
Kolb's contract was a factor in the Cardinals' pursuit of Manning. That contract, however, eats up a good amount of the $120.6 million cap.
Thankfully, it didn't prevent the Cardinals from accomplishing something good on the next slide.
Good: The Cardinals Signed Calais Campbell
Campbell anchored the Cardinals' defensive line in 2011.
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There may not have been a bigger move on the defensive side of the ball than signing Calais Campbell to a five-year, $55 million contract, with $31 million guaranteed.
Campbell, the 6'8" defensive end, recorded 51 solo tackles, 22 assisted tackles, eight sacks and three blocked field goals in 2011.
His best effort was the Week 3 game at Seattle when he recorded 10.5 tackles and picked up 2.5 sacks in a 13-10 loss.
Campbell would have been one of the most sought-after free agents had the Cardinals not put their franchise tag on him. A defensive end of his size who can get to quarterback would have been a prime target of several teams in free agency.
With the Cardinals keeping him, Campbell continues to be paired with Darnell Dockett, keeping one of the best defensive lines in the league intact.
Bad: The Cardinals Were Selected to Play in the Hall of Fame Game
RB Ryan Williams was carted off with a torn ACL in the preseason in 2011.
The Arizona Cardinals found out on February 29th that they were selected for the NFL' s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, against the New Orleans Saints.
This gives the Cardinals a fifth preseason game and more chances to come into the regular season at less than full strength.
Cardinal fans remember last season when second-round pick Ryan Williams (above) was carted off with a torn ACL in a preseason game against Green Bay. Being in five preseason games instead of four only heightens the risk of injury.
The last team to finish above .500 that played in (or was scheduled to play in) this game was the Indianapolis Colts in 2008. Cardinal fans hope their team can be the first one in four years to break that trend.
Perhaps the Cardinals can take advantage of the early start to training camp and use the extra game to fine-tune their roster.
Good: The Cardinals Had an Excellent Draft
First-round pick Michael Floyd poses with Commissioner Roger Goddell at the NFL Draft.
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The Cardinals had a great draft and filled several key needs. Wide receiver Michael Floyd gives Arizona a second talented receiver to complement All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald.
Arizona also addressed needs on the offensive line by drafting Bobby Massey, Senio Kelemete and Nate Potter. The Cardinals also picked up quarterback Ryan Lindley and defensive backs Jamell Fleming and Justin Bethel.
Arizona already has come to terms with five of their seven draft picks. Floyd and Fleming are the only two who haven't finalized their contracts.
With the rookies being under contract early, they have a real shot at playing time in 2012.
A strong draft is a big key to success, and the 2012 Cardinals are definitely set up to succeed.