Arizona Cardinals' Salary Cap Breakdown
The Arizona Cardinals are going to have to figure out some answers to resolve serious salary cap issues on the team. Quarterback Kevin Kolb represents $13.5 million on his own including $9 million of base salary. Larry Fitzgerald is the other Cardinal with an eight-digit cap hit at $10,250,000.
The team will also have to address the salaries of the offensive line that appear to be on the higher side compared to the results they've delivered.
The biggest concern is that Arizona is projected to be over the cap by $723,000 according to figures from ESPN's John Clayton.
Let's take a position-by-position look at the Cardinals and see what could be done to resolve their salary cap concerns.
The Cardinals realize Kolb's contract needs adjusting, according to Pro Football Talk. Kolb is getting $9,000,000 in base salary in 2013 and he is due a roster bonus of $2 million if he's still on the roster March 17.
At his figure of $13.5 million, the team desperately needs him to restructure his contract. The decision on Kolb is going to have a ripple effect on everything else this team can do in free agency. If it keeps Kolb, cuts are going to have be made elsewhere to try and find the cap space to lure in free agents to fill other needs on the team.
If Arizona cuts Kolb, then it's going to have to pick through a weak free-agent market at the position. Joe Flacco of Baltimore isn't going anywhere after winning the Super Bowl and Mike Vick signed a one-year deal with the Eagles. It could be that Alex Smith might be the pick of the litter at the position if the 49ers decide to cut him loose. Free agency opens on March 12, five days before Kolb's roster bonus is due which will also play a factor in the decision-making process.
Add to that a potentially weak draft for quarterbacks and this could be a very difficult hurdle to leap over.
John Skelton nor Ryan Lindley each have contracts that come with cap hits of less than $700,000 for 2013.
The Cardinals don't have a king's ransom of money tied up in the running back position. That's a good thing since they didn't get much production of that spot in 2012.
Beanie Wells' cap hit of $2.42 million is financially palatable but he's injury-prone. It's hard to tell if Arizona is going to tolerate the production they've gotten out of him for this upcoming season, the final one on his rookie deal.
Wells ran for 234 yards and five touchdowns on 88 carries this past season but also spent time on the Designated-To-Return version of injured reserve while dealing with turf toe. Do the Cardinals want to pay $2.42 million to a back averaging 2.7 yards per carry?
At least there are some options in free agency with names like Ahmad Bradshaw, Steven Jackson and Reggie Bush set to hit the open market. There is the option to potentially make a move via free agency and the draft has promising prospects as well.
Ryan Williams is also going to play a key role in this too. The good news is that he's an even bigger bargain than Wells at $1.36 million but he's played five games in two seasons. Health is the big question that plagues Williams as well, as he missed 2011 with a ruptured patella tendon and was lost in Week 5 to a shoulder injury against the Rams.
Anthony Sherman is set to be a cap hit around $600,000 and LaRod Stephens-Howling is a free agent. Once the Cardinals make a decision on Wells, the future of Stephens-Howling will be decided.
Larry Fitzgerald is set to count for $10.25 million of the Cardinals' cap figure in 2013. It is a lot of money for an elite wide receiver, especially on a team with questionable quarterback play.
One thing is for sure. Arizona won't be trading Fitzgerald. It just wouldn't make sense, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. The rest of the receiving corps is more budget-friendly. Michael Floyd and Early Doucet each come in at $2.2 million while Andre Roberts is $1.5 million.
While there will be some big-name wide receivers in free agency, the Cardinals don't seem to be likely to afford to make a run at any of them without making cuts or restructuring other deals to free up money. The financial situation won't allow Arizona to make a run at players like Wes Welker, Greg Jennings or Victor Cruz.
The team only has four wide receivers under contract so there's a possibility of trying to add a budget free agent to the roster or maybe a late-round draft pick as a project. The true priority is finding a No. 2 wide receiver to take all the heat off of Fitzgerald. It worked well when Anquan Boldin played in Arizona but the money isn't likely to be there to get a receiver of that caliber in free agency.
Arizona's not heavily invested in the tight end position. The tight ends are primarily blockers and add little to the offense in the passing game. Tight ends have accounted for 11 touchdowns...in the last five seasons for Arizona.
Consequently, Arizona isn't breaking the bank to spend at the position either. Jeff King is the highest-paid tight end on the team with a $1.88 million cap figure. The other tight ends on the roster (Rob Housler, Kory Sperry and Jim Dray) have cap numbers of less than $825,000.
There's no doubt Arizona could use an upgrade at the position but the free-agent pool is rather thin here too. Martellus Bennett of the Giants and Fred Davis of the Redskins are the two of the bigger free agents. And we don't know who else might be cut once free agency opens.
Arizona might consider a tight end in the draft but this position isn't as critical of a need as the offensive line is or ironing out the wrinkles at quarterback. This might be a late-round draft pick at best if Arizona wanted to try and acquire a new player.
Arizona's offensive line is one of the biggest sore spots for the team. It's allowed more than 50 sacks each of the last three seasons and is a top priority for the Cardinals to fix in 2013.
Guard Daryn Colledge ($7.275 million) and offensive tackle Levi Brown ($6.4 million) were the top two paid linemen. Guard Adam Snyder ($4 million) and center Lyle Sendlein ($3.675 million) will be significant figures to work with when it comes to the 2013 salary cap.
When you add those four players together, you get $21.35 million of cap space being reserved for four linemen that are part of a unit that gave up 163 sacks over the last three seasons.
The other linemen on the roster are on contracts that would count more than $715,000 against the 2013 salary cap. This also includes rookies like Bobbie Massie, Senio Kelemete and Nate Potter.
Colledge has the fifth highest salary cap number for 2013 on the team. If a restructuring of his contract can't be done, Arizona may be forced to make a decision about keeping him on the roster. Brown missed the regular season with a torn triceps in his left arm. Sendlein was lost for the season after tearing his medial collateral ligament in Week 12 so the line was also banged up too.
There is going to be a fair share of talent on the offensive line available in free agency this season but Arizona could be looking to the draft to shore up the line. Eric Fisher of Central Michigan could be Arizona's first-round pick with Kyle Long going in the second round. The rookies would certainly be cheaper to sign than the free agents and the savings could be used for other needs.
Arizona's two highest-paid defenders play on the defensive line. Calais Campbell and his $8.75 million cap hit makes him the highest-paid defensive player on the team. Darnell Dockett at $7.7 million cap figure is the second highest for defenders.
Defensive tackle Dan Williams ($2.105 million) is the only other player on the line with a seven-digit cap number in 2013.
Arizona was torn up by the run last season but excelled against the pass. Campbell and Dockett are the cornerstones of the defense and the Cardinals won't be looking to make a move in this area in free agency nor the draft.
Arizona has two big-ticket linebackers with significant cap hits in 2013. Stewart Bradley ($6.5 million) and Daryl Washington ($5.41 million) are the two heavy hitters. No other linebacker has a cap hit of more than $1.2 million.
Bradley's cap hit goes up when his base salary doubles from $2.5 million to $5 million in 2013. He appeared in all 16 games but started none of them and recorded a total of 11 tackles. That's a far cry from his 2008 campaign with the Eagles when he piled up 108 combined tackles and started all 16 games.
On the other side of the coin, Washington made the Pro Bowl and had 134 combined tackles and nine sacks. With the vast difference in the stats, it looks like Bradley could be a player to target for his contract to be restructured or outright released.
There's not a whole lot in the free-agent market at this position but Arizona isn't likely to make a move here either. The defense is sound and has been the strength of the team the last couple of seasons. If the team were inclined to replace Bradley's production, it should be easy to cover.
The Cardinals have spent plenty of money on their defensive backs and their results have shown why it was a wise investment.
Safety Kerry Rhodes leads the way in 2013 with a cap hit of $6 million while cornerback Patrick Peterson is not far behind at $5.02 million. Safety Adrian Wilson comes in at $4.925 million in 2013 and cornerback William Gay checks in at $3.6 million for his 2013 cap number.
Wilson doubts he'll come back to the Cardinals in 2013, according to the Arizona Republic, so his departure would open up more cap space that the team needs to have. Unless Wilson decides to leave, Arizona isn't likely to make a move in the draft or free agency.
Dave Zastudil was one of the best punters in the league last season for the Cardinals. Zastudil boomed 112 punts for Arizona and dropped 46 of them inside the 20-yard line. He was the first punter to boot the ball more than 5,000 yards in the history of the NFL. Zastudil's cap hit is $1.475 million for 2013.
Jay Feely made 25-of-28 field goals and all 25 of his extra points in 2012. Feely's cap hit is $1.75 million.
Arizona won't be making any moves in the kicking game. It's also possible that Zastudil might get a franchise tag placed on him. It would move his cap number up to nearly $3 million but the exact number will be finalized next month.
Given how the Cardinals relied on him to punt so often, this might be a reasonable decision for Arizona to make.