Arizona Cardinals Mailbag: What to spend cap $$ on


Each week, we take your questions from our Twitter feed and answer them here. Submit your questions at our Twitter address below and use the hashtag #32chat.

This week’s questions comes to us from Bill in Buckeye and Mike in Mesa.

The Cardinals have cap space, what positions should they spend it on? –Bill in Buckeye

Well, Bill, that’s going to be the question and answer that define the offseason. With all of the holes Arizona has, this looks like this will be a year where the team targets lower-level free agents instead of big-name talent. I wouldn’t expect Arizona to have the cap space to take a run at Branden Albert of the Chiefs. He is the prized offensive left tackle in free agency but it wouldn’t be wise to spend all of the space they have on one key position.

There are going to be players like Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars available in free agency. He’s the perfect example of how to navigate free agency for the Cardinals. His credentials are impressive to say the least.He scored at least 12 rushing touchdowns in three of his first four seasons in the league. He led the league in rushing in 2011 with 1606 yards on 343 carries. MJD also adds about 45 catches per year so he’s multi-faceted. On the flip side, he has dealt with foot injuries that cost him 11 games in 2012. He also missed several games last season with knee and hamstring injuries.

So if you go after him are you getting the version that’s the former All-Pro or the version of MJD that’s been dealing with injuries? He has counted for $6 million on average against the salary cap in Jacksonville each of the last four seasons. How much money would he command on the open market?

Free agents are out there for a reason. Sometimes it’s a clash between the player and ownership. Other times it’s a lack of production or it could be a contract issue. Injuries also play a part. When you evaluate free agents you have to ask why this player is available. Should the Cardinals sign him? Maybe. It depends on what he wants in a contract. If the terms are right, it could make sense to have him as a running back in Arizona.

Keep in mind the team also needs to sign its draft class to contracts so the figure the team has in cap space is a little deceiving.

I would say Arizona would be best-suited spending money on depth at defensive positions, shoring up the offensive line and trying to find a tight end that can contribute in the offense. Nailing down exact names is difficult seeing how we’re just under a month from the start of the season.

Our second question is about a game of tag.

Who could the Cardinals use the franchise tag on and would they do so? –-Mike in Mesa

Mike, the team has one franchise tag and one transition tag available to it each season. They are not required to be used. Franchise tags can be applied to any impending free agent or any player with more than two years left on their current deal. The tags can only be used on a player twice in his career, regardless of team without triggering certain accelerated amounts.

The simpler version comes out like this. If a player gets a franchise tag, he will be offered a one-year deal that’s an average of the top five salaries at his position OR 120 percent of his previous season’s salary, whichever is greater.

In this chart from CBS, you can see approximate projected figures for the tags in 2014. The numbers will be finalized sometime next month. You can see how the salaries are going to get blown up for players who get tagged except for kickers and punters. Dave Zastudil would have been a logical target for the tag until he re-signed for two more years earlier this month. Kicker Jay Feely could also be an option based on the tag number but his performance last season doesn’t merit it.

In this case, the best thing to do is not use the tag this season. It’s hard to think of anyone who should have their paycheck to those levels on the team. The next logical time I can see the tag being used would be when Larry Fitzgerald would stand to be a free agent.

Thanks for the questions and tweet us more for next week.


Check out last week’s mailbag here.

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