Category Archives: Arizona Cardinals

Injury holding Beanie Wells back again

An NFL comeback for former Ohio State running back Beanie Wells is on hold. Injury, again, is holding Wells back.

According to an ESPN.com report, Wells suffered a torn Achilles while working out for the Baltimore Ravens last week. The report states that the injury is bad enough to keep Wells away from further workouts and out of the NFL for the rest of 201.

A first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, Wells had one very good season and three others with mixed success and injury issues. He ran for 1,047 yards in 2011 but was limited to eight games by a turf toe injury last season. His contract expired, and though several teams — including the Bengals and Steelers — took a look at Wells last offseason, he had a knee injury that kept him unsigned and out of training camp and the early part of this season.

Wells tweeted earlier this month that his knee was better and he was ready to return to action.

An Akron native, Wells averaged 5.8 yards per carry and ran for 23 touchdowns in his final two Ohio State seasons.

Cost probably too high for Browns to chase QB

Traders up. The real fun in the NFL Draft starts Friday evening.

The Browns picked early and shut it down early on Thursday; with no second-round pick as ammo, they knew there was no way they’d buy back into the first round, even if they wanted to.

But what about the second round — and specifically for a quarterback? And specifically for West Virginia’s Geno Smith, who remains on the board?

How much it would cost remains to be seen. “Too much” is probably the answer.

The great part about this three-day draft format is four months of pure speculation turns into 18 or so hours of more speculation, usually centered around a few players. Smith is certainly this year’s “buzz” guy, not just because quarterback is always the buzz position. Mike Glennon, maybe the most NFL-ready quarterback at January’s Senior Bowl, and Matt Barkley also could get early second-round attention after E.J. Manuel went to Buffalo and became the only QB picked in the first round.

That pick was, um, interesting.

The chances the Browns, currently holding pick No. 68 in the third round as their next selection, go up and get Smith (or another quarterback) are slim. The Browns would almost certainly have to give up a 2014 first-rounder to get into the top of the second round, and in case Smith’s long wait in the green room Thursday night during the first round didn’t remind Browns fans of Brady Quinn, making such a trade would.

Jacksonville picks first Friday, at 33, followed by San Francisco and Philadelphia. The first two will take plenty of calls based on the value of their picks in this format, firstly, and also from quarterback-seeking teams based on fact that the Eagles, at very least, showed interest in Smith in the pre-draft process.

There’s a little thing called a trade value chart that every NFL team uses, to some extent, anyway. The numbers and values on the chart aren’t absolute — and there might even be multiple charts — but they do provide either a baseline or a ballpark figure on perceived trade value.

During Thursday’s first round, it was a good market for teams coming up and a bad one for teams looking for a potential trade down. On Friday, at least early, it will be the other way around.

The chart says Jacksonville’s pick is worth 580 value points. That’s too much for a 2014 first-round pick as the Browns don’t expect to be a playoff team and this year’s 14th pick was worth 1,100 value points; their pick at 68 (250), even coupled with a second-rounder next year, probably comes up short.

About that 580, well, that’s actually low. The value on Jacksonville’s pick would go up because it’s an extremely valuable pick as the first pick of the rest of the draft. The Browns would either have to give next year’s first-rounder (not happening) or put together a package that includes either Jabaal Sheard or Phil Taylor, plus that 68th pick and some other combination of things to swap in a package that leans Jacksonville’s way.

The Jaguars will answer the phone because they need lots of players. The Browns need too many themselves to give away valuable picks, especially in multiples. Despite what they’ve said, you still have to believe they are willing to part with one of their young defensive linemen as they transition to a 3-4, and it might be Sheard after the selection of Barkevious Mingo.

Thirty-one other teams know that, too, which probably drives down his value. And these hypothetical deals revolve around value.

If the Browns are really in the quarterback market and are interested in New England backup Ryan Mallett — and again, it’s purely a hypothetical at this point — it’s possible the Patriots asking price came down when they acquired the Vikings third and fourth round picks late Thursday night.

Then again, it’s just as possible that New England would want a second-rounder next year. Same story. Mike Lombardi has the number if it gets to that point.

As for Smith, if he gets past the Eagles at No. 35, how far does he slide? The Cardinals at No. 38, Jets at 39 and Raiders at 42 could be interested. The Jaguars and 49ers will anxiously await their calls. The Bengals, holding pick No. 37 and needing a running back and a safety, could be interested in selling their pick and trading down.

The Browns figure to be active in seeking a chance to either move up into the second round and/or acquire another third-round pick. Unless we’re all missing something with Geno Smith, it just seems the price for the Browns to be involved will be too high.

Tackling the Browns chances of trading down

The key to figuring out the Browns best option in a trade-down scenario in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night is probably a position that isn’t in the Browns plans at all.

This draft has three marquee offensive tackles in Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. There’s also an available veteran left tackle in Branden Albert, who’s been franchised by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have the draft’s first overall pick and could use it on a left tackle, making Albert expendable.

The Chiefs gave Albert’s representation permission last week to work out a trade. From what we assume we know about this draft, the Browns best hope of moving down from their spot at No. 6 and picking up a second-round pick (at least that much) in the process probably depends on a team — like the Chargers at No. 11 or the Dolphins at No. 12 — coming up to take a tackle.

The Cardinals, at No. 7, know the Browns aren’t taking a tackle and wouldn’t have to trade up if one of three top tackles in the draft is still there. Though there are two prized guards in this draft, too, teams are much, much more likely to trade up for a tackle than they are for a guard.

It’s been reported that the Chiefs asking price for Albert is a second-round pick. What suitors must decide is if they’re willing to pay that plus the kind of hefty contract Albert is seeking as an established player at a money position.

We don’t have anything besides guesses as to what the Browns are thinking heading into the draft and seeking once it starts, but it’s clear that they’ll more likely have trade options if one of the top tackles is still on the board. If they’re all gone, the Browns will be in position to take a top defensive player — if there’s more than one they truly love. Again, we don’t know. The Eagles and Lions, at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, could be interested in offensive line help, a pass-rusher or a cornerback.

If all three of the top tackles — Fisher, Joeckel and Johnson, in some order — go in the first five picks, the Dolphins or Cardinals (or some other team) might be more inclined to give up a second-rounder for Albert; it wouldn’t be the first time necessity drives a draft-night trade or drives the price for such a trade up or down. In that all-the-tackles-are-gone scenario, the only way the Browns are trading out of No. 6 is if some team wants to come up to get Tavon Austin, Geno Smith or a pass-rusher — unless the Browns go into Mangini Mode and trade way, way down the board.

That’s possible, too, and it’s also not a terrible idea in a draft that’s deeper than it is top heavy.

The Browns, right now, are neither. Which is why, at least for the sake of options and maximum value, they’re rooting for at least one of those three offensive tackles to slip past the Lions at No. 5.

Cardinals cut Beanie Wells

Akron native and former Ohio State star Chris “Beanie” Wells is now a part of the NFL’s free agent market.

The Cardinals released Wells on Monday, a day before the start of the league’s calendar year, when every team must be under the salary cap and the player movement period begins.

Wells had just 88 carries for 234 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, when he played in eight games. Keeping Wells healthy has always been an issue, though he’s just 14 months removed his only 1,000-yard season. Wells scored 10 touchdowns and ran for 1,047 yards in 2011.

The Cardinals selected him in the first round in 2009. He played in all 16 games as a rookie, averaging a career-best 4.5 yards per carry and scoring 7 touchdowns.

Wells getting a fresh start is probably a good thing for his career. More teams are running the ball by committee, and Wells is big, athletic back who doesn’t turn 25 until this summer. He won’t get a huge contract and might not be a workhorse-type runner, but he won’t be out of work for long.

The timing might be right for Wells. Beyond Steven Jackson, the free agent market for running backs lacks sizzle.

Among the teams who could take a look at Wells include the Bengals, Jets, Raiders, Cowboys, Steelers and Packers.

From the NFL Combine: Will the read-option offense be around forever?

The read-option offense clearly will be the topic of the week.

Several coaches and GMs were asked about it, and surprisingly not everyone was in favor.

San Diego coach Mike McCoy, who ran the read-option two years ago with Tim Tebow, said defenses now have the advantage of time in figuring out how to defend it.

“Without a doubt now defenses are going to start preparing more for it through the offseason program, through training camp,” McCoy said. “Two years ago we were the first ones really to get into this on a game by game basis. Now a lot of teams are doing it. So there’s a lot

more time in the offseason to prepare.”

Bruce Arians of the Cardinals also said that the emphasis in every defensive meeting room this offseason will be studying how to stop the offense that Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III ran so well. Arians said he even hired a defensive coordinator from college (Nick Rapone) who has dealt with the read-option to help his staff.

He also is not a big fan of the read-option.

“I’m not a believer in putting my quarterback in harm’s way,” he said. “I believe a lot of harm will come to him. I’m more of a traditionalist.”

New Panthers GM Dave Gettleman pointed out that only two playoff teams had the read-option.

“Ten of the 12 teams in the playoffs this year had true pocket passers,” he said. “At the end of the day, the quarterback has to make plays from the pocket. I think the read option is an option.”

One of the read-option teams did make the Super Bowl, but Kaepernick does not get enough credit for his ability to throw. He happens to be a throwing quarterback who can also run.

From the NFL Combine: Arians said Browns were on verge interviewing him

Bruce Arians, the former Browns offensive coordinator and new Arizona Cardinals coach, said the Browns filed the paperwork to interview him, but it never went any farther.

Presumably the interview didn’t happen because the Browns decided to hire Rob Chudzinski. There’s no arguing with Chudzinskis, it just might have nice had the Browns interviewed the Coach of the Year — an award Arians won as the interim coach while Chuck Pagano was sick with cancer. Arians said the best thing that happened in 2012 was he “saw a dear friend get healthy.”

Arians was very interested in the Browns job. He saw the team as young and talented, and he saw the fan base as one that he wanted to return to.

“They have a good young team,” Arians said. “Good lines on both side of the ball. A lot of pieces are there already. I think they should do very well.”

His thought about Brandon Weeden?

“He played very well against us (the Colts),” Arians said. “The guy catches that pass, they might win the game. I think he’s got a great future.”

Arians referred of course to Josh Gordon’s drop of a perfectly thrown pass that should have been a touchdown, and could have given the Browns the win.

Goodbye Forever, Dave Zastudil

It seems just like yesterday that “The Z” was turning stalled and futile Cleveland Browns offensive series into works of punt placement art. The man – a local product from Bay Village and Ohio University no less! – seemed to have an uncanny ability to kick a ball such that it would bounce straight up after 40-50 yards in the air.

Zastudil’s freakish talent repeatedly allowed Josh Cribbs and Mike Adams, flying down the field like torpedoes, to down yet another punt inside the ten-yard line. With the opponent having to go 90 yards in order to score a touchdown, Zastudil was a key component in the Browns ability to give their offense a rest before another exhausting three-and-out.

But he’s not ours anymore. While the Browns are now bringing in potential punters to Berea ahead of the draft, the Arizona Cardinals are locking up the services of this punting phenom. Here’s a press release from the desert:

The Arizona Cardinals Football Club today announced that the team has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with punter DAVE ZASTUDIL (ZAS-tuh-dil). In accordance with club policy, terms were not disclosed. Zastudil (6-3, 220) re-joins the Cardinals after punting 87 times for a career-high 3,929 yards (45.2 yard avg., 37.5 net avg.) in 15 games last season. Playing in his 10th NFL season, Zastudil downed 24 punts inside the 20 yard line with 21 of those coming in the final 11 games of the season. He joined the Cardinals last August as a free agent after playing with the Cleveland Browns for five seasons. After originally entering the league with Baltimore as a fourth round pick (112th overall) in the 2002 NFL Draft out of Ohio, Zastudil spent his first four years in the league with the Ravens before signing with the Browns as a free agent in 2006. For his NFL career, Zastudil has played in 128 games and punted 668 times for 28,754 yards (43.0 yard avg.) with 203 punts landing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

(Emphasis mine).

Dave Zastudil may not be the punter we have, but he’s the punter we deserve.