GLENDALE — The deal was always going to get done. It was just a matter of when.
Sunday, three days into training camp and six days after rookies reported, became the when.
The Cardinals and first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth a reported 14.55 million dollars.
So, why the delay?
“The only real reason I can think of is probably the conditioning test,” GM Steve Keim joked. “But through the art of negotiation I’ve learned to bluff and I promised him that if he came in tonight that I would run it with him. I think we all know that’s not going to happen.”
Asked again, what had changed to get Cooper into camp, Keim — serious now — said, “Once (picks) 1, 3, 4 and 6 made their decision, I think it made all of our decisions a little easier.”
The Cardinals held firm in their stance the contract would contain offset language, something Cooper’s agent, Todd France, wanted left out.
“I know Todd was just doing the best he could for his player and I respect him,” Keim said before adding with a smile, “He was smart enough to make the right decision in the end.”
Cooper missed the first padded practice of training camp, but is expected to be in uniform when the team returns to the field Monday.
“He’s a sharp kid,” said Keim, who noted Cooper spent much of the season with assistants Harold Goodwin and Larry Zierlein. “He’s already picked up the majority of our playbook. There’s obviously a few wrinkles that he’s going to have to make adjustments on, but we don’t feel that Coop is going to be far behind at all.”
The Cardinals selected Cooper, a consensus All-American first-team selection out of North Carolina, with the No. 7 overall pick. He started a school-record 48 games at left guard.
“Early on indications that you get from rookies most of the time can be, can have variances from good to bad,” Keim said. “Early indications on Jonathan Cooper through OTAs and minicamp so far have been outstanding, almost to the point where I would say better than advertised.”