Dealing Cards: Decisions, decisions, decisions

Jan 1, 2018, 2:27 PM
Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, right, talks with general manager Steve Keim during pr...
Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, right, talks with general manager Steve Keim during practice at the NFL football team's training camp Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. – The decisions are many.

Much like an election-year ballot with seemingly endless propositions, the Arizona Cardinals face a number of highly important decisions this offseason.

One—and a big one—has already been made.

But now the Cardinals need to find a head coach, not to mention a coaching staff. Plus, they may be in the market for a starting quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver depending on what Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald decide to do, respectively.

And there are several other big-name talents whose futures are in question, as well.

In other words, what happens over the next several weeks and months will likely impact the organization for years to come.

Consider it the Cardinals’ version of Decision 2018.

Someone had better call CNN’s John King. His “magic wall” may be needed in Tempe.

The Cardinals ended 2017 with a win in Seattle to finish 8-8, but for the second straight year they missed the postseason.

Players cleaned out their lockers on Monday.

“Unfortunately we didn’t accomplish our goals of trying to get into the playoffs. Ultimately that’s what we do each and every year and we fell short of that. Steve is going to go in there and make some decisions and figure out what’s going to be best,” quarterback Drew Stanton said, referring to general manager Steve Keim.

“Player wise, there’s a lot of good talent in here of varying ages and different things,” Stanton continued. “You pick up the pieces when the year is done and you try and plug guys into different spots and make a run at it. There’s an imperfect science to all of this.”

19 free agents

Once the new head coach is in place, and perhaps even beforehand, the Cardinals will begin the process of going through their long list of free agents. There are 19 of them.

“It’ll be interesting to kind of see what’s out there for me, who’s interested and what the market is looking like,” cornerback Justin Bethel said. “It’ll be interesting to go and see kind of what this new year brings for me.”

Bethel is one of seven defensive free agents, three of whom—Josh Bynes, Karlos Dansby and Kareem Martin—are linebackers.

Offensively, the Cardinals’ biggest hole could be at quarterback. Palmer is the only signal-caller currently under contract for 2018.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Stanton said. “If it’s done, then I’ll look back on it with really fond memories. If it’s not, then I’ll come back and get to work.”

Jared Veldheer committed

Among the players who made an appearance during the media’s 45-minute locker-room availability was offensive lineman Jared Veldheer.

Placed on injured reserve after cracking his ankle in the Tennessee game, Veldheer walked in with the aid of a scooter. The cast on his right leg will come off this week, he said, and then the focus will turn to next season, fulfilling his commitment to the Cardinals.

Back in training camp, Veldheer had briefly considered retirement.

“This is the team that I’ve been apart of the last four years,” he said. “I love all the guys in this room and going out there and playing with them on Sundays and get another year to do that.”

A bone bruise only

According to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Stanton played, and won, the final two games with a torn ACL.

Told of Fitzgerald’s social media reporting, Stanton smiled.

“Yeah, I’m not telling him any secrets, apparently,” he said.

Stanton called his injury a bone bruise, and nothing more.

It was Week 10 against the Seahawks when Stanton hurt his knee, and for the next five games he backed up Blaine Gabbert. Stanton returned Christmas Eve to beat the Giants.

“My knee felt great to be able to get back out there,” he said, adding surgery is not necessary. “I’m ready to go and looking forward to start coaching flag football on Wednesday.”

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Dealing Cards: Decisions, decisions, decisions