Green: Welcome to the NFL, Arizona

Mar 7, 2010, 11:14 PM | Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 4:24 pm

Welcome to the NFL, Arizona.

The Cardinals have, finally, proven that they have turned
the proverbial corner once and for all. The back-to-back NFC West titles and an appearance in Super Bowl XLIII
showed that the Cardinals were competitive, but what has
transpired over the last few days confirms that these are
no longer your father’s, my father’s, or even my Arizona

Sure, it would have been easy to look at Friday’s events
as the beginning of the end of the “New Cardinals.” After
all, March 5th saw the Cardinals trade away Anquan Boldin
and lose Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle as free agents.
But, just when Cardinals nation was looking for the
nearest cliff to jump off of or the closest bandwagon to
board, March 6th brought a trade for Jets safety Kerry
Rhodes and a newfound sense of optimism.

Don’t get me wrong – the Cardinals are still a worse team
as of this moment than they were when they were beaten by
the Saints 45-14 in the playoffs.

Since then, though, the Cardinals have done business in
the same way that legit, consistent NFL winners do: by
not being afraid to make tough decisions with personnel
and not overpaying to keep decent-good players.

The Cardinals have shown they are no longer a reactive
franchise, but instead proactive. Two years ago they
knew Antonio Smith was entering a contract year, so they
drafted Calais Campbell to be groomed as his replacement.
Then, when Smith took too much more money
to sign with the Texans, Campbell slid right into his old
spot and was even better than the man he replaced.

Going into this past season the team knew there was a good
chance they would be releasing Antrel Rolle because of the
way his contract was structured. The team, as an
“insurance policy,” drafted Rashad Johnson. Sure, Johnson
had a rough rookie campaign, but it was another sign that
the Cardinals were done overpaying to keep decent players
and instead were readying themselves for the natural
turnover that occurs in the NFL.

And, over the last few seasons, Steve Breaston and Early
Doucet have stepped up at the WR position and they, along
with Larry Fitzgerald, have helped the team win games when
Boldin has missed time.

Which brings us to Friday.

Nothing happened that was unexpected. The team was ready
to trade Boldin due to the depth at the WR position, most
thought Dansby would leave to the highest bidder, and
Rolle’s replacement was already on the roster. Or so we

The trade for Rhodes showed that while the Cardinals may
have been dealt a blow, they were ready to come back
swinging. Because of the Boldin trade they were able to
add a player who is arguably better than the one he
replaced. Do that once, maybe it’s luck. Keep on doing it,
and it becomes how the team does business. Not forking out
too much cash to keep Rolle and Dansby shows there is no
panic in the organization.

That, of course, comes from the head coach Ken Whisenhunt,
who recently became the first head coach since the team
moved to Arizona to get a contract extension. While many
were worried the team would not get a deal done, the
Cardinals went out and locked up the man most responsible
for the team’s turnaround.

Not overpaying for talent, being prepared to replace
departing players, trading guys – no matter how great they
once were – at the right time and rewarding a head coach
who has brought the franchise to new heights? That’s how
good teams do it, and that’s how it is being done with the

Welcome to the NFL, Arizona.

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Green: Welcome to the NFL, Arizona