Joining Cards a surprise homecoming for Terrell Suggs, Brett Hundley

Mar 14, 2019, 4:41 PM
(AP photos)...
(AP photos)
(AP photos)

TEMPE, Ariz. — In very different ways, the Arizona Cardinals’ first two official free agent signings this offseason came unexpectedly. Not that either of linebacker Terrell Suggs or quarterback Brett Hundley didn’t ever dream of playing football for the Cardinals before.

Suggs, 36, went to Hamilton High School in Chandler and remained in-state by attending college at Arizona State. Hundley went to Chandler High School before attending UCLA.

How they ended up signing with Arizona’s NFL franchise this week, however, came with surprise elements.

Suggs said he thought he had an 80 percent chance of remaining with the Baltimore Ravens, the only NFL franchise he’s known in 16 NFL seasons. Though they made him what he called a “handsome offer,” his decision to make a change and join a team that went 3-13 last season came down to the final hours.

It just felt like the right move.

“I felt like if I wasn’t going to be in a Ravens jersey, there was only one place I was going to be playing,” Suggs said Thursday, when he was introduced as a Cardinal wearing a red polo and the team’s cap. “(The Ravens) made me a handsome offer but it was just time. It was just time.

“That team is very special and dear to me, but so is the Valley of the Sun,” he said, adding, “this is home.”

Suggs, who has spent his offseasons living in Arizona, had thought about joining the Cardinals before this year. He admits draft day in 2003 was disappointing to him; Arizona needed a pass-rusher but Suggs was drafted 10th by Baltimore after the Cardinals traded down from the sixth overall pick to select receiver Bryant Johnson 17th and pass-rusher Calvin Pace 18th.

“At the time, it worked out for both organizations. I was a young man. I had been kind of catered to and spoiled, coming from Hamilton, going to ASU,” Suggs said. “It was kind of time to go away from home and become a man type of thing. It was necessary.

“I was disappointed then. Today’s to show it all worked out in the end.”

Hundley, 25, knew that Arizona was a possibility when he entered free agency and saw the Cardinals turning to first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense.

His three years (2012-15) at UCLA were spent under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who wasn’t a direct branch off the Air Raid coaching tree until he joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Texas A&M in 2016. But watch Mazzone’s offense at ASU prior to his UCLA stop, or his first season as Arizona Wildcats offensive coordinator in 2018, and it’s clear he coached many of the same principles.

Before officially signing with the Cardinals, Hundley was getting off the plane in Arizona to surprise his dad and other family members when he got a call from his agent. The Cardinals were ready to sign him.

Though he tried to keep it quiet, that surprise was ruined when reporters caught wind of the addition and ran with it.

Ten minutes later, his Instagram mentions blew up as the news spread. There went his surprise.

“It’s always one of those surreal things you think about,” Hundley said of joining the Cardinals.

Second-year Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen, also a UCLA product, was one of the first players Hundley talked to after agreeing with Arizona. Hundley is already feeling comfortable.

“It’s nice coming into a system like this and coming into a system knowing … a lot of different guys,” he said.

Hundley has appeared in 15 games over four seasons, playing behind Aaron Rodgers with the Packers from 2015-17 and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson last year. He’s completed 59 percent of his passes and thrown nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions over his career, but the quarterback expects to compete for a starting role, be it with Rosen or any other quarterback Arizona might add through the draft.

“Just competing, I think that’s the name of the game. Even in Green Bay, even in Seattle, my job is to compete. Trying to get the starting role. My job is the same,” he said.

While Hundley is hoping to earn his first opportunity to play significant snaps, Suggs felt that change was necessary to prolonging his long career.

Though he missed just one regular season game over the past five years, he has remained productive. Coming off a 34-tackle, seven-sack season, he made no promises about snap-counts or sack totals, but he’s excited to play opposite Chandler Jones.

Asked what he expects of his production, he said “I guess we’ll see.”

Turning things around in for hometown team is priority No. 1.

“We didn’t come here to kind of waste time. None of us have time to waste,” Suggs said. “It was just time, time to turn the page.”

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Joining Cards a surprise homecoming for Terrell Suggs, Brett Hundley